1. Oldmanofthemountain

    Oldmanofthemountain Active Member

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    Fan Fiction Thoughts on fanfics?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Oldmanofthemountain, Jun 16, 2020.

    As professional writers, what are your thoughts on fan fiction in general?

    What inspired this question of mine, is that fan fiction seems to have a very negative reputation as of now. To the point where the very phrase “fan fiction” is pretty much a go-to ad hominem to decry any works of fiction as horribly written. For example, I’ve read many complaints on countless reddit threads proclaiming that “the last season of Game of Thrones is fan fiction”.

    In your personal opinion, to what extent does fanfiction really warrant its notoriety?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2022
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  2. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

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    In my opinion, the main bash on fanfic is that it's a tangent from something that already exists. It's not like in nonfiction business/marketing writing where you have companies selling the same products/services and so all of that content is spun extremely similar by default. (Read websites/blogs/social media posts about flooring or plumbing for example and it's essentially the same stuff everywhere.)

    For fanfic, the bad rap is about the initial perception that it's a little less creative. But there's pros to it too: Writing-wise, I think it can help writers get into the flow of creating since those worlds already exist. Reading-wise, I think it helps to be really attuned to the source material to get the best grasp (for better or worse) of the fan fiction story. I've read a lot of fanfic over the years from TV shows and video games that I've been a fan of, I even wrote a long one myself many years ago based on a video game series. I think they can be interesting because by their very nature, they involve never-before-explored situations with characters and settings that you already know. How many times have you watched a show or movie or played a game and wondered 'why didn't they do this?' or 'what if they went here instead?' etc. Fanfic addresses a lot of that and some of it can be really well done.

    "Pseudo fanfic" is another interesting tangent. For example in my current WIP - a small collection of short fiction - one of the stories is heavily inspired by a film/book, though I don't use any of those existing characters or places. I actually turned it into historical fiction with a totally different POV and new characters, but the influence stemmed from a source. So it's hard to call it fanfic, but it toes that line.

    Basically like everything, there's good and bad about it :cool:
     
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    To me, fan fiction is more for fun than to seriously take a stab at writing. That being said, I know writers who have sort of written fan fiction, but spun it so much and made it so unique that you wouldn't even be able to tell how it originated. And then it sort of stops being fan fiction or it was never labeled as such by the author to start with and no one was the wiser. I think it depends a lot on how you handle the material and what you label it as. I've always been tempted to write some Law & Order fan fiction for fun. At the same time, I have always had other things I've wanted to write or work on more. I don't think it's a bad thing to play around with fan fiction. It could lead to something bigger or it might just be a lot of fun.
     
  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I am not a professional writer. I am a professional interpreter. Thus, my opinion of fic is not derived from, anchored in, or makes use of original fiction as a meter by which to measure.

    It's getting better, the general opinion, that is. AO3 won a Hugo. And, not having read that reddit thread, is there a possibility that what they meant is that the last season is not remotely related to the books, thus it is not canon to those who did read the books, making it quite technically fanfiction.

    To the same extent any genre of lit trying to find its place in the sun really earns its notoriety. Ask the erotica writers. Two millennia of Abrahamic hands monopolizing and twisting the reigns of sex have left them with no end of headaches. It's a different kvetch they face, but it's a kvetch all the same. Science Fiction and Fantasy have only just gotten a seat in the respectable room. Genre Romance is still on the waiting list.

    I write fic. I dig fic.

    I enjoy exploring the route a story did not take.

    I enjoy exploring different choices than the ones the characters made in the canon.

    I enjoy removing every single canon character from the setting and telling a completely different story with all new characters (elsewhere fic).

    I enjoy writing the kiss of death in fic, OC x CC.

    I enjoy boiling a franchise down to its essence and delivering that.

    I hate when the camera pans away from the steam or fades to black.​

    In many ways, fic is a letter to TPTB. It's a notice that the pap that is too-often delivered because the censors think pap is all we can handle, will not be accepted. It's a letter that says stop with the subtext and just give us text already. Normal, on the line with the rest of the text text.

