Author has written 145 stories for Giver, His Dark Materials, Sandman, Jumanji, Animorphs, Harry Potter, Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Toy Story, DuckTales, Series Of Unfortunate Events, Left Behind, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Batman, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Magic School Bus, Justice League, Superman, Bible, Calvin & Hobbes, NCIS, Sesame Street, Green Lantern, Flash, Batman Begins/Dark Knight, Looney Tunes, Westing Game, StarTrek: The Next Generation, Cthulhu Mythos, Space Trilogy, Greek Mythology, Misc. Comics, Get Smart, Alice in Wonderland, Captain Marvel/Shazam, Chronicles of Narnia, Misc. Cartoons, Enchanted Forest, Avatar, Dick Van Dyke Show, Veggie Tales, Misc. Movies, Flatland, Phineas and Ferb, Fairy Tales, Arthur C. Clarke, Doctor Who, Foundation, Aladdin, Dilbert, Jurassic Park, Avengers, Monty Python, Misc. Books, StarTrek: The Original Series, DC Superheroes, Thor, My Little Pony, X-overs, Children of the Corn, and Independence Day.
I Qoheleth was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I proposed in my mind to seek and search out wisely concerning all things that are done under the sun; this painful occupation hath God given to the children of men, to be exercised therein. -Eccles. 1:12-13
There are a few things I'd like to say before you read my stuff. First, for the benefit of you statisticians in the audience, I'm an American male of mixed European extraction and legal voting age. Second, not all my ff work is contained on this account; in addition to the stories I contributed to the Reviews Lounge compendia Rainbow Magic and The Reviews Lounge Birthday Ficathon, I have a backup profile under the name Bar Sira, where various additional works of mine can be found. (And, to be thorough, I suppose I should also mention my Fictionpress account - or accounts, technically.) Third, anyone who has any interest in finishing my Westing Game story Life Happens, or any unfinished story posted under the Bar Sira name (or in continuing the saga of Sarah "Sparkle" Palmer, to which my Flash story 30 Days of Speed is an introduction), please let me know. Thank you.
A FEW OFT-NEGLECTED PRINCIPLES OF OUR GENRE:
1. Fidelity is non-negotiable. A fanfiction story that ignores the known facts and texture of the imagined world in which it is set is as much an artistic failure as a science-fiction story that disregards basic science. This does not mean that AU variations are impermissible; what it does mean, however, is that the art of an AU lies precisely in presenting the canon universe just as it would be if one or two key details of history were changed, not in every fact that the author doesn't care for simply vanishing. (Corollary: a story in which the identities of known characters are superimposed on other persons entirely - stories that identify, for instance, the son of a mortal mob boss as "Nico di Angelo", a Regency-era aristocrat as "Severus Snape", or a human IT executive as "Thorin Oakenshield" - are not properly AUs, or even fanfiction, but a sort of daughter genre of dreamscapes and dress-up games; I propose the general term "fantomime". They may well be worthy literary endeavors - in fact, I would argue that we should have another sister site specifically dedicated to them - but they shouldn't be presented as something they aren't.)
Note: Since writing the above, I have been presented with the possibility that the creators of a fandom might not grasp the internal logic of their own work, and might introduce details at odds with the whole spirit thereof, which an ff author would then be justified in causing to "simply vanish". While this seems to me an argument fraught with hazards, I suppose that an author might be able to get away with it who clearly understood what he meant by "the spirit of the fandom" and could defend that conception cogently against all objections. I doubt, however, that those stories where Taylor Swift records are available to Lily Evans generally fall under this heading.
2. Derivatives are not canon. The only facts that an ff author is under any obligation to observe are those that appear in the actual book(s), movie(s), etc., that the story is based on. All else, even if it proceeds directly from the creator him- or herself, is mere suggestion, which the author is at liberty to disregard. (A quasi-exception may be made for such creators as J. R. R. Tolkien, for whom the legendarium itself, rather than this or that specific production based on it, is the central work of art. But this is vanishingly rare, while the mere pretense of it is, nowadays, outrageously common.) To assert otherwise is both to diminish the original work of art, and to make fanfiction writers into servile lackeys of the very people whose self-interest is what marginalized the genre in the first place. (Cf. James 2:6-7 - which reminds me that the Bible subcategory, and others based around non-fiction books, do constitute another quasi-exception to this rule. One is not, of course, at liberty to disregard a known historical fact about a character just because it doesn't happen to be mentioned in one's immediate source.)
3. Character death happens. Fanfiction, by its very nature, has the entire history of a given fictional universe to explore - and in that history, sooner or later, most characters (not all) are going to die. (Moreover, as mentioned in #1, the AU sub-genre is all about exploring the consequences of particular changes to a universe's history, which must often involve the explicit rescheduling of So-and-So's rendezvous with the Reaper.) To object when this happens, or to demand that this aspect of the plot be given away in advance, is unworthy of any but the most childish of ff readers. (The same applies, though not in a specifically fanfictional way, to "trigger warnings" in general. The whole purpose of storytelling is to trigger emotional reactions - in the Sage's words, to awaken pity and terror; anyone who can't handle that should stay away from literary venues.)
