Welcome to “i on Romance”!
Hey, I’m Karen (@Aleveria) , one of the Junkies here on the blog. Sara has graciously given me a space here to interact with you, our readers. I will be introducing topics that (hopefully) will get you gals talking. They may be subjects that spark a debate, maybe it’ll be something that asks you what your preference is, or perhaps it’ll just be a fun question regarding books that you’ll be asked to answer.
Let’s Talk About Fanfiction
Today I’ll be discussing the Fanfiction transitioning to Mainstream Fiction trend. That’s a mouthful! I know this subject can be contentious, but I’d still like to propose starting a dialogue/debate amongst you, and interactions with the bloggers here.
First of all, I want to talk about the validity and acceptance of Fanfiction in general. There are creators that don’t acknowledge it as an accepted form of homage to their work. However, there are many creators that not only acknowledge the fanfic community, they encourage it.
There’s a quote that originated in the bible, but was made popular by Ambrose Bierce (thus proving the quote as true)
“There is nothing new under the sun”
I try and hold that idea with me when critiquing almost anything. One of my other gigs is podcasting about Television. We have a couple of unsaid rules, don’t use “it’s just a TV show”, to handwave a plot point, and don’t say “This has been done so many times…” to collapse a theme into nothingness. Those arguments diminish the subject matter so much that if they were valid points of contention, there would be no point to discussion at all.
One of my podcasts is a weekly round-table discussion about the TV Show “Castle”. During the summer hiatus in 2012 we featured rewatches and interviews with popular fanfic authors. Fanfiction is a large part of the Castle fandom, and those episodes were extremely popular. I have also done an “audiobook” version of a popular piece, and have gotten many requests to do more. The fanfiction medium is happily accepted there. As a side-note, two of the people I met through these talks have gone on to bigger and better things. One of them is a published author, and one has a job in the entertainment industry.
Overall, the creators that inspire fanfiction usually find it harmless and a homage to the characters they’ve originated.
Now let’s talk about censure and acceptance in the literary community. This is a much stickier situation. When fanfiction goes mainstream, it tends to get belittled by its critics. Personally, I think fiction is fiction is fiction. Again, nothing new under the sun applies to everything… including previously used characters and situations. There is a distinct difference between plagiarism and inspiration. All creation is sparked by something known to the artist, and as long as it’s made with the intent to publish something original, whether it is or not, the finished project shouldn’t be made fun of.
I’m not saying the work is good or bad per se, that’s a whole different matter. If an original work is written poorly, or not to your taste, or something similar – then it is absolutely okay to critique objectively. But that applies to all art in whichever medium it comes. Why is fanfiction singled out as an inherently inferior form of writing?
An offshoot of that backlash is the tendency to also condemn the people who enjoy the author’s work. You may not like the practice, but making someone ashamed of liking it is just plain wrong. I’m definitely guilty of teasing people about their choice of reading material on twitter, but those people know I’m doing it good-heartedly. I make sure to stress that I’m not making fun of them, I’m dishing it out and taking it too. I read my fair share of what I call “lady porn” – and when I’m teased about it, I take it in the manner in which it’s intended.
However, when the comments are based in disdain or even hatred, that’s when things become overly-judgemental and again, in my opinion, wrong. A person isn’t stupid or wrong for liking a book that originated as fanfiction, they’re only guilty of having a preference and an opinion.
I want to close by offering an example of an open-minded and generous author that not only acknowledges fanfiction based on his work, he features it on his website. Hugh Howey, author of the bestseller, Wool, dedicates a section of his site to people that have used his characters and settings as inspiration for their own work. I find this practice commendable and kind, and I think he’s amazing for being so generous.
If you’re so inclined, visit his site here to see what he does for his more creative fans. You can see in the comment section of some of the posts that the discussion gets lively from time to time, but Mr. Howey is always courteous and accepting of all points of view.
All in all, I think fanfiction can be good, and it can be bad, but it’s a valid outlet for people who want to write.
If the creators accept it, why shouldn’t the community? And if a book based on fanfiction becomes a mainstream hit, who are we to judge its success?
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below to continue the discussion. What are your thoughts on Fanfiction? Good or bad. Let’s get a dialogue going and see where it leads!