Fanfic (OT?)

Sally Odgers sodgers at
Thu Apr 19 03:35:53 EDT 2001

But I don't see what you would have to unlearn after writing a
>fan-fic, other than the habit of using other people's characters. Care to

It's not only other people's characters, but other people's concepts; a lot
of terms have been devalued over the years through too much
use-without-thought. The Tough Guide points this out... "cloaks" for
example. The difficulty in avoiding the use of the words Cloaks, Witches,
Horses, Stew etc (see The Tough Guide) is that you have to think of a
synonym or near synonym. World building also means that you can't take a
whole lot of stock stuff and toss it together because it gets gaping holes
in it... see my long-ago comments on the HP world. There's a lot of
back-story you need to consider to make a world, but if you persistently use
one created by other people, you get into the habit of tossing in terms for
money, food etc without thinking them through.

It's a bit like letting people loose with a ready-made cake that's been
cooked and cooled, mixing up the icing for them and supplying the
decorations. They "learn" that "a cake is cook and ready to decorate". Not
so! When they make their *own* cake it will be warm and will need cooling.
They "learn" that "icing comes in a smooth, ready-to-apply consistency. Not
so! They have to unlearn that and learn that "icing comes in lumps and fits
and starts and has to be beaten into submission".

A person who learns to drive an automatic car with bills and whistles will
find it difficult to accept that the left foot has a function. That's what I
mean by "un-learning".

You really do need to learn by making mistakes, that's if you want to write
seriously. Of course, if you don't, as someone pointed out, by all means
disregard what I've just said and stay a happy amateur!  Tho' most happy
amateurs flourish in the showier talents.  I've said this before, I think.
People who can play the organ by "colour-chord" or paint a bit or sing a bit
can all contribute happily to concerts, stalls etc. Writing of a
non-professional standing has very little chance of an audience. Ever tried
to sell a non-pubbed short story at a school fete? Fan-fic does have its
ready made audience, so the more I think of it the more I see it really is a
whole new ballgame.


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