Tuesday, June 28, 2011

pastimes

I'm just going to ignore the two <12-year-old girls next door who are jumping uncontrollably on their trampoline while screeching to the Virgin Radio at the top of their lungs. Their cringe-worthy, off-key and untimed voices are worse to listen to than that of their hyperactive dog.

I used to act as a beta reader for a few pen-pals. They would send me their work; I'd edit it. A lot of the time, I noticed, it was fan-fiction. And oh god, how I despise fan-fiction. If written well, it can seem like a part of the real thing, but unfortunately it never will be, and so I see no absolute point to the pastime. Fan-fiction seems to follow many structured patterns, of courses of conduct, because everything about the stories are either recycled and/or reused.

Common themes I've noticed among fan-fiction stories:






  • Plots revolving around an unlikely romance between two characters with little to no interaction/interest in the actual work usually involves arranged (loveless) marriages which develop into genuine feelings, a set-up between mutual friends which grows into genuine feelings, a one-night stand which inevitably leads to pregnancy, sex addiction or genuine feelings, and/or - the most ridiculous yet, I might mention - both being in equally successful musical bands and a chance encounter through the media sets them on either a) an agent/management-arranged fake romance which breeds genuine feelings, or b) a series of events in which one continues to repeatedly impress the other, and vice versa, until they feel they can no longer ignore sudden genuine feelings.



  • Plots revolving around new action or events applied to the characters usually targets only one character, a sidekick on occasion and prospectively - but not necessarily - a romantic interest. These are better, and more commonly well-reviewed by readers, because the majority of the time, the characters can more easily remain in-character throughout the story. They don't have to go out of their way to initiate a relationship; the writer also has their reactions at hand, since their responses to actions or events are conveyed through the original author's work. It is a fraction harder for romance to come off plausible, because not every book/movie/game concentrates on romance, but all of them (have to) concentrate on the characters and their reactions to what happens to them and the people around them.



  • Plots saved for one-shots are probably the easiest, since there rarely is ever an apparent plot, save for in romance stories. One-shots are self-explanatory; they do not have any following chapters or epilogues because they are short enough (and lacking in plot enough) that they can be construed and completed through a single chapter of writing that stands alone. These are usually centered on only a few characters, and a significant relation between them. I find that many one-shots focus on the musings of a character, or the mentality of a character, as they interact with others. Most of these are well-done, because they portray largely elaborated emotions, and whether these emotions are unprecedented or not does not matter, because this is a one-shot with no needed back-story.



So why do published authors and wannabe novelists not follow the same templates? I mean, fan-fiction writers just take the ideas of whatever other fan-fiction they've recently read or liked, and use it for their own. Or, they'll grab two of their favourite characters and scheme a flimsy plot that will satisfy many but not those who really count.




For example, how many stories must there be about "high school" characters? Putting the casts of The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, or Naruto in a normal high school setting seems to be quite a long-lived trend. But people like it, and even if they don't admit it, it's a guilty pleasure, because they like reading about these characters in their world, the high school world, instead of the world the original author has put them in - The Seam, Forks, Hogwarts, Hidden Village of the Leaves - and perhaps it's because they've grown tired of reading about these people in these places. How would they handle the life situation that their same-aged readers are handling?




But there aren't many stories out there which are focused on characters in a high school. Sure, the characters may be in a high school, but the story won't be revolving around that high school much of the time. It'll be revolving around one of the people in it, or something that happens outside of it - i.e. Edward Cullen is someone inside a high school, but his mystery really lies outside of the school.




These small differences between fan-fiction writers and published writers makes me doubt that fan-fiction writers will ever really be able to amount to become a published author. The majority of them are not the least bit serious about their writing and don't even seem set on improving themselves. They don't even accept ConCrit - Constructive Criticism - and readers' reviews are ransom for updates. (i.e. "review my storie! i'll update the next chapter if u leave a nice review!")




If these writers have any ambition at all, they'd move onto something like Litopia, InkPop, Authonomy, or Figment, one of these corporate-managed writing sites where you can gain feedback for a small excerpt of your WIP, even gain ratings, and from people who aren't scared to say that you suck or really need to pull it together and try to get better.



xx, rooi

2 comments:

Meriwether Lewis said...

Hi

I'm writing a new blog that I fear you would despise! But hope you wouldn't. It's historical fiction. From Meriwether Lewis' journal entries (blogs) he describes the situations he, Clark, Sacagawea, her husband Jean Baptise and their son, Little Pomp, experience as they travel from modern day L.A. to where their journey began in St. Charles, Missouri.

The entries are reactionary to the foreign world around them. I don't make them entirely naive of modern day where we are stuck in a quagmire of them questioning EVERY thing they encounter. I want their experiences to be things that are everyday for us which truly is miles away from American life in 1804. (and throw some actual history tidbits in as well)

I call it "Lewis and Clark's Excellent Adventure" because their story represents the part of the Bill and Ted movie when the historical figures are brought to San Dimas.

This isn't someone obsessed with an era or character who loves them so much they want to write their own story to bring themselves into the alternate world. I'm just trying to be funny. I'm not looking to be published, I just enjoy writing from a character first person POV.

Review my blog! I'll update the next blog if u leave a nice review! :P

laurahartleyy said...

Interesting post... I have to admit Potter Fanfiction is a guilty pleasure of mine ... Of course I know it's all badly written bollocks but hey it's entertaining! Though I do agree that fan-fiction writers will probably never become published authors.

Nice blog, I'm following

http://whats--hot.blogspot.com

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