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The why and why not of fanfiction

So I've been reading around recently, and one discussion caught my eye and I feel the need to write about. Not really surprising considering this is me but annyway here goes my mini-essay,(or mini-rant perhaps?) on the subject.



What is fanfiction? If you don't know there are several links I can recommend. This is one I had been given recently, not the best (a few years out of date too) but here you go - is from the BBC H2G2
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A632062

There's been a debate (or rather an arguement) between these two journal/blogs
http://www.meljeanbrook.com/index.php?action=viewstory&sid=129#comments
And the other by a screenwriter/ties in novelist, which bookmark I have misplace currently (will put up as soon as possible)

The arguement seemed to go,
Mel: I'm a writer, I practice with them and find it fun. Yes, it's technically illegal but it's not harming anyone.
Lee: You're not a writer, you're stealing their characters. Fanfiction is plaigarism, fanfic writers are parasites.

Now that's oversimplified but that's what it seems to boil down to.
My personal thoughts are what the hell are you talking about?! Fanfic is NOT plaigarism, there are no fanfic writers out there who steal ideas and claim as their own. They may be 'stealing' characters but that's not plaigarism, that's a copyright infringement issue, which is slightly different.

As for the people who may infact be claiming the characters of shows etc as their own. Well *rolls eyes*

a)No one would believe them. Fans know who created their favourite shows, in no way could scuh a person pass off that idea unless a fan was stupid enough to believe the old "Yes I did it first and then they copied me and traveled back in time to do it before me" concept.

b)Anyone who is doing that isn't a fanfic writer. They may be a writer because all you have to do to be one is write, but they're certainly not fanfiction. The whole deifintion of fanfiction is fiction written by fans; if they're claiming characters to be their own then they wouldn't be a fan by their own definiotn would they and by the fanfic community they'd be person-who-talks-complete-bollocks writer, nothing fan like about it apart from some misguided obssession crossed with dillusion.

Anyway, onto the fact of copyright infringement.
Sure - we are infriging. Why admit so? Because we ARE and nothing changes that, but importantly it's a grey area.
In legal terms I know everything is black and white and what fanfic writers do is legally wrong but the law is based on ideals, often with little room for interpretation or taking into account situations. That being where judges comes in should it be within a case, but here we are in real life. It's the same grey area as policemen letting someone off for a first offense of something teribly minor, it's still illegal but the law isn't always enforced. Legally clear but ethically and practicaly grey.

The second point to that would be companies/writers tend to overlook fanfiction etc in the same way because it doesn't do any good to go around sueing fans. So it's claimed fanfic writers are parasites? Doesn't sound nice does it, implying fanfic writers are two-bit scum preying on poor old corporations and successful authors. Yes, I'm sure it's detrimental to them, poor things - it only keeps the fanbase alive and interested in the fandom. If you missed that it was sarcasm there.

Without fanfic some fandom would have died long ago. Take Quantum Leap - just rereleased on DVD. The show ended ages ago but fans are going strong - there's even a complete virtual season written for it here.
http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/virtualseasons/main/main.html

Also pointed out not too long aog on the BBC's Doctor Who documentary right before the new series was how fans had never stopped being into the show/universe, mainly becuase there were always more adventures - fans had enough choice between the audiobooks, comics, cartoons and fanfiction to keep them going until it's revival. Fanfiction injects life and enthusiasm into a fan community - that isnt parasitical, that's complimentary, symbiotic even(though maybe I should have avoided that use considering the SG fandom...).

I can't think of any fandom where fanfiction has negatively affected the profitability of the creators.
It only adds to it. As for the idea that we can't be loving our characters or universe if we feel the need to do that, rubbish. Humans have an enormous capacity for pondering those 'what ifs'. Unfortunately most what ifs about my life and others aren't going to make great stories, maybe they could one day when we're more developed as writers but not right now. So fanfic writers play with a ready made universe just the same as they would with daydreams. What ifs can be fun and this is whats complimentary to the fandoms - StarGate Atlants will probably never have a Christmas episode but fans want to know what happens there, they want to see further into the show than the writers are likely to go in that direction. That's not wrong of the fans to want and it's not wrong for fanfic writersto fill the gap. The fanfic writers are happy and if the story is good so are the fans, and happy fan won't bug the writers about when/if there's going to be an episode like it, or at least not quite so much.

Happy fans also keep interest, they talk and they interact and there happens the spiralling upwards of wasn't that so great etc. Sure they point out bits they don't like too and sometimes create fanfic to compensate but the rootings of this are that the writers can't pleae 100% of the fans 100% of the time or even give them everything they want. They can restricted by budget, time and so many others things that there are stories we will never see unless they are written as fanfic. Fanfic covers the areas people wished they'd seen and won't ever - it fills the gap between fans and fandom and definitely not detrimentaly so.

