A way with worlds: 10 - The Fanfic Rebellion!
by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum
Page 1 of 1
Batten down the hatches, the
concepts are rebelling!
Ok, the rest of the column
is not going to sound nearly that exciting, but consider some
interesting things I've observed in fanfic and writing over time:
Sonic the Hedgehog darkfic?
Yes, they exist, there's quite a few, and some can get very dark.
How many times in
"Sailor Moon" is the male lead of Tuxedo Mask
(affectionately known to a friend of mine as "Wuss Boy)
replaced, or sometimes made brutal or vicious?
Ever seen people work on
taking a dark genre and being unable to avoid humor?
Ever read a story where a
subtext, often romantic, is explored, and you can't see it, yet
the author is insistent and honest that its there?
These are examples of what I
call the Fanfic Rebellion, and it's relevant to writing
pre-existing continuities as well as your own. Lets take a look
at why so many times we end up going through the looking glass on
concepts, and why its important.
OK, WHY DOES THIS
Here's my theory about why
strange and inverted concepts find their way into fanfic. Feel
free to assume I'm full of it - I have been before. However, I
have thought this out over time, so I think I have some ground to
When you start writing a
fanfic, you take your knowledge of existing continuity and build
on it and build with it. However, there are always:
- Different ways of
- Flaws with
continuities, especially commercial ones where factors
beyond the storyline may affect continuity
(marketability, scriptwriting teams, etc). The human mind
is a consistency-seeking device, and you may fill in
- Flaws caused by viewing
a continuity in a "snapshot" and not knowing
the complete story.
- The "Rorsach Blot
effect" - you may see things that could or couldn't
be there, or interpret things in a unique manner.
All fanfics to an extent
involve metaconcepting - building concepts onto and around
premade ideas in the continuity. If you wrote a story exactly
like an episode, issue, or book of the continuity you're using,
there's not much point.
However, in the cases of
continuities that may have existing errors or extremes, it's easy
to make extreme changes, perhaps subconsciously. Additionally,
metaconcepts you use may overcompensate for perceived flaws. A
continuity that avoids deep issues may spawn sad or complex
stories, a forced angst tale can result in funny stuff bubbling
to the surface because the potential is there was actually forced
The human mind is a great
device for creating meaning and consistency, and its amazing what
it does. However it also tends to find balance and the balance
you find can sneak up on you.
If you're writing, you need
to keep this in mind in two areas:
THINGS TO KEEP IN
Writing with existing continuities.
You will commit Fanfic
Rebellion. Its inevitable. Unless your fic does nothing new,
original, or unseen in the previous continuity, you will be
making metaconcepts. Thus, unless you're terribly untalented,
unoriginal, and anal-retentive to a pathological degree, you're
going to do new and different things. I'm giving you credit for
not having these traits ^_^.
Thus, remember not to take
things to extremes - trying to fill in a gap or compensate for a
percieved flaw by overdoing it just makes your story less and
less believable. You really only create a new flaw or problem,
and it will likely be glaringly obvious and conflict with the
existing continuity. This can lead to a vicious cycle of
corrections or to a vicious cycle of trying to justify ideas
while only getting further and further from stable concepts.
New ideas and ways of
thinking, expanding on existing concepts, is what fanfic is all
about. Don't worry.
THINGS TO KEEP IN
With your own continuity.
The knowledge of
"Fanfic Rebellion" is a very good tool to use when you
assess your own original works. Take a serious look at what
you're doing - now imagine, someone writing fanfic with it. Are
there any egregious errors they would make with your ideas, is
there anything they may miss, or that you missed? Are you forcing
things? Would turning your whole world on its ear not only be
easy, but logical?
If it would be too easy for
a person to unintentionally do something that seems vastly out of
place in your continuity, then you may have flaws and/or be
forcing certain things. It may also mean that you are not
communicating some concepts effectively, or your work may, by its
nature, be the kind that people have to think extra hard about
and not assume things about.
Besides, playing your own
fanfic writer can give you some interesting ideas! Get outside
yourself and look back . . .
Concepts are tricky things.
If they aren't balanced, when thought about, they can balance out
with unexpected results. Wether writing fanfic or your own
continuity, be aware that gaps and forced ideas can backfire,
sometime with amazing results.
Throw your rebellions
carefully, and ask how bad one could be in your own work.
ATTITUDE AND CONTINUITY
(A bit of thought, a bit of ranting)
Take a trip to my own alternate world, the Crossworld of Xai, at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/xai/
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Steven Savage, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.