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World's Finest Workshops On Fanfiction

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by Jono11, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    Transplanting an off-topic discussion from a Batman Beyond thread.

     
  2. Animation Freak

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    No offense, but you've may've just shot yourself in the foot by putting this in a section of a message board for posting fanfiction.
     
  3. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    Where else would I put it? Besides, if they've got a defense, I'd love to hear it.
     
  4. Animation Freak

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    You've already got defenses for them and many of them will just say the same thing, which is valid. You don't need to tear them down.
     
    #4 Animation Freak, Aug 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2009
  5. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    You know, why does argument always have to mean "tearing people down" on this board? Why can people never just disagree without being accused of "disrespect"? I don't believe in fanfiction. I think it takes valuable creative talent away from worthwhile artistic pursuit, and leaves the creative community poorer as a result. The discussion evolved naturally in another thread, I moved it over here like I'm supposed to, and now I'm "tearing people down".
     
  6. Animation Freak

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    That right there. The fact you seem to think it's not a worthwhile pursuit and the fact that some of those people might not want to officially be part of the creative community. There is some freedom to fanfiction as oppsed to the actual official materials.
     
  7. W.C.Reaf

    W.C.Reaf Active Member

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    But if they're doing fanfiction then most likely they're putting it out there on fandom sites and sites for fanfiction.

    So they are sharing it with anyone who wants to read it, and they're doing it out of their own time as well and getting nothing for it in return.
     
  8. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    Yes, we have a difference of opinion. The whole point of the discussion is that I don't think it's worthwhile, and some people do.

    That's precisely why I think it doesn't serve a creator well. When you don't have any discipline, when you're free to just do whatever you want, when there's no creative and critical community to work as a part of, you never get any better, and society loses a potential creative mind.

    Right, I understand that. My argument is, however, that they could be creating much better, more important, more interesting, and more creatively worthwhile material, if they were focusing on doing it as part of the creative community. And also, they could get paid for it.
     
  9. Animation Freak

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    Again, here's what you fail to realize: maybe they don't want to be an official part of the creative community and enjoy doing it as a hobby, but don't want it as a job.
     
  10. The_NewCatwoman

    The_NewCatwoman Oh you've got to be kidding me

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    This belongs in the workshop which is where I'm going to move it. The regular boards are for actual works, not just discussions.

    tNC
     
  11. W.C.Reaf

    W.C.Reaf Active Member

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    But they do get feedback for their work, some of which can be very critical of the work, or just detailed on what they liked and how they think the story can be improved.

    Sure not all reviews are like that but it still happens. I've read stories that an author has written spanning years and you can see the progression and how much he's improved. So even if there isn't a "creative and critical community" (which I think there is) people can still improve upon there writing skill.

    Which leads me back to my first argument, maybe they don't want to do their hobby as a job.

    Also that's pure hyperbole. Just because they're gifted writers doesn't mean they'll get published, or that their published work would be any better than their fics. It's like saying "Heroes season 2 would've been better if not for the writers strike" since there's no way we can know how well those stories would've been told.
     
  12. Dens Maris

    Dens Maris Humble Supporting Character

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    Because it's my favorite number, three things.

    First thing:

    You are acting as though you are the champion of an objective standard of how writing talent ought to be spent.

    There is no such standard.

    Talent is not the same thing as a professional passion. People are not oathsworn to share their talents with society at large. They'll spend them how they like. A lot of people who write fanfiction have jobs and careers based in another field of equal- or superior- passion to writing; they may already generate income and social contribution in other ways. It's a sweeping generalization that doesn't delineate between them and those who actually do want to write for a living, which is the only area your argument really applies to.

    But even in that area, I don't think this argument ultimately holds water. Plenty of people can take an idea from an existing work of fiction that they do not own and make something great out of it without hindering themselves from creating a strong body of original work. It is true that originality is often a strong feature of a good story - but the idea that originality is a feature of all good fiction is preposterous.

    Homer worked with other people's characters. Sophocles told stories that his audience already knew. Shakespeare did both. I'm not trying to equate fanfiction with that level of writing - just saying that total originality is a feature of some literature, not all, and that a work that is not 100% original does not automatically strip society of a potential creative mind...and one might also reiterate that the "society" you speak of (which apparently does not include fanfiction forums and sites, despite said circles presumably being composed of members of society) does not have an inherent claim to the properties of that creative mind.

