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Author Topic: Why is fan-fiction despised?  (Read 10492 times)
Ezram
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« on: January 06, 2008, 08:34:36 AM »

I know this isn't entirely on topic, but I wanted to have fan-fic writer's perspectives.

Generally, no matter what site/board I visit, there's a bunch of vocal posters that speak of fan-fiction as if it's some kind of unholy creation foisted upon the world.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2008, 08:46:16 AM »

Basic internet jerkwad drive to denigrate any earnest expression of affection, sez I. Comes hand in hand with the attitude that "anyone can write!" Fan fic is pretty honestly expressive, and so an easy route to attack someone else's emotions.
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2008, 08:59:30 AM »

Well, following from the old adage that "90% of everything is crap", there's a lot of really bad fanfic out there. And unlike, say, a bad book, this is stuff that didn't even clear a publisher's desk. The overall quality level averages outto abysmal.

Of course, there's also tons of stuff that's great, but it can be hard to find.

Then there's the classic fanfic sins - Mary Sues, self-insertion characters, disrespecting canon and such - that can quickly kill even the best writing.

I like to think we're all doing pretty well here, but I can understand how people could get turned off fan fiction in general.

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Ezram
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2008, 09:02:30 AM »

Well, following from the old adage that "90% of everything is crap", there's a lot of really bad fanfic out there. And unlike, say, a bad book, this is stuff that didn't even clear a publisher's desk. The overall quality level averages outto abysmal.

Of course, there's also tons of stuff that's great, but it can be hard to find.

Then there's the classic fanfic sins - Mary Sues, self-insertion characters, disrespecting canon and such - that can quickly kill even the best writing.

I like to think we're all doing pretty well here, but I can understand how people could get turned off fan fiction in general.

Gatac

Can this ever be acceptable? Say the author has taken the basic setting, but put it in another character's perspective with slight alterations to accommodate their existence. What about that?
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 09:04:03 AM by Ezram » Logged

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Gatac
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2008, 09:07:03 AM »

I'm not saying that you can't *change* things. But you should still treat the characters and setting with respect. This gets especially bad when canon characters are demolished to elevate a fan character. Imagine, for example, writing a Star Trek fan fic where your main character only exists to show up Captain Kirk and make him look like an incompetent moron. I've seen some stuff that is so utterly vicious and poisonous that I wonder how the author could possibly fit the "fan" part of fan fiction. Good fan fic adds to a setting, bad fan fic bites the hand that feeds it.

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Ezram
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2008, 09:11:48 AM »

Yikes  Shocked. That does sound bad.

I still have faith in it though, and many famous authors have grown up envisioning themselves among other author's works, and gained inspiration off of those. If fan-fic leads a writer to join their ranks, then all the better.
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2008, 05:48:39 PM »

I'm not saying that you can't *change* things. But you should still treat the characters and setting with respect...
Agreed. I tried to be very respectful to Villain X in the Ultimates, and felt that I did a fair job of it (could have been better, in retrospect, but that's why we write - to get better). By and by, though, I did stay true to the Villain X character and the other characters in general. I'll also say that the other Ultimates authors have done the same, and that we've been pretty faithful to not only the setting, but each others' characters as they've been established and developed.

But I'll also say it's hard - very hard - to distance yourself from the character you've created and be objective about how (s)he interacts with the rest of the imaginary world. The key part is to integrate your characters into the setting, rather than taking it over.
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2008, 12:16:07 AM »

Yeah....well...no.
Respecting the canon may be critical element, but writer skill makes all sins forgivable. To illustrate such, I recall a titanic crossover fic series called The Crystal Tokyo Chronicles (I think). Anime, and lots of it. Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, Ranma 1/2, Patlabor, Dirty Pair, Bubblegum Crisis -probably more I can't recall. The whole mess is set in a mega-utopia founded by the sailor scouts called Crystal Tokyo set in 2900 or so.
Sparing the blissfully ignorant all the details of the original material, let's run with the assumption that having the Scouts all be insane in one way or another, the Ranma cast that's alive be immortal from Tao Supremacy, and time traveling clones of the Knight Sabers doesn't really bear much semblance to the canon material.

What makes this mess work is the quality. The Sailor Scouts are mad because they're eternal little girls utterly unprepared for the scope of the stress and tragedy they'd encounter, and then be forced to repeat over and over those same circumstances and mistakes because death is the only mercy destiny offers. Ultimately having nigh-godlike power is no kind of gift to the well-intending. Entropy stops being funny about the fifth or sixth time you see your life's work collapse again.

Ranma and Co. are the most dangerous things walking, but unable to much more then weather the losses of everyone and everything -live long enough and you'll see everyone die to terrorism or freak mechanical failures or deadly ennui. Incidentally they've got the easy route; so many of the eternal rival characters like Ryouga had to make deals with devils. Ryouga himself ate the flesh of a mermaid and gambled on immortality that way (a nod to another of Rumiko Takahashi's works the Mermaid series). Another became a vampire because the same "I'll be with you no matter what" drive that defined her in the base series required a brutal sacrifice in the end.