4. Pairings are strictly optional. I include this one because it seems to me that a great many of the stories on this site that shamelessly glamorize homosexuality, incest, bestiality, sex with fruit, etc., are less the result of convinced libertinism than of quite understandable boredom with all the lawful pairings a given fandom has to offer. Such authors should perhaps be reminded that, strange as it may seem, one can write a perfectly good story without any romance in it at all.
5. Do your best. Just because you're not getting paid doesn't mean that you can excuse any amount of carelessness by saying, "Hey, it's just for fun." You still have readers who expect something worth reading; you still have fellow authors whose work becomes more likely to be overlooked every time a piece of garbage is posted alongside it. If you can't be fair to them without spoiling your own fun, then probably you should just keep a private journal of your ff instead of trying to interest the global public.
ILLUSTRIOUS AUTHORS SUPPORT FANFICTION:
-"When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre, / He'd 'eard men sing by land an' sea, / An' what 'e thought 'e might require, / 'E went an' took - the same as me!" -Rudyard Kipling
-"If you had asked Laȝamon or Chaucer, 'Why do you not make up a brand-new story of your own?' I think they might have replied (in effect), 'Surely we are not yet reduced to that?'" -C. S. Lewis
-"Being, somehow, Cervantes, and arriving thereby at the Quixote - that looked to Menard less challenging (and therefore less interesting) than continuing to be Pierre Menard and coming to the Quixote through the experiences of Pierre Menard." -Jorge Luis Borges
-"[Aeschylus] is able to treat the story [of Agamemnon] in this way [i.e., as a vehicle for a certain conception of justice] because his audience knew its main outline already. One great advantage in using myth was that the dramatist was saved the tedious business of exposition." -H. D. F. Kitto
-"'To have composed a special poem for the occasion,' [the Emperor] said, 'would have been the ordinary thing to do. But to find a quote that fits the moment perfectly - that is truly difficult.'" -Sei Shōnagon
-"Then Eliu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered, and said: 'I am younger in days, and you are more ancient; therefore hanging down my head, I was afraid to shew you my opinion. For I hoped that greater age would speak, and that a multitude of years would teach wisdom. But, as I see, there is a spirit in men, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding; they that are aged are not the wise men, neither do the ancients understand judgment… Therefore because I have waited, and they have not spoken - they stood, and answered no more - I also will answer my part, and will show my knowledge. For I am full of matter to speak of, and the spirit of my bowels straiteneth me.'" -The Book of Job
-[for the good people in the TV Commercials subcategory] "Did you see the one in which this woman is in a supermarket making a telephone call?… What she is saying on the telephone (with nobody watching that cart) is, 'Helen, I've been wondering. What do you use for occasional irregularity?' Now, I just can't leave it there. I want to know more about Helen. I want to know about Helen's husband. Does he say, 'Who was that on the phone? Janice? Where was she? -She was in the A & P and wanted to know what?'" -Jean Kerr
QOHELETH'S RIDDLE CHALLENGE
This is a rather different sort of writing challenge, based on what I flatter myself is a rather interesting principle. At the end of this post, you will find a numbered list of 28 entirely genuine sentences, all taken technically verbatim from real stories existing on this site. (By "technically verbatim", I mean that I have in one or two cases corrected obvious errors of punctuation, but that the text itself is preserved exactly the way the author wrote it - right down to the coarse language of #2, for which I apologize in advance.) Unbeknownst - I believe - to their authors, these sentences, when presented in this order, exhibit a certain remarkable characteristic, which careful attention will reveal to anyone sufficiently clever and well-informed. And the challenge is simply to write a story of your own (or, if you prefer, a new chapter of a story you already have in progress) containing a sentence that could appear in the list alongside these others.
Of course, there are a couple rules that must be observed. In the first place, the sentence must be wholly in English; passages that qualify by having a character lapse into some other language are verboten. (However, loan words from foreign languages that have themselves become acceptable English - e.g., "verboten" - are quite acceptable.) In the second place, while I believe that some of the sentences on the actual list do contain the proper names of original characters, conscious challenge participants are held to a higher standard: all proper names appearing in the sentence must be those of things or persons hitherto known to exist either in the fandom universe or in the real world (or both). And, of course, it goes without saying that the story must meet all the general site rules.
Even within these restrictions, however, I can positively assert that it is possible for at least twelve people, and perhaps more, to write stories that fulfill the challenge. (Indeed, I would be able to vouch for fourteen, if the list were a little longer.) If you believe yourself to have done so, please send me a PM identifying the story in question, the text of the sentence, and - this is most important - the position that it ought to occupy in the list. If it qualifies, I will include it in the list in the proper position, with a star instead of a number to indicate that it is a challenge winner rather than one of the original 28.
