Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sue's Muse: What is your problem?

I should have written this a week ago, but to be honest I was too angry and too hurt to put words to screen. Other people have spoken far more eloquently than I on the subject, so this is just my two penn'orth.

There has been... how to be polite... a rumpus this week, among others, on the conversion of fanfic to published fiction. I have read some self-righteous bollocks on why authors using fanfic to start their career are sub-standard, not real writers, and one of the best ones yet, "Fanfic is free, why should we have to pay for it?"

Now, dear hearts, you do talk out of your arses. I get that. You love creating drama where there is no drama. But seeing as you are so good at it....

This is my personal take on fanfiction. Unlike some of drama queens this week, I don't pretend to speak for others. Let me start by saying that every story, whether it has its origins in a TV show, a film, or people is a creation of its author. They bring their own distinctive slant to the story. Do I sound like Lisa Worrall? Hell no. That woman rocks! Yet we comes from the same fandom.  No two stories about the same thing are alike.Why would they be? Do fantasy authors all write the same thing? Are they all rip-offs of Tolkein? Damn, I hope not or I wouldn't read them.

I have been in two fandoms; in one, I wrote fanon, my fiction was based around the programme and in the other I wrote RPS, real person slash. In the former, I've realised it is impossible for me to adapt my fiction: immortal, time-travelling captain meets shy, young Welshman. Hmmm, yeah. There will be a few who recognise Captain Jack and Ianto from Torchwood, especially the Brits.

However I could adapt one of my stories about two captains meeting across a crowded dance floor. I haven't yet but it's not impossible as I did a lot of my research from wartime books, not from the programme. Oh yes, do not expect the details on the programme to be accurate. They aren't: research, research, research.

In the latter I wrote RPS. One, because I wasn't much interested in the programme, and two, hell, have you seen these men? Oh yes, screeched the drama queens, we play guess the fandom. Do you? You must watch a hell of a lot of TV then. Because I wouldn't have had a clue who these guys were four years ago. Small-time TV show on a minor channel. Ask people in the UK about Supernatural, you get blank looks. The same blank looks Americans give me when I talk about Torchwood.

So if I gave you my sci-fi story about anti-heroes fighting an evil federation would you recognise it? No, not Star Wars. It was my rather bad Blake's 7 fanfiction.  What about the one set in a kids' home (The Story of Tracy Beaker) or the elderly lady who solves murder mysteries. Aha, you say, Murder She Wrote. Nope, Miss Marple by Agatha Christie.
The fact is, we all write variations around the same theme.

My men are always large. I like big men... six foot plus. Some of my friends like Native American men, shifters, big man/little man etc etc. We all like different things. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki ding my hotspot (if only). So does John Barrowman, Matt Rippy, Paul Darrow, Brent Corrigan (yes, really) and the bloke up the road with the dog. Have any of them ever had Morning Report together, got off in a lake, taught elementary school, been a night porter? Who knows, who cares? Not me.

The fact is, that in my head, the men are having it away together in every conceivable situation. I'm not infringing copyright because I'm not using the universe of a TV programme. Is it icky using real men for my nefarious purposes? That's your decision. I don't care. As time has gone on, the men in my books have changed. Are they any shorter? A shade. Are they still gorgeous - absolutely.

A week on, I have calmed down. I have said my piece. Thank you.


  1. Well said! And I agree with every single wonderfully written word.

  2. BRAVO, part two

  3. *standing up and clapping*
    And you rock so much more than me :)

  4. I totally agree with you Sue.

    It matters not one whit WHERE the inspiration to create a story comes from, the important factor is that you are inspired and you write. During the creation process stories evolve and breathe life becoming new wonderfully different worlds where us the readers can escape to.

    For any fanfic writers out there keep at it and never think you aren't as good as any one else!

    1. You are so right. I should have emphasised the creative process of a story, any story.

  5. I came out of fandom, as well, (mostly AU RPF) and have seen writing there that is stronger than 95% of the published m/m on the market. And I agree with you - when it's AU RPF, what's being stolen, exactly?

    That said, I made a concerted effort to leave fandom behind when I started writing for publication. So I was hurt and angry when a fellow author, who apparently came from the same fandom, left a comment on one of my novels saying that it was a good story, but too J2 for her. J2 was the furthest thing from my mind when I wrote that story.

    And then I looked at it, and looked at the fandom, and, honestly, if you happen to like tall men (which, hell yeah I do) and if you're LOOKING to find J2, you can find it anywhere! I mean, this is the fandom that's brought us J2 as samurai, J2 as space pirates, J2 as cowboys, J2 as a puppy and a damned kitten! Everything COULD be J2 for the precise reason that there IS no J2 canon.

    So, rant over, I think, except to say that I see no problem with authors taking inspiration from images of actors, and that's all AU RPF is. I do, however, have a problem with other authors acting like dicks about it...

    1. And so many have acted like dicks...

      I totally agree with you, Kate. Yes, I read your story as the boys, then as original fiction. I loved them both. In my head, my cowboys are Luke and Simon. Is Jensen a possessive cowboy with a tendency to want to kill any man who lays a hand on Jared? I don't think so. I think his lovely wife might have something to say about that.

      Fanfiction is a wonderful springboard for authors. And no matter how big the fandom, thousands of readers have never watched or heard of the programme, let alone the pairing.

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  7. ROFL... well said... which is why I don't publicise 2+1 and want it taken off of DSP as soon as the contract expires... Far too many Js in that one...