    Second thing:

    Is this just writing talent?

    Gotta know - is all fanwork subject to this criticism, or is it only fanfiction? Because I'm not sure I see the distinction. Take fanart, for instance. Plenty of people who draw well choose to draw characters who aren't theirs, depict or reimagine scenes they didn't invent, emulate an artstyle that is not theirs, and enjoy doing that without transforming it into an original body they might make money off of. Yet I don't see a sibling to this topic in our fanart community. I don't see this objection ever raised to fan films, or fan remixes of established, licensed music; only fanfiction.

    Your criticism has boundaries of preference, not principle, if it specifically targets fanfiction.

    Third thing:

    Yet they do matter to some people who read them, in at least one sense of the word - just not you.
     
  13. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    Yes, but I don't think it can be disputed that the criticism of professional critics and theorists, as well as of people who pay money to enjoy the arts, is not replaceable by a group of people who are most well known for fantasizing about genre-fiction characters having sex with each other.

    I understand that. For one thing, it baffles the bejesus out of me, because who wouldn't want to have a hobby as a job? For another, it frustrates me, because we lose enough talented creators to the easy celebrity and low achievements of bad genre fiction, and to lose uncounted more to fanfiction makes it all the worse.

    1) If a gifted writer is willing to work with an editor and work his or her fingers to the bone to get better at the craft, then yes, it's virtually a guarantee that he or she will be published.
    2) Because the process of getting published and getting made as a writer forces a writer to become better at the craft, yes, it does mean that the published work will be better.
    3) Heroes Season 2 would have been better if not for the writers' strike (I say this without having ever watched an episode of Heroes). Without the top writers in the field working on shows, television as a whole suffered. It was clear as day. Fans of every scripted show felt that their program of choice declined in quality during that period of time. When you don't have the best doing the job, the consequences are obvious.

    I don't think I'm acting that way at all. I'm expressing my opinion that artistic talent needs to be utilized and shared in ways that maximize its beauty and effectiveness.

    "Oathsworn"? It's 2009, dude.

    So do a lot of writers who get paid. Writing takes years to become a day job.

    Not at all. My argument applies to anyone with talent.

    Here's the problem. Genre fiction is almost always judged by the metric of how it fits into the canon of whatever it's a part of. Because a writer is rarely allowed to actually do serious literary and artistic work with genre fiction (barring the obvious examples of Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, and Alan Moore), the merits of genre fiction are entirely different. And one of the key metrics of genre fiction is its canonicity, and the degree to which it services the larger tapestry of continuity. Fanfiction fails in that regard.

    The other problem is that fanfiction really presents absolutely no boundaries. If someone wants to write a story about Picard and Harry Potter having sex with each other, they can do it, logic be damned. There's absolutely no incentive for a writer to rein in his fantastical ideas of what characters should be doing.

    If there's nothing original about a work of fiction, I'm sorry, but it sucks.

    Of course not.

    It's true that fanart doesn't bug me in this way as much, but that's only because I really don't see a lot of great fanart out there. Furthermore, the great fanart that is out there is generally created by people who are trying to use it as a springboard for commercial work, and several of them succeed in that regard.

    That could be because there's less porn in fan films. For my part, I feel the same way about fanfilm that I feel about fanfiction, with the noted exception of Batman: Dead End, because it's simply an incredible piece of genre film, and did exactly what the filmmaker intended: it got him work.

    This is very different. Remix is an art form that is built upon the idea of creative commons, sharing material, and a generally decentralized critical and creative establishment. Narrative fiction is not an art form built upon those ideas.
     
  14. Dens Maris

    Dens Maris Humble Supporting Character

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    I bold this and excise some similar statements from your response not simply because I want to avoid a quote war that nobody besides you and me is going to read ('cause let's face it...), but because I think it's indicative of one of your central problems with fanfiction: the piles of "smutfic."

    The only thing I can tell you is that not all fanfiction consists of that. Looking at Fanfiction.net just now and doing some math with the listed stories, less than 10% of all stories in the Lord of the Rings section are M-rated. Same with Avatar. Even Kingdom Hearts, which carries a stigma of a pairing-obsessed fan community, has only 22% of all its stories listed under M.

    That's just Fanfiction.net, I'm aware; there's a lot of it out there, and I've seen whole Livejournal communities dedicated to that. But I don't think most people who write it choose to write about nonsensical pairings.

