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Nikkita Walker

I'm doing some research for a paper I'm writing in uni and I was hoping I could get some feedback from the fanfiction.net community. Do you guys think that fanfiction is a less reputable art form just because it borrows from existing plots? Do you think it's harder/easier to write within a story? Does fanfiction pose any kind of threat to the original content?

(mod edit to add category)

11/11/2015 . Edited by CrystalRei, 11/11/2015 #1
CrystalRei

In order: No, depends, and probably not; and this thread might be interesting to you (link).

Regarding my 'depends' answer: It's easier in many aspects because most of the world is fleshed out for you. Characters, settings, magic, whatever. It's already there. Many fandoms even have some plot point or structure that makes it easy to write come up with new stories, like the "case of the week" setup for every police procedural ever.

What I think is hard: You can't make up the rules of the world. Well, before I go on I will say that there's nothing stopping a writer from changing/adding pretty much whatever they want, but a good fanfic writer I think will try to make their story work within the canon 'verse. It's not more research, per se, but it's in a sense a different kind of research. You have to research the characters to understand them, rather than knowing everything because you built them from the ground up. Sometimes you want to use a power a certain way and you want to see if that contradicts anything canon says about it.

To try to put it in a way that makes more sense: With fanfic you don't have to put in the effort of coming up with a world and plot wholesale; but you do (or at least should) work within the limitations that the original work has set out.

Oh, and to answer the question in the title, fanfiction is a creative writing endeavor, so yes.

11/11/2015 . Edited 11/11/2015 #2
LMRaven
Do you guys think that fanfiction is a less reputable art form just because it borrows from existing plots? Do you think it's harder/easier to write within a story? Does fanfiction pose any kind of threat to the original content?

I consider writing, regardless of what kind, a skill more than an art but it can be both.

Is it less reputable because it borrows from existing plots? Nah. I don't know of any fiction save for the earliest forms back in Greek Mythology that don't borrow ideas and plots or get inspiration from other plots and stories. There is only a finite amount of plots to go around and everything's been done before, just the original executions of plots are different. In fanfiction, you still have to come up with your own execution of a plot even if you are borrowing someone else's world and/or characters.

Is it harder or easier? I think it's neither. I think it's different. Some of it may be easier and some of it may be more difficult. For instance, while it may be difficult to build a character from scratch and flesh him out, make him three dimensional, it may be equally as hard to write a pre-established character in-character. We still have to come up with the ideas and execute them.

Does it pose a threat to the original content? Not really. I think it actually helps originals by keeping the interest going and alive. The original owners recognize that and usually leave it be, as long as it doesn't compete with their product in the commercial marketplace. And because most fanfiction is free, it doesn't really compete.

11/11/2015 . Edited 11/11/2015 #3
cathrl

I don't think it's art at all. I don't think any writing is art, with the possible exception of poetry.

I'm really not into the line of argument which seems to be along the lines of "art = worthy, everything else = less worthy, so let's insist that what we do has to be called art." I'm also a knitter, and it happens all the time there. "Knitting isn't valued because it isn't considered to be an art", normally with a side helping of "and it's all because women do it rather than men", rather than "knitting is a craft and craft should be valued too."

Craft isn't intrinsically less valuable than art. Fanfic is writing, and writing isn't intrinsically less valuable than art either.

If you're going to start saying that writing which borrows from existing plots is (or may be, or is considered to be) less valuable than writing which doesn't, then you'll need to apply it across the board - so historical fiction is less reputable than fiction which isn't set around real events, and sequels are less reputable than what they are a sequel to, and anything set in the real world is less reputable than fantasy. Are you doing this, or are your arguments only being applied to fanfic?

So, to actually answer your questions?

No, I think fanfic is less reputable because it can't be used to make money. Professionals tend to look down on amateurs and all fanfic writers are amateurs. With a side helping of all the notorious fanfic being, shall we say, not exactly high quality.

I don't think it's either harder or easier - again, you need to apply the exact same line of thought to other forms of writing which have constraints: historical fiction, sequels, set-in-the-real-world stories...

