thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Keep Hoping Machine Running ([personal profile] thefourthvine) wrote2010-05-09 05:25 pm
Entry tags:

[Rant]: Professional Writers vs. The People Who Love Their Work, Round Umpty-Snout

(I realize right now fandom is rightly and deeply upset about a whole other issue. I live in the past, okay? But I know for a fact that this particular one is comin' around again, so. Also, warning: possible triggers.)

Okay. I am really, really tired of professional writers - or maybe I should say published writers, since professional behavior is not these people's long suit, generally speaking - posting rants about how they don't like fan fiction and here are their random reasons why. (If they would just say, "It feels wrong. I don't have a reason - it just feels wrong," I still wouldn't agree, but at least I wouldn't have to question their maturity. It's when they try to justify their feeling that they start to sound like a seven-year-old explaining why his cousin shouldn't be allowed to come near his toys.)

So, I'm going to help you out, oh hater of fan fiction! No more do you have to embarrass yourself (and piss off rape survivors everywhere) with the inevitable reference to rape! (Please, someone, make a new internet law that reads: Here is what is just like being raped: being raped. Describing something that is not rape as rape indicates either a) the kind of irrationality where the flecks of foam are visible through the monitor or b) a total failure to understand what rape is. In either case, everyone should politely look away until you calm down. And buy a fucking dictionary.) No more do you have to issue legal proclamations that make it very clear that you don't understand what copyright is and, in fact, think of copyright as Captain Copyright, Defender of Whatever Rights You Feel You Should Have! (Note: Captain Copyright is totally fictional. Feel free to write stories about him defeating evil writers of fan fiction. Um, warning, though: that will be fan fiction.)

Sadly, this won't address my least favorite rant elements:
  1. Rants in which a published author makes it clear that she believes millions of people are writing fan fiction about her characters, when in fact there are four stories total in her universe, which makes me all hot with vicarious embarrassment, because she's just exposed her own screaming It's All About Me neurosis and made it clear she has no idea what she's talking about. It's a horrible two-for-one special in the embarrassment aisle.
  2. Rants in which a published fan fiction writer - someone who writes primarily tie-in novels in someone else's universe - announces that fan fiction is evil, because doing it for love is wrong, but doing it for money is right. This makes me make a frowny face, because that isn't what they said in Sex Ed.
But, well. One thing at a time.

Good Reasons for a Professional Fiction Writer to Fear Fan Fiction
  1. Fan fiction folks might not like you anymore. People who are into fan fiction read a lot, and I do mean a lot, of stories at all levels of quality, from Holy Shit Pulitzer to Holy Fuck My Eyes My Eyes I See the Reaper Coming for Meeeeeee. Many of us also write. And when you do that, when you read and write a lot, you learn things. (Unless there's a baseline competence issue, and some of us do have those, but yay! Mostly not.)

    So we've all gotten better at reading, and reading critically, and at interacting with the story. And, yes, that means we might not like you anymore. We might now be painfully aware of how you suck or how you fail, in ways that we wouldn't have been before our time in fandom. And that's scary - readers who are now judging your work and maybe finding it wanting. If you want to rant about that, I will have sympathy.

  2. Fan fiction folks don't need you anymore. I mean, we still might like you, but the fact is, we can probably get better than you for free. Because, okay, yes, most fan fiction is crap, but so is most published fiction. (Anyone who wants to refute that has to read ten books selected by me first.) And the ten percent of fan fiction that is worth dying for is not just good, and in fact not just great: it's great and it's for us. It's written for our community, with our community standards in mind, by someone who shares at least some interests and probably some beliefs with us. So it's not just that we can get stories for free; it's that those stories are written to appeal directly to us. You can't write for us and you almost certainly don't want to.

    That's readers - a lot of readers, depending on what you write - who may not be shelling out for your next book, or who may be waiting for a library copy or the paperback. That sucks for you, and if you rant about that, seriously, I will have sympathy. (And I will try to refrain from pointing out that if you're good to your fans, we're your paycheck. We'll buy your hardcovers forever just because twenty years ago you created one character we love. We'll buy your merchandise. We'll go to cons to see you. We'll buy more hardcovers for you to sign. And so on.)

  3. Fan fiction folks took your power away. It used to be that the Anointed Few stood at the front of the room - sometimes a tiny classroom, sometimes a giant lecture hall with video cameras catching each golden word for those not lucky enough to hear it in person - and spoke. And everyone else was just audience: the listeners, the readers, the passively entertained. Fandom has turned your lectures into seminars. We keep speaking up. We keep having our own ideas. We don't even have the courtesy to raise our hands and ask to speak. And sometimes we lock you out of the room altogether.

    That isn't what you signed up for. I understand that. You want the podium back, you want the breathless admiration back, you want the silent, receptive audience back. You want the exchange to be: I entertain, and you applaud, and that's it. I can understand why you'd want that, and if you want to complain about it, I will sympathize. (I won't promise to fix it or anything, because it's better for me this way, but I understand that loss of power can be painful, and I swear if you want to complain about it I will feel sorry for you.)

