- If you market a Christian book in the mainstream without labeling it Christian, will your readers out you?
- Are homeschoolers weird or normal? And can they really all be above average?
- Is IQ important, and does it make you a jerk to flash yours like a badge? (Or, is there a direct correlation between IQ and assery?)
- Lord of the Rings: Is it "Christian" fiction?
- Love it or hate it: Writing books that are the "Christian answer to Secular Blockbuster"? As in, "Read my book, it's the 'Christian' Harry Potter/Game of Thrones!"
And the last addition I noticed has to do with fan-fiction, which naturally emerged via the topic directly above.
I contributed to most of the other discussions directly on Mike's blog, but this last one I felt I ought to move to my own territory. Frankly, I've said enough over there in the comment thread. No need to overstep my welcome, and, well, this blog ought to be used for something, eh?
So, here's my experience with fan-fic. I had never even heard of such a thing until I started writing several years ago and got involved in some online writers loops. I had always assumed people left well enough alone when it came to other author's works. I knew it was illegal to write stories about trademarked characters and such and try to sell them, and I never would have thought people wrote stuff like that just for fun.
But there is a whole culture of fan-fic writers out there. And they write about EVERYTHING. Big name story worlds like Harry Potter and Star Trek. Cartoons like My Little Pony. Video games, TV shows that are no longer on the air...the list goes on. There are all kinds of sites on which the stories can be posted, too.
My first reaction to learning this was:
Really? What's the point? I couldn't understand even wanting to do this. When it comes to the books and shows I love, part of my love for them is that they are, at least in my mind, set in stone. I never, ever think, "But what if Harry Potter went off and did this...?" No, it's what JK Rowling said he did, and no more. End of story.
I just can't even think about it. I don't want to be allowed to mess around in there. I'm a fan of Harry Potter and other stories because I love them as-is, flaws and all.
Seriously, if you wanted me to read fan-fic about my dearest story loves, you'd have to pry my eyes open a la A Clockwork Orange, and the effect on me would likely be the same.
Oh, wait. That doesn't mean I hate fan-fic. Some of my closest friends write fan-fic, but it's not from the stories I love. And the writers I happen to know who love fan-fic are talented and intelligent. And it's something they have shown me the value of.
- It gives them a playground to get creative with characters/settings they are already passionate about.
- It gives them a pre-existing audience. There are rabid fan-fic fans out there hungrily searching for fresh meat.
- It gives immediate gratification. Those rabid fans love leaving comments and encouraging the writers.
- It gives them material to practice their writing skills with.
- It often serves as a springboard for inspiration for their original fiction.
- And the last thing it can do is actually be transformed into original fiction. Change the names, the location, and some other details, and voila!
(BTW--yes, that last counts as original, because once those changes have been made, the author is leaving the pre-set universe, and the plot has to be original or it would just be rewording what someone else already wrote. Besides, don't we ALL use bits and pieces of fiction we've read, people we know, situations we've experienced?)
If you're still scratching your head, that's fine. It took me a while, too. But now I can appreciate the existence of fan-fic and the culture supporting it, even if I don't feel a desire to step in and join them.