Does it pose a threat to the original content? Not really, because any time it even starts to look as if it might, it's going to get shut down. If what you're doing threatens an IP owner's ability to make money from their IP, it's illegal. All the arguments about fanfic being legal start from the premise that they don't do that.

11/11/2015 #4
LMRaven
Craft isn't intrinsically less valuable than art.

Craft, that is the word I meant in my previous post, not skill - though it is a skill as well, but craft is the word I was really going for.

11/11/2015 #5
war hippy fatigues

The question of whether something is art or not has always struck me as being rather pointless.

Something being art is a very low bar to clear, and it seems like a lot of modern artists are so obsessed with redefining the boundaries of art that they make it a competition among themselves to see what kind of garbage they can make art next rather then trying to refine their skills or talents. And then people buy that garbage for thousands of dollars because they're so wealthy that they have no concept of value...

I say you should be more concerned with making sure that whatever you're working on is the best you can make it be; surely, that's what is most important? (At least if you're seriously working on it as opposed to it being a hobby... but whatever)

11/11/2015 #6
DjinniFires
  • Do you guys think that fanfiction is a less reputable art form just because it borrows from existing plots? No. Tell that to Shakespeare who based his plays on existing sources (see, for example, www shakespeare-online com/sources/)
  • Do you think it's harder/easier to write within a story? Both.
  • Does fanfiction pose any kind of threat to the original content? Good grief, no.

Do you need to add follow-up questions?

BTW, I'm sticking with "art" which is created through "craft."

11/11/2015 . Edited 11/11/2015 #7
pearlzandlace012

I think fanfiction isn't necessarily art, it's...well, it's writing. Would you consider writing art? Well, that's up to you.

I don't think it is a less reputable art form because it borrows from existing plots, because, as others have said, every plotline has been done before. It's the way writers execute it that makes it different. In original fiction, the writer has to come up with a unique take for their story, and in fanfic, the writer has to do the same. A fanfiction story that's exactly the same as canon isn't fanfic...it's copying. So just because you're using someone else's world and characters, doesn't mean you don't have to come up with your own plot.

I think it's fifty-fifty for whether it's harder or easier to write within a story. Some aspects will be harder, some will be easier; some people will find it harder, and some will find it easier. I'd say the easier aspects are that you don't have to build your own character and worry about making them a well-rounded character, and you don't have to spend time fleshing out an original world. However, I'd say the harder aspects are that you have to make sure you stay IC the whole time. Some fanfic writers, I know, put "OOC" in their summary or in an AN, but in my opinion, that's lazy and isn't an example of good fanfiction. Also, you have to make sure you're staying within the developed world and not contradict the laws of that world. Some writers will put "AU" in their summary or AN, but unless it's an alternate ending, I'm not particularly interested.

I wouldn't say fanfiction poses any threat to the original content. I've never heard of anyone making money off fanfic, and if someone tries, they'll certainly be stopped.

11/11/2015 #8
DjinniFires
I've never heard of anyone making money off fanfic, and if someone tries, they'll certainly be stopped.

Of course, people have made money off fan fiction- -and legally, too. For example, "Seven Percent Solution" and the numerous other further-cases-of-Sherlock-Holmes novels that have been published (let alone the many TV shows and movies), the mash-up "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," "Wide Sargasso Sea" (a fan fiction of Jane Eyre), etc. are all fan fiction based on works now in the public domain.

And then there's Amazon's Kindle Worlds that publishes fan fiction with the copyright holder's permission, a minor set of criteria, and no checking of the final product except for "format" on Amazon's part before offering the stories for sale. These are not works-for-hire. These are authorized fan fiction stories.

11/11/2015 #9
MasterFeign

A lot of people covered what I believe as well.

What I would like to add though, is fan fiction should be treated as an equal to fan art. They're different mediums, but both are just as equally credible. I think sometimes people can underestimate that fan fiction can take just as much effort as fan art can.

I think part of the stigma is because people think it's much easier to write fan fiction than it is to do fan art.

