A way with worlds: 24 – Service, Service! by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum

It was anime that introduced me to Fanservice.

You may or may not have heard the term, but it refers to those moments of gratuitousness inserted into a show for the fans – rippling pecs you didn’t need to see, a panty shot because of a perfectly placed gust of wind, etc. In short, those little extras that are needed for the story, but are there to grab attention and give the fans something extra.

Now we all enjoy a good extra pectoral or gust of wind on occasion, but Fanservice is, let’s face it, pandering. However, we know it goes on, we accept it, and sometimes we probably even do it.

But I’m here to talk about something a bit more continuity-wrecking; Authorservice.

AUTHORSERVICE:

My friend “Spider” coined this term, and in doing so gave a name to something that I feel is important to investigate, because where a little fanservice in the form of a bad joke or a cool scene is one thing, Authorservice is usually far more destructive.

Authorservice is when you stick something into a story for your own enjoyment – essentially, Fanservice for yourself – and continuity be damned. In short, it’s when you say “wow, this is so cool/sexy/thrilling I like reading about it” and plunk it on in.

Authorservice also occurs when the author attempts to make their story “just to cool” in the vain hope that people will think they’re the greatest. It’s especially prominent in those hideous Self-Insertion characters that are obvious ego trips, the ones the writers expect to be worshipped by the readers.

We’ve all ready stories with Authorservice, even if “Spider” had to invent the name for it. Those moments where we felt told that things were cool, darn it, and we’d better believe they were. Those odd times where we’re reading a story and saying “where the heck did this come from?” and wonder why the audience has suddenly lost any importance to the writer. Those moments the author expected us to think he or she was too amazing for words.

SO WHAT’S WRONG:
Authorservice, in a nutshell, is just another way to wreck your continuity, and continuity and worldbuilding is what this column is all about. It’s inserting things without reason, without grounding, and only for your own ego.

Authorservice leads to arrogance. Sure, one can argue “well it’s my story,” and indeed it is. However, when you’re busy trying to make the story do something else beyond tell a coherent tale of coherent characters in a coherent world, you’re not writing. You’re hijacking your creation for another agenda beyond being a good piece of writing.

Authorservice leaves out the audience. There’s two halves to writing – creating a coherent world, characters, and story, and being able to share that story with people. It’s about communicating ideas. When you cover ideas with Authorservice, you leave out the audience (except for those who treat your Authorservice as Fanservice).

Finally, it can be humiliating. Authorservice is usually screamingly obvious to people, especially those not “serviced.” In short, you may end up making a jackass out of yourself. Don’t – then people may not pay attention to the good works you do.

SUMMARY:
Fanservice we know. Authorservice is a good term for a phenomena we could all do without. Authorservice messes up both your continuity and your ability to communicate your work.

A special note – can anyone guess where the title of this column came from? The first person to answer will get their site plugged in the next Way With Worlds! Family members and close friends of mine aren’t elgible, sorry, you’ll know me too well.s

STEVE’S SITES:
Building New Worlds – A good look at constructing settings, especially science-fiction ones.

A Way with Worlds is hosted at fanfiction.net and sffworld.com, and is archived at the Way With Worlds archive.

Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Steven Savage, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.

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