Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wait, Harry Potter Did WHAT With Snape?!

Roughly a bajillion years ago, I promised you my thoughts on fanfiction, and then promptly forgot about it. But when The Husband and I were watching Prince Caspian, he made the comment, "Man, I bet there is some seriously f*&%ed up fanfiction about this movie." Not only did that spark my interest in finding awesomely wrong Prince Caspian fanfiction (there isn't any that I could find, sadly, although there ARE some super-messed up Lucy/Mr. Tumnus stories. Yeah, the little girl. And the dude with goat legs. Although in those stories, Lucy is like 18, so I guess it's okay. Except not), but it made me remember all the stuff I wanted to say about the wonderful, wacky, and occasionally X-rated world of fanfiction.

Back when I was on submission, I did a Google search of my name because I knew the editors that had my manuscript would be doing the same (Sidenote of Writerly Advice: This is why submission is like Fight Club; the first rule of being on submission is that you DO NOT TALK about being on submission. You can say your book is out there, but don't say how many people have it or, God forbid, WHO has it. Book deals have fallen apart over that kind of thing. Fer serious.)

One of the first hits I got for "Rachel Hawkins" was a fanfic writer who has stuff at Fanfiction.net, and I have to be honest, my first thought was, "Oh, no! People will think I write fanfic!"
And then I had to stop for a minute and wonder why that thought horrified me so much. After all, I have written fanfic, way back in the day, and not under my actual name, and in a fandom so obscure, I'm not sure it can even be called a fandom. (And no, you probably won't be able to find it, even if you did some serious digging, although I'm sure it's still floating around the internet. Nothing ever dies in Internetlandia!)

This got me thinking about how I really real about fanfic. I think I was embarrassed that publisher people might think I was a fnafic writer because so much of fanfic is A)poorly written, or B) straight-up porn, or C)both. But I have to admit there is some really good stuff out there, even in the fandoms I don't particularly get.

That's right. In some alternate universe, these 3 are totally Doing It.

So this leads me to how I feel about fanfiction as a writer. There are several writers who don't allow FF of their work, most famously Anne Rice. George R.R. Martin also asks that his fans hold off on the fanfiction, at least until his series in finished. And I think those requests should be respected. If an author says you can't play in his/her sandbox, then find somewhere else to play. Then there are authors who started out as fanfiction writers, like Cassandra Clare, and Meljean Brook.

As for me, if someone ever wanted to write Demonglass fanfiction, I'd be totally down with it. I think it would be awesome to have someone respond creatively to my work. I wouldn't read it, though, because I think that's where you can end up in slippery slope territory. Let's say a reader sends me a story where Sophie, my main character, befriends a unicorn who turns out to eat brains, thus becoming the world's first Zombie/Unicorn hybrid. But I've already written a Zombie/Unicorn hybrid- a Zomicorn, if you will- into Book 2! Book 2 comes out, and the reader is all, "OMGWTFBBQ? Bitch, you stole my idea!" And then there are Legal Issues that no one wants to deal with.

And of course, I'm totally against the idea of people trying to get fanfiction published. Come on, now.

But so long as the fanfic writer doesn't seek to profit from his or her stories, I think it's all in good fun. Fanfiction is an awesome place to work on your writing skills because it's like riding a bike with training wheels. You get to play around with story and dialogue and not worry too much about setting or character. It's also a good way to build up a readership and start dealing with critiques, because God knows the "feedback" is flyin' in the Fanfiction world! (Say THAT 3 times fast!)

And hey, you can also get your weird sexual issues out if you feel like it! Everybody wins!

These two? Alternate universe where she is not, like, 7? Totally Doing It.

That said, if you're serious about becoming a professional writer, there comes a time to put your Pretend Edward Cullens and Fake Frodo Baggins away, and start building your own universe. But fanfic is still a fun way to rev up the creative engines.

So how many of you have read/written fanfiction? How do those of you who are writers feel about it?


Tiffany said...

I have no comment on fanfic, but I had to tell you I laughed out loud at "zomicorn". You rock balls!

Mark said...

I personally place fan-fic somewhere between captions for photo shoots in hustler and the bathroom wall in the second stall of Conoco on 3rd & King. It started when I felt I had the absolute need to learn more about SeaQuest that Roy Schnider and Johnathan Brandis could deliver. I learned my lesson quickly, crappy writing has nothing on crappy acting. (Fan Fic could possibly have led to his death) I abated for a while, at least until the end of book seven of you know what. I was sure that there had to be something amazing out there for me to read. 150 ridiculous sex scenarios later, I felt dirty and ashamed. I'll wait for the real deal from now on thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you -- I think it's a way to play. However, you have to go beyond it, eventually, if you want to seriously pursue a writing career.

A lot of people I've met think if they write "fanfic" about their favorite show or movie, they can sell and episode. In a lot of fanfic I've seen, the writer has a character that's a stand-in for the writer that becomes the center of the action. When you write for a show, the regular cast MUST be the center of the action.

I agree with you that far too much is badly written and/or lousy porn.

If someone wants to do it for themselves, fine. But the world was created by the original author, and I don't think fans have the right to change that world

Fanfic is not something I enjoy or choose to read. There's a reason the original writer is the one who published that world, and most of the rest is simply pale imitation, and not all that creative.

Move BEYOND playing in someone else's sandbox and build you own, is my view.

LitWitch said...

1st thought: Ick.

2nd thought: Cassandra Clare (Claire) made a nifty career and agent deal out of it!