And I'd like to finish this little piece with another point. Mel said she can't help but write out fanfic ideas and Lee admonished her for lack of respect for the writers and not being able to constrian herself.

One question: Have you had a plot bunny? A real plot bunny - the kind that digs in and place sitself before anything else? Becuase those can't be ignore, they eat away and I'm not joknig when I say they can drive you mental if you don't write them out. And if I write said bunies out what should I do with them.

There are 3 options I can see right this minute.
1)I write them and do nothing, leave them sitting on my harddrive.
2)Don't write them and spend every waking hour wishing I had
3)I write and then post them out there on the net.

Option 2 isn't any option for me. I like ym sanity or what's little is left of it.
Option 3 is what I do now becuase Option 2 is crossed off and to be honest I don't agree with option 1. Why? It's pointless to do that. Why write but don't share? If there's any chance my fanfiction will be enjoyed byothers then I want to let that happen, maknig people happy is important and a decent occupation or motivation in life. Considering my fanfic isn't detrimental to the fandom and the profit of the creators then I'd rather it gets put out there to bring a bit of happiness to some one. I think that's fair and decent.

Now if creators of something said, right no more fanfic for X I'd have to stop writing for X, or stop posting it at least, but that hasn't happened for my fandoms and I'm glad. It's be commercial suicide for many fandoms if they did that because unhappy fans don't tend to be so keen on buying stuff from people who made them unhappy.

If I at any point become a published author let me say no that I won't give two toss' if people write fanfiction on my stuff. They might murder the characters personalities or slash those who should be unslashable, and probably write the worst written fanfic there is, possibly even stuff thats unsalvagable by even the most angelic and patient betareader BUT I'd be proud and flattered. I'd probably be amazingly interested in what people were doing with my creations (though unable to look for legal reasons I imagine).
Maybe most fanfic is twoddle but it's useful in a vareity of ways, not just for those wirting and reading it and it does bring happiness to some. If you don't like it then don't read it, leave it for those who do and try not to bring it down simply because you wouldn't touch it with a bargepole.



Hmm, think the rant might be mostly finished now. Back to work now I have more hope of concentrating.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
ladybeth
Apr. 19th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC)
If writers of whatever media has the fanfiction want to control fanfiction, they should do what Anne McCaffery did. she figured no one was really going to stop playing around with her charactesr and universe so she made a special area simply for that and asked that they only post their fanfiction involving her characters/universes etc there.
missyvortexdv
Apr. 19th, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC)
I agree that's a good way of dealing with it, especially so writers can avoid it. Since there's the problem they can't read it incase some fan sues them for stealing ideas then I did wonder if it would work if authors could have a legal notice exempting non-profit fanfiction with the clause fanfic writers also can't sue then, sort of allowing them to be able to read what people are doing if they wanted to and also solving problems of fanfiction legality and authors getting sued. I've no idea if that would be possible but it's a neat idea in my opinion.

Anyway, about my rant, the funny thing is that those complaining weren't authors of which fans were writing fanfiction. They (Lee and others) were griping about fanfic in general and how wrong (legally and ethically) it was. Fair enough to have their own opinions but I found it not correct on a few points and missing the point entirely in certain parts of the discussion, as well as deeply insulting. They don't approve or enjoy of fanfic as far as I can tell but why attempt to spoil the fun for those who do if the authors themselves aren't complaining?
ladybeth
Apr. 20th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC)
The only authors who I find who are complaining are the ones listed at FF.net and JK Rowling who prefers that slash fanfiction not be written with her characters.

I think ideas flow like osmosis sometimes. For example, I was reading a X-files fanfic and got an idea for a HC SGA fic. So that could be a negative aspect but it doesn't hurt anyone.

Besides...some authors actually have people write stories for them. Like George Lucas & The StarWars Universe. Legal and money-making fanfiction.
in_purple_skies
Apr. 19th, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC)
WORD on the plot bunny issue. I have a crazy routine where I get into bed, lie in bed, let the bunnies attack until they are really getting good then get up and write the poem/essay/whatever in the dark at 2am. I just can't do fiction, gah.

Warning: This bunny managment plan is not recommended for those who value their eye sight. :D
missyvortexdv
Apr. 19th, 2005 05:54 pm (UTC)
I couldn't manage that. I did/do poetry but fiction has taken over in the last year or so -as for writing at 2am, why in the dark? I have weird sleping and do alot of writing then on my pc. Not good for me though!
in_purple_skies
Apr. 19th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC)
In the dark (well, there are the street lights from outside too) because I'm a courteous crazy writer with light sleeping family members.

I can only seem to write properly with pencil and paper. I have three or four mechanical pencils littered round the room for easy access too. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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