Soooooo. I’ve been reading a lot of deconstructions lately (notably Jenny Trout’s 50 Shades series, but others as well), and they got me thinking. What is it about fanfic that really separates it from fiction writing in general (besides the copyright violations, yes, they’re violations, copyright law doesn’t give two shits what you intended, and yes, character theft is a violation, Posner’s rant – I mean, sweeeeet-ass opinion – on the Medieval Spawn case is worth a read even if you don’t law) and why isn’t it “serious writing” when some fanfic is easily as long as any “real” work. And why can some authors cross over easily and others can’t?
You guys, if you aren’t reading Naomi Nowik’s Napoleonic naval dragon bromances you really should be. Support your local slash writer. I mean, ok, Peter Jackson just snapped up the movie rights and you should read this shit before the movie gets made because OMG SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.
ANYWAY. I was reading back through some of the 50 Shades stuff looking for a reference to use in an argument I was having, and one phrase in particular jumped out and grabbed me.
“The characters’ relentless refusal to participate in the plot”
And, that’s one of the big things about a lot of fanfic. It’s a way to spend more time with the characters outside the confines of the story as written. So a lot of the time it’s a vignette, or just a quiet moment, one of the scenes that would be cut from a show or movie or comic book, because who really cares what Batman said at the breakfast table.
Except of course the fans care.
So assembling a lot of fanfic into a book is like taking a book, and then taking all the scenes that advance the plot and making them happen off-camera. It doesn’t work unless you’re already invested in the characters. And with original characters, you’re just not. So the things that you need to get people involved in a new book with new characters don’t happen in fanfic, or at least they don’t have to happen (although I direct your attention to blc’s Bones set for some fantastic character development on the essentially blank slates of the Booth and Bones from the first couple seasons).
So now that I know why that works/doesn’t work, it’s time to go back through my writings and see which have genuine plot and which have all the plot off-camera, and then try to graft them together to make something that’s hopefully more than just a chance to hang out with my characters.