    If there are people out there who are dedicated to another passion and make money off it and contribute to society, but are also gifted writers who write fanfiction for fun, then I'm not sure how your argument applies to them. That some writers write for a living doesn't mean everyone with any written talent should in order for their work not to be considered "meaningless."

    The merits are not so different that contention is unheard of in canonicity, though. You'll definitely find people out there who seriously do not take Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead to be part of Shakespeare's canon, but can appreciate it as a derivative work (which is ironic, given that Hamlet is itself derivative).

    That said, I don't want to conflate Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead with a fanfic called Thanos vs. Darkseid: Hell in a Cell - in no small part because the latter's purpose is not to be canonical, so it can't "fail" at serving as a companion piece for something in its original source; that's not what it's intended to be.

    With fanfiction, we're dealing with unauthorized derivative works that do not meaningfully compete with the original project and which is produced solely as labors of love by legitimate, income-generating fans. That's all. I view it in much the same light as, say, an essay detailing and interpreting a completely fictional event, like the War of Wrath in Tolkien's history of Arda - it's not something done to generate income, it's something done because the fan in question cares about a work and wants to share his/her interpretations of it with other fans. I don't think that makes it the equivalent of literature or literary criticism - but such things can be valuable for personal growth, which does matter.

    The common statement that "Anybody can write anything they want, but that doesn't make it good" does not apply to just fanfiction, you realize. Anybody could, halfway through their original story about some gritty band of Third World mercenaries raiding a drug warlord's headquarters, decide to write about the main characters tearing their clothes off, slathering themselves in meat tenderizer, and jumping into a starving tiger pit, and the whole thing ends with a bunch of ostriches coming in for a Broadway dance number.

    That is their right. It's a bizarre, almost drunken break from the narrative flow that completely throws readers out of the story and is, at a glance - or ninety - impossible to take seriously, much less imagine anyone ever paying to read it...but hey, we can't tell them not to write it, and it'd be entirely up to them if there was an incentive to write otherwise.

    I agree. But then, for nothing to be original about a work of fiction, it would have to be plagiarism.

    If we believe fanart can conceivably be used as a legitimate means to commercial success, then we must believe fanfiction can also conceivably be used to the same end as well.

    Upon further consideration, I agree; this was an ill-chosen comparison and I withdraw it.
     
  15. Animation Freak

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    1: You also run the risk of it getting butched. For example, in the 90s, regarding X-Men comics, an article reported several writers have problems with the editors. And no, there is no guarantee that they'll get published. There never is, so don't say there is.
    2: Again, that's debatable. No, published work does NOT equal better work. So don't think it is.
    3: Likewise, you don't know that Heroes Season 2 would've been better. Season 3, from what I've heard, wasn't an imporvement.

    Like W.C. Reef said, that's hyberbole.
     
  16. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    That was an unfair dig. But, in fairness, that is what fanfiction is most well known for. And if 10% of fanfiction is "smutfic," doesn't that mean the community is 10% weird-and-creepy?

    First of all, Shakespeare is very much not genre-fiction. Secondly, I don't think the point of R&G is to be canonical at all. I'm pretty sure I've read Tom Stoppard say that explicitly. It's a comment on fiction and its treatment of characters, and an exploration of absurdist existentialism.

    Let's be clear: this isn't about income. Income is merely the metric by which artistic work unfortunately has to be judged in a civilized society. Only a creator who works in that sphere is considered a serious creator, and therefore only a creator who works in that sphere is part of the creative and critical community.

    I rather think it can. I've seen literary criticism about much more banal minutiae.

    "Personal growth"? Explain. I think you lost me there.

    Conceivably? Yes. In practice? I don't know that it's ever happened.

    1. Look, if Scott Lobdell and Rob Liefeld want to blame everything on their editors--and I'm sure the editors sucked too--they should have just defected to Image like every other disgruntled, marginally talented comics creator who wanted to pass the buck and pretend that "artistic freedom" has any meaning in mainstream comics. But I do stand by my assertion that any talented writer willing to work with an editor and put in the hours at the grindstone can get published.
    2. Publication does not equal quality. But a writer who doesn't work to be published? Guaranteed to not be as good as if he or she was working toward publication.
    3. I'm sure I couldn't speak to the quality of any season of Heroes.
     