11/11/2015 #10
CryptCreeperX

The way I see it, fanfiction carries on the tradition of storytelling that meets our digital-savy, social-media times. At the root of all stories, though, are classical archetypes (heroes and villains) and messages (themes) that reflect us and the world/circumstances we live in (even in fantasy settings). In a nutshell, storytelling has evolved into a different form of art. No longer is it restricted to scholars or those familiar with the language. No longer is it limited to a small pool of privileged readers. The internet has given us a bigger playground to play and with that, a large audience, a steady flow of exchange, and easy accessibility.

We are today's storytellers bringing to life modern-day mythological figures. And much like the storytellers back in the day wrote/talked about the grand adventures of Jesus or Santa Claus or Zeus, we share with our audience the tales of our favorite fandoms. Of course, because the playing field is open to anyone, it's no wonder why some feel the need to look down at fanfic writers. In their eyes, fanfic writers haven't earned their merit badge as storytellers. This may explain why critics rarely look down at giant movie companies like Disney - who may be the biggest fanfic writers around. The majority of Disney films are essentially fanfiction since the writers rewrote the original fable stories to suit their needs with a happier kid-friendly story. They obviously loved the fables enough to recreate them. But they also felt the need to take many creative liberties with the original work. Isn't this what fanfic writers do? When we aren't pleased with a particular ending or pairing we may change it to match our needs/interests. Circumstances are changed/removed/added to create the type of story we want to see - all of this while trying to stay true to the original content. Of course, Disney won't ever be lumped with the rest of us fanfic writers because, in the eyes of critics, they earned their merit badge and so it doesn't matter if what they're producing is essentially fanfiction/fan art.

The other major criticism is the use of borrowed characters/stories. However, even in visual art, we see creators taking established works to reflect their own tastes/interests. Andy Warhol took copyright images of soup cans and sparked the Pop Art movement. He aimed to reflect popular culture times with this work as well as ask an important question: what is art? Up until that point, the art world was pretty smug about what it considered art. If you weren't a big name or didn't have your work in a museum, your work wasn't art. Warhol challenged that assumption. He suggested that a can of soup can be art because the concept of what-is-art-anyway made it so. Similarly, Marcel Duchamp, took a u*** and put it upside-down and titled it 'The Fountain'. He became one of the founders of Ready-Made art. He proved it didn't matter what materials you used or borrowed; rather, it's the concept itself that matters the most.

If we're applying these conclusions/definitions to the world of fanfiction, then we could argue that fanfiction can be an art form (or rather, a literary art form). Fanfiction definitely lives up to Warhol's Pop Art movement: it speaks to today's popular culture times and has grown immensely due to the Information Age. Secondly, just because fanfiction borrows pre-made objects (settings, characters) that doesn't make it less of a literary art form. Duchamp proved this with ready-made art.

So what makes something art? Creator's intent, according to many artists' and writers' I've analyzed in the past. The creator should have a purpose for the work, even if it's to expand on the definition of art or challenge the status-quo. Furthermore, the creator should initiate a conversation with the audience. This is achieved by providing a question or message through the work.

Now, I will say that not all art is created equal. Similarly, not all literary works are created equal. Some writers will take their fanfic to a whole new level while others are (what I considered to be) 'rim-shot' stories. Rim-shot moments are fun and exciting to encounter. But the impression they leave is short-lived and quickly forgotten. So while that smutty fanfic of Bella and Edward may get 100000000 faves, that doesn't mean that story is fine art. The chances of it standing the test the time and being remembered ten years from now are pretty slim, especially when other smutty fanfics will come along and easily capture similar reaction. And while it may reflect popular culture times, the core message of that smut story is so one-dimensional that the creator won't generate much conversation between creator/audience beyond the 'OMG THAT WAS SOOOOO HAWT' variety.

