Ownership, Creativity, and What Fans Do

First, I am just astonished that among the top stories on CNN are Ahmadinejad’s comments at the UN (which are so bugfuck scary shitass motherfucker holy shit that I splutter), and news about Clay Aiken coming out of the closet and Nicole Kidman drinking water to become pregnant. Jesus fucknuts. Juxtaposition of WTF, much?

Second: a rather curious but happy byproduct of the Twilight empire: the actual town of Forks, WA, is receiving a huge tourism boom – which their economy is most happy about. I love that the town is totally into it, from organizing a blood drive from the “Cullen’s” house, to marking a spot for “Dr. Cullen” in the hospital lot. More power to ‘em. May their fire trucks be shiny and new, and their residents happy and mellow.

Now here’s a big question, and each artist has to, I think, answer it on their own, because it’s really a question of ownership and property of art – one that comes up in the court system over and over again. The town’s embracing of their role in Meyers’ series is one manner in which the subject of a creative work adapts to the attention because of it. But consider the artists’ perspectives, and the wide variations of reaction in how their art is used.

In this corner: Suzanne Vega discussing the remixes and interpolations of her song Tom’s Diner (duh duhduh duh, duh duhduh duh, duh duh duhduh na duhduh na…) and how she’s embraced them, even released compilations of various artists’ versions of the same song:

15 years later, “Tom’s Album” continues to sell. People think it is a bootleg and sidle up to me whispering, “Have you seen this? Someone put this together.”

“Yes. That someone was me.”

However, it was a logistical nightmare to administrate. I had to go back to all the people who had taken the song without permission, and ask their permission . . . to use their version of my song!

While still a defender of copyright protection – Vega met with the original remixers of the song, DNA, and arranged for a flat fee agreement after DNA had remixed the song in 1990 and sold it out of a corner store – her perspective is interesting, particularly in the context of isolation in which she wrote the song itself. (Also, the part about Vega’s role in the invention of the mp3 is freaking fascinating.)

And in this corner, we have Annie Proulx, who is pissed as hell about fanfic regarding her characters in Brokeback Mountain, particularly when they send her the product of their fanfic labors. Her response is rant-tastic, because she’s horrified that readers would rewrite her story with a happy ending, stating that:

There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story….

Most of these ‘fix-it’ tales have the character Ennis finding a husky boyfriend and living happily ever after, or discovering the character Jack is not really dead after all, or having the two men’s children meet and marry, etc., etc. Nearly all of these remedial writers are men, and most of them begin, ‘I’m not gay but….’ They do not understand the original story, they know nothing of copyright infringement—i.e., that the characters Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are my intellectual property….

Proulx then states that she thinks that the fanfic rewrites are motivated by the male writers’ feeling that they can write the story better than she, a woman, could. I don’t know about that, as it seems like a huge leap of guesswork to assume the motivations of a fanfic writer, but her perspective as to the ownership of the characters and the ending of their story is different from Vega’s eager collecting of variations, covers, and remixes of her song. I’d love to hear a debate with the two of them discussing intellectual property, and how fans interact with their artistic creations.

What do you think? Would you be irritated with someone taking your characters and writing fanfic about them? Do you think someone who seizes your characters and rewrites the ending is “exploring their fantasies” in a manner which you find objectionable? Or would you collect them for your own amusement? Where do you fall on the Vega/Proulx continuum?

Thanks to Karen and December for the links.






Comments are Closed

  1. I admit to mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand, I’ve co-written an academic paper on fanfiction, and am friends with a number of people who study it; I could fake my way through a brief paean to the subversive and transformative opportunities of fanfic, etc.

    On the other hand, I think a lot of it is less engaged with such high-flown concerns, and more concerned with wish fulfillment or prurient sensibilities. 🙂

    I think I would be pissed if I thought somebody had ficced my writing because they thought I “didn’t do it right.”  I’d also be weirded out if someone’s fic involved my characters behaving in a fashion that is Just.  Not.  Right. in my subconscious.  (Which needn’t be sexual; it could just be an action I know that character would never take.)  And so forth and so on; I think individual instance of fanfic might rub me the wrong way.  But on the other hand, I don’t think I’m particularly harmed by anybody writing it—if anything, the reverse—so my policy, which I stated on my LJ a while ago, is that I don’t mind so long as you’re not trying to make money from it.