  17. Dens Maris

    Dens Maris Humble Supporting Character

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    That wasn't a shot at you. I'd just noticed that more than once you brought up the abundance of sex in fanfiction, which is a valid point that I've heard raised before, so rather than address it every time it was brought up, I addressed it at the start. Don't take offense; none was intended.

    As for the percentage, it might - I'm not sure I'd say the whole of those M-rated fics are the kinds of stories I would consider weird and creepy (some people like to write adult fanfiction about relationships that, in their source material, are shown in basically softcore love scenes; some people make an attempt to write them tastefully between two consenting adults; it varies across the board). But in a case where 10% of the community writes that kind of stuff, that means 90% of the community offers different content, right?

    I'm aware I got away from the question of genre fiction and broadened it to all fiction, because I personally don't draw a distinction when it comes to the principle - but if you'd rather we explicitly talk genre fiction, Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea would have nearly the same relationship. I'm aware of what the themes and points of Wide Sargasso Sea and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead are. But did these themes and points necessitate the use of other people's characters? Stoppard and Rhys could have chosen to tell these stories with their own creations, yet they chose to tell them based on (and in) existing fiction. That hasn't damaged their authors' skills or careers, to the best of my knowledge.

    Hold on a second. If I'm getting this, you tell me this isn't about income, yet then you claim that income is the metric of artistic worth in a civilized society.

    ...buh?

    Because last time I checked, the artistic worth of anything cannot be objectively judged, and definitely not by income.

    It's my opinion, for example, that The Inheritance Cycle is one of the worst bodies of writing currently on the bookshelves. I think it goes past being merely derivative and crashes headlong into being a direct antithesis to storytelling innovation. The writing makes me pine for the blessed release of a Henry James novel, because even a baffling, desolate expanse of plotlessness is better than what I find in that series. I couldn't care less that it's made money - all that tells me is a lot of people picked up some very overpriced toilet paper.

    While this is only my opinion, and I'm sure there are people who legitimately enjoy the series, that the series generates income for its author does not mean I am [strike]oathsworn[/strike] honorbound to consider him a serious creator in a civilized society, and no amount of money he makes will ever make me like what he writes.

    Come to think of it, I can recall reading fanfiction that I found more original and interesting than anything I've ever read with Christopher Paolini's name on it. Life's little ironies.

    But I definitely don't recall encountering any standard in this civilized society that demands I admit that the reverse is true when that's not what I think.

    There is always potential for personal growth when you pursue an interest. Fanfiction is no different.

    Let me be clear, though - I agree that it can inhibit creativity. I know someone who I used to think had oodles of talent and skill and who I was certain would be a bestseller someday. Three years later, this friend of mine is...writing stuff that makes your aforementioned Picard/Harry Potter example look almost legitimate. It sucks to see this kind of thing happen, and it does happen. Maybe even a lot. But I don't think it's the rule of thumb.

    That's really all I was interested in demonstrating: that it can happen. Mercedes Lackey, who's enjoyed no small measure of success as a fantasy author, has admitted to getting started with fanfiction. She even writes City of Heroes fanfiction. Clearly, it hasn't stopped her from going professional, but that was ultimately her choice. Someone who enjoys writing but doesn't want to write for a living need not feel pressured to do so, though.
     
  18. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    No, I meant that what I said was an unfair dig. I make them all the time.

    The characters used are just props. They're used to create touchstones of familiarity. Nobody goes to see R&G to see a continuation of the Shakespearean canon.

    Income is not the purpose, but it has become the metric in this civilized society. Not that income is directly proportional to merit, but that income becomes a signifier of having "arrived."

    I shudder to imagine.
     
  19. Animation Freak

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    1: It wasn't just them. Mark Waid and Joe Kelly had problems, too. And techinically, Liefield was a founder of Image. Moreover, even if a writer is, that does not mean they will ever get published.
    2: Not being published doesn't detract from quality.
    3: Don't watch the show, so I can't say. I was just reporting what I heard.
     
  20. Jono11

    Jono11 Member

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    1. You're right, I have no idea why I used Liefeld as an example of someone who "should have" jumped to Image, when that's exactly what he did. Thing about Waid and Kelly, though, is that they still made awesome comics, regardless of their tyrannical editors.
    2. Not having to strive for improvement DOES detract from quality.
     

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