So yeah, back to your question. Can fanfiction be considered art? Can it be a literary art form? That depends on the creator's intent and the type of dialogue/conversation the work generates. Do I think fanfiction is less reputable because it borrows existing plots? Absolutely not. Both Warhol and Duchamp can testify to that. They suggested the artist's concept/intent is more important than the materials used. It stands to reason writers would be given this same flexibility by using established characters and settings in their work. In the end, it's what that writer does with those materials that matters the most. Does fanfiction pose any kind of threat to the original content? No. As I mentioned before, the art of storytelling has evolved to meet today's tech-savy times. We're the modern-day storytellers, passing on the good word of our fandoms around. XD Besides, if fanfiction posed a serious danger, half the mythological stories of the past would not be around today. We wouldn't have Michelangelo's ultimate fan art at the Sistine Chapel. We wouldn't have all those awesome heroic tales of Hercules made into movies and cartoons. Stories are kept alive so long as there is a storyteller willing to share a story. Because fanfiction inspires so many storytellers, the characters and places we love can live on today. :)

11/11/2015 . Edited 11/11/2015 #11
pearlzandlace012
Of course, people have made money off fan fiction- -and legally, too.

Really? People can make money off of writing in another person's world and using another person's characters? I know FSoG got published, and it started out as Twilight fanfic, but they changed things around so it could be its own original novel. I've never heard of being able to make money off fanfic...but anyway, that's actually pretty awesome.

11/11/2015 #12
crankyman7

@ war hippy fatigues

"it seems like a lot of modern artists are so obsessed with redefining the boundaries of art that they make it a competition among themselves to see what kind of garbage they can make art next rather then trying to refine their skills or talents."

Finally, somebody says it!

@ cryptcreeperx

"In a nutshell, storytelling has evolved into a different form of art. No longer is it restricted to scholars or those familiar with the language. No longer is it limited to a small pool of privileged readers."

No longer is it limited to people who actually know how to tell a story, and tell it well, or to people who know how to distinguish between quality material and garbage.

I'm quite pro-fanfic for various philosophical reasons, but I'm not going to kid myself about the flipside of it- the greater the number of people who are allowed to tell stories, the greater the amount of crap one is going to have to wade through. Reality has a habit of indulging in occasional elitism, and this is one of those times.

11/11/2015 . Edited 11/11/2015 #13
Mishafer
Really? People can make money off of writing in another person's world and using another person's characters? I know FSoG got published, and it started out as Twilight fanfic, but they changed things around so it could be its own original novel. I've never heard of being able to make money off fanfic...but anyway, that's actually pretty awesome.

Diane Duane has published quite a few Star Trek books--none of which I believe are considered part of canon.

11/11/2015 #14
DjinniFires
Of course, people have made money off fan fiction- -and legally, too.
Really? People can make money off of writing in another person's world and using another person's characters? I know FSoG got published, and it started out as Twilight fanfic, but they changed things around so it could be its own original novel. I've never heard of being able to make money off fanfic...but anyway, that's actually pretty awesome.

I gave some examples of fan fiction written around original works now out of copyright.

See kindleworlds amazon com/ for some works you can write fan fiction for and publish for profit on Amazon. The number of franchises available for this are limited (48 and most of them not that popular on FFN) and I don't know how well the books sell, but the fan fiction author's percentage isn't bad.

11/11/2015 . Edited 11/11/2015 #15
Just Look in the Mirror

What qualifies as art is interpreted differently among different people. Writing fanfic and original fic is a form of unique, individualized expression, as is what is generally considered 'art', so to me, writing in itself is a varied form of art.

11/11/2015 #16
cathrl

How about what "qualifies" as craft? Why is nobody ever snooty about a painting or sketch because it isn't craft?

What makes me cross is that things have to qualify as art, as though being art is itself a measure of quality.

It isn't. There's good art and crap art. There's good craft and crap craft. There's good writing and crap writing. And, as subsets of those, there's good painting and crap painting, good knitting and crap knitting, good original fiction and crap original fiction, good fanfic and crap fanfic. Type of activity and quality of product aren't related.

11/11/2015 #17
LMRaven
Really? People can make money off of writing in another person's world and using another person's characters?

