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(I know I'm preaching to the choir, here. But I just thought... maybe someone who hates fanfiction will browse through the answers to the Writer's Block thing. And maybe they'll read this?)

Fan fiction is the modern version of sitting around the campfire, telling old folktales, myths and legends, and letting them live--retelling them, changing them, responding to them.

It's a natural and beautiful thing. Lately I've been coming across all these people who are pissed off or disgusted by it and I just want to shake them and shout, "WHY DO YOU HATE FUN?!" Or maybe "Why do you find this so threatening??"

Sure, not all individual examples of fan fiction are all that remarkable. And some are just bad. (Although, really, a lot of those are from very young writers, many of whom have a lot of growing to do as writers (and fanfic communities will likely help them)). But this is not a reason to condemn the entire practice. Would you condemn the entire world of academic literary criticism just because you'd found a lot of bad essays written by kids? -- or essays you didn't personally agree with, or maybe you thought they were too derivative... No, I hope not.

I really do think that they're very related activities (literary analysis papers and fanfic). They are both the result of engaging critically and creatively with a text, responding to it in a form that others will recognize and respond to as well. They are both part of ongoing, open conversations based around literature (and other media -- STORIES) and people's responses to it. People's responses are based on their own experiences, and other texts, and other "counter-texts" (essays, reviews and fanfic).

And fanfiction in particular is such a wonderful brand of that kind of active reading -- it provides such a great form and forum to do it in. The communities formed around it can be so supportive and generative of growth, thought and discussion, and it connects you with people from all over the world, and people with different experiences and perspectives, different ideas about the texts. It's like the fucking best English class ever.


Also, the fucking Aeniad is a fanfic of The Illiad.

Shakespeare's plays were pretty much all fanfiction!
And there are endless examples of modern fanfics of Shakespeare.

[ profile] bookshop has an awesome list of recognized and lauded derivative works here.

Date: 2010-05-12 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'd never thought of fanfic as being like a campfire story before, that's a pretty good analogy.

I actually like fanfic (however I cannot write it), but I agree there is a lot of poor stuff out there, and people probably get put off by that. It's only when you start to read more of it that you get a feel for which authors have the right 'style' for you. And even then it can be hit and miss, as with the work it is based on

Date: 2010-05-12 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When I was modding a fanfic forum I was at first a little irritated at all the kids. As one of the better/older writers I had brought that little forum back to life and attracted others and my reward from the admin was to watch over it (uh, thanks I think). However, you start to realize that the youngsters are learning things like -

- Spelling and grammar which might prove handy when writing a future resume.

- Critical ability - the ability to be critical without the usual internet put downs and one word insult responses. I encouraged folks to respond with WHY a piece was not good, rather than "YOU SUCK". This is, to say the least, a desirable trait in real life.

- How to tell a story. Everyday use? Make a presentation at work - it has a beginning, middle and end.

- Confidence. That first post is always hard to make. I think the more leaps in life you make, the more likely success is, it's like rolling the dice

I've spoken to a lot of detractors, people who consider fanfic an evil written only by lonely middle aged women with a fetish for homo-eroticism. However, I've never encountered that,there was a supportive community, lots of laughs and it was just fun. Really, I see fanfic as writing for fun, the very fact that it isn't for publishing makes it a free artform. When I am working on my original pieces, I have to carefully consider each paragraph - in fanfic the rules are already set, so I can just get to the heart of character creation and interaction.


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