  4. Fan fiction folks are better at the internet then you are. Oh, not all of you (or, for that matter, all of us), but, um. I don't know how to put this gently. A lot of professional writers (and editors, and others associated with the publishing industry) appear to lose their brains and their ability to write (and to understand what they've written) when they're online. It's sad, and it's pathetic, and it's hideously painful for those of us with an embarrassment squick. Meanwhile, fandom is organized, fandom knows the rules (fandom even codified many of the rules), and fandom is - well. If you're making an ass of yourself on the internet ("You're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective!" "You're RAPING ME by writing fan fiction about my characters!"), fandom is mocking you. If you're proving that you're an ass in real life ("There's no racism! It's all classism!" "But there aren't any female writers of SF. I mean, I don't know any, so..."), we're probably pointing that out to you fairly loudly. (And we are not watching our tone.)

    And I do see that that sucks, that you think the internet is your playground and it turns out there are actual real people watching you and calling you on your bullshit. I think you could probably solve this problem (either have less bullshit or limit your audience, your choice), but I will still understand if you just want to complain about it.
But if you're going to tell me, yet again, that fan fiction is illegal! Immoral! Dirty! Wrong! EVIL! ASSAULT! RAAAAAAAAAAPE!, well, I cannot promise to have sympathy. I can't promise to care. I can't even promise to read your rant, or indeed anything you write.

I'll just read some fan fiction instead.
kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)

[personal profile] kate 2010-05-10 01:19 am (UTC)(link)
*applauds*
starlady: the OTW logo with text "fandom is my fandom" (fandom^2)

[personal profile] starlady 2010-05-10 01:23 am (UTC)(link)
*standing ovation*
anatsuno: tiny Anakin makes Paul Gross arms (OMG)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-05-10 01:24 am (UTC)(link)
♥.♥!!!
musesfool: text icon: Gryffindor: We have done the impossible and that makes us mighty. (we have done the impossible)

[personal profile] musesfool 2010-05-10 01:25 am (UTC)(link)
Brava!
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)

[personal profile] stultiloquentia 2010-05-10 01:25 am (UTC)(link)
Captain Copyright, Defender of Whatever Rights You Feel You Should Have! (Note: Captain Copyright is totally fictional. Feel free to write stories about him defeating evil writers of fan fiction. Um, warning, though: that will be fan fiction.)

I am so requesting this for this year's Yuletide.
mara: (Banter sucks)

[personal profile] mara 2010-05-10 01:47 am (UTC)(link)
Me too! Now we just have to find someone to write it!

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blushingflower: (Default)

[personal profile] blushingflower 2010-05-10 01:28 am (UTC)(link)
Dear Tellers of Stories (regardless of medium): Without an audience, you are nothing. You are talking to yourself, you are daydreaming, you are masturbating (which, you know, I do plenty of, not judging). Without an audience, you are a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear. Stories are about communication, and communication requires at least two parties. And once you send your story out into the world, you can't do anything about what happens to it. Stories may be as beloved to you as children, but just like children, sometimes they end up having different lives than the ones you envisioned.
And that's OK.
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)

[personal profile] cofax7 2010-05-10 01:29 am (UTC)(link)
You're so awesome.

I'm particularly amused by Martin's position, because seriously, dude, if you wanted no one to write fanfiction about your characters, you should never have sold the rights to HBO to make a miniseries starring Sean Bean and Jason Momoa and Lena Headey. ::facepalm::

I have never even SEEN a piece of SoF&I fic, although I have no doubt that a few exist, Rule 34 being what it is. It's certainly no threat to Martin's copyright -- although after the miniseries, it will certainly be a threat to HBO's copyright. Heh.
zillah975: Painting of my Night Elf, Tyrnathera Stormcaller (Default)

[personal profile] zillah975 2010-05-10 01:42 am (UTC)(link)
you should never have sold the rights to HBO to make a miniseries starring Sean Bean and Jason Momoa and Lena Headey.

I want fanfiction about this now. When's the mini-series due out? Idek. *grabby-hands*

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Re: Game of Thrones on HBO

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cypher: (earthbound)

[personal profile] cypher 2010-05-10 01:34 am (UTC)(link)
And the ten percent of fan fiction that is worth dying for is not just good, and in fact not just great: it's great and it's for us. It's written for our community, with our community standards in mind, by someone who shares at least some interests and probably some beliefs with us. So it's not just that we can get stories for free; it's that those stories are written to appeal directly to us.

THIS. This this this. So much of what makes fan fiction glorious for me is the part where Fan A can write a thinky post about an issue that bothers her in the thing she just read/watched/played, and Fan B leaves thoughtful comments about that, and reading the conversation makes Fan C write hot, insightful fic -- or organize an entire challenge! -- based on the need to address that issue and chew on it.

Or, you know, sometimes it's not an issue. Sometimes it's "wow, that was cool, but it would have been amazingly hot if...." and people run with that.