    Not that anybody’s written fanfic of my stories as yet (though I have found one piece of fan-art!), but that’s my policy and I’m sticking to it.  I will, however, probably not read any fanfic that may result, for the sake of my own sanity.

  2. Too bad, but nowadays people use intellectual properties without any questioning or any bad conscience. Very bad attitude! I’m always furious because of it.

  3. My policy is similar to Marie’s, and it’s on my website. Go ahead and write fanfic if you like, and have fun. But for legal reasons I can’t and won’t look at it (and because I had a few people ask, it’s because if I’ve already planned to do something in a book, and a fan does it, I could be accused of stealing the idea. But once a series ends I’ll be just like JKR, excited to read all of it, lol.)

    Proulx’s comments infuriate me on a number of levels. Of course a story is “open range to explore [a reader’s] own fantasies”; what else IS it? How the reader interprets the story and what it makes them feel depends as much on them and their experiences/tastes/whatever as it does on the writing itself, so for her to imply her story is just supposed to sit there like a dead thing, to be stared at then moved on from without it actually igniting anything in the reader (which is in effect what she’s saying) is so wrongheaded and offensive and just…bleh. The idea that readers are somehow wrong and stupid to be touched and moved by a story, to be ignited by it, just astounds me coming from a writer.

    If she doesn’t want people to write fanfic that’s one thing. She has every right to ask that they not do so and that they not send it to her. But to ascribe such ludicrous motives, to speak so shabbily and rudely of people who are trying to pay her a compliment… It makes me physically ill, especially when I wonder how many of those people who start their letters with “I’m not gay, but…” either actually are gay and feel okay about that for the first time in their lives, or genuinely are not gay but are much more open to and comfortable with the idea of other people being gay. And the response they get for those feelings is to have it implied there’s something wrong with them for expressing themselves.

    She doesn’t have to respond to all those people with hugs and an invitation to dinner, but I do think she has an obligation not to call them names publicly and insinuate they’re a bunch of morons.

  4. amasour says:

    I’ve never minded when people write fanfic of my stuff. I sort of see where she wouldn’t want people messing with her chars, but then again, people don’t really mean any harm.  Yeah, some people hate the end, and want to see something happier—but so what?  It’s hardly the first time people have thrown fits over that sort of thing. At least they didn’t harass her to death until she finally rewrote it, which is what happened with Great Expectations.  I went to a panel once where Tamora Pierce was talking about fanfic, and she especially disliked the ones where her characters got raped. Again, I can understand, but at the end of the day – it’s just fanfic. Not cannon. No one but the writer can mess with the cannon, so who really cares where the fanfic might go?  I just have a hard time being offended by the idea that people want to spend a portion of their free time playing in my sandbox.

  5. Maria Lima says:

    I’m with Marie & Stacia – absolutely feel free to write fan fiction about my characters. Fan fiction is a huge form of flattery and I’d be utterly gobsmacked if someone thought enough of my world to play in it. Sadly, I can’t read it while I’m writing my series, but like, Stacia, I’d love to read it after the series is over. 🙂

    Frankly, fan fiction is simply a pastiche without prior approval. There’s a ton of it out there published (from sources that are in public domain) – Nicholas Meyer’s “The Seven Percent Solution”, all sorts of Jane Austen pastiches, etc. I really don’t understand why people get their knickers in a knot about this. Yeah, perhaps sending your stories to the writer isn’t brilliant, but it’s just another way of expressing how much the story affected you. Fanfic is nothing more than a more modern version of the bard/storyteller, retelling and remixing stories; another way of spinning a tale. It’s just a whole lot easier these days. No need for a physical gathering and a campfire. 🙂

  6. Teddypig says:

    Anyone else here thing Annie P might be a bit overly egolicious there?

  7. Teddypig says:

    think, not thing!

    dang where is my coffee

  8. If I ever get published, and if someone ever wrote fanfic based on anything I’d written, I’d be incredibly flattered, and would probably read it out of sheer amusement. In fact, I and one of my friends (a co-author on a few different things) have spent at least a few evenings giggling over hypothetical crazy ‘shippers based on things we’ve written (admittedly there was a fair bit of alcohol involved as well).