    I read another book recently... the short friend with the long dark hair who was into music who had a friend with long blond hair... who was also a musician... please... I mean the guy with the long dark hair (let's call him... hmmm... Chris) was born in Texas and moved to Oklahoma... Now, 99% of my/our readers would see nothing in that. As an avid (ex) J2 reader all I see is... well you know what I see... (also when I say 99%, the J2 fandom was HUGE, one of the largest I believe after Harry Potter, so you can guarantee a LOT of J2 readers are out there buying our stuff.) If a J2 is being re written, or indeed any fan fiction, then my biggest piece of learning was to get someone outside of fandom to check the work… people inside fandom are more forgiving of almost, and I hate to use the word, lazy writing. When we used to write 'Jensen stood up', we could envision exactly how Jensen stood, walked, acted, 'was'. Our new characters are empty if we just write that now and to be fair our editors would kill us…

    I actually think it is harder to rewrite fan fiction you had already written than it is to write from scratch... Oracle took me months to rewrite and went from 20k to 50k over the space of six long and torturous months. It was HELL. Still, you can probably see J2 in there if you looked, in the pairings, in the secondary characters... those gorgeous men in SPN were my inspiration to write but they haven't been my inspiration for a very long time now. Other novels inspired by J2 include HOT1, Chapter 1 of TCT, Moments, Back Home and All The Kings Men, oh and my YA, Decisions and the first few pages of Love is…

    I wrote a million words of J2 fan fiction (no joke!). Most of it was unrepeatable nonsense but it is bound to inform the way I write now. Thing is, I could have written most of the same stories based around Mark and Jason from Battle of the planets, or Starbuck and Apollo from original BSG. It didn’t matter why I wrote, I just wrote… and wrote and wrote…
    As for Sanctuary. That is the kernel of an idea I had when I was eighteen, and formed the basis of (wait for it) a HET novel I subbed to Silhouette and for my first ever J2! That it appears now in brand new stories in a completely new reincarnation means I have had that idea in my head for twenty four years… that makes me feel old… :-(

    The fact that writing fan fiction has now led me to be able to write stories people seem to want to read is something I am incredibly proud of.

    1. Having written something in the region of 1.2 million words of HP fiction I can totally believe your million of J2 fics as well. LOL

  8. I have to say I heartily disagree on one point in your post there. I am English and I have heard of Supernatural. I watch it religiously - when it is on! - and love the show. That being said, over the years I have watched many shows of that ilk (Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Tru Calling etc). I also watch Doctor Who and Torchwood too. You are probably spotting a pattern here. So I disagree on that point.

    I am also an escapee (mostly) from the world of fanfiction and I make no secret of that. I have written for several fandoms though mainly Harry Potter and Tru Calling.

    I don't think this makes me a worse writer than those who only write their own stories. There are no worse critics and sticklers for detail than rabid fans of much-loved shows and books. Heaven forbid you get the tiniest detail wrong.

    I wouldn't even say I have made a complete break from fanfiction. I have three unfinished stories I am on a promise to finish (though goodness knows when) and a sequel to another that is mostly written but unpublished that people are waiting quite patiently for. They'll probably be drawing their pensions before I get it online but I'll do it eventually. I also take part in a yearly Christmas fic gift exchange group so as to not lose touch with the community completely.

    Fanfiction writers and readers were some of my greatest supporters for my writing and those who I know have followed me into the realms of published writings have been nothing but supportive and encouraging. Even though who do not like m/m stories (my fanfics covered a wider variety of genres including general fiction/parody/hetero romance/angst) are pleased for my break into the publishing world.

    I am not alone either since I know of quite a few fanfic writers in the community who are now published. Some of them have made the complete break from fandom, even removing their fanfiction stories from the online archives. Others, like myself, leave them up there for people to read. They are raw and not professionally edited, but I put just as much work into them as I do any story I wrote.

    Do my published stories bear any resemblance to my fanfiction stories? I have no idea. I suspect the style is probably similar, hopefully enough to be recognisable as mine, but the plots are entirely different as are the characters. But does this mean that if I should ever write about a teenage werewolf I'll be called out as a fraud because I have written fanfiction about a teenage Remus Lupin? I would hope not.

    Okay, that got horribly long. Sorry. I tend to get annoyed when people insinuate that fanfiction writers who make it to publication are not as good as the rest.

    1. I used to watch Tru Calling, Buffy, Angel and Charmed, but hadn't watched SPN at all. In fact, hadn't heard of it before I got dragged kicking and screaming into the fandom. If I talk to people who don't watch fantasy (I use that term generally, they don't know SPN at all. Then again, I would be surprised if they knew what a Dalek was. As I say I speak for those around me, not for everyone.

      The rumpus last week upset me because most of it was bollocks. I wanted to wave Nothing Ever Happens, *crap fanfic* in their faces and point out how well it had done end of 'best of' lists.

  9. Until today I had no idea what Fan fiction was and this genre has never interested me beacause I am definitely very "straight" (it has never abhorred me either though). Your words and arguments were so strong if was obvious that this subject has moved you quite profoundly. I felt an overwhelming urge to immediately post a response.

    In my other world of music I have noticed, in fact it is blatantly obvious particularly amongst the older classical composers, that there was hardly every anything completely new and that most compositions were variations on what had gone before and had been unashamedly influenced by those older compositions. The old composers seemed to see this as a compliment rather that stealing an idea and it is perhaps a pity that the modern world of music (and writing) does not see this in the same light.

    Well said Sue