Friday, April 22, 2011

Fanfic Week: What makes fanfiction suck

Fanfic Week day three is here! On Monday and Wednesday I stressed on how great fanfiction can be, but today it's time to admit some faults. Why? Because fanfiction isn't perfect. From when made it extremely easy for minors to read NC-17 rated fics to the drama revolving around Cassandra Clare, its reputation has always been on shaky ground.

Anyway here are some reasons why I think reading and writing fanfiction is not always helpful for writers:
  1. 90% of it is written horribly
    Sure, we may have discussed that the slush pile effect can be beneficial, but it's also crazy annoying. Sometimes, you just want to read something good. But it takes forever to find a worthwhile fanfic, especially if your fandom of choice is old. Fanfics can be beneficial, but for someone with little patience, it's it difficult to get that far.

  2. It's the ultimate ego boost
    In a bad way. No matter how horrible your writing is, there's a very good chance that someone is going to tell you that you're awesome. This is bad because when legions of unknown people talk about how amazing you are, your ego explodes. Fanfic writers have been known to be pompous--they fail to learn and they fail to take criticism gracefully.

  3. It encourages so many bad writing habits
    Like I said above, no matter what you write, someone will tell you it's awesome. Someone will encourage a trait that should be smothered. Be it a cliche plot, purple prose, Mary Sues, or a story that's starting to reach 200,000 words, someone will think you're the next best thing. Yes, everyone goes through these phases, but we also need to learn that our writing can be bad.

  4. It will never be your own
    One of the greatest things about writing is creating your own worlds and characters, but when you write fanfiction, you're missing out on that. Yes, there are other delicate things to test your writing (ie: keeping the players in character and representing the world correctly), but you still miss out. Playing with someone's story elements is cool, but creating something on your own is amazing and wonderful and indescribable. And missing out is kind of depressing.

  5. You're never going to make money off of it
    Seriously, if you're make money off of your fanfiction you are 1) in Japan, land of doujinshi, or 2) about to get yourself into big trouble. If you're the kind of person who always needs to be making some tangible progress towards publication, you're going to find fanfiction a waste of time. Because really, nothing comes of it but subtle improvement and wish fulfillment.
So what do you think? Agree or disagree? Could I have made some better points? A lot of the reasons that fanfiction are good coincide with why fanfiction is bad, which I find interesting. Tell me what you think in the comments.


Yemi Hikari said...

All the points are good, though the last one is kind of weak. Fanfic writers go into it not expecting to make money off of it, unless they write for a work that has an expired copywrite, or they end up getting actual permision from an author or an estate to publish the work for profit.

Something left out is the fact that fanfiction also enspire rabid, blatant wish fullfillment that people probably shouldn't post to the net, but do anyways simply because they want to have all that glorius attention. Rabid fangirlism is why many fanfic writers don't bring up their fanfiction writing in public.

Brenna Braaten said...

Yes! Finally! Point numbah ONE! (But you knew that about me.)

I agree with all your points. Although, I was thinking with point four, it may never be your own, but writing other people's characters and worlds can sometimes teach a writer about how to create those things and what make them work. Just a thought.

I think fanfiction can be beneficial to the right people. I think it would be very bad for others.

Sarah Robertson said...

I can see what mean about the last point, but I included it because it's such a big deal to some writers. I've run into several people that think any benefits of fanfiction are completely nullified by lack of profit/publication/etc. It's unfortunate, but true.

I totally agree about the insane wish fulfillment bit though. It's interesting how secret desires, the kind of things that normal people would never share, are so rampant in the world of fandom.

Sarah Robertson said...

other characters does help writing. If you're bad at formulating plots, you can let character development slide and focus on that because the character development already exists.

And yes, I agree. Fanfiction can be both a positive and negative influence, which is why I decided to discuss it. A lot of the pros and cons I pointed out are actually opposites of each other--like the slush pile bit. :)

Jackie said...

Yes Yes Yes to number one and number three!
I've never heard of "purple prose". What does that mean?

Sarah Robertson said...

Haha, glad you agree! :)

Purple prose is when a paragraph is super over-stylized. For example, you could say, "She had blonde hair that fell to her shoulders," OR "Loose strands of her starlight colored hair drifted gently across her thin, pale collar bone."

Purple prose isn't necessarily bad (especially in, say, romance novels), but it stands out from other writing. Bad fanfic authors like to do this with whatever clothing someone's wearing. Hopefully that made sense!

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