    That being said, I would find it a bit awkward if people actually sent it to me, expecting it to be read, and expecting some sort of feedback. I can think of a number of authors who have stated that they have no problem with fanfic, but that they don’t have the time or the inclination to read it; I find that perfectly acceptable. The ones who rant—Annie Proulx, Anne Rice, etc—just seem to me to be blowing hot air. Will this stop the fans? I certainly don’t think so.

    I would find it irritating if someone sent me something, claiming I’d ‘written the ending wrong’, or something to that effect. At the end of the day, the characters came from one particular author, and their version is the one that has to take precedence. But, then again, the fanfic I’ve always liked is the kind that fills in tiny gaps and/or takes different a different perspective on a preexisting story.

  9. Stacia, the fans are behaving badly in the Proulx case. The first rule of fanfic is that you don’t approach the talent with it. Don’t get me started on improperly socialized feral fans and the blatant male privilege when the men send it in with a “there, fixed that for you, little lady,” attitude.

    Of my own stuff, I have more a J. Michael Straczynski attitude: I wish you wouldn’t until canon is closed. I’m very likely to Joss your stuff. And please don’t let me see your “Nick and James go to pick out curtains and make a test-tube baby” story until I’ve gotten all the books out.

    After Canon’s closed, play away.  I know I have.

    I have had fanfic written on one of mine, and it wasn’t bad, but the author seemed to miss one very important facet of a character, which made the whole thing completely out of character.

  10. DS says:

    I bet I know who has the lower blood pressure. 

    Honestly, no one is going to be able to control fanfic.  It’s the same impulse that had my brother and I, as kids who lived in our imaginations a lot, make up new adventures for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek.  We just didn’t write them down and put them on the internet.  But if the internet and home computers had existed we probably would have.

  11. Oh, I agree they shouldn’t send it to her, Angelia, but I also suspect in this case the fans involved don’t realize they’re behaving badly; I’d bet a large portion of them don’t even know what “fanfic” is or that it exists, much less that there are rules attached.

    And either way, that’s no excuse for her nastiness. Those people, correctly behaved or not, are human beings. More than that, they are human beings who are attempting, wrongly or not, to share with her something her work inspired in them. They don’t deserve her rudeness and contempt. Had she simply said in the interview “People write stories and send them to me, and I really, really wish they wouldn’t. I consider it a copyright violation and don’t enjoy reading it, I just throw them out so they’re wasting their time,” I wouldn’t say a word about it. But to call them degrading names and inscribe sexist motives to them is shameful.

  12. Would you be irritated with someone taking your characters and writing fanfic about them?

    Maybe a little irritated, but I would try not to go off the deep end.  If it happens, it happens-as long as they don’t try to earn money off of the fanfic that uses my characters/worlds, etc, as long as they don’t try to claim ‘ownership’ over the worlds/characters, I’d hope I wouldn’t get too worked up over it.

    However, I don’t want to read it either.

  13. Liz says:

    First rule of fanfiction: Don’t send it to the original source
    Second rule of fanfiction: DON’T SEND IT TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE

    Fanfiction exists in a murky gray area of legality already but as long as authors, producers, screenwriters, all the people who have legal control over what you’re fanficcing can pretend it doesn’t exist then they largely ignore it. They can’t ignore it if you send it to them. Why would you send it to them? Are you damaged in the head? Don’t be stupid.

    I personally don’t write fanfic. Much. But in my opinion as long as no one tries to make money off it (excepting the published fanfic such as Star Trek and Star Wars, although if George Lucas wasn’t making money off that he probably wouldn’t allow it) and they don’t SEND IT TO THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR then it’s not a bad thing.

    If a series has ended or there’s only one book it’s a way for people to get continued enjoyment out of something they like. Even if, gasp, they don’t always agree with the direction of the original series.

    So, Proulx, they may be completely missing the point but it’s possible they get the point, they just didn’t like the point and want to try out different scenarios. Fill in the gaps.  Interact with the material. Hell at least people haven’t forgotten her book.

    I can totally understand why some authors would dislike the idea of fanfic but at the same time it’s really not harming them at all.

    Just, for the love of god, STOP SENDING YOUR FIC TO THE AUTHORS. They aren’t all like JKR or Neil Gaiman.

  14. Cat Marsters says:

    However, it was a logistical nightmare to administrate. I had to go back to all the people who had taken the song without permission, and ask their permission . . . to use their version of my song!

