Friday, September 25, 2009

Another God damned post about fan ficiton!?

Yeah, but this one's about me, too.

To say that I've been reading a lot of fan fiction recently is like saying that people breathe. I've been through lots of bad stuff and found a few pretty good things, but I've read way more than some may want to believe.

As I read a question crept into my mind: Why haven't I been writing fan fiction? I've been reading it off and on since 1997, why haven't I created my own? I sit and think "what if?" about nearly everything I enjoy. I wonder about the life of characters after then end or at an age that the original never went to and I think up arcs and stories, why haven't I ever put them down in writing?

(Okay, so technically, I have. There's that Voyager thing I did and a short Sliders story (Both of which need some massive editing. Like and embarrassing amount of editing.), but I haven't done any regular fan fiction writing, ever.)

In the beginning I think it was because I saw fan fiction as a fun diversion. I was in school and busy with my school work and what not. It was there for me to read and enjoy, but it wasn't something that I wanted to create myself.

When school ended I kept reading, but I had delusions of being a "real" writer. Of writing short stories and novels and having them published on paper that people paid money for. Of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people enjoying a tale spun from my thoughts. I didn't write anything much beyond a paragraph, though. Eventually, I knew I wouldn't do anything more than that and did my best to stop thinking.

Still the hope was there and I started that Fiction Friday experiment. I think there's some strong stuff in there. Good ideas and plenty of okay writing. (Also, poor editing, but that's only because I'd post 'em right after I wrote 'em. So, really, that's a different problem. Procrastination.) If wishes were ponies, I'd still be posting those on a regular basis an have more than two years worth of short stories on here.

The main problem was that I just didn't write. There were, and are, plenty of ideas in my head, but I didn't, and don't, write. I can't say why, but I don't. I guess that just not enough of me wants to.

Ce qui a été, est.

Which, pretty much, brings us up to this latest run in with fan fiction and me still not writing it.

Why not?
  1. It's hard to suppress the belief that fan fiction isn't real writing.
  2. You don't make money from it.
  3. Only a niche group is going to read it.
  4. I want to play in the sandbox, but play with my own toys more than the creator's toys.
  5. Fandom is insanity, even if there are a bunch of decent people.
  6. Copyright infringement.
  7. I'd have to join a community.
  8. I'm better than fan fiction.
It's the last one that really pisses me off, but I'm going to go down that list one at a time:
1. I know this one isn't true, a lot of the stuff is crap, but I've read some stuff by people who can really write. They know how to craft a sentence to support a paragraph to build a story. I even found one today that had writing in the good-to-great range.

It is real writing. There are creative plots and intriguing ideas. The writers may not create the character and too many don't know how to keep the characters in character, but they're still putting one word next to another (except for the ones written in 1337 or txtese) to create an (hopefully) original story.

2. Well, that's true, but really how often to "real" writers make money from their first several short stories. Pretty damn rare for a new writer to get published in The New Yorker.

Plus, if money was made off of fan fiction (aside from the company approved stuff) we'd see the publishers and movie/TV studios and authors come swooping in with their lawyer to crush the folks who write the stuff.

3. Also true, but at least you know that they're there because they like the characters, right?

4. What I mean by this is that I'm far more interested in putting in new characters to explore the universe without ever necessarily going near the original characters.

To better explain, hopefully: How are young wizards, in the Harry Potter-verse, in the USA trained? There are some boarding schools in the USA, but there's very few and very far between. Even the ones that do exist don't really do the whole different-houses-that-compete thing. Would there be one or two or three big schools for wizarding children for the USA or maybe all of North America that all the magical children go to? Or would it be more like a local after school program for those certain special individuals? And how did Voldemort causing trouble in England effect the wizards in the US and Canada?

That's something that I'd be more interested in exploring than what happened to Ron after he ditched Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hallows and then coming back to them or Peter Pettigrew's adventures with the Weasley family or redeeming Draco Malfoy. But is it really a Harry Potter fan fiction if it never mentions Harry Potter?

5. Whatever you write, even if people like it, you won't ever get any constructive criticism, which I think is important for any writer.

