View Poll Results: Do you read fan fiction?

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  • Yes

    2 11.11%
  • No

    15 83.33%
  • Sometimes

    1 5.56%
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  1. #1
    http://tinyurl.com/363ogv DurzoBlint's Avatar
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    Is Fanfic Really Mainstream?

    I apologize if this is in the wrong area, Mods feel free to move it to its proper location.

    According to Publisher's weekly EL James has been awarded "Person of the Year."

    So my question for you is, has fan fiction reached mainstream and is that a good thing? Who benefits, and who loses with books like 50 Shades of Grey becoming a best seller?

    I personally stay away from this form of reading, but my wife loves 50 Shades and the like.

  2. #2
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooo

    Is there a holding head while screaming emote?

  3. #3
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Not really a surprise, though quite sad.

    EL caught a lot of people by surprise and is a prime example of how word-of-mouth can sell something to the point where people buy it just because everyone else is talking about it. Supposedly, it was written as a result of a Twilight fan being inspired by the books to want to write her own story.

    but: is it fan-fic? Fanfic usually uses other people's recognised characters (erm, Batman, Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Trek/Wars) to write their own tale. The characters are those from the more-recognised work.

    Example: Currently reading John Scalzi's Redshirts, which is a parody of early Star Trek. It has all the elements of the TV series and the Federation, but to my mind isn't fan-fic, even though it's written by a fan.

    It has connotations though. Often fan-fic has garnered a reputation of being written by enthusiastic yet ungifted 'fans', whose love of the original material is tempered by a lack of originality, a lack of depth and cringing dialogue. I suspect this is where you're coming from, Durzo?

    The thing is, such material is always popular. All the Star Trek and Star Wars novels can be accused of being such to a degree, though they are given professional licence by being given permission by the brand. Similar things are also said of say Dragonlance and Warhammer/The Black Library.

    The usual 'losers' are usually those mid-list writers who are pushed down the lists (and the bookshelves) to make way for these bestsellers. Works with celebrity tell-alls and cookbooks too.
    Mark

  4. #4
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Supposedly, it was written as a result of a Twilight fan being inspired by the books to want to write her own story.

    but: is it fan-fic? Fanfic usually uses other people's recognised characters (erm, Batman, Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Trek/Wars) to write their own tale.

    Example: Currently reading John Scalzi's Redshirts, which is a parody of early Star Trek. It has all the elements of the TV series and the Federation, but to my mind isn't fan-fic, even though it's written by a fan.

    The thing is, such material is always popular. All the Star Trek and Star Wars novels can be accused of being such to a degree, though they are given professional licence by being given permission by the brand. Similar things are also said of say Dragonlance and Warhammer/The Black Library.

    The usual 'losers' are usually those mid-list writers who are pushed down the lists (and the bookshelves) to make way for these bestsellers. Works with celebrity tell-alls and cookbooks too.
    From what I understand, the original 50 Shades used the Twilight characters explicitly on a fan website and was popular. Then the lawyers got involved and she changed the names.

    Parody is walking a fine line. I did something similar to Redshirts with my story Star Trek: White Trash. It's definitely parody but really felt like I was writing fan fiction.

    I never thought about how those series affect the marketplace. Good points

  5. #5
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    From what I understand, the original 50 Shades used the Twilight characters explicitly on a fan website and was popular. Then the lawyers got involved and she changed the names.
    Thanks for that. I wasn't aware that the connection was SO close. But I would suggest that fan fiction is read because people want to read about characters they've already invested time in. In this then, to my mind, 50 Shades isn't fan fic, although its origin is related. I could be wrong, but I think they're not reading 50 Shades because it is an Edward and Bella story...

    Parody is walking a fine line.
    Oh, absolutely. Humour is one of those areas that, for a reader, can be oh-so-right or really, really wrong...
    Mark

  6. #6
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    I agree with both points.

  7. #7
    Earthman1
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    I also agree that '50 shades' does not qualify as fanfic.
    As to whether fanfic has reached mainstream, a good case can be made that from the earliest days of the Pocket Star Trek novels, that many of them were fanfic that succeeded in becoming normal published books.
    However, I also want to answer another question - the one that I thought was being asked when I saw the thread name , before seeing the actual OP details - is fanfic part of mainstream society? I would say no, but that it is moderately part of genre fandoms (SFF and other), and is definitely mainstream on the internet (with both SFF and other communities - NCIS, soapies, etc).
    I answered YES to the poll question, as not only in recent years have I started heavily reading fanfic, but have fairly recently also started writing it - I am Xovervore on tth.

