A way with worlds: 24 - Service, Service!
by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum
Page 1 of 1
It was anime that introduced
me to Fanservice.
You may or may not have
heard the term, but it refers to those moments of gratuitousness
inserted into a show for the fans - rippling pecs you didn't need
to see, a panty shot because of a perfectly placed gust of wind,
etc. In short, those little extras that are needed for the story,
but are there to grab attention and give the fans something
Now we all enjoy a good
extra pectoral or gust of wind on occasion, but Fanservice is,
let's face it, pandering. However, we know it goes on, we accept
it, and sometimes we probably even do it.
But I'm here to talk about
something a bit more continuity-wrecking; Authorservice.
My friend "Spider"
coined this term, and in doing so gave a name to something that I
feel is important to investigate, because where a little
fanservice in the form of a bad joke or a cool scene is one
thing, Authorservice is usually far more destructive.
Authorservice is when you
stick something into a story for your own enjoyment -
essentially, Fanservice for yourself - and continuity be damned.
In short, it's when you say "wow, this is so
cool/sexy/thrilling I like reading about it" and plunk it on
Authorservice also occurs
when the author attempts to make their story "just to
cool" in the vain hope that people will think they're the
greatest. It's especially prominent in those hideous
Self-Insertion characters that are obvious ego trips, the ones
the writers expect to be worshipped by the readers.
We've all ready stories with
Authorservice, even if "Spider" had to invent the name
for it. Those moments where we felt told that things were cool,
darn it, and we'd better believe they were. Those odd times where
we're reading a story and saying "where the heck did this
come from?" and wonder why the audience has suddenly lost
any importance to the writer. Those moments the author expected
us to think he or she was too amazing for words.
SO WHAT'S WRONG:
Authorservice, in a nutshell, is just another way to wreck your
continuity, and continuity and worldbuilding is what this column
is all about. It's inserting things without reason, without
grounding, and only for your own ego.
Authorservice leads to
arrogance. Sure, one can argue "well it's my story,"
and indeed it is. However, when you're busy trying to make the
story do something else beyond tell a coherent tale of coherent
characters in a coherent world, you're not writing. You're
hijacking your creation for another agenda beyond being a good
piece of writing.
Authorservice leaves out the
audience. There's two halves to writing - creating a coherent
world, characters, and story, and being able to share that story
with people. It's about communicating ideas. When you cover ideas
with Authorservice, you leave out the audience (except for those
who treat your Authorservice as Fanservice).
Finally, it can be
humiliating. Authorservice is usually screamingly obvious to
people, especially those not "serviced." In short, you
may end up making a jackass out of yourself. Don't - then people
may not pay attention to the good works you do.
Fanservice we know. Authorservice is a good term for a
phenomena we could all do without. Authorservice messes up both
your continuity and your ability to communicate your work.
A special note - can anyone
guess where the title of this column came from? The first person
to answer will get their site plugged in the next Way With
Worlds! Family members and close friends of mine aren't elgible,
sorry, you'll know me too well.s
Worlds - A good look at constructing
settings, especially science-fiction ones.
A Way with Worlds is hosted at fanfiction.net and sffworld.com,
and is archived at the Way With
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.