Hullo everyone and thank you for coming! I think fanfiction is a terrible thing for aspiring writers.
*the –CLICK- of cocked pistols throughout the theatre*
Just give me a moment or two to explain myself! I debated with whether or not I should do this because I knew it might stain my name among you reputable fellows before I ever share my own fiction here. I do not say this to offend anyone and if you do not agree you do not agree. What I am asking for is just a moment of this fine assembly's time to share my views on fanfiction and why I have come to somewhat hate it. I do not seek agreement but rather a chance to be heard on this subject. I know most of us (myself included) have fanfiction . net accounts but the fact is that now you are on fictionpress; and I would hazard a guess that it might be because, on some level most likely smaller than my own, you did not find writing stories for other people's characters and worlds altogether fulfilling. Right? Right, so, if you would be so kind as to lower them now…
*reluctantly the barrels of the guns begin to sink back into the crowd*
There's a good rabble! Yes, that means you too. Sir, I'm waiting. Okay then-
What do you have against people wanting to express their love for another creator's story? Why's fanfiction any different than fan art? Is fan art also bad for aspiring artists?... douchebag?
Well, sir, you should know that I didn't intend for this to be a Q&A but THAT'S ALRIGHT I'll answer your question! Let's pretend for a second that every author, director or TV writer in the world had absolutely no issues with plagiarism and copyright laws. Let's pretend that they ALL back the idea of having their characters mimicked without official consent… in this case then there is mostly nothing wrong with a fan wanting to express his or her love for a licensed work. A fanfiction in itself is innocent. It's only when it becomes a kind of "practice" for people who are looking to get into serious writing that I have issues with it. Quite frankly, fanfiction is awful practice.
Now because I am no artist I realize I am coming from a place of inexperience but I would imagine the creative processes of drawing fan art and writing fanfiction are drastically different. Drawing a character is very different from giving a character life in a literary sense. A person's imagination is not being actively strained when he is attempting to get the jaw line of Superman just right. I cannot say the same for when a fanfic writer is worried about keeping Superman in-character in a vampire crossover fic. Though, we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Ne-
Oi, half a moment! How can you say that fanfiction is awful practice when so many others, including published authors, say it's good practice?!
Wonderful question, ma'am! The shortest and most truthful answer I can give is that they're wrong.
RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!
Well I was going to exp- okay are you quite done!? I say, are you done!? My friends you are only delaying yourselves!... Good, now I'd like to expound a bit on what I mean. I will concede to fanfiction being 'good practice' for a writer in the sense that it is better to write a fanfic than not write anything at all. It IS a form of writing, that fact cannot be disputed. But is it proper writing? I would like to propose to my audience that a person who spends 5 years doing a workout routine improperly is technically in better shape than someone who is not working out at all. Still, one who works out improperly 1) is generally putting more stress on his body than he or she needs to 2) runs the risk of a serious injury 3) for all of the aforementioned health risks the body does not develop as well as it would if it was being put under a proper workout regimen. In all these same ways I see the issues with fanfiction as practice for the aspiring writer in an allegory.
Bloody hell man, enough of the poetry! Out with it already! Why exactly is fanfiction such poor practice for the aspiring writer?
Very good, lad! I was just getting to it.
The first is quite simple but its importance is quite simply overlooked to a criminal extent. The characters and the world (and by extension the world's rules.) of the fanfiction writer is not their own. It takes a miniscule amount of effort and imagination to take someone else's character, put him in The Wild West and have him act just like he would in the original work even if you give him a cowboy hat and a southern accent! And while it can be argued that imagination is, in fact, in operation when the fanfic writer manages to keep the essence of a character intact ("in-character") while convincingly adding to that character and taking liberties with his/her own style; I ask you… how would this skill come into play when it is time for the writer to create his own work? Being an impressive parrot does not a successful writer make.
By not actually creating your own characters and settings the fanfic writer's ability to establish things is being starved. We do not need to get to know Naruto because anyone who is reading a Naruto fanfiction already knows who he is. We do not need to be told about the intricacies of Warp Drive, the various functions of the Sonic Screwdriver, the political turmoil of A Galaxy Far, Far Away. The fanfic writer is free to forgo all of that and get right to "the good stuff"... and any attempts to re-establish are just supplementary and many times will be classified as 'unnecessary' by the fanfic reader! The ability to establish one's characters and worlds in a cohesive manner is paramount for any writer, especially (but not limited to) a fiction writer. Anyone who has attempted it knows that it isn't at all easy. I ask you; how on earth is fanfiction good practice for the aspiring writer when it, by its nature, eliminates any need for an essential part of writing?
What is worst, while fanfiction puts no pressure at all on the writer to use his/her imagination on the establishing front, it puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on the imagination on the development and execution front. Rather than one's mind being free to go wherever it will in regards to characterization and world-building, one has to be worried about if this is in-character for Harry Potter to do, and if that makes sense to happen in Middle-Earth. "How can I tell my own story and tell Joss Whedon's story at the same time?" is what we are challenging our minds to do. If my audience will allow me to get preachy for one moment (if they do not feel I have been preachy from the beginning) I would like to say I almost see this as sinful. There are many areas in life where we will be compelled to be like our fellows and conform and to take on our fellows' burdens and reasoning. Many times I feel it is the right thing to do. Story-telling should never be one of them. This is one of the few avenues we have to completely be ourselves and to be completely honest and we are willing to have it chained and fettered all for the sake of an IC Captain Kirk? Sometimes I wonder what is more painful for me to see: a fanfiction written by a bad writer or a fanfiction written by a good one. With the former there is no wasted potential while the latter could potentially be a New York Times Bestseller in a DBZ/Marvel Crossover skin. Tis' sad… My own musings notwithstanding, I think the fact we have to face is that fanfiction puts the aspiring writer in situations that will never come into play when he or she is working on an original piece. I do not see the good practice in that.
And for all of the ways that fanfiction can in fact be beneficial to a future writing career, I do not see how it would be more beneficial than simply writing original fiction and thus ridding yourself of fanfiction's inherent problems. For these reasons I would suggest that an aspiring writer just skip fanfiction altogether.
*Light indecipherable conversation*
Allow me to take the momentary halt in questions to… somewhat alter my statement. While fanfiction is not ideal practice for the aspiring writer I will say that it is more than helpful to writers with low self-esteem looking for, truth be told, cheap praise. But that is dealing with the fanfiction community, frightful business, that.
Balderdash and baked bullocks, boy! How dar-
I will get to the community in good time, I assure you! In fact I only mean to take a short break before I get to it, as they perhaps play the biggest role in fanfiction's ineffectiveness. For now I feel enough has been said about fanfiction itself and will open the floor for 1 or 2 personal questions…. Okay, you there with the raised hand!
Are you a son of a bitch? You know, is ya mum a female dog?
No. My mother is not a female dog and I suspect you knew that before you asked, sir.
I guess I saw it "in an allegory."
That does not make sense, sir. And I am afraid you ruined it for everyone else because I shan't take any more questions for the time being.
I thank you all for listening and hope you will be back for the second half. Good day and as always happy writing!
*Curtains close just as the first fruit is tossed.*