There are several ways legally:

1. It's sanctioned by the original copyright holder by authorized permission. Amazon Kindle Worlds is an example.

2. You're writing a fan fiction of work in public domain, meaning the original work is no longer or never was protected by copyright. For example "Wicked", "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", The numerous amounts of stories that use Dracula as a character or all the stories based on Austen works.

3. If it qualifies under the copyright law as a parody. Parody is protected by fair use. Movies like "Space Balls", an obvious rip on "Star Wars", "The Wind Done Gone" (although there was a settled lawsuit on that one), "National Lampoon's Doon" parody book of "Dune".

4. Filing off the serial numbers and publishing as an original like "Mortal Instruments" (originally a Harry Potter fanfic), "Fifty Shades" (we all know that one), "Gabriel's Inferno" (another Twilight fanfic originally), there's like over 200 of them listed in Goodreads as previously published as fan fiction.

11/12/2015 . Edited 11/12/2015 #18
Ragnelle

I would classify fanfiction as an artistic enterprise rather than craft. For one, I don't equal art with quality, but most importantly, I would say that the most important difference between art and craft, is whether the product has a practical use. Pottery is a craft not only because it demands a certain amount of skill and practice, but because it also is about making things people can use: pots and vases and plates, cups, etc.

Art, on the other hand, does not have a practical, everyday use: you can't eat off a sculpture. I would say that all art has a craft to it -- a skill set needed to even begin making something -- and learning that craft is very important for the art to have any chance of being good.

Now, art and craft can draw near, and even overlap, but that is the main difference I would draw: craft has, essentially, a practical purpose. Art does not. A potter can make decorative vases, for instance, that on one hand is a piece of art. But it is still a vase, and therefore have that connection to the practical purpose. Of course, it will get blurry at this point, and a potter can be an artist as well as a craftsman, but it is precisely when the vase becomes more or less useless, that it will get closer to being a piece of art; it becomes adornment.

There are types of writing which will have a practical purpose, and by this definition be more craft. Instruction manuals would be a typical example, but also lexicons, academic and science books, etc, will be craft rather than art.

Poetry and Drama will be art, and the same will go for different kinds of narrative prose: what is written for entrainment. Fanfiction will go under this, for it does not have that practical intention.

There are, of course, overlaps, but this is basically why I would call fanfiction an artistic endeavour.

With that out of the way...

Do you guys think that fanfiction is a less reputable art form just because it borrows from existing plots?

No. Others have given examples of why this is a false assumption. To give another, in Poetics Aristotle advice using known plots (or things that has happened) rather than making ones up because that, he argued, made it more believable. If something has happened, it is possible. He is speaking of Drama, but the sentiment is not irrelevant for this. The oral poets and bards leaned their craft by memorising stock phrases and learning the stories handed down, and their art and craftsmanship lay in the way they told these known stories. Homer did not invent the events of the Iliad or Odyssey, his skill lay in how he arranged them. It is a modern notion that things have to be original -- as in not done before -- to be 'good'. I hold that to be false.

Of course, if the question means whether the borrowing aspect is what most often are given as a reason by others to why they find fanficion dodgy, then yes. It is one of the arguments used a lot. It is ignorant, but still often used. The second most used reason (that I know), is the idea that fanficion is nothing but badly written p***. Both false, but the two most used reasons I have encountered for looking down on fanfiction.

Do you think it's harder/easier to write within a story?

As others have said: neither, or both. It is different, but some would find the restrictions more difficult, others will find the lack of limits more of a challenge.

Does fanfiction pose any kind of threat to the original content?

No. Legal adaptions might be a bigger threat: feeling no need to read a book because one has seen the movie. That is much less likely to happen with fanfiction (though I have encountered fanfic writers who write for a fandom they only know through other fanfics. They are very far from the norm).

11/12/2015 #19
LMRaven
No. Legal adaptions might be a bigger threat: feeling no need to read a book because one has seen the movie.

