Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Why Nobody Cares About Fanfiction
So today I was lying on my bed, being ill, and thinking to myself 'What's the most dangerous title I can use on the internet...?'
I'm joking! And the title is only partly true. Why does nobody care about fanfiction? Being a Lit and Creative Writing student, in all honesty, I'm surprised people don't notice it more. It's a powder keg of imagination and amazing ideas...and most people are just like 'Fanfiction...girly fantasies...probably with a Mary Sue or two and some smut." Now, I'll admit it, some fanfictions are like that and I may have read one fanfiction that was like that...or two...The point is, while there is some truly god damn awful stuff that makes me want to cry and tear out my eyeballs; there is also some really exceptional literature on there. And a lot of that work deserves a mainstream audience and deserves to be published. Now I don't often say to people their work deserves to be published, because I'm a critical bitch like that (seriously, I used to relish reading my friends' essays and getting out my red pen...it's like a nerd high). But for those of you who did get the 'This should be published' comment, that's the highest Hannah accolade you can achieve! So well done to you guys for achieving that if you have done.
It saddens me that a good deal of the fanfiction universe is dismissed as delusional. Having written a lot of fanfiction, I often feel that I can't bring it up amongst my family or friends (even those who are writers and love the fictional universes created in the books they are reading). It's seen as a waste of time, not only by family and friends, but by critics and authors as well. Which is ironic, seeing as how popular sequels and prequels are in mainstream publishing, even if they're not written by the original author. I still feel ashamed of writing any of my fanfiction, because I've been told it's not worth anything. I can't show it to a publisher, I can't show it to a teacher or even my parents. I can only share it amongst people who are just as passionate about a fictional universe as I am, some of them I've never even met in the flesh before. Fanfiction should be a compliment to an author (unless you're doing some truly whacky stuff with the characters). It means an author's story didn't just linger in that person's mind, they pursued it and explored multitudes of different stories, characters, beginnings and endings. We all to easily lament children's unwillingness to read or write, yet when they are inspired by a book, film, tv show and want to write because of that, we then treat their efforts as futile and a waste of time because it isn't completely original. Let's face it, not even Shakespeare was original, some of his best work was 'borrowed' from another writer! Romeo and Juliet, Othello, etc. And his work was often better than the original writer. Romeo and Juliet stopped being a morality tale of 'This is what happens when you disobey your parents, you die' story to 'The greatest romantic tragedy ever told.'
Yet fanfiction is one of the most amazing steps in internet communication and uniting people within a fandom. Unlike mainstream publishing and media communications, fanfiction tends to be solely written and read by women. It often creates a supportive and helpful environment, assisting new writers with their growing talent and creating a place where information and news can be shared. I shared my excitement with my regular reviewers of being published in an online magazine, I know one girl who often talks about her upcoming book deal and the wonderful thing is there are people who are excited about this and eager to help in anyway they can. That girl has a strong supportive background from all her regular readers, who will then be willing to purchase her new book. It's networking and proof of talent at its finest.
Why on earth would anyone be dismissive of a growing literary community like this? Encouraging young writers and extolling those who are going onto proper publication? Fanfic writers don't make any money or really gain much acknowledgement, certainly not from literary circles. The only reason they write is because they have to. With any story told there are dozens of other stories that come from that, and I for one believe strongly, someone like Tolkien would have been more than happy with this effort. He might not like the style of the story, who we ship the characters with or where the story ends up, but he was a man who loved mythology and the idea of stories stemming off from stories. He wanted a new mythology to be created and it truly was, and continues to be so. I think the idea of a pure form of literature is ridiculous, because we all interpret stories in different ways. I read Lord of the Rings with previous mythology and religion in mind, while someone else may read it with World War One/Two in mind and how this changed Tolkien's views of the world he lived in. Writers themselves do not just have one original story that they write from beginning to end and then publish. They edit it and change plots and subplots, add or get rid of characters. I know in one of my fanfictions I decided to delete something like ten chapters I had written, to take the story in a completely different direction, because the original story was no longer working.
So put down that 50 Shades of Shit...not even going to lie, it's awful. I got to the first page and it already disobeyed writing lesson 101 - Thou shalt not have a character sit in front of a mirror and describe their appearance. I won't even mention about what happened when I skipped to the first sex scene *shudders*. Below are some truly amazing fanfiction, mostly rated T-M (if you don't know what that means, you soon will do!) and please give them a try. It's not all about the fluff and smut, it's not about putting together two unlikely characters and expecting them to miraculously full in love. These writers know what they're doing and they do it well. The stories are incredible, the characters are fully formed and certainly worth the hours put into writing these tales.
A Rose Among the Briars - By Mercury Gray - Lord of the Rings - Boromir/OC
Heart's Desire - By Aerus - Lord of the Rings - Eomer/Lothiriel
Rider of the Mark - By Zeesmuse - Lord of the Rings - Gamling/OC
Receiver of Many - By Kata Chthonia - Greek Mythology - Hades/Persephone
Here's the link to my fanfiction page: https://www.fanfiction.net/~1607hannah