    Can it be terrible and laughable? Of course it can! But we live in the era of self-pub, so cringeworthy stories are not remotely unique or exclusive to fic. There are fewer lines on the page of the great play of life than we tend to want to draw.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  5. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Contributor Contributor

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    Quite a bit. There's a reason Kirk on Spock erotica was a meme. Don't get me wrong, I have zero problems with people writing what makes them happy and sharing it with others. Whatever makes people happy, as long as it doesn't harm others, is all fine by me. But folks who twist established characters into things they aren't just to satisfy their own sexual desires can't expect themselves to be taken seriously because they aren't taking the base intellectual property for what it is.
    Obviously, I'm not saying all fanfiction is like that, we all know it isn't. But that is the legacy of fanfiction's foundation on the internet and it will take a long, long time for that to be forgotten.

    I don't read fanfiction any more but i did as a kid and wrote some myself. That's why, despite my previous paragraph, I think it holds an important place for the literary world for one specific reason - it gets people interested in reading. And when people get into reading and begin to understand that great feeling of using your imagination to create special effects better than any cgi studio, or quiet moments of intimate reflection better than any drama, it gets them hooked.
    Yes, the majority of it is utter crap but every writer was once utter crap. We learn by doing, and knocking about the fanfiction world and writing garbage can be a great way for writers to improve themselves and readers to get more free content of their favourite franchises. I dont see many downsides.

    But tailing back to the start, as to warranting its notoriety? It warrants it a lot and with good reason.
     
  6. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    I'm not a professional writer, but as a reader I have no time for it. I don't care enough about any fictional universe to read anything not written by its creator, and I would never consider writing it, either. I'm sure some of it's good and I have nothing against it, but there are so many things I would rather read.
     
  7. Lazaares

    Lazaares Contributor Contributor

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    I share GRRM's opinion that contemporary fan fiction culture is immensely disrespectful of the source material most of the time. It also feels somewhat lazy to grab a world.

    There are exceptions, of course. Metro 2033 opened up its canon for fan fiction and became a universe. But even there ... quality assurance.

    All in all, I'd say the "80% of everything is dung" rule applies and due to the notoriety of the 80% a lot of us are far more familiar with the negatives than the positives.
     
  8. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    All this said, there's fan fiction and fan fiction.

    FF based on Jane Austen novels and on Jane Austen herself is a time-honored, trad published thing. And people have been writing Arthurian fan fiction since the Middle Ages. Just look at Chretien de Troyes. What makes it credible, I think, is what @Steve Rivers indicates above, that it respects the original works.

    (Though when you get to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I'm not so sure . . . )
     
  9. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Contributor Contributor

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    I met the guy who wrote Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and he said that writing it was very much like fan fiction for him because he was supplementing an already established world with nonsensical mystical ideas.

    I think I'm on the fence about this one, honestly, because while I agree that it's a way to compliment the author, it also feels a bit like dishonesty. But to that part of me, I say as long as the fanfiction is clearly labeled as such and not marketed as canon for whatever realm it's from, then it should be fine. And as long as nothing is directly lifted from the source material without proper source citation. Personally, I'd be warily flattered. But I don't think I have the stuff to write things that people'd want to write fanfiction over.

    One of my favorite authors, Kristen Britain, says this from her website (wrapped in a spoiler for space):

    Fiction written by individuals and based on the copyrighted worlds and characters of others tends to stir the passions between its practitioners and those who oppose it. Once upon a time (again, back when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth), fanfic was not much of an issue because it was mainly shared between a few friends for fun. With the advent of the Internet, suddenly everything changed – fanfic could be openly distributed to a vast audience, leaving copyright holders and their licensees scrambling. The conflict? Placing a story on the Internet is akin to publishing and distributing it. Only the original copyright holder has the right to authorize other individuals or agencies (i.e. one’s publisher) to publish and distribute his or her work, or license it to others for adaptation in another form (i.e. film, audio, etc.).
    The unauthorized use of an author’s copyrighted novel could endanger that author’s right to his or her own creation, sort of like property squatting. Personally, I like that copyright protects my work so I can license it to publishers, and by doing so, earn enough of a living to pay the mortgage and keep the cats in kibble. Not to mention I love my job. Without copyright, I would not be able to support myself doing what I love to do.
    Copyright is confusing enough, but adding to the confusion are the authors themselves who express varying degrees of permissiveness toward fanfic. Some promote it without reserve, others discourage it absolutely. Therefore, I can only speak for myself when I request fan writers to please abstain from publishing and proliferating stories based on my copyrighted material via the Internet or any other highly distributable form.
    Likewise, please do not inform me of any fanfic based on my work that you might stumble upon. I do not want to see it. I do not want to know about it. Thank you