This...this right here. There are times the movie will prompt someone to read a book they had no intention of reading. I can think of quite a few examples where I read the book because I enjoyed the movie (the reverse never works out as well as I often like the book much better). However, I believe it is more common where people don't see the point in reading the book when they could just see the movie or "wait until the movie comes out".

This was the crux of a discussion I had not too long ago with my own young spawn. She had come right out and asked me that very thing, "why would I want to read the book if I already saw the movie? I already know what happens". Well, after I got done convulsing, I explained to her all the reasons why and the distinct differences between the two media forms; their limitations, their advantages, their intricate nuances, etc.

With all the different media formats and choices around now, it's not as common as is used to be where young children and young adults are driven to actually read a book on their own without it being something they have to do but something they want to do, especially when they can watch it instead. The really popular books always seem to get movie deal these days and watching a movie is quicker, and it usually involves less thought because it is a more passive form of entertainment.

For one, I don't equal art with quality, but most importantly, I would say that the most important difference between art and craft, is whether the product has a practical use.

While a valid thought, writing does require skill - or at least good writing does. Art, to even be defined as "good" art does not require skill. After all, I really don't see much skill applied in modern art like what Jackson Pollock painted , but there is emotional expression. See, what I believe separates most writing forms from art is not function, it's structure. Art is purely up to subjective interpretation. It is not confined to structure, boundaries or limitations. Most writing is, regardless of what its function is; to entertain, to inform or to educate. That's why I consider writing, depending on type, more craft than art.

11/12/2015 . Edited 11/12/2015 #20
MagpieTales
Art, to even be defined as "good" art does not require skill. After all, I really don't see much skill applied in modern art like what Jackson Pollock painted , but there is emotional expression.

I don't see it like that at all. Most sucessful artists, even Pollock and Warhol, learnt the traditional skills and then tried something different to push the boundaries. I'd equate that to writers who know the rules and conventions of writing, the craft if you will, but choose to break those rules deliberately for effect.

I'd say craft is technical ability, the how of making the piece. (A perfectly knitted piece from a pattern is an example of good craftwork.)

Art is the creation, with or without craft. Although craft helps. (Everything from using knitting for some off the wall art installation, to making your own pattern for a jumper to adapting one.)

It is important to appreciate both, I think. I am just as in awe of good craftwork as good artwork. And I can see artistry in things that are made to be practical. Furniture. Clothes. Even gadgets.

11/12/2015 #21
ChaosEmperorNex
Do you guys think that fanfiction is a less reputable art form just because it borrows from existing plots?

What does it matter where the inspiration came from? If it has all the necessary qualities, than any written work can be considered of being literary merit. Is The Lion King lacking in any ways merely because it is the animal kingdom's rendition of Hamlet? Was Rowling in any way guilty when she drew a loose parallel between Sirius Black and Edmond Dantes? Fiction, in any way, shape or form, will always be a retelling of separate events.

Do you think it's harder/easier to write within a story?

Going back to my previous answer, every story has its beginning somewhere. Each author has their own approach in writing and, in this case, its based on their individual capacity and the effort they put into their writing.

Does fanfiction pose any kind of threat to the original content?

It is the ultimate mark of an author to successfully twist and churn words into an enthralling illusion.

To weave that illusion so strongly that the heart is utterly captured and the mind begins to weave the illusion on its own is showing how powerful the author's craft truly is. Fanfiction, in my opinion, is the utmost flattery and compliment given. True, while there are those that are arrogant enough to say that 'this is how it should have happened' the mere fact that a reader can care to such an extent shows the full talent of the author.

Admittedly, there are those authors, who have invested such a great deal of themselves into their works that, seeing it changed and molded to something other than that of their own heart, is simply excruciating. As fellow authors, and human beings, I feel that the majority can sympathize with that.

11/12/2015 . Edited 11/12/2015 #22
Ragnelle
It is not confined to structure, boundaries or limitations.

I diagree. Art it to give form to expression through a medium. Form is not possible without structure, boundaries or limitation. Some forms of art have different limits and structure than others, depending on the material they use. Dance uses the dancer's body. Painting uses canvas and paint. Writing use the structures of the words and grammar within the language of the writer.