    This reminds me of a Buffy fanfic I wrote back in the day.  I later found out someone else had ficced my fic: taken the setting (I’d written about a Victorian Buffy and Spike), alt-universe details and even the title, and written her own.  But, since I was just ficcing someone else, I couldn’t really complain about it.  Then I discovered the author had sold her fic as an original story: she’d pretty much just changed the names.  So, from fanfic she was now making money from an idea I had?  Still, I can’t cite copyright infringement on it, can I?  I even put the ‘these characters don’t belong to me’ disclaimer on my fic!

    It’s entirely possible we just came up with very similar ideas for fanfic.  And both gave them the same title.  Yeah.

    Fanfic’s a strange beast.  I think I’d be flattered if someone ficced my work, but I’m not sure I’d want to read it.  They’re my characters and my world, and I like them as they are!

  15. Terri says:

    The news these days is really bizarre.  Nobody ever seems to cover the things I would consider important.  And they are such short “sound bites” that I feel like I know nothing about what they are reporting on anyway without further research.  And the scary thing is most people seem to just accept this as all fine…

    As for Proulx, I think fanfic is a great thing.  And why someone would not be honored that people like their stuff enough to inspire them to write it, I just don’t know.

  16. Chicklet says:

    Aaaugh, this Proulx story has been chapping my hide for days now, because (as several people have said already) it’s a serious breach of etiquette (and common sense) to send fanfic or fanart to the original source.

    I do find it interesting that she says most of these fanfic authors are men, because the majority of m/m slash writers are women, and it’s been that way since the early 1970s. And I do remember that when the Brokeback Mountain film was released, there was a little spate of fic on my LJ friends list, all written by women, that often rewrote the ending. I wonder if the writers Proulx is speaking about are brand-new fanficcers, inspired to change the ending because, as Liz said, they understand the canon ending and don’t like it and therefore are rewriting to suit their own emotional needs. It’s wrong to send these stories to Proulx, but I understand their impetus to write the stories in the first place. I think this is a case of the fanfic writers in question being newbies and not understanding the community standards of fandom.

  17. MoJo says:

    Once you write something and put it out there, it’s there. It becomes the reader’s because every reader brings his own baggage.  That said, it NEVER occurred to me to rewrite others’ characters (books, films, TV), so I didn’t know such a thing as fanfic existed until a couple of years ago.

    What do you think? Would you be irritated with someone taking your characters and writing fanfic about them?

    Were I so lucky to have a fanbase that would spend its time rewriting my characters to their specifications, I have a good idea where they’d take it. On the other hand, were I to acquire a fanbase like that, there’s nothing I can do to stop them, so why not ride the wave and thank them for the boost, ego, sales, publicity, and otherwise?

    I agree with those who say:  I don’t care if you write it, but don’t send it to me and don’t expect me to read it.  Ever.

    Teddypig said:

    Anyone else here think Annie P might be a bit overly egolicious there?

    This is a *sniff* I WRITE GREAT LITERATURE HOW DARE YOU YOU UNWASHED MASSES *sniff* hissy fit.

    I’m very likely to Joss your stuff.

    What does this mean?

  18. Wryhag says:

    Proulx should feel damned flattered.  “Brokies” who write fanfic aren’t trying to make her story better.  I’m sure they’re well aware of its excellence.  Their ongoing involvement in the tale is testimony to how vividly the characters were rendered and how deeply their struggle touched people—gay, straight and bi, male and female.

    As much as I admired both the story and the film, I’ll tell ya, they tore me up.  I’ve never written and never will write fanfic but, damn in a basket, I still want Jack and Ennis to have their HEA!

  19. Barb Ferrer says:

    I get where Proulx is coming from, although I think her attitude is unbearably high-handed.  Fanfic is wideranging and if you’ve written a story that captures people’s imaginations, then you, as a writer, have done something right.  How many wonderful stories were borne from the fact that the author read the original source and was inspired by it?

    Gregory Maguire’s Wicked series comes to mind here, or Shaw’s Pygmalion, the various incarnations of Shakespeare’s or Austen’s works and the list goes on and on and on and in a manner of speaking, could be considered the ultimate form of fanfiction.