Yeah. Fans talk about the things in the source that they care about, and write fic that incorporates those conversations, and that's awesome. And it's something that the published author/audience relationship just doesn't produce.
Edited (...italics fail!) 2010-05-10 01:35 (UTC)
reginagiraffe: Stick figure of me with long wavy hair and giraffe on shirt. (Default)

[personal profile] reginagiraffe 2010-05-10 02:41 am (UTC)(link)
YES!

I think this is the one point that, unless you're actually *in* fandom and see the whole conversation, you just can't understand. That fandom and fanfiction *is* a conversation. That Story B can riff off Story A. That Story T is a response to Trope L. That Fanon Y can be responsible for both Story E which agrees with it, and Story U which turns that fanon on its head.

I'm running out of letters so I'll stop. *g*

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[personal profile] umadoshi 2010-05-10 01:35 am (UTC)(link)
This is beautiful. I'm going to wander away and post a link to it so more people can bask in the awesomeness.
dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)

[personal profile] dira 2010-05-10 01:36 am (UTC)(link)
♥_______♥

Yes. THIS.
xenakis: (otw)

[personal profile] xenakis 2010-05-10 01:37 am (UTC)(link)
SO. MUCH. YES.
zillah975: Painting of my Night Elf, Tyrnathera Stormcaller (Default)

[personal profile] zillah975 2010-05-10 01:43 am (UTC)(link)
i♥u

This is a thing of beauty, truly. *bookmarks*
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[personal profile] dagas_isa 2010-05-10 01:43 am (UTC)(link)
*applauds* Bravo. Truly read-out-loud worthy.
feanna: The cover of an old German children's book I inherited from my mother (Default)

[personal profile] feanna 2010-05-10 01:44 am (UTC)(link)
You make good points about what "injuries" writers might actually suffer through fanfiction. I can't say that I'd actually feel sorry for them though, because while I can understand these points and might even have bought into them before I found fandom, after spending this much time around here, those points sound a lot like whining to me (no matter how real they are).
In all areas of life it continues to boggle me how many behaviours are accepted in adults that any kindergartener would know are things that are "bad". We teach kids to share and not to hit each other and to be nice and lots of other stuff and then they grow up and somehow this becomes acceptable again.

Also, I think that fandom and the ways we interact in fandom give just as much to the authors as the "old/professional" ways, only in other ways. And there are pro authors who have figured this out, but many just seem (like you said) bad at the internetz.

Also, and this is just one example that I came across again today:
Thinking of characters as "real"(in a certain way) is, I think, a valid philosophical standpoint.
Then there is this certain pro-author who insists that her characters are totally real and totally exist inside herself and nobody else can ever really understand them
and then there is syne, whose characters talk to her and then she encourages other people to talk to them too and there's a whole verse and comm about these people that she created and she leaves comments at other peoples fics about how they totally got it right.
You may now guess which way of thinking I find potentially more rewarding...
(To make this clear, I find the idea of characters existing in no way outside of the author and containing only and nothing more than parts of this author incredibly limiting. Empathy does not equal identity.)
branewurms: (Default)

[personal profile] branewurms 2010-05-10 03:46 am (UTC)(link)
"To make this clear, I find the idea of characters existing in no way outside of the author and containing only and nothing more than parts of this author incredibly limiting."

IA. If these characters are "real" in some way, then not only does it not seem logical that only you could know them, it seems like it would be undesirable and isolating if only you could know them.

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[personal profile] umbo 2010-05-10 01:44 am (UTC)(link)
*wild applause*
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[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2010-05-10 01:58 am (UTC)(link)
I want to quote the parts of this that really resonated with me but I realized very quickly into it that I would be quoting most of it.
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[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2010-05-10 02:48 am (UTC)(link)
Recced in my journal
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[personal profile] scintilla10 2010-05-10 01:59 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, this.
tazlet: (Default)

[personal profile] tazlet 2010-05-10 01:59 am (UTC)(link)
Oh well done!
unovis: (Wrench)

[personal profile] unovis 2010-05-10 02:01 am (UTC)(link)
Applause, applause!
dragonfly: (Yes!)

[personal profile] dragonfly 2010-05-10 02:05 am (UTC)(link)
This is brilliant! ::clutches::
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[personal profile] dossier 2010-05-10 02:08 am (UTC)(link)
a thousand times yes. pah.
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[personal profile] theodosia21 2010-05-10 02:13 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, this.
iambickilometer: (OH JESUS DO YOU SEE)

[personal profile] iambickilometer 2010-05-10 02:21 am (UTC)(link)
This is a wonderful, wonderful piece of writing full of insightful comments and entertaining turns of phrase. I may need to rec it to everyone I know.

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kaigou: Toph says, this! (2 this!)

[personal profile] kaigou 2010-05-10 02:25 am (UTC)(link)
I'll let my icon do the talking.
litotease: (Default)

[personal profile] litotease 2010-05-10 02:29 am (UTC)(link)
#2. Oh, Dear God, #2. I'm so leery of published fiction that hasn't been highly, highly recommended by people I trust these days; the writing quality and craftsmanship in most popular fiction often strikes me as, well, mediocre. I've found myself more than once resenting having spent money on a lackluster read when I know where a lot of truly well written works hide on the internets.

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