    All of that said, another quote from a favorite of mine:

    upload_2020-6-19_23-10-12.jpeg
     

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  10. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    I think the bulk of fanfiction is crap, but for many writers it's a way to learn to write without having your worst years follow you into the future. Lol. I admit I've done a bunch of it. There's also the section of fanfiction that does sexual deviancy, and well, I don't really respect that side. I guess people want to play around with characters like dolls, and that's their thing, but as someone who works in a bookstore, I'm noticing that fanfiction tropes are starting to pop up in published books -- ie the use of characters as puppets for author's desires. There's even this toxic book where an actor gets in trouble because he doesn't agree with a fanfic author's perception of his character.

    That said, there's something new in fanfiction these days that's emerged in the past...5 or so years, where the fans are sometimes more interested in the franchise than the corporations that own them. Star Wars and Star Trek come to mind. There's some great fan stuff out there. And the fan of Star Fox can watch A Fox in Space, which is a really excellent fan animation where a guy is literally working with 2D animation, 3D animation, puppetry, and music making just to put it all together.

    So I guess my feelings about fanfiction vary according to how serious the author is about taking it seriously.
     
  11. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

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    Another thing to consider (this may be somewhat tangential) is to look how many novels are out there for various popular franchises: Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, Predator, Alien vs. Predator, Supernatural, Buffy, Angel, etc. etc...those are more or less fan fiction-derived or perpetuated. So if that can be an indicator, published fan fic is pretty significant.
     
  12. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    Yeah, there's room for fanfiction, if the IP owner is smart enough to know how to handle it.
     
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  13. Jan Karlsson

    Jan Karlsson Member

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    Not a professional and it’s likely I never will be, however ...

    If it wasn’t for fanfic I would not have started, and finished, my original fantasy story.

    If it wasn’t for fanfic I would not have got into the habit of writing every day.

    Not every fanfic writer moves on to original work and not (nearly) every fanfic is worth reading, but it gets people writing, and isn’t that a good thing?
     
  14. Room with a view

    Room with a view Senior Member

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    I don't mind them personally, I have noticed that they tend to become vessels for peoples erotic fantasies which is fine if that's your boat and you like how it floats.

    But sometimes though, fan fiction can feel like putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa at times.

    You're better off just doing your own thing.
     
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  15. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    But then, what is fanfic? There are authors who write Star Wars stories. OK, fanfic right? But there are others who write Lovecraftian stories, quite often featuring his creation like Nyarlothep, Cthulhu and Gobblygookazoid. So why is one fanfic and the other not?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
  16. Aceldama

    Aceldama free servant

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    I dislike fanfics greatly. They are akin to tabloids in my estimation. Cheap and lazy.
     
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  17. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Fan-fic is lazy IMO, because there is little to have to add into
    an already established universe and story line. While I can
    see how it can help strengthen skill as a writer, it should be
    taken lightly as a legit genre due to how little the author has
    to really do in terms of work concerning all the elements that
    are prelaid out for them to work with.
    So, as much as I think it is not real writing in a traditional sense
    because of the lack of any real imagination or thought on the part
    of the the writer due to everything being known and handed to them
    to work with. It has it's place in helping in story building exercise,
    kinda like doing homework.

    To conclude, while cringey, it is something that some feel the need to
    do since they like having well established and loved characters do what
    they want them to do and be. :)
     
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  18. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

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    I think it's clearly fanfic if it's purposely and obviously set in an established world with established characters/lore/themes. Star Wars and Star Trek are perfect examples. Regardless of whether future movies or TV shows are produced, it's almost a guarantee there will be novels and games based on both those franchises forever. So one can argue those instances are fanfic.

    Now, borrowing certain facets of established worlds and placing them in your own context doesn't necessarily mean it's fanfic. Look at something like Dungeons & Dragons. That is a massive franchise spanning tons of tabletop/board/video games, books, action figures, soundtracks, movies etc. But a lot of elements in AD&D can be traced directly to Tolkien. So is AD&D considered Tolkien fanfic because they feature orcs, elves, dwarves, wizards, et.al? Not exactly. Of course The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings inspired virtually all modern fantasy-adventure tales, but there's room in the universe for both.
     
