Yeah, I did a little J. Jonah Jameson there. Anyway, recently the subject came up when Amazon announced the launch of Kindle Worlds, its fan fiction site. Since I’ve never been one to let a chance to offer my opinion go by without at least a pat-down, here you go.
You know the idea; someone who’s a huge fan of either a novel, a movie or television series takes that setting and those characters and tells a story with them. Sounds a little dodgy, doesn’t it?
And it’s almost always horrible. When someone tells me they write fanfic, I usually have two reactions. One is to cringe. The other is to ask them why.
I cringe because inevitably they describe their latest “work” in vivid detail, usually giving me gas.
“Oh, I just finished up a 75,000 word novel about Buffy getting an oil change.”
“Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca go shopping for lawn decorations at Costco.”
“I felt like they didn’t explain enough, so I wrote a forty page short story from the viewpoint of the toilets on the Enterprise.”
Yikes. And the answer I always get when I ask them why they bother?
“Well, I like to write, and I like the show/movie/books.”
Really? Well, if you like the show/movie/book so much, why did you just take a steaming dump on it? And if you like to write, why aren’t you, you know, actually writing? You know, creating a setting, characters, and a storyline? Creating a conflict for your characters to solve? Letting us meet these characters and see them at their best—and their worst? You know, writing?
“But that stuff’s hard to do!”
Well, duh. You think the creators of your favorite what-have-you didn’t bust his or her butt for months or even years to not only create those characters/settings, but to learn the art of making them memorable and engaging? Assuming you understand that, do you think they did it so you could tell us all about Xena’s confrontation with a microwave or give us the episode of Charmed where the Halliwell sisters suddenly become overwhelmed with the desire to ravage the pizza delivery guy (who happens to resemble you) while arguing with a lamp post?
“But it’s an homage!”
No, it’s copyright infringement. It’s lazy fantasy-fulfillment and egotistical bullshit. What’s worse, it’s really, really shitty writing. Believe me, I doubt even the most hard-core Trekkie is dying to read “Captain Kirk Takes a Massive Dump.” And if such a sad, hopeless person does exist, he or she will probably happily trade you manuscripts so you can enjoy “Chewbacca Humps a Volvo.”
“Well, you’re a big MEANIE and a HATER!”
Probably. Deal with it. At least I’m not raping and pillaging the work of others for my own ego boost.
Fan fiction. Don’t do it. Don’t write it. Don’t read it. For God’s sake, don’t support it. Not only is it copyright infringement, it’s just crap. Fanfic; not even once.