Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Fan Fiction

I am what some may consider a voracious reader (what, the woman who writes fictional shorts as a hobby also enjoys reading other people's work? Nevah!) and often my income is inadequate when required to supply fresh material. There are ways around this: multiple readings of the same story, charity shops, second hand book stores, libraries and, of course, making friends with people who are about to move house.

There is also fan fiction. Almost all fan fiction online is freely available - there is often no site membership required and you can basically read whatever you want. I used to read a lot of it back in my pre-career days, but at some point I stopped and I'm not quite sure why. Recently I revisited the fan fiction world (I realised that my Groby stuff is effectively fan fiction, although that took some *serious* coming to terms with, and I wanted to see what the rest of the world was doing) and I think I found a reason. A vast swathe of it is unremittingly shite.

Let's establish the scale by which we're measuring fecality here. I download free Amazon books to my Kindle and read many of them with enjoyment, although sometimes it's just bewilderment. I sustain many charities through my continuous recycling of their Mills and Boon (Harlequin Romance to my American audience) section. I DO NOT require any of the following to enjoy a story:

  • plausibility
  • originality
  • likable characters
  • perfect continuity 

What I cannot handle is a story which has absolutely no plot or point, no coherence between the characters whatsoever and utter hypocrisy. Also, teenage dramz, but as that is probably something that has come with age I won't be too harsh.

I was going to break a few offenders down for you, but honestly, they are too gobsmackingly bad.

Not all of them are bad though: one girl (woman?) shows promise and I actually hunted her down to see if she's taken her writing any further (apparently she's a fan of almost all the same TV that I am, but not a big writer at this time). Although this story is Josh Groban fan fiction you can rename the characters and it still holds water. It's unfortunate that she felt she needed the framework of the people she did, because honestly if she wrote her own characters I think she could be onto something. Don't get me wrong, there are flaws and it needs some industrial polishing, but she actually has a cohesive plot, a decent MFC (please note: I disapprove of the notion that because a man persistently grabs your ass you should eventually cave and accept it as his right) and a reasonably well rounded support cast (a mix of her own friends and famous people, I think, although there's a band and I'm not sure which category they fall into).

Interestingly, she plays the same card as the other JG oriented fan fictions I've read - "Josh Groban" doesn't fall in love until a girl has proven herself to be as good or a better natural singer than he is and I think that's a weak spot in the story. "Josh" demonstrates that he doesn't respect her as a listener until she can compete with him as a performer, but when she sings he suddenly accepts all her opinions without argument. It doesn't really hold with the rest of the character as she writes him; or indeed her MFC. Her singing ability isn't actually crucial and it would give them a more solid relationship if he was able to hear her opinions because he loved her, not because of some implausibly good vocals (she has *no* training and has avoided singing for years due to reasons. Why does she have to be good at singing, as well as writing music, playing music, photography, being funny, smart and popular and apparently irresistible to men?)

There are scenes of strife - real strife, that might reasonably happen - and they're dealt with in a sensitive, realistic way. I really like that.

My one bone of contention that kept bothering me (and again, this might be resolved if the writer took Josh Groban out of the picture and created a MMC that isn't there to be worshipped) the relationship is very uneven. She gives and gives. He takes and takes and then recognises her sacrifices then gives her a token reward then she is happy until the next time. It's a lot like a puppy being offered a treat and although it works initially the two characters spend a lot of time apart mid-story and it's made clear that she is much stronger and more independent when she returns, yet she still has this placating, accepting personality where he is concerned. Although verbally she argues with him and stands up to him, in her everyday actions she's consistently implying that he is so much more important than she is.

In short, although it's a long story, probably many years old: I believe if she invested the time in building new characters for the story she'd have a good novel at the end of it. Personally I'd truncate the end (it's written in two parts and the end of the second part is meandering with little or no reward for completion) but that's just my taste.

Anyhoo: TL:DR; It was really nice to find something I spent a whole day reading because I really wanted to. Especially since previous experience made me pessimistic. I hope you (kiashyel) keep it up and write your own stories soon.

Alicia

PS: when  I say "your own stories" I don't mean you stole this one, I just mean that your own characters make a story more your own than borrowing someone elses. Hope this makes sense!