You know I’ve been meaning to talk a bit about fanfiction for a while now. I was going to touch on the subject when I wrote about copyright and scanslation but honestly the intellectual property issues of fanfiction are fairly complex and a lot of the details are up for interpretation. So I decided against it. But I still wanted to explore the general subject of fanfiction as it is sort of complementary to anime fandom.
Actually, fanfiction is a pretty big part of all fan communities, but I m going to stick to what I know a tiny bit about. Anime…not fanfiction…
I do know more than a few bloggers that were around when I started and have since migrated to archive of our own because their true passion was in crafting their own stories about beloved characters rather than analyzing them. I find that admirable! I am not a creative person so I am impressed by those who are.
And I can clearly see the appeal of fanfiction. It allows authors and readers alike to revisit universes and characters that are dear to them. It also presupposes that the readers are already familiar with all the bases of the story so you can skip over all the exposition groundwork and concentrate on the action. With premade characters an author can simply smooth out rough edges to make them really shine which is easier than crafting a whole person from the ground up and more likely to yield a consistent and well rounded character.
And I know fanfiction has a bit of a spotty reputation. I know why. Let’s just say it’s not always the best examples of the genre that have become widely known. But can we really judge fanfiction by that. We’re ANIME FANS…
For my part I know that a lot of my favourite authors (published, celebrated, award winning ones) have at some point experimented with fanfiction. Although it’s not quite recognized as the same thing, I’m a huge fan of modern retellings of fairy tails and myths. Those types of stories share a lot in common with fanfiction and could even fall in the category.
Point is fanfiction is a perfectly respectable form of fiction that has yielded some great works and nurtured definitive talent. And I don’t read it.
O.k., that’s not entirely true. I have and occasionally I still do. I really enjoy independent and amateur authors. I read a few doujin every day. but when given the chance, I will choose amateur works with original characters and settings. I am not sure why. And I’m curious about it.
I think for me, one aspect is perception. I do a lot of reading between the lines. I think people who read my anime reviews have probably noticed this. It’s just the way I am. My imagination runs free and fills up any narrative holes I can find so that someone else’s interpretation often comes with some dissonance which I find distracting. This often makes me enjoy a story less than I would otherwise.
I think another reason is that I’m one of the few people that really enjoys the set up of stories. Often more than the action or conclusion parts and you don’t really get that we pre-established fictional universes much. Because they’re…pre-established. I mean one of the greatest strengths of fanfiction is that you can get right to the core of the story you want to tell because all the world and character building foundations are already in place.
These are not hard set rules though. Talented writers can take a good character and make it great. Use that extra time to add complexity and nuance that wasn’t previously developed for lack of time for instance. They can take a great premise that yielded a bad or boring series and give it the treatment it deserves. They can allow us to have further adventures with our favourites. Really there are a lot of possibilities to fanfiction. It’s not that fundamentally different to a sequel (or prequel). And I’m a staunch defender of sequels. If there is more story to be told, I say go for it.
So while I do know why I am more attracted to original works, I really don’t understand why others would dismiss fanfiction as a concept. You can be weary of the execution but that holds true for original works as well.
So why am I going on about this. Well I know a couple of fanfiction authors. Some of them are quite talented. Some are imaginative of witty. Some are improving. Basically like all authors. But even they often have a bias against the art. I remember comparing a series to a good fanfiction and the person I was talking to immediately assumed that was an insult. I really wondered why.
I get that the general audience think of fanfiction as weird soft core pornography with questionable writing. I get that. I also understand were this prejudice comes from. But let me repeat myself. We’re ANIME FANS. For years most people thought anime was weird questionably written pornography. Some of them still do. We shouldn’t dismiss a medium based on that.
I guess I wanted to know, do you read fanfiction and if not, why? Is it the amateur status? Have you had bad luck with it. Or is it perception? That’s what held me back for a long time and I’ll admit you got to get through a whole lot of oysters to find a pearl but there are definitely pearls out there and the level keeps increasing.