I don't get fan-fic

I know there are a great many people who live, breathe, and love fan faction – that is, writing stories about characters that other people have created.

I’m not part of the fan-fic world in any way, so I welcome correction/explanation for some of the admittedly broad-brush conclusions I’m going to offer below. My intention is not to be insulting, so please treat me as someone who simply doesn’t know, and explain.

I don’t get it.

If you can write, then write your own characters! JK Rowling created Harry, Ron, and Draco. She didn’t spend her time writing about someone else’s characters - she created her own. It seems… I guess “lame” is the word I want … to spend your creative time and effort taking her characters and putting them into your stories. Why not create your own characters? Isn’t it true that you can’t? That your best efforts pale beside animating someone else’s hard-built and fleshed-out character?

Now. Erotica.

Here, for this subset of fanfic, I get the point. I think. A sexual fantasy involving Draco humping Harry isn’t likely to come from Ms. Rowling any time soon. Hot lesbian action between Buffy and Cordelia was never in Joss’ playbook. So if those scenes interest you, I totally get the idea of writing erotic fanfic. But that’s because it’s just an extension of common sexual fantasy – placing people you know, real or imaginary, into sexual situations.

So I guess I’m asking – apart from erotic-flavored fanfic, isn’t the pursuit of writing fan fiction pretty damn lame?

I think the non-sexual fiction has pretty much the same aim as the sexual type, which is basically to create more time with favorite characters than the original author is willing or able to give. Sort of an amateur version of all the Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who etc. novels that get written and actually published. Truly rabid fans just can’t get enough, and the internet has provided an unprecedented way to get more. Some people just read, some write as well.

Some people want sequels or episodes that the respective creators arent making, so fan-fic-ers make them themselves.

I myself am partial to crossover fanfiction, such as Star Wars and Star Trek characters interacting with each other.
Take it away, SPOOFE

Well, one advantage to fanfiction is just waht you said: that the characters and universe is already created. So you don’t need to waste time with backstory, you can plunge ahead and explore different plots, variations on characterizations, etc.

In fanfic, you’re unconstrained by the limitations of television/kid’s literature and so on. so you can explore how your favorite characters would react in different situations. The situations can include sex, death of a characters, events in the future, alternative universes (even my least favorite: what if the characters were in high school! :rolleyes: ). You can also explore the back stories and delve into more characterization than most television shows can.

Also, one of the major advantages is a built-in audience. You’re much more likely to get a lot of readers for your latest Harry Potter epic than you would a story involving characters no one’s ever heard of.

All of these reasons make fanfic a great way for fledgling writers to “get their feet wet”. I know of at least fanfic writers who has recently had an original novel published. There are also published writers who still enjoy writing fanfic (of other’s works) because it’s a fun exercise.

Personally, I enjoy seeing what other authors can do with my favorite characters. I often find the fanfiction more interesting with better plots and more depth of characterization than the actual books/television shows they’re based on.

My daughter loves fan-fic. I avoid it. The writers of fan-fic that I’ve read are usually too much of a fan; they write the characters as they want the character, and they have all the sublety of a sledge hammer to the skull. I haven’t read very much fan-fic, but what little I’ve read has been poorly written and not true to the original, and hasn’t instilled in me a desire to continue searching for the elusive, possibly mythical, good fan-fic

Goodness – I truly never thought of it this way. Just to be clear, I am not being sarcastic. I felt mostly like the OP – geez buy some creativity or something. But in that light, I suddenly get it. I’d never do it, but I do get it. I’ve had someone tell me something else about it, which I can sort of get, but I’ve not entirely bought into it: Fanfic is a way to practice writing without overly-investing yourself in the final product. Now, I’m no expert, but, I get the idea that most fanfic is written by people who are, in general, overly invested in someone else’s property. The idea, however, of writing for the love of the characters I can buy, just please, don’t pretend that it is your art or your work beyond plotting and narrative. I can even buy the idea that writing scripts like this is a good way to practice working as a writer on any given show.

But to get back to the point, I can pretty easily accept this “love of the character” idea.

Good call.

Fanfic is one of those things you either enjoy, or you don’t. It’s useless for me to try to convince you to enjoy fanfic, just as it’s useless for people to rave to me on the merits of Babylon 5, or the Matrix. Just not my bag, baby. So with that it mind, I am not saying this with the intention of making anyone like fanfiction.

Of course you’re going to have a skewed impression if all you judge fanfic is on the erotica. Most erotica in general, fanfic or no, is crap. That said, there’s some truly incredible (and incredibly hot) fanfic erotica out there. But fanfiction’s real strength lies in the versatility of the genre. You can explore a favorite character who was killed off, or ask what if? or look into an incident in the past the original author never expanded upon. There is some fanfic that is genuinely better than the source material that it’s based off of. Not all fandoms are created equal – you couldn’t pay me to look into the Harry Potter fandom (them folks is scary), but HBO’s OZ has the most high-quality fanfiction writing I’ve ever seen.

Most amateur writers will never be published. I love writing my little ficlets, I used to enjoy my (original-concept) RPG, but I’m realistic enough to know that I will probably never have a book deal. But I can still read and write little X-Men stories, which were created for the love of the source material and characters, not for expectation of monetary gain. Oh, and if anyone wants a recommendation for some stellar X-Men fanfiction, anything by Poi Lass is incredible, but especially First, Do No Harm .

I think that’s a bit harsh.

I don’t fan-fic, I have no dog in this fight, but…lame? Well, “JK Rowling created Harry, Ron, and Draco. She didn’t spend her time writing about someone else’s characters - she created her own.” Yes. Quite. But not everyone is JK Rowing. Or wants to be. Ok, perhaps many would want to be, but they aren’t. And many can live with that. And just want to stretch their imaginations a bit and write something about something that interests them.

