(OTish) Re: Q. about Fanfiction

Neil Ward neilward at dircon.co.uk
Mon Apr 16 13:23:26 EDT 2001

I'd agree with comments suggesting that DWJ's writing style would be more
difficult to imitate than, say, JK Rowling's, but, in the majority of Harry
Potter fanfic, the authors apply their own writing style to characters
supplanted from the books.  Further than that, they restyle the characters
and claim them as their own.  For example, they age the children and give
them adult sex lives; they explore the most unlikely romantic pairings; they
redeem apparently evil characters; and they endow minor players with
detailed character and personality.  In the end, they are writing derivative
fiction, but it is a very different approach to, say, using another work as
an inspiration or a model, or even stealing a setting.

This phenomenon seems to be related to a strong allegiance to the characters
in the Harry Potter books, rather than a desire to create new stories in the
style of the original author, and I think it is, therefore, very like using
a TV series or film as a starting point (there's also the cultish aspect,
which certainly plays a part).  Like many authors, JK Rowling has advised
fanfic writers to use their talent to write their own stories, but I think
that advice misses the fact that the fanfic is being used as an outlet
directly related to interest in her work, and not because the writers don't
have their own, original ideas.

I do think that, compared to JK Rowling's work, DWJ's is much more
intriguing and her characters rather more complex.  DWJ fans would, I think,
be less inclined to become so bizarrely possessive of her characters that
they need to steal them and remould them in fanfics, and more interested in
exploring the broader symbolism and intagibility of her ideas.  I love the
Harry Potter books, but DWJ gives me something else entirely: it's like
trying to consolidate a recurring dream that is being presented to me in
parts; parts that, I suspect, will never make a whole.


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