DWJ and fanfic (was this is gonna be weird)

Ika blake at gaudaprime.co.uk
Fri Nov 19 14:09:06 EST 2004

Ahhhh [happy sigh]. A discussion about fanfiction. Yayy.


>> *Almost all the stories on ffic.net seem to be about Tom & Polly or
>> Sophie & Howl, which is not something I'd be that interested in
>> reading, because, you know, the *books* are about those pairings...
>> but that's just me.
> Oh, I agree.  I'd be more interested in Ayna/Gerald

<double-take> Really? That's something I would never have seen - I must
reread Power of Three to see if I think it could work. I pair Gerald with
Gair in my head - I think Ayna's very like her mum and needs someone a bit
more charismatic and difficult than Gerald.

> Of course one doesn't have to explore only relationships between
> characters
> - I think Morgan Jenkins could have quite an interesting childhood.  I
> foresee a Tan Hanivar talent as a side effect of that cat spell...

Yes - I'm fascinated by what it would be like to have been a kitten in
infancy. Imagine how frustrating it would be to suddenly be a human baby
and incapable of all the things you could do perfectly well as a kitten...
But then I wonder about Cat and Fiddle, as well (what's it like to have a
life in a cat?)

Sally (on the Chrestomanci/Chrestomanci story on ffic.net)

> That's actually pretty good... it borrows from the peacock story. I think
> I've mentioned before that I don't "get" the motivation for fanfic though?
> I've occasionally (in the course of business) had to write about someone
> else's characters. I always find it a disagreeable experience.

Really? Can you explain why? I used to write 'realfic' (non-fanfic) but I
basically quit when I discovered fanfiction, because I think you can do
more interesting things in fanfiction (or at least it's more suited to the
things I find interesting/valuable about writing). But I write a lot of
original characters in fanfiction, and I'm just starting a realfic novel,
and I don't really experience that much difference in writing original vs
other people's characters: I just watch what they do and write them down,
in either case.

Deborah responded (mostly snipped because it was just interesting and
well-expressed and I can't add to it):

> For me, it depends on the characters.  A good serial television program,
> for purely marketing reasons, is going to have plenty of unresolved
> tenstion among multiple assortments of characters, unexplored plot
> lines, and other holes and spaces to play in.  It's how they keep you
> watching their show instead of "Trading Mommies" week after week.
> (Although it occurs to me that there's probably reality tv fanfiction.
> Ugh.)
> DWJ is a counter example.  A good book leaves spaces for your mind to
> play in, but less unresolved resolvable stuff (a modernist novel might
> leave plenty unresolved, but it won't leave spaces to make it tidy).
> <snip> I'm *satisfied* with what DWJ has given me.

Yes - I write fanfiction in two fandoms (Blake's 7 and Harry Potter), both
of which are *dreadfully* messy: Blake's 7 productively so, because you
already have to do a lot of work (resolving contradictions, finding
connections) to make the series make sense - it was written by multiple
writers in the days before VCRs were common, so there wasn't an
expectation that people would be paying the kind of close, fannish
attention that fanfiction requires. So some fanfiction is just writing
down the speculations and questions that the series makes possible. (Harry
Potter is a whole other kettle of fish, but I won't go on about *that*
again here!)

> As for the slash, which I usually love: I'm much more intrigued by
> Torquil the flamer than I would be by Torquil the lover of, oh, grown up
> Christopher Chant.  He's more fun as an implicitly but not explicitly
> sexual person.
> To me, anyhow.

Hmm. The only DWJ fanfic I've ever felt the desire to write has come from
a similar feeling that something has been left unexplored, or that a
productive tension has been left open. And I only ever figure things out
by writing, so writing Chrestomanci fic is the only way I'll ever really
work out what I think 'happened': I know pretty much what the set-up I'm
planning to write about is, but I don't know exactly what'll happen or how
it'll work out, and I want to watch it play out. The only way I can do
that is to write the story.

So I *do* have a hole, or a line, to initiate a story; and it's still
incredibly hard to write Chrestomanci, for reasons like the ones you've
indicated. Even though he's one of the most 'detachable' characters - he
appears in various worlds/contexts - he's still very embedded in DWJ's
prose style, and world-view. On a practical level, it's things like
whether to use Chrestomanci's 'trademark' words - do you say 'vague',
'elegant', etc? Which immediately embroils you in a set of problems about
whether or not to pastiche DWJ's prose style. And then that becomes a
larger set of problems, because the character *is* so entirely integrated
into the world and the prose, and they all go together. It's something to
do with... Someone was saying a while back that one of the things about
DWJ is her absolute trustability: she *knows* about playing the cello, and
she *knows* about how magic works, whether Querida does embroidery, etc...
So you can't just lift an elegant man with a vague expression on his face
out of that whole system, because the character is so much part of a

Hmm. I think I need to think about this more. (Possibly by getting on and
writing that slash novella <g>).

Eep! I have to go. But I just wanted to add to Deborah's very nice and
full list of "why write fanfic", especially this one:

> - You could be using the artistic conventions of your fandom's genre,
>   which are subtly different, probably, from the artistic conventions
>   used in standard published fiction.  *Not* worse, just different.

(This is partly why writing DWJ fanfic, in the absence of a [high-quality]
writing fandom, is so hard: there aren't any conventions to play with).
But one of the things I love about fanfic is that it's a way of talking
*about* texts. See, I don't get why Philip sees Ayna/Gerald, and he
probably doesn't get why I see Gerald/Gair, in Power of Three, and there's
a limit to how far it's possible to communicate a reading of a text to
another reader of that text, in critical/analytical language. But using
narrative makes it a lot easier: if Philip wrote a story about Ayna and
Gerald getting together, I would be able to 'see' more clearly which
elements of their characterisation and of Power of Three as a whole he was
drawing on, and decide whether I was convinced - and, if so, whether I was
convinced for good, so that I always saw that in Po3, or whether it was
just for the duration of the story. (This happens a lot in B7, which is a
long-term writing fandom: arguments or discussions are often resolved or
taken to a different level through writing fiction.)

Eep! I'm late.

Love, Ika
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