Also, once you start writing under any fandom they, or a vocal number of them, think they own the characters and therefore should be able to tell you exactly what you should have done while they call what you, probably, worked hard on a horrible piece of shit.

Oh, sure, fuck 'em, right? It's not that simple, though. As seen by 3, those are the only people who are going to be reading what you wrote. Fan fiction does not expand beyond the small part of the fanbase that reads and writes it.

6. Always a concern. Some of the original creators support fan fiction, some ignore it (or pretend to ignore it), some ask for it to be removed when they find out it's been done. Lots of the properties aren't owned by the original creators, or at least not totally, and who can tell when Viacom or Universal or Warner Bros. or Disney will have their attorneys send out cease and desist letters to the massive fan fiction websites.

7. Once you write it and put it on a fan fiction site, your part of that community. Whether it's a site that's about all fan fiction or a site dedicated to one certain character/show/book/whatever your part of a community and there are certain expectations that I'm uncomfortable with, like conversations with people. Even knowing it's via message board it makes my stomach flop.

8. I'm not. I know I'm not.

To be better than fan fiction I'd at least have to be writing something. I'm not though.

To actually be better than fan fiction I'd have to be published or filmed and have people writing fan fiction based on my stuff.

And it really bugs me that floating around in my brain is that damn thought because at least those guys and girls are writing something creative. I'm not even doing that. I'm just sitting and thinking about ideas. Nothing goes down on paper or takes up bits on the hard drive, nothing. Still, the thought is there.

I feel like I should be wrapping this up, but I don't know how. Will I continue to not write fan fiction? Will I start writing fan fiction? Will I quit the fan fiction thing altogether? I really can't say.

I have ideas. Like the one mentioned above. Hell, I even have ideas for a couple of series of stories for several different fandoms, for lack of a better word. As I wrote earlier, I just don't write. (And, yes, I realize the irony in that sentence.) I don't. I think I should, but... you know.


heels said...

Making money- good fan fiction writers must break out eventually, right? I mean, if you have a dedicated group of readers for your fan fiction, it seems like they would be willing to follow you to something else. I know I've followed authors across genres. It could just be a good entry, and at least you'd be writing. I always find that writing leads to more writing.

I like the idea of fan fiction written in the world but not with the same characters. In fact, it sounds better than that written WITH the original characters because, as you wrote, it's hard to keep characters that are already known consistent with the original, and deviations are annoying.

Constructive criticism- when I've tried to give it previously, I don't think you've liked it much. Are you really prepared for it?

But I'd love to know you're writing again, even if we don't get to see it. I believe that creative outlets are necessary for mental health- I know I go a little nuts when I can't sew or cook or paint or... whatever it happens to be at the time.

ticknart said...

1. I don't think that most of the people who are writing fan fiction ever move over into regular fiction. I think they stick with what's comfortable. Maybe if one does write something outside of fandom a few of their fans will follow, but I don't know. The only person I've found who writes fan fiction and writes semi-professionally writes for a local theater group, which is mostly made up of a lot of her coven.

2. Most fan fiction readers seem to HATE original character.

3. This'll probably sound really snarky, but other than the story I asked you to read while I was in college, when have you given/I asked for constructive criticism from you? (Asking that makes me feel like a jerk.) I didn't see many comments from you on the Fiction Friday stuff.

Anyway, the closest thing that I see to constructive criticism on fan fiction is, "You need to edit better." or "Character A wouldn't act like that." or "It's 'your' not 'you're,' get it right." or "This sucks." or "It's okay." I guess writing short responses is the nature of the 'net, though. Not much can be done about that.

heels said...

You also gave me the comic book, but no- there hasn't been a lot. I'm not inclined to comment that way about creative work unless specifically asked to, though, and I'm even less likely to do it in "public."

You're right about internet comments. Most people find the anonymity intoxicating, both in their ability to not provide anything meaningful and for being unbridled assholes. I guess that's why some writers trying to gain momentum join in-person groups. That has a whole other element of pain associated, I imagine...