During my “31 Days of Post,” I wrote about my conflicted thoughts about fanfiction. My feelings on the subject remains, ultimately, the same. But the more I think about fanfiction, the more I’m concerned about what it can do to young writers who wish to write professionally.
Here is an example. This is a Glee fanfiction. Kurt Hummel’s birthday is after Valentine’s Day. Maybe even a month past. The AU element of the piece (all fanfiction by its very nature is AU) is that Burt actually does favor Finn and they go to a football game the same day as Kurt’s birthday. And they left without Kurt. Add in the whole thing with Blaine and Rachel, and Kurt runs off to France to live with his wealthy maternal grandmother. And he meets Sebastian.
Now, there is a huge issue with the premise. If Kurt’s birthday is in March, the NFL season is over. But basketball season is on (and Cleveland really would work better), or maybe early baseball season.
Clearly, the fanfic writer (I won’t use her username) did not do her research. Which may explain why certain core plot elements are never explored. . .
Research, or the failure to do it, is one of my pet peeves when it comes to writing. And this includes fanfiction.
Just because you (the fanfic writer) are using a preexisting intellectual property does not mean that you can let your imagination loose without doing the research. You need to do it yourself. Otherwise your work will look shoddy. Even if your writing is above average.
If your version of Kurt Hummel is more in the fashion industry, do the research.
If your Dursleys abandoned Harry Potter rather than take him in, find out what the contemporary alternatives to orphanages are (given that they have fallen out of favor for the last thirty or forty years).
I could go on and on. But I won’t.
Because I’ve got game seven to watch. Go Spurs!
I’m surprised it has taken me this long to finally write a post about fanfiction. My own personal attitude towards the form is, honestly, torn. In a way I agree with George R.R. Martin’s negative appraisal. But at the same time, I really see no problem with it as long as certain conditions are met.
Now, I agree 100% with Martin that it is far preferable for young writers to work on their own creations rather than riffing and reimagining existing intellectual properties and franchises. Especially if one is good enough to publish on one’s own original work.
I want to see what you can come up with as opposed to how you can take Harry Potter, Glee, Buffy, Naruto, etc. and transform those preexisting stories.
But, I can understand the desire to want to write one’s favorite characters. That’s the allure of working on superhero comics. And I can get that while hundreds or thousands of fanfiction readers will read an awesome pastiche, who would want to write an equally awesome (if not more so) story by the same author under her own name? And that’s what sucks.
To be frank, I’m a bit murky on the financial aspects of fanfiction. If the fan writer is not making any money off of their work (save for the gratification of being read), I don’t see how that hurts the owners of property (whether those owners be authors or corporate entities).
That is not to say that there is not a danger. Especially if one happens to read fanfiction based on one’s own work. I think it was Martin (or maybe another writer) who related the story of a nasty incident involving Anne McCaffery and a fanfiction writer that occurred years ago.
So if there is fanfiction based on your work, don’t read it. Ever.
What if a work of fanfiction, almost completely divorced from the inspiration text, becomes published? This has happened several times before. In this case, I think it is up to the creator of the inspiration text (and their lawyers) to determine whether or not the former piece of fanfiction warrants a copyright infringement suit.
I see both sides in this argument. Fanfiction provides a means for fans of a work to come together and create their own versions. But it can also stifle their own creativity (if they are interested in pursuing a writing career professionally). In the end, how one looks at fanfiction is a personal choice informed by their own experiences and beliefs.
Oh, and by the way: Life is miserable and full of pain.
Curse you Longhorns. And Cowboys. And Texans.
Now I know why I hated sports growing up.