Now for the sentences:
1. "Eugene's issues ran deeper than the surface level Delsin was used to dealing with when it came to other people." –wolftez, "Oh, the Baby"
2. "Jo sued the SHIT out of the both of them for extorting and publishing a sex tape on international television, and without consent." –VeryUnknown, "Total Drama Reunion at Celebrity Manhunt", cap. 29
3. "Jud gestured for the stranger to join them up on the boardwalk, saying, 'Let me introduce you to…'" –Susan Hillwig, "Here We Are As in Olden Days"
4. "Constantine spared one last glance for Uther, who was making soft sounds and drooling against Gaius's chest." –Saucery, "The Mouths of Babes"
5. "During a fight with a hollow, something happens to Momo that requires drastic measures to fix." –story magic, summary to "Toshiro's Death"
6. "My arms stung from all the mosquito bites there, but my misery was mainly emotional." –PandaLovingTaco, "The Memories of Lula", cap. 1
7. "Fox and Banjo both stood in their corners as Fox handed his title belt to the ref." –FlameAmigo619, "UGWF: GAME ON! 2", cap. 9
8. "Shadow is dominant, while Silver is least threatening." –Someone who likes the D, "Shadow of the Vampire", cap. 9
9. "'Please, sir,' a child begged through blue-tinted lips, 'in this snowstorm, I have nowhere to go.'" –Pampan, "Tuna and the Beast", cap. 1
10. "'Did he tell you what he wanted?' Tony asked his AI, as he dragged his lab phone towards him to get ready to take the call." –CakeTops, "The Assistant", cap. 2
11. "Subaru chose a pretzel and Kou did the same afterward." –Rosalite, "Diabolik Roomies", cap. 2
12. "A bowl of popcorn and a bottle of cold beer, decent but not the best he's ever had, leave Joe Longo sufficiently prepared to enjoy a movie in the comfortable silence of a mostly empty house." –ifwednesdaywasaflowerchild, "You and Tequila", cap. 1
13. "They followed him in protest at the decision to make Jon a steward instead of a ranger." –Dovah-wolfbear64, "A Different Course of Action", cap. 1
14. "Atomic structure? … no… come on, guys, I just need the atomic structure… atomic structure… no… atomic… aha!" –Shadow Mage Evelyn, "Indiana Elric?", cap. 1
15. "'S-simba, w-watch out for the gun, it's very dangerous when a human uses it,' Sarabi said, still clinging to life." –PerkyGoth14, "Kopa's Adventures in the Wild", cap. 1
16. "Roman had begun to fend off the hag, gaining ground on her and pushing her away from Leia." –ShouldIGetOutandPush, "From a Certain Point of View", cap. 31
17. "All that was up there was a small yellow stuffed animal a child must have left at the edge of the building." –Slenderbrine, "Thunder Draws Near"
18. "What if Jason, Piper, Leo, and Thalia had found someone else waiting for them at the Wolf House besides Hera?" –purpleykt, summary to "Surprise at the Wolf House"
19. "Catching Spencer's eye from across the table, Tamar knew she had made the right decision transferring to the BAU." –BabyGaga86, "First Day", cap. 1
20. "In the end what happened back in April of 2008 in Honolulu kept the little berk alive and out of harm's way when Foyet decided to go after Hotch and his family." –Maura Maud Jadiet, "Sleep Deprived: Dog Days", cap. 4
21. "Your mother tweaked the terms of the contract so that, through the completion of a few forms, the invocation of several bylaws and clauses that you will see detailed in our report, you could essentially void it." –R-dude, "Contractual Invalidation", cap. 1
22. "'…You're a hero, man,' Steve said, smiling proudly down at his best friend." –HipsterMaybe, "Flight 408 Down"
23. "He's still a creep; he's Ian's best friend, for crying out loud!" –starstruckk123, "Spencer and Toby: The First Touch", cap. 66
24. "He'd done it for a long time, but he was getting old and it wasn't what it used to be." –AuroraBanshee, "Treat Him Like a Criminal"
25. "She shot Malfoy a nasty look while the Brewsters' backs were turned, and she made her way into the kitchen." –Marmalade Fever, "The Witness and the Wife", cap. 6
26. "She always loved jam, especially those plum-cherry ones that her mother, Juuri, used to make on a lovely spring afternoon." –Dark Angelic Kitty, "7th Heaven", cap. 5
27. "The hospital grounds were in view when Ven finally said, 'I hope Terra's okay.'" –the primrose path, "Injury"
28. "Explaining that a Kaiju decided to follow us would definitely be the most awkward situation I've been in yet." –ScrewUsirnaems, "To Love a Kaiju"
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