Chicks On Anime
Fan Fiction (Part 2) - Page 2

by B. Dong, C. Brienza, R. Sevakis, Oct 20th 2008

Bamboo: Isn't that a little presumptuous though, thinking you know the characters better than the creators?
Natalie: Well actually, Weiss Kreuz is a like a giant fan fic for the voice actors who created them. But take Avatar for instance. Avatar is a kids' show, and there is stuff you can't do on Nickelodeon. A fan fic can do it. The fan fic takes you places sometimes that the canon can't. It can be a different view. Whoever the canon creators are, they have one view of things, but there are other views that can be just as interesting. People might have a breadth of experience they could bring to these characters. I never want to discredit the original creators. They put themselves into it, and they put the hard work into it, and their creativity. A fan fic is not necessarily better, but different. It could be really good, and it gets people reading and it gets people writing, especially if you can get people linked into a community who cares about writing and care about reading.

You can learn a lot from fan fics. People can improve, I've seen people who started in fan fiction as 14 year olds and some of them turned out pretty good, actually. But they have grown over the years. And you can just see the development in their writing from doing this, because they have worked hard and have really developed their skills. They could be professional writers someday.

Robin: I think I read an article about a teacher who actually encourages fan fiction because she had some kids in her class who were really into it. She saw it as a really good way for them to be really passionate about writing and developing their writing skills. You know, sometimes in school, it's really hard to get into that. But you know, take characters you love, and it's such a creative opportunity. I think that fan fiction gets a lot of flak from fans who aren't into it. Personally, I've never been into it like one of my best friends is, and you do see and hear about how there really is some good writing in there, but a lot of people just write it off as a bunch of fan girl wish fulfillment, angsty, wank-fodder or something. But yeah, it's good to hear.
Natalie: I think some people are threatened by fan fics, especially people who are heavily invested in a particular pairing that happens to be canon, or a particular canon event. They get very upset when people touch that. That's how they feel about it, and in a way, I think it's kind of sad. I prefer to see people be more open to different ways of expressing fandom and creativity.
Bamboo: I guess I can see their point of view sometimes, though for me, it's not so much in terms of fan fiction as it is paid, professional offshoots of a work. For example, I love golden age science fiction. I love Asimov, love the Foundation Trilogy. When other writers started publishing Foundation books, I was a little put off. Because, really, they don't know the Foundation universe. You may be a fan, but in the end, you are just a fan; you are not Asimov. How can you presume to write a story when you are not part of the creative process? It's the same as some of those Star Wars books. Fans tell me they are great books that are well written, but some part of me still thinks, “You are not the creator. What if you're wrong, and that's not what he wanted?”
Casey: I think what you are seeing with some of this concern about fan fiction is something that is relatively recent in our cultural history. What we are doing is treating intellectual property as material property. If I take your computer from you, Bamboo, it's no longer yours, and it becomes mine. That would be wrong under ideas of stealing, but on the other hand, if you take someone's idea, they still have that idea. If you think about it back in Homer's day, did someone say to Homer, “Oh man, The Odyssey was my story, how could you have taken that?” Or to Shakespeare, “Hey, Romeo and Juliet came from Italy. How dare you take that.” These ideas and these stories circulated freely throughout culture, and people, in much of history up until this point, probably did what a whole lot of fan fic writers are doing. They are taking stories and they are modifying them. And adding to them and repurposing them for their own use.
Natalie: I like the way you differentiated between material property and intellectual properties, because one of the things I love in fan fiction is bouncing ideas off other fans. “Wouldn't this be a cool idea for a story?” You are giving people ideas and taking ideas from other people and inspiring other people to write something that maybe I wouldn't write, or maybe I would, but maybe they'll do it better. None of us are in it for profit. You know, there is no monetary tag attached to it. If I said to somebody, “Hey, would it be cool if I did this story idea?” and they go off and write it, I didn't lose anything except maybe a little bit of ego boo had I written it and posted it. If it's a friend of mine, I'd think, “Yay, she wrote a cool story.” I'd be happier for her than if I had written it myself.

So the question is, and that actually is the question, does fan fiction take away from the profit line of the original material? I don't think it does. There are series I've gotten into because I've read fan fiction for them first that I would not have touched otherwise. I was a Gundam Wing fan long before I watched the DVDs and got all the pencil boards and such. Then, of course, I watched the series and thought, “Wow, there is so much politics in it. Where was that? That was cool.” I enjoyed it, so I think fan fiction can build an interest in a series. When you get somebody who is a good writer and has a following, and they get into something new and write a fic for it, that disseminates to everyone who reads their fics. It becomes another channel for dispersal.

Bamboo: I guess it's more of an intellectual property thing. I don't really mind adaptations. You know, like if someone writes a story and then makes a musical out of it or a film out of it, I don't really mind that so much as when they take that original idea and expand on it. But I guess my whole shtick is with the for-profit fics, and not at all the true fan fics, written by and for fans. If you were to ever say, “Hey I'm going to make some sweet Barack Obama fan fic,” I'd say, “Okay, whatever.”
Casey: I'm sure there are people out there.
Bamboo: I'm sure there is. I'm just one of those fans who can't handle commercially licensed continuations, which is basically fan fic, like those Foundation books.
Natalie: And also the thing, too, is that to a certain extent, it is a money making enterprise. The publisher has this property and thinks, “Let's get a bunch of people to write a bunch of books in this world so we can sell a lot of books,” and some of the writers may not be good writers, and some of the writers may not know that much about the original. If all the writers doing it were intense fans of the original and knew it as well as the creator did to that extent... But even if the creator creates something, he might forget little details. Maybe it's been a long time since he's worked on it. Maybe he did some little thing and forgot about it. But if you're an obsessive fans, you're looking at every little detail and memorizing the panels. If all the freelancers who were doing the spin-off novels were like that, the quality would probably be higher, but they're not. It's still, “We want to write a lot of books so we'll hire people to write books for us.”
Casey: And who can make the deadline, and who is reliable, and who has a good track record, and all those kinds of things.
Natalie: A lot of commercial spin-offs are crappy, but they don't have to be. Like Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which was an old Star Wars spin-off by Alan Dean Foster, when there was just the three original Star Wars novels. It was published, and it was good. It wasn't like the original books at all, but it was interesting, and it's kind of remained after all these years.
Bamboo: Well, thank you so much for sitting down with us. I certainly learned a lot.

Transcribed by: Keith LaPointe

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