Yes, I guess if you want to be taken for a real writer then it’s lame. Unless it’s just and excersize as tremorviolet noted. Yeah it can be lame but I wouldn’t say itis lame.

I’ve seen a lot of fanfic that falls into three catagories ( often all at once ) :

Fanfic designed to “do it right”, where the author thinks the original was badly thought out.

Fanfic as revenge fantasy, where a hated group/character that wins in the original get smashed, such as S.M. Stirling’s Draka running into the Borg.

Crossovers unlikely to occur, due to copyright issues if nothing else.

Most isn’t very good, but that’s to be expected; Sturgeon’s Law in action.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, who invented one of the most popular fanfic worlds (Darkover), endorsed the writing of fanfic as excellent exercise in working within an invented framework while learning plotting, characterization, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of her essays on the subject at hand to quote.

And of course, many medieval and Renaissance writers, including Shakespeare, found that taking existing settings, characters, and stories and finding new things to say about them, produced memorable literature. I presume you prefer Shakespeare’s Hamlet over Saxo Grammaticus’s.

Isn’t Virgils Anied basically the world first and most famous work of fan ficition?

He no doubt figured that since Homer wasn’t ever going to write any more to the Troy story, he might as well take a shot at it.

This I think is the best reason for fan fiction. You want to see more of the universe, the story was good but the ending sucked, or in some cases, there was no ending because it was never finished. It’s not the true ending, but might well be better.

Though in Virgils case there was a big of propgandizing as well.

I simply don’t GET this argument.

That rather ignores the whole point of writing a 'fic.

If you’re writing a 'fic, it’s because you want to play with somebody else’s characters (or just the universe). Exploring aspects of the worlds and characters not explored in the original work. ‘Fixing’ places where the canon went ‘wrong’. (Scarequotes because ‘where the canon went wrong’ isn’t particularly objective.) Playing with things that never happened in the original work that you think should have, or which just would have been interresting. Or just getting more of the characters you’ve gotten to love.

I’ve currently got a short (1 and a half stories so far) series of very short stories using the post-Zero Hour Legion of Superheroes - specifically Vi and Kinetix.

I want to explore Vi and Zoe’s relationship, a lot of which happened off-stage. (Something I didn’t notice reading it in monthly installments, but shows up rather glaringly in a recent reread.)

I’ve always thought they should be a couple (yeah, I’m a 'shipper :p), and think Vi’s canonical crush on Leviathan was kind of intensely lame. (The only indication of it before he died was her reacting with distress to the idea that Kinetix was sweet on him. Obviously, I choose to interpret that scene differently.) So, there’s ‘fixing’ that.

And that universe stopped being written a year ago, and neither Vi or Zoe was used a whole lot in the last days (and, frankly, Zoe was ruined in the early days of The Legion), so this is more stories of the characters in their heyday.

I’m perfectly capable of writing my own characters - but they wouldn’t be Vi and Zoe, would they? If I want to write a story involving original characters, I do. If I want Vi and Kinetix, they’d be a rather poor substitute, though, wouldn’t they? Or else a rather thinly veiled swipe, which WOULD be lame.

[Preview - OK, a lot of this has already been said. It’s STAYING, though.]

Ah, but sir, there’s entire genres built around writing about other people’s characters. I mean, if you write a story wherein Batman and Robin fight the Joker, and you’re not Bob Kane or Bill Finger, then does the fact that you’re getting a paycheck from DC comics really make it any more original?

Go to the science fiction section of any bookstore and count how much space is given over to Star Wars and Star Trek, none of it written by the shows’ creators. There’s a large market for people to buy this stuff. Is it really surprising that folks fancy themselves worthy of writing it too?

Bricker, do you not read fiction? Because the one thing that kills every fiction-reader is the eternal question -
What happens next??

And fanfic is one way to solve that, when the author can’t or won’t go further.

Menocchio, authorized “fan fic” like you describe is different in that the owners of the intellectual property (which might not necessarily be the creators) have a say (and vested interest) in how the characters are presented. Also, authorized fan fic (such as comics or Star Wars novels) are written by professionals, who usually are superior at characterization, pacing and plotting. I’m sure there is good fan-fic out there, but I’m not about to go wading through all the crap to find the golden nugget. Others enjoy it, and who am I to knock them?

Funny, I read lots of fiction, yet despite the eternal question, I’m still alive.

Bricker, some of us aren’t really interested in writing per se. For some, writing fan fiction is just for fun, just to explore, to satisfy that “what if” question, or just for more stories about characters that we love. I have no real desire to be a writer, I just like to play around with my favorite characters as a hobby.

:smiley: Sometimes I feel like I’ve died, when I get to the end and the author hasn’t satisfactorily resolved plot issues. Arthur Clarke, I’m looking at you.

It can be reasonably creative as well. A long time ago I made a brief foray into Dr. Who fanfic, and, aside from the Dr. and the rules of that universe and the general gadgetry, I was pretty much free to what I liked. He was the only character in the stories that I didn’t invent. It can be a bit like doing historical fiction, I expect. You have to limit yourself in some ways to make it credible, but there’s still quite a bit of room to stretch out. And I think it would be good practice for a budding writer.

I liked reading fanfic until I one of the Seaquest stories I wrote was about Lucas and was classified as ELF (evil lucas fanfiction), where he was suffering from depression and tried to kill himself.

Not long after Jonathan Brandis hung himself.

Not sure why that bothered me so much, but it did.