Friday, 22 January 2016

The fiction of fans


The concept of fan fiction, or fanfic as it's called - because everything has to be abbreviated these days - has been sweeping across the world wide web in a big way.

It's nothing new, of course, but the concept seems to be gaining momentum. Do a quick search online and you'll find hundreds of fanfic sites dedicated to the imaginings of people all over the world.

So, what is fanfic? The short answer is that it can be defined as work that has been inspired by books or movies, etc, where the writer uses the same characters/settings and so on that were used in the original works.

Fanfic can't be sold for copyright reasons, but that doesn't mean it can't be published and enjoyed by readers.

A number of writers you will have heard of got their starts writing fanfic. Think E.L. James from 50 Shades of Grey fame. Ms James started out writing fan fiction based on the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyers.

It's interesting to note that neither of these writers will go down in history as masters of intelligent literature, but nobody could argue with their bank balances.

So, why do people write fanfic? Good question, and according to Ebook Friendly, writers of fan fiction are, "Creating values the original work failed to offer."

Many writers hate their work being borrowed for fanfic. I can name several writers who have specifically requested that fans kindly refrain from using their characters and settings.

A small issue of copyright exists - naturally enough.

There is also the issue of fans using real-life celebrities in their works of fan fiction. It's an area of growing contention because it's too easy for people to hop onto the internet and make themselves famous at the expense of someone else's hard work.

Personally, I hate fan fiction. I have never written it and will never write it. Additionally, it annoys me greatly that some writers, who through lack of talent, imagination or pure capability, would not have been considered by any mainstream publisher in their own right.

Fanfic writers publish entirely on the internet, and there are heaps of sites dedicated to what I, in my humble opinion, consider to be some of the very worst examples of vanity publishing.

I think I've said it before - get your own characters!

Granted, Ms James of the 50 Shades phenomenon, did eventually find her own characters, and a cool $37m along the way. Kudos to her!

You think I sound grumpy about this? Well, yes I am grumpy about this. Developing a character, fleshing them out, rounding off their personalities, their likes and dislikes - everything about them takes time, and is often incredibly difficult. Then when you place them in a setting and subject them to conflicts that they have to deal with, you need to do a whole lot more thinking about how they'll handle it. What will they do? How would you expect your character to reasonably react?

Then someone comes along and uses them for their own purposes?! To make a name for themselves?!

I like to think of it in this analogy:

I love a spinach dish my local Indian restaurant makes - palak paneer. It's usually served with rice. Let's say I'm having a dinner party. I go to my local guy and order a takeaway palak paneer, bring it home, serve it on my own crockery with salad. Then I tell my friends I made it myself.

Really? Did I?

It's on a different plate - setting - with salad instead of rice - new situation - but it's still my local man's palak paneer.

At least the writers of fanfic are not that dishonest; they openly admit their's is a work of fan fiction, but most of them don't use their real names. Why is that I wonder? That's a hypothetical, I don't know the answer and don't expect one.

I could guess, though!

In any event, fan fiction is here to stay whether I like it or not. Perhaps you do like fan fiction, so just in case you do, here is Ebook Friendly's 15 most popular fanfiction websites.

There's a saying, There's nothing new under the sun, and just to prove it, I googled that saying and discovered that it is a quote from The Bible, it is a quote from Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and it's an idiom of unknown ancestry. Which one?

You decide, the bottom line is that there really is nothing new under the sun, so is any character truly unique to the one writer? Has the drama in their life never happened, ever, to anyone?

Okay, this is going way too deep!

Until next week, start with a name, eye colour, hair colour, height, weight, type of smile, sound of laugh, and go from there. That's how you build a character.

Oh - and exciting news ... I think. For the months of December and January, I am offering my book Torn at half price when you download it for your eReader, or purchase a gift download for a friend. See my website or Facebook page for more details.

Palak paneer: a dish best served with garlic naan.
I found this image on the Desi Twist Recipes site. Check it out!

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