Fanfiction (was: this is gonna be weird)

JOdel at aol.com JOdel at aol.com
Mon Nov 22 12:56:50 EST 2004


Mocking badfic: There are whole sites dedicated to this. Some of the quotes 
make The Eye of Argon look positively competent. Of course there is a certain 
nasty edge to it since you always suspect that you are picking on 12-year-olds 
who are just barely getting a grip on the concept of stringing words into a 
sentance (and not doing very well at it). But really, it is irresistable. 

Which basically is the "problem" (which isn't really a problem that anyone 
can do anything about) with fanfiction. Depending on the fandom you have 
everything from 10-12 year-olds who have suddenly realized that if they can tell a 
story, people wil read it. through college undergraduates who can write a 
perfectly good term paper but have never actually attempted fiction, to parents who 
got sucked into trying to write fiction to entertain their own children, to 
30-somethings who have gotten heavily into a TV series and fallen in love with 
the characters, to mature academics who like playing with the language. And 
there is no way of looking at the stories listed and being able to tell which 
you've got without reading them, or at least starting to.

And *storytelling* isn't the same thing as "creating literature", anyway.

I have a slightly skewed approach on fanfiction because if you stretch a 
point you could make an arguement that I publish the stuff. My hobby is designing 
books. I found out that I really enjoy designing books when I went digital 
with my theater crafts book (now online at my site). Only, I do not produce 
enough writing, of a sort to be best presented in a "book" on my own to feed my 
hobby. So I contact the authors of fanfiction that I have enjoyed and ask them to 
let me do a "Publication" project based on their work. Once we are both 
satisfied with the final product I post it on my web site in .pdf and they can link 
or direct people to it.

Is the stuff that I've produced great literature? No, it's not. Most of it is 
very competent storytelling, however, and it certainly entertained me well 
enough when I first read it. What is more, it held up well enough that even 
plowing through it multiple times over the production and finalization process I 
didn't get sick of it. I think that there are far worse things out in the 
professionally published field floating around in commercial "dead-tree" editions 
than are to be found on my website. Even the weaker examples. (No I don't think 
that even the dozen or so stories on my site are of uniform quality.) But 
it's *fanfiction*, and consequently unpublishable through commercial channels. 
Not to be overly concieted, I am probably their best shot at ever seeing this 
particular work in anything approaching a proper "book" form. 

Do I think that any of the authors on my site will ever go "pro"? Well one 
already has, in a modest way. The project he gave me permission to use is one 
that his Real World publishers didn't want in its current form and he didn't 
choose to *completely* rewrite it, which is what they were asking for. Of the 
others; one or two might eventually make the attempt. One of the ones with a 
project that is still in development almost certainly will make the attempt (she 
is currently involved in the NaNoWriMo and her work is certainly engaging 
enough to sell, if she can give it a high enough gloss in the polishing process). 
The others? Not a chance. They are hobbiests, doing this as a part of a fandom 
"community", they are not about to break their hearts trying to go pro.

But their stories are entertaining and certainly worth the trouble that they 
and I have put into them in the course of producing them. 

(My web site, if anyone is interested is <http://wwwredhen-publications.com> 
I went in and stripped the rollovers out to see if that would speed things up, 
but it doesn't seem to have helped much. Expect the site to be very slow. You 
might even choose to download the files for offline reading and just toss 
them afterward, unless you choose to keep them around.)
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