Different material, different structures and limitations. But nowhere can anything be without limits, boundaries or structure.

11/12/2015 #23
stefanie bean
@DjinniFires: Of course, people have made money off fan fiction- -and legally, too. For example, "Seven Percent Solution" and the numerous other further-cases-of-Sherlock-Holmes novels that have been published (let alone the many TV shows and movies), the mash-up "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," "Wide Sargasso Sea" (a fan fiction of Jane Eyre), etc. are all fan fiction based on works now in the public domain.

Last but not least, Phantom of the Opera, where I cut my teeth on fanfics. The original Gaston Leroux novel is public-domain, which has led to multiple adaptations. (Note: "adaptations" when it's a commercial product; fanfic when it's not.)

And then there's Amazon's Kindle Worlds that publishes fan fiction with the copyright holder's permission, a minor set of criteria, and no checking of the final product except for "format" on Amazon's part before offering the stories for sale. These are not works-for-hire. These are authorized fan fiction stories.

I've heard arguments that those aren't fanfictions because they're licensed by the original copyright holders. This implies that something isn't fanfiction unless it's somehow verging on being samizdat, i.e. more or less "underground." But a Kindle Worlds story is a *derivative work* which *transforms* the original story into something new, just as a fanfic does. Similarly, if Kevin J. Anderson writes a Dune prequel or Star Wars extended universe novel, it's also *derived* from Dune or Star Wars.

Also, while this doesn't happen in the USA, in Japan there were, and maybe still are, doujinshi conventions where manga artists sell their fanworks of various manga. Supposedly publishers of manga even draw from the ranks of doujinshi artists. These are clearly fanworks yet they are sold, without explicit licensing, because not everyone has the same attitudes and practices about copyright. There were Chinese-language Harry Potter novels that were apparently published and sold in China, outside the reach of UK copyright law.

11/12/2015 #24
LMRaven
I've heard arguments that those aren't fanfictions because they're licensed by the original copyright holders.

Regardless of the arguments you've heard, Amazon themselves advertises them as fan fiction, right on their site. So if Amazon calls them fan fiction and the copy right holders are calling them fan fiction, I think its safe to say, that fan fiction sold through Amazon Kindle Worlds, is exactly that - fan fiction.

Right from the Amazon blurb "Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games."

11/12/2015 #25
Mnemosyne's Elegy

Yeah, I'm not even going to get started on the "whether or not it's art" thing. I took a class on philosophy and the arts last year, and it quickly became apparent that no one can actually agree on what art even is. If I can write an entire essay claiming that by your definition the Mona Lisa isn't art and still get 100, I think there's probably an issue with your definition.

Regardless. A lot of people look down on fanfiction, for both valid and silly reasons. Fanfiction has a reputation for consisting mainly of poorly written, trashy stories. That's sometimes true, but I've also run across some fantastic fanfic authors. Sure, you can say that most fanfic authors are amateur writers, but being an amateur writer is not the same thing as being a bad writer. I think it's also a good point that a lot of fanfic writers are younger (not everyone, of course), so a lot of the fandoms are in more of the young adult genre (again, this isn't always the case; there's a sizable minority of fanfiction in other categories). I'm an avid reader and have read tons of young adult novels, so I can easily say that I've seen fantastic original works and also original works that are poorly written and badly executed. I've seen some fanfics that are better written than original works. There are a lot of trashy books out there, by published authors. On average fanfiction might be less sophisticated than original fiction, but that is not always true by any stretch of the imagination.

Also, have you noticed how sometimes authors write a series and then they publish short stories that are placed in the same world but aren't part of the main story line? My sister made me read the Throne of Glass series, and that has a few of those short stories that cover scenes that took place before the main plot. That's when you end up with #.5 in a series, or whatever. Those stories often share a lot of qualities with fanfiction. I'm not saying that it is fanfiction, but think about it. They usually clarify events that were mentioned in the main story but never shown, or offer more character development. They also, while still technically being part of canon, fall outside the main scope of the work. That's what a lot of fanfiction is. If anyone besides the original author had written those, it would be considered fanfiction.