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  19. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    TRYING (!!!) to read Eric Flint's "Ring of Fire" series.......it's soooo many books!!!!!
    I had not considered the copyright issue. I thought that fanfic which was published such as shared universe stories in Eric Flint's 1632 series or Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International series was done with the author's blessing and the payment of a royalty to the originating author?


    For me, fanfic can be tremendously enjoyable because it expands the original universe. Imagine "Star Wars" for example if you only had George Lucas' imagination involved! That universe would be less without all of the fans, aspiring authors, and readers who demanded more of the universe. Sure....you need to have some quality control but I can't imagine the world of Star Wars without Timothy Zahn or Alan Dean Foster for example, they added so much colour to that universe. (Yes, I know, it's really bad I can only think of *TWO* fanfic authors!)

    The other thing, that it is lazy to take a world and explore it with your own characters or to take existing characters in that world and send them off on new adventures......as aspiring writers, we have to start somewhere! If I did not have full fleshed characters such as Boba Fett to play with and practice my writing with. Not every aspiring writer is good with all the aspects of writing - some of us struggle with world building, or character development, or plausible plots, and so on. Practicing in an existing universe is one way to develop your skills in that area.

    Regarding the above paragraph, I have never published anything I wrote in Star Wars or Monster Hunter International anywhere on the web or in print. If I was to do so, I would include a statement like this with my work:

    "This is a work of fiction that was inspired by George Lucas' Star Wars universe. If you like my attempt, please explore official work set in the Star Wars universe. Thanks for reading!"
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
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  20. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    So if I write a Sherlock Holmes mystery, set in Victorian England, featuring Dr. Watson et al, written in Conan Doyle's style, and with absolutely no vampires (of the Sussex kind or otherwise), is that fanfic?
     
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  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Exactly. This is how every art form is learned, first imitation, then emulation (working in the manner of somebody), preferably of many artists so the influences blend and spawn something new, and then you're ready to take off on your own. In drawing and painting you copy a lot of masterworks.
     
  22. Dalantri

    Dalantri Member

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    Until my daughter brought fanfic to me, I’d never thought about it. I agree with your thoughts that having read books or watched a movie/show, I have had the thought of ‘I wished they did this or that’. Recently I found myself writing my first fanfic piece.
     
  23. Dalantri

    Dalantri Member

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    Steve, you and Wreybries make very good points about fanfic. A lot of things started as very bad products compared to other things or their current versions. For example, I grew up on comics from the early 70s and 80s, but very few of them are comparable to the quality of writing done today. My first impressions of fanfic were that they were done as memes or ridicule of their topic. I’ve since learned as you and Wreybries have pointed out that all those alternative stories are fanfic, including the spinoffs of Star Wars to an extent. The other issue is that yes, they not only get people reading , but they also allow for the creativity and interest in writing. Having started an interest in any type of reading as a child because of comic books, I support anything that increases someone’s interest in reading or writing.
     
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  24. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

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    I am not a professional. I don't normally read ff, but I occasionally do and I did find some really good writing with emotionally moving stories. I think this is for the most part due to the increased popularity of ff: more and more people write, write more often, and better their skills raising expectations of future ff. But I have also found some ff with borderline-atrocious writing, and in general a lot of bad writing. I think this is because people want to tell their (version of the) story, leaving the writing as secondary. It is also true that the vast majority of ff are free and written by fans for fans to share an experience. I personally wouldn't dismiss it as a form of writing just because it "copies" something that already exist. Often times it adds depth to characters that in a book or movie or graphic novel haven't found the necessary space to be developed. Moreover, it is often a collective work of the fans. I very much like this concept. Of course it is true that there is still a lot of bad writing to surf through to find something good, and that is annoying.
     
  25. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

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    There's also the intangible and esoteric aspects of fan fiction too, in that you'll hear the opinion that it's a huge form of flattery for the original creator(s). But it can be somewhat upsetting to them too because it's like someone else is saying "here's what I'm going to do with your world instead. This is what you should have done." etc.

    Lots of ways to look at it, good and bad.
     
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