Gwnewch y pethau bychain

RP, Fanfic, and other pursuits

altoidsaddict has a fascinating essay on fanfiction and RP, and why people engage in it. The conclusions he reaches are interesting, and a lot of food for thought.

Comparing fanfic to original writing is not quite like apples and oranges. It’s more like grapefruit to tangelos. Okay, so fanfic is writing – but it has a different purpose than original writing, and to urge fanficcers to stop wasting their time and write something original ignores that the act of writing is almost incidental. (Yes, yes, you who are about to object, you’re precious, creative stars in the galaxy of craft. Just a sec.) How I communicate to a reader as a writer is drastically different in purpose from how fanficcers communicate with other fandom folk. Yes, they have a lot in common – but the primary purpose is different, the human motivations are different, and that changes everything.

Go read the whole thing. It’s chewy crunchy thoughtfood.


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  1. Oooh, thanks a LOT for the link.

  2. My mom was all, “Why can’t you just do the exact same thing, only with all your own characters, nd get published, sweetie?” when I showed her some of my RP logs. Not same thing at all. For one thing, I can’t do dialogue without having someone else do the other character … too masturbatory. For another, the ‘creating a whole consistent world with interesting people and conflicts’ part, which you get for free with RP and fanfic, is in itself a fiendishly hard skill, and one I do not posess yet. Even aside from the issues raised in the essay.

    • Not only that, but the more I’ve read the blogs of professional writers, the more convinced I am that’s NOT what I want to do.

      I like the writing part, but not submissions and rejections, page proofs, or any of the business aspects.

      If you haven’t seen, had a good entry recently about fanfic. Do people tell every Joe twiddling with a guitar to become a professional musician? Folks can enjoy cooking without becoming chefs, why can’t I just enjoy writing as a hobby for fun?

  3. What is with these tiny little font sizes that can’t be made larger?? Nifty article, hard to read. 🙁

  4. Huh. This seems to me to be a bit overcomplicating. There’s only so much canon material, and there’s always going to be a story you’d like to see or read that the creator(s) of canon can’t or won’t do. Writing (or RP) is intrinsically enjoyable and sharing it gives other people the chance to also experience new material in the universe, just as I enjoy reading other people’s additions to canon. There’s also useful egoboo if you write stuff other people enjoy.

    I enjoy writing both fanfic and original fic and I enjoy them differently. But I don’t see them as mutually exclusive activities. Fanfic is a useful venue for experimental writing and a forum to improve your craft. It’s got a lower bar to entry level. And it comes with a ready-made audience who (given certain minimum quality standards) will give you useful realtime feedback on technique. They can be quite complementary. But there’s no reason for a person to do either if they don’t enjoy it- or shouldn’t do either or both if they do.

    Okay, some people aren’t going to understand. These are the same people who don’t understand why I like to read books instead of watch Survivor. I ‘m not sure I subscribe to complicated theories. To some extent the measure of the success of media is how engaging the viewers find it. That engagement is expressed differently in both degree and kind in different people. I’d want to see some actual research before I concluded that Star Trek fandom is fundamentally different from NASCAR fandom or my mother’s quilt guild or the Antique Wireless Association that my dad belongs to. I see more similarities than differences in various associations of hobbyists no matter what the occasion of their particular mania.

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