  8. #8
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I also agree that '50 shades' does not qualify as fanfic.
    The other important part of fan fic which I totally forgot to mention is that it is UNPAID. So anything involving money (or at least at published rates) is usually not fan fic.

    I would suggest that at least part of fan-fic's kudos up to now is that it is small scale and limited in circulation. But totally agree with B5 that the Internet has opened this up. Can you be small scale and global at the same time?
    Mark

  9. #9
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    So my question for you is, has fan fiction reached mainstream and is that a good thing?
    No and if it did, sort of.

    Fanfic has 'not reached the mainstream'. If Meyers had allowed James to actually use her characters and publish a book with them and it became monstrously successful, then the answer would be different. But 99% of the people who bought those books had no idea of their origins.

    If the question, has fanfic become 'more mainstream' and more people are aware of it, then yes. TV and novel writers even throw bones to popular fanfic ideas and references (see the TV writers of Merlin keeping the slash-fic writers happy in the third season when they near-constantly put Merlin and Arthur in 'bromance' scenes, often with their tops off for no discernible reason) to keep fans happy. But that's not quite the same thing, and cannot be whilst copyright rules are as they are.

    Is it a 'good thing'? Yes, because it does inspire some creativity and fosters a sense of community. No, because if it did go mainstream you'd have enormous confusion between fanfic works and 'official' works (especially if there are non-canon but official spin-offs, like comics or novels).
    Last edited by Werthead; December 2nd, 2012 at 08:15 AM.

  10. #10
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    She didn't get named Person of the Year because of fan fiction. She got named person of the year because it's the most successful self-published work so far, and then when reprinted with a publisher helped Barnes & Noble survive as it became a phenom, which caused some ripples and new promotion models in book publishing, and has caused a growth in romance, erotica fiction, and much media coverage over titilation about S&M stuff. The movie interest further increased media coverage. All of which has nothing to do with Twilight or fan fiction.

    James is a television producer and writer. She did some Twilight fan fiction with the sex content jacked up for her own amusement, got a good response to it, switched it to a non-fantasy erotica story with new versions of the characters and put it out there. The very mild Twilight connection probably initially drew some readers in the very early stages, but please remember that the majority of the Twilight audience are girls aged 11-16, with that increased into the twenties for the movies. The majority of the Grey audience are women aged 30-50. So it's not really related.

    Mainstream is very big, broad and commercial. Fan-fiction, which is not restricted to SFFH, is written in the majority off of the very biggest, broadest and most commercially successful entertainment properties around, mainly t.v. and films, with some books. It's been around for numerous decades, has been increased by the Internet and is very popular with the younger generations. It's totally mainstream and does not in any way counter mainstream culture, being instead part of it. A lot of authors start off writing fan fiction for their own amusement and then move towards doing their own works from that springboard. Some published authors don't like fan fiction, because they can't monitor it and on the Internet, people could be easily trying to sell it, which is copyright infringement. But it has very little to no impact on actual fiction publishing. That doesn't make it fringe, however.

    Fan fiction = mainstream
    Yak milking contests = fringe
    Iron Man = mainstream
    Cryptozoology = fringe
    Erotica = mainstream
    Sleeping in a coffin = fringe
    Game of Thrones = mainstream
    Skull tatooing your face = fringe

    Let's try to keep it reasonable here. Everything can't be a counterculture.

  11. #11
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    wanting to be part of counterculture = mainstream
    admitting that you are just part of a whole = fringe

  12. #12
    As a copyright attorney, I find the circumstances surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey very interesting.

    Fan fiction is, by its very nature, derivative and therefore copyright infringement. The question is whether or not commercial exploitation (i.e. sales) is being made of the fanfic. If not, then there is an argument to be made that it falls into the fair use exception and therefore has an affirmative defense barring any recovery. Even if it doesn't fall into fair use, the lack of sales would mean that the copyright holder's recovery to damages (either statutory or profits) would likely be slim to none.

    Here, we have an instance of someone admitting that their work was originally conceived as a derivative, and therefore infringing, work. Unlike most fanfiction, this one went on to be a bestseller making tons of money! The catch is that before it hit the marketplace she had tweaked the derivative elements to make them less obvious - names were changed, no vampires, etc. Is that sufficient? I suspect we'll never find out from the courts because Meyer seems unlikely to bring suit and, even if she did, my guess is that they'd find some way to settle it out of court.

  13. #13
    http://tinyurl.com/363ogv DurzoBlint's Avatar
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    I still consider 50 Shades fanfic simply because of its original intent. However, I also see how it has gone beyond that as