?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Fanfiction Love & Play - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile
> my rpg writing site

May 5th, 2010


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
01:47 am - Fanfiction Love & Play
Today, I read another anti-fanfiction screed by yet another author who considers it to be theft, defiling the purity of their characters, & all the usual nonsense that I've read many times. Rather than link to that, I'll link to a positive statement about fanfiction by author Cory Doctorow . In addition to the fact that fanfiction is arguably fair use, two points immediately strike me about any argument about fan fiction – the first is that far from costing an author money – it's an excellent source of free advertising. People who write fan fiction often attempt to get to convince their friends to read their fanfiction and often try to get their friends to read or watch the source material so that the fanfiction will make sense.

I have read books and watched TV shows that I otherwise would never have considered because of fanfiction that I've read about them, and I know that I'm far from alone in doing this – the latest show I started watching is White Collar, which is fun, but sadly not as good as the best fanfiction that I've read about it, but I still watch it. If someone was attempting to make money off of their fanfiction, then the issue would be very different indeed, but that's essentially never true (and is quite rightly legally actionable).

The other issue is more complex – and reveals some of my more postmodernist attitudes. Authors may not want others to deal with their characters, but the only way to avoid this is not to publish their work. Even if no one wrote fanfiction, when people read a book, they think about the characters and talk about the characters in ways that the author will likely never have imagined and may be horrified by. I've seen this in book discussions, published reviews, and many other sources that are accepted by everyone to be perfectly legitimate. When stories, characters, or any other idea gets released to the public, people play with it – it's what humans do. People criticize characters, dissect their motivations, people discuss the story with their friends or imagine different endings to a story, and sometimes they write fiction about the characters or the setting, run RPGs in that setting for their friends, make fan vids about the characters or the story, or otherwise play with it. I firmly believe that stories are about playing with ideas – both in the mind of the creator and in the minds of the readers or viewers.

I remember an experience I had with something like fanfiction – When I went to Walking the Thresholds for the first time in 2004, I was at the Bardic Circle (storytelling and singing circle around a fire) & someone started telling a story that was clearly a gaming story about Exalted (although it wasn't prefaced as such), and it was about the characters having wacky adventures in one of the various locations that I created – I was overjoyed. With a very few exceptions, fanfiction is a work of love – love for a creator's work, and I'm not inclined to think well of people who attempt to stomp on the love of their fans.

(10 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:heavenscalyx
Date:May 5th, 2010 11:13 am (UTC)
(Link)
I've never understood the weird reaction of some authors to fanfic. You'd think that at the most basic (capitalist) level, the authors would be grateful for the free publicity, as you say. I mean, if I ever get something published that acquires a fandom of any size, I probably wouldn't read the fanfic, but I'd be glad to know it existed.

I suspect that a lot of objections to fanfic are based, one way or another, on homophobia, since slash is what people usually think about first when they talk about fanfic. "Oh, no, my golden prose about my golden (straight) characters! Those filthy fanficcers are infecting them with Teh Gay!" That sort of thing.
[User Picture]
From:lyssabard
Date:May 5th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
And it wasn't until I finished my post and the page reloaded that I was aware of "Hey, Utena Icon/fan!" *waves!!!*

I think homophobia and the fact that a lot of fanfiction recasts relationships and often alternative or more complicated relationship issues are explored therein is definitely a factor in the horror a lot of authors have with fanfiction, but I think there's also the artist territoriality of "This Is My Sandbox, My Characters, etc." and...that's just sad, IMHO. (And it is also, as Heron noted, probably fears of losing revenue or people trying to steal characters or ideas, too.)

To tell a story is to share it, to give birth and send it out into the world. When people get a hold of it and love it, when fandom and fanfiction take over--that's where a story gets to live and grow in a life of its own.

Edited at 2010-05-05 02:48 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:tangyabominy
Date:May 9th, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
artist territoriality

I really think that this is what a lot of it comes down to. "They're mine: I want to be the only one who decides what they think and feel".

And I can understand that reaction. But like Heron said, the only answer to that is not to publish; because the second you let that story out into the world, people are deciding for themselves what these characters think and feel. And if the lack of any fanfic is the only thing allowing you to delude yourself otherwise... well, it's a delusion, and you can hide from the fanfic and continue to pretend the world doesn't work that way if you can't hack it, but you can't demand that everyone else helps you hide the evidence by pulling their fanfic down.

If I ever publish anything, people will love characters I hate, and hate characters I love, and get their fundamental motives wrong. And it's my responsibility to myself, and no one else's responsibility to me, to be prepared for that or suffer the consequences
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:May 9th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I really think that this is what a lot of it comes down to. "They're mine: I want to be the only one who decides what they think and feel".

I can't help but see that sort of reaction as selfishness.
[User Picture]
From:tangyabominy
Date:May 9th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
(Link)
...also to end my sentences with periods.
[User Picture]
From:lyssabard
Date:May 5th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
So with you on this.
I also see fanfiction as our interactions with the text and creating a modern collection of folklore, as it were. I am reminded of all the folklore in Arthuriana, for instance, and how it all blends and merges to shape our modern notions of the tales of Arthur and his knights, etc. So, too, do we also build additional stories around various fandom artifacts.

And it utterly, utterly delights me.

I wonder when we will get the last bits of Archimage? :)
[User Picture]
From:jsguardian
Date:May 5th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yeah, I read that too. What amuses me about such things is that people like Chaucer riffed off Boccaccio all the time. Shakespeare borrowed all over the place. People have been doing this since before the printing press.

I certainly wouldn't condone people trying to make a profit off their fan fiction, but fanfic is perfectly legit. And as someone on the unnamed author's page said, fanfic has recently been used to raise over $100,000 in Haitian relief money. Food for thought.

The Doctorow article was interesting. I was impressed with Jim Butcher's new policy, as well.
[User Picture]
From:ladyjestyr
Date:May 6th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This post is a really nice list of 'legitimate' art that is also, effectively, fanfic. It's an impressive list. :)
[User Picture]
From:jsguardian
Date:May 7th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
That is a neat list. The thought just occurred that they should add Plato, too. He totally wrote Socrates fanfiction.
[User Picture]
From:krinndnz
Date:May 8th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
My perspective on it has mostly been this: why on earth would you want to prevent your fans from making your work more valuable? Now, I can see wanting to prevent stuff that you think detracts from the value of the Intellectual Property in question. Disney does this all the time, is my impression. But generally, a vivid community of fanfiction writers is a sign that you are doing something right and should keep doing it. This is not the same as making yourself beholden to that community, but it does mean not suing them because come on.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com