The Knight Sabers -the survivors that is, are pretty much ok. Ironically Priss and Sylia are able to function because day-to-day survival is how they lived before and neither is actually afraid of just dying one day. Life is hard and unfair, live and love while you can.

So! It's hyper canon-defiant, utterly fan service loaded, and completely excellent. What makes Crystal Tokyo shine is it's willingness to exceed the core material. Truth be Ranma 1/2 and Sailor Moon are pretty much 1-trick chumps. Same plot, same rivals, same situations, same tropes and ultimately the same fatal repetition. I don't doubt there are  Mary Sue characters in there, but if so they're subtle -or maybe not, I can't say I know every party involved perfectly.

Canon has it's limits. Being true to the core universe only gets you so far, especially when you have kicking about an iconic like Kirk -who never loses (hell, if I was asked to define Star Trek tropes I might not get more then one or two). In the endgame quality is the final arbiter, and all the Strunk and White in every literature dean's desk doesn't spin into a fine yarn.
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2008, 12:19:36 AM »

I've seen some stuff that is so utterly vicious and poisonous that I wonder how the author could possibly fit the "fan" part of fan fiction. Good fan fic adds to a setting, bad fan fic bites the hand that feeds it.

Gatac

Oh, and werd to this. I've got a pretty sizable doujinshi (japanese small print fan comic) collection, and some of it is so vile I'm still wondering why I didn't cleanse it in fire the first time I cracked the cover (Pack Rat, ftl). Who can do that and call themselves a fan?
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"Cui bono?" -Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla, 127 BCE.

"Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders" -Martin Luthor, 1483-1546.
Mister Andersen
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2008, 04:09:47 AM »

Eh. Sometimes I think you have to give continuity the big end of the stick if it's pants.
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2008, 06:52:24 AM »

You don't have to worship canon or the original characters, but can we agree that it should at least be plausible? (Or, failing that, funny?)

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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2008, 07:23:33 AM »

Yes.

As to my comment about Sticking continuity, I offer you a great chunk of Star Trek Voyager fic - there's a lot of it that actually shows more respect to the characters and concepts of that series than Viacom/Paramount ever did, and they'll do so by ignoring great chunks of poor plotting and continuity.
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2008, 04:26:37 PM »

Slightly tangental, but there's evidence that 'fan fiction' can be bad even when written by professional authors. See David Weber's and Steve White's Starfire novels.

On a similar vein there's (the really quite good) Paksenarrion books by Elizabeth Moon which were born from the author's annoyance people roleplaying Paladins in D&D badly and are her attempt to do the concept and game definitions right. At times they read like someone's campaign logs and you have to wonder if she ever wrote the world up.

Lastly, there's Shawn Hagen's Star Blade Battalion fan fiction which does diverge from the setting's author's mecha design principles and (as Jim Milligan later revealed) the planned plot, but I think it comes across better for it. That the conflict was entirely a human matter and related to our own failings and faults makes it more interesting to me then the alien invasion thing that was apparently planned. Especially as SBB was conically the future of the Cyberpunk 2020 world until CP203X came out. They vary in quality and the author is at times more earnest then skilled and could definitely have done with more proof reading, but I found them enjoyable and the characters are memorable and engaging.
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Ezram
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2008, 06:45:38 PM »

For example: there is some Dawn of the Dead fanfiction which takes place around the time the events in the movie are depicted, but you're seeing it from another group's eyes, getting their feelings and such.

It didn't stick to canon much (in terms of location), but was so well written, I was willing to overlook it's "flaw" (not being set among the main characters).
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2008, 11:23:46 PM »

Eh. Sometimes I think you have to give continuity the big end of the stick if it's pants.

Returning to Star Trek for a pro-fic example, I'd take Diane Duane's take on the Romulans (properly the Rihannsu, whose concept of honour includes the idea that you haggle price upwards to something it is appropriate for someone of your social status to pay) from the novels over the screw-over given to them in Next Generation onwards that turned them from sleek mysterious evil vulcans to yet another fugly bumpy-headed menance of the week.

Seriously, the renegade Rihanna commander Ael is probably the single greatest continuing character in the Trek novel ranges, period. It was her daughter that Kirk and Spock screw over in the "Enterprise Incident", yet despite this her desire to preserve the honour of her people forces her to commit treason and side with the Enterprise to destroy a hideous secret weapons project.

The closest televised Trek really got to that was "In The Pale Moonlight" where Sisko deals with the problems involved in bringing the Romulans into the Dominion War on the side of the Federation, and the existence of Section 31.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2008, 11:30:20 PM by Mister Andersen » Logged

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