    First rule of fanfiction: Don’t send it to the original source
    Second rule of fanfiction: DON’T SEND IT TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE

    Liz nailed it.  I’m not going to presume what the ficcers were thinking was going to happen—maybe they really did think that she missed the boat and this is how it should’ve happened, maybe they just see it as the highest form of compliment, the “Ms. Proulx, your story and characters and world inspired me,” and that she’d love seeing their efforts, but you know, as an author, not that I assume anyone’s ever written any fanfic based on my work, but honestly, for a lot of different reasons, I sure wouldn’t want to see it.  I feel very, very proprietary about my characters and and stories I’d probably get my panties in a monumental bunch, even if I tried to play it cool on the surface.  Especially, if we’re being really, really, really honest, a huge amount of fan fic is just absolutely terrible.  It’s got to be hard to see these characters and the world that you spent so much time and care on being more or less butchered.  I’m not saying it’s all bad, but probably that a majority of it is.

    However, while this is something that obviously bugs her no end, I think she made a lot of rather unfortunate and cruel assumptions about the writers and their motivations.  Not that she necessarily needs to, what with her awards and deals, but I think in this case, the high road, or at least a more middling one, would’ve been the better one to take.

  20. Wendy says:

    I’ve written fanfic.  It helped me, as a teenage writer, refine some skills.  It helps me now, from time to time, get around dry spells. 
    I haven’t put a lot of it on display anywhere, but it does exist, and I’m grateful to the authors for letting me play. 
    Were I published, I don’t think I would have a problem with people writing fanfic in my world.  I have this feeling that my characters might be way too easy to subtextually ship into a variety of combinations that I did not mean for them.  (My heroine and her best female friend have a very Victorian girl-firendship.  This would turn into femmeslash city.  My heroine’s brother is in love with his tutor who winds up in love with the heroine.  I don’t even want to think about this as a triangle, but I think people would write it.) 
    Heck, I might even be thrilled to read about heroine’s brother/tutor ‘cause I tried (just to get it out of my system) to write them a scene and just couldn’t do it.  It wouldn’t happen, so I couldn’t do it.  I’d be interested to see, in the hands of a skilled ficcer who is willing to bend the rules, how these two could sensibly get together. 
    I’m sure there would be some reason to be irked that I’m not thinking about, but—for the most part—I’d be pretty okay with the idea.  If it helps a young writer develop, gives someone who is not professionally a writer a place to go with their creativity, or just gives someone’s mind a rest, can’t hurt. 
    (…though I don’t necessarily want it sent to me.)

  21. Vyc says:

    I got my start writing fanfic, and so obviously I’m not going to object to fans potentially writing fanfic if I get published. I see it as one of the highest compliments an author can be paid (so long as they don’t try making money off it—that’s not so complimentary). Your readers enjoyed your world and your characters so much, they didn’t want the experience of your story to end. They wanted to draw it out even longer, and they wanted to share it with their friends/the general public/whoever. That’s pretty damn spiffy.

    Will I want to read fic of my own work, even once my series is finished? Probably not. I’d be too worried what people would do to my babies, heheh.

    Concerning Proulx, while on one hand I can understand why she got pissed that people sent her fix-it fic (because really, that’s just rude), on the other hand, I think she went overboard in her response. I doubt sexism was involved in this specific case, although then again, since I haven’t seen the submissions or e-mails, I’m not exactly in a position to judge.

  22. I have been thinking a lot about the “fix-it” aspect because I just finished No Plot? No Problem, a how-to manual by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. (Very good, very funny book, btw.) He suggests that before you sit down to write a novel, you make a list of everything you love to see in novels. When you write your own novel, you should put the stuff from your list in there. Then you should make a second list of everything you hate to see in novels. When you write your own novel, you should make sure none of the stuff from that second list creeps in when you’re tired.

