(OT)/Q. about Fanfiction

Kyla Tornheim kyla at sccs.swarthmore.edu
Mon Apr 16 12:10:02 EDT 2001

On Tue, 17 Apr 2001, Sally Odgers wrote:
> I have read some very clever fan-fics (there's a real genius out there
> writing Stargate SG1 stuff)
ooh, where? (I love that show, and haven't been able to watch it for a few
months since I'm at school--but my dad's taping them for me. :^)

> but the question always begs - these writers
> are capable, sometimes even brilliant, so what are they doing borrowing
> someone else's world? Do they feel some lack of confidence in their own
> inventions or is there some challenge (which escapes me) in stepping into
> someone else's shoes?
Well, I don't write fanfic myself, but I do read some of it. And I think
it tends to work better when the original work is a TV show or movie. That
way you're not trying to imitate someone else's writing style (which would
really not work with DWJ, I agree). Also, since episodes of TV shows are
written by many different people, there are different takes on characters,
and if you don't like one, you're allowed (I think) to ignore it as
temporary insanity. There's also more of a feeling that the viewers only
get to see part of what's happening--we get one episode a week, but things
generally happen in "real time," so there's most of a week we're not
seeing. And fanfic writers often fill in some of those gaps.
	And about the borrowing of others' worlds--it's so much easier to
write when you already know your characters. If you're a reasonably
observant, intelligent fan, you get to know the characters you see, and
you can imagine them doing other things. They're like friends--think about
two of your friends having a conversation with each other. You can
probably picture the type of words they'd use, how Catherine stands with
her weight on one leg and talks deliberately, how Abby uses words like
"squoogy," and it would be easy to write about that.
	Maybe it's a good way to practice writing--many people have
already collaborated to give you characters (the person with the main
idea, the casting people, the actor, the writers) and so you just have to
deal with the plot and making sure that those characters remain who they
are. But you also have a built-in audience, if your stories are any good
at all; and people who write fanfic presumably do it because they love it,
and aren't trying to get it published.
	Okay, so that was a bit long. I still don't think people should
write fanfic based on books (as in I totally agree with Susan Cooper's
suggestion to Nat), but TV shows, since they're much less a creation of
one mind, with many more empty spaces that can be filled, are fair
game. As long as you put those annoying disclaimers, that is.

Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where's it 
going to end?
       --Tom Stoppard

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