I believe someone also brought up the point about Greek drama, which is very valid. Greeks pretty much set up Homer's works as the end-all be-all of drama for quite a while. Most famous Greek tragedies expounded on events that were mentioned in Homer but not explicitly shown, or were at least about the characters in Homer's works. That's not even counting everything they drew from the overall mythology. And the poets, while keeping the same basic facts, also changed things around to suit their purposes. I do believe that Aegisthus was the one who originally killed Agamemnon, but in the Oresteia Aeschylus makes Clytemnestra do it instead, for increased dramatic effect. I'm not saying that Greek tragedies were the original fanfiction or anything like that, but you can definitely draw parallels. You'd be hard pressed to find any 100% original writing. All authors borrow ideas and concepts from each other. Just look at all the similarities in plots, character types, etc.

As for writing fanfiction, it's easier than original fiction in some ways, and harder in others. In general though, fanfic writers face many of the same challenges as original authors. We already have the basics of the canon world and characters, and we have to decide how much of canon to follow and what we can tweak to suit our writing. Just look at all the OC and AU stories. You might say that a lot of them are badly written and that might be true, but there are also a lot of very good and creative ones out there. Some people take the original characters and stick them in a different world, while other people borrow the original world but substitute their own characters (through OCs, setting the story in the past or future, etc.). I think most fanfiction falls somewhere in the middle. Fanfic writers still have to follow what I consider one of the most basic tenets of writing: keeping the story believable. Not necessarily believable as in what is normal in everyday life (e.g. magic doesn't exist so it isn't believable), but what is believable in the story. It's that whole suspension of disbelief thing. But you can only suspend disbelief so far before you throw up your hands and say "What the heck did I just read??" It's like when you read a book and you're really into it, but then this plot twist gets thrown out there that makes no sense whatsoever (plot holes, anyone?) and you suddenly find yourself in the twilight zone. That, for one, is an issue that both original and fanfic authors have to contend with.

Anyway, sorry for the really long, rambling post. Everyone on this thread has made a lot of valid points you can look over.

11/12/2015 #26
StarlightSorcerer

I don't think the fact that fanfiction borrows from existing plots makes it any less reputable as an art form. As for it being easier/harder...depends. For the most part, I find it easier than writing original stuff. With fanfics, you already have that base, as I like to call it: the characters, locations, themes, and so on already exist, you're just adding to it. With original works, that's all gotta come from YOU, one-hundred percent. Doesn't pose a threat, I don't think, unless somebody's making money from their fanfiction. But I've yet to see that happen. It's an exceptionally rare, virtually non-existent occurrence.

11/12/2015 #27
Absolute Elsewhere
Do you guys think that fanfiction is a less reputable art form just because it borrows from existing plots?

Yes, since you're not the creator of the original source material. That's why fanfic has a special name. To denote that it's not totally an original creation. You're working with materials that someone else created.

Do you think it's harder/easier to write within a story?

It depends on various factors A lot of times it can be easier if the fanfic writer is lazy. Or it can be harder if, say the fanfic writer cares more about internal logical consistency and technical accuracy than the original creator did.

Does fanfiction pose any kind of threat to the original content?

It can. The Hitler parodies aren't really fanfic, but they're a fan creation that has probably overshadowed the original source material in some ways. More people have probably seen a Hitler parody than have ever seen Downfall, which is a great movie. I think that Downfall and the Hitler parodies is kind of a limit case. 99.99% of fanfic is innocuous. Some of it isn't.

If I ever made Hitler parody, it would be "Hitler discovers that The Following won't get a fourth season"

11/12/2015 #28
Kaizen Kitty

fanfiction = literature = art

Does your University consider opinions from anonymous fanfiction accounts to be 'trustworthy information sources'? I wonder what your professor'll say if you cite me as 'Kaizen Kitty' ... :-) lol

11/15/2015 #29
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