    I would need to make a third list of things I have put in novels that I thought were perfectly fine but that editors and/or agents have told me never ever to put in a novel again (marching bands, country bands, rock bands, musicians of any kind, football, monster trucks, heroin addicts, llamas). My biggest problem as a writer, methinks, is that I don’t share the interests or fantasies of a lot of people. So the “fix-it” impulse is absolutely fascinating to me. That’s what I’m generally doing in an edit: trying to predict where the story I’ve written has gone wrong in terms of jiving with the interests or fantasies of an agent or an editor. (Or a reader, you would think. But they really don’t count in this equation. In terms of an author getting a contract for a book, it doesn’t matter what the reader’s interests or fantasies are. It only matters what the agent THINKS the editor’s fantasies are, and what the editor THINKS the reader’s fantasies are, judging by previous sales.) I’m trying to figure out how an agent or editor would tell me to “fix-it,” and then I’m trying to do that to my book myself before I ever send it out. And I trust my critique partners to back me up and catch and “fix-it” anything that slips through. We now refer to their reads of my books as “checking for heroin.”

    However, in Proulx’s particular case, it sounds like the “fix-it” people are operating in a completely different genre from her book, so it makes sense that she has no interest in what they’re doing. It would be like someone making one of my romantic comedies into a spy novel. *blank stare*

    And yeah, what Liz said. STOP SENDING YOUR FIC TO THE AUTHORS. If I want to Google myself (that still sounds so dirty) and study how people have played “fix-it” with my books, that’s my problem. But don’t send it to me, because that is disdainful and ugly.

  23. I don’t see why fanfiction would bother the original author.  If Proulx doesn’t like it, she shouldn’t read it.  But I agree with her about the characters being hers.  I doubt Margaret Mitchell would have approved of that sequel to Gone with the Wind.  Some endings aren’t supposed to be rewritten.

  24. RStewie says:

    I completely understand Proulx’s standpoint.  If I wrote something and I determined that it didn’t end “happily” and then was unindated with a bunch of “fanfic” from people who are CHANGING the story to suit themselves, I’d be irritated, too.

    Why is this “fanfic”?  They’re actually taking her story and “making it better”.  That’s not what fanfic does.  Fanfic develops the universe the original author created, it does not twist the original author’s work into something that is “happier” or “more fulfilling” or whatever. 

    It’s like when Gone with the Wind was suddenly made into a series.  WTF?  But I read the new one and appreciated that this was someone’s attempt to “right the world” and not actually an extension of the original author’s work.  A WHOLE NEW story, built with characters that someone else created, that could ONLY be built legally once the copyright laws for the original were expired.  And if Margaret Mitchell was still alive, I’d bet real money it would never have been published at all.

    These are two completely different cases.  One is music, and is being stylized by different personalities.  The other is a story, that is being CHANGED.  The difference is slight, and all in the priciple of it, but it IS different.

  25. Alpha Lyra says:

    If one of my novels were published and someone wrote fanfic for it, I’d be incredibly flattered. I’d see it as an enormous compliment. But I wouldn’t want to read the fanfic. I suspect it would irritate me (the author would likely get the characters wrong, at least in small details), and anyway I wouldn’t want it to corrupt my own view of the characters in case I should write further in that universe.

  26. Crys says:

    Frankly, I would be honored and flattered if people loved my work enough that the characters became part of their lives and they wrote fanfic. 

    I think fanfic occupies an important space, the space of the subjunctive, and it has the potential to explore possibilities in a fashion that 99% of original fic cannot.  Of course, Sturgeon’s law is also a fact of life—a large chunk of everything is crap—and not every piece of writing lives up to its potential, no matter the genre or if its fanfic or original fic.  (Well, Sturgeon’s law is that 90% of everything is crap, but I think that’s overstating the case.  Regardless, you have to take the bad if you want the good.)

    It also sounds like Proulx hasn’t been exposed to good fanfic. :-/  Good fanfic writers usually know better than to send their work to the author of their source material.

  27. Silver James says:

    WTF, Proulx? In reading her responses to the questions, I simply boggled – and it had nothing to do with her take on fanfic. My great-grandmother (a member of a pioneering Wyoming family) is spitting nails from her grave at the moment. I found Proulx’s responses to be condescending and misogynistic. (Can a woman be a misogynist?)

    Ms. Proulx: I like the phrase “emotional ignorance.” I think that emotional ignorance defines most of us, especially Americans, who believe in romantic, lasting love and happiness. Both beliefs are conducive to an almost innocent expectation of a RIGHT to be loved and to be happy without earning it. Since those expectations are very often dashed in real life, emotional ignorance is often paid for with a laggard sense of betrayal, bitter tears and, eventually, a tablespoon of cynicism.

    Emotional ignorance? I just…of all the….that… I’m speechless. HEAs happen in real life. I got the sense from the overall tone of her replies that she wouldn’t be a fan of romance novels. Poor her. She’s missing a lot.

    Music and “literature” compares apples and oranges. Songs are “covered” all the time, though usually there’s royalty and permission involved.

    As for fanfic? I’ve written a little. Not so much to “fix” as to explore – both the world and the voice of the author as an exercise in creative writing. Would I send the fic to them? Hell no! Would I post it somewhere? Uhm…copyright infringement as far as I’m concerned so that would be a big “NO!” And I’ve seen too many fanfics delve into the ridiculous and slash fic simply because they can.

    If I ever create a world that others want to play in? I think I’d be flattered up to a point. But like many pointed out above, this is a litigious society. There’s enough lawsuits over intellectual property even if an author never saw the plaintiff’s ideas or story.

  28. Jill Shalvis says:

    Honestly?  As long as the person wasn’t profiting from my characters, I would take it as a compliment.

  29. Three words.
    Marion Zimmer Bradley.

    I believe she had to kill the Darkover series, which was a universe open to fanfiction, because of legal battles over who created what.  A fan sued, saying that one of Bradley’s own stories was too similar to fan created fiction.

    This is the main reason why authors cannot read fanfic.  The minute you start to look, or admit to looking, or are too helpful or supportive, you create the possibility that someone will come back and sue you for stealing your own work.  And the irony that it could happen in a world where you are God and creator?

    Makes my head explode.

    As to I whether I would be for or against?  Don’t care to know, don’t want to see, won’t go looking.  Which, with the magic of Google Alerts, is really hard.

    But considering some of the TV shows, movies and stuff that I’ve gotten obsessed with, over the years, I can’t exactly point fingers.  I never wrote anything down, but I can understand why someone would want to.

  30. Heather says:

    In a lot of reviews I read one of the most common complaints is that readers can’t connect with characters. To me fanfic is the reverse response. A lot of people (this site and its readers are exempted) can barely find time to read, let alone be so inspired or connected with a book, movie, tv series to sit down and write about it. Now whether or not Some fanfic is good writing is up to judgement, but people are so connected they want to continue that relationship with the characters and the story.
    However, to send your work to the author is the height of idiocy. Share it with friends, fellow fans, the world of the internet but not the author!
    On a related note concerning tv series fanfic can really develop a fanbase or keep up interest. Look at the Sentinel series. Lord knows I kept watching X-Files long after I lost interest just for subtext and to see what fanficcers were talking about!

  31. Teddypig says:

    Emotional ignorance? I just…of all the….that… I’m speechless. HEAs happen in real life. I got the sense from the overall tone of her replies that she wouldn’t be a fan of romance novels. Poor her. She’s missing a lot.

    I agree and it explains a lot about her stories.
    It definitely points to someone feeling a story is not important if it does not kill off a main character or totally destroy them in some way.

    I was always amused at people making Brokeback Mountain out to be a great Gay Romance when it is a tragedy that involves one Gay man in denial and one depressed bisexual pretending not to be involved with each other.

  32. Jessa Slade says:

    a third list of things I have put in novels that I thought were perfectly fine but that editors and/or agents have told me never ever to put in a novel again (marching bands, country bands, rock bands, musicians of any kind, football, monster trucks, heroin addicts, llamas).

    Jennifer, I want to read this one! But I’d change it in my fan fic and make the llama an alpaca. And the alpaca would be addicted to daytime TV, not heroin.

    Don’t ask, don’t tell always seems like such a half-assed policy, whatever it’s applied to. But if it protects the author and still encourages creativity, then I suppose it’ll do.

  33. Chicklet says:

    It seems like authors here are split over their reactions to fanfic about their original work; would you say this is a result of the original work being by a single person? I’m asking because I’m much more familiar with fanfic based on media properties like movies and TV series, which seem to be tolerated more easily by the original creators. I’m guessing it’s because the creation of movies and TV series is exponentially more collaborative than is writing a novel. With so many hands in the pot,  I think those folks don’t feel the ownership of the character as closely as do novelists. (On a TV series, the list of people who influence the depiction of a given character includes 5-10 writers, the directors [TV series have more than one], the actor, the cinematographer, the editor, the costume designer, the hairstylist, et al. In terms of writing, the teleplay for a single episode may have one or two writers’ names on it, but usually is the product of input from the whole team.)


  34. Marsha says:

    So the producers of Eight is Enough don’t want to read my short stories (from the summer before 7th grade) in which Ralph Macchio’s character and I get an apartment together?  Good to know. 

    I actually never knew about that “rule” of fan fiction.  I mean, it makes perfect sense and all, I just never imagined that such an endeavor actually was governed by a generally accepted set of principles. 

    I understand the legal argument against receiving and reading fan fiction, but I wonder about the notion that fans do it to “correct” something and/or don’t get the characters.  An author cannot control readers’ perception of characters or a story once a work is released into the world, presence of fan fiction or no.  Every reader is going to take with him or her a personal truth about either a character or a story which may or may not conform to the author’s vision.  Whether or not that truth is ever written down or otherwise shared with anyone else is beside the point.

  35. SB Sarah says:

    So the producers of Eight is Enough don’t want to read my short stories (from the summer before 7th grade) in which Ralph Macchio’s character and I get an apartment together?  Good to know.

    *wheeze* I wanna read it!  THAT is romance right there! WORD!

  36. Esri Rose says:

    I’m pretty sure I’d consider fanfic the ultimate compliment. I created characters that engaged people to that degree? Bring it on! You don’t have to read it, after all. (And yeah, they shouldn’t send it to her.)

    I do remember when some young woman wrote a Potter fanfic that was as big as a book, and she got a book deal out of it. I remember being rather peeved at that. The characters were already there. She didn’t create them, and that’s a huge percentage of what it takes to be a writer. I have no idea if that gal’s career went anywhere or not.

  37. Jenna says:

    I blame the “fix it” fanfiction for Brokeback Mountain on a simple misunderstanding: Proulx wrote a tragedy and most people read it as a romance. We’re trained to want romances to have a happy ending, so readers try to give a happy ending to these characters. (This same misunderstanding is what causes people to point to Romeo & Juliet as the ultimate romance, conveniently forgetting that they both die in the end.)

    I think I’d be flattered if someone wrote fanfic about my characters—having perpetuated fanfic myself I’m not going to get my knickers in a twist about it—though I admit when a friend and I tried to roleplay two of my characters on an RP board I was a little put off by her characterization. Where I saw a romantic but naive young man she saw a goth drama queen. There’s not much an author can do, though: once a story is out there it doesn’t belong just to the author anymore.

  38. So the producers of Eight is Enough don’t want to read my short stories (from the summer before 7th grade) in which Ralph Macchio’s character and I get an apartment together?  Good to know.

    LOL! And I never sent Lois Duncan my version of Five Were Missing set in my junior high school marching band. No.

  39. Jenna says:

    MoJo asked:

    I’m very likely to Joss your stuff.

    What does this mean?

    Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the vampire slayer, is notorious for taking fans’ expectations and twisting them. So when you expect a character’s background to be a certain way or a plot or character development to go a certain way (and write fic about it) and then it turns out to be different on the show (often vastly different), you got Jossed.

    Fannish shorthand for “My guess was wrong,” really.

  40. Tina says:

    Fanfiction as a compliment?  ^_^  It depends on how it’s sent to you. 

    I’ve had artists send me ‘their versions’ of characters I’ve written, and I do consider it an honor that they would draw these things… and used to wonder how it made my official ‘artist’ feel.

    I am bothered to get fiction sent to me on the pretense that they somehow ‘fix’ what I do wrong.  :/  I’ve got emails and seen fics like this: I hated the ending of Only Words, so this is what I think should happen, and voila, a fic attachment I need to read.  I wont read them.  I’ve had fics that change my characters, and this does get to me.  >_<  I didn’t make my mafia hit man vulnerable enough and so this person goes creates a whole backstory for him where he watched his mother die yada yada yada… 

    A part of me wants to see if it’s written well because I like good fanfic—on the other I want to say FU stop trying to turn my character into your character.  Then there’s the third hand, the one that no one sees but is there: I respect the compulsion that drives all writers to create, even if it’s my material they’re playing with.

    There’s a weird ego-dynamic there.  I can’t quite put my finger on it yet.  I can tell you this…it hurts to see fans say things like – this is so much better than the original.  =_=;

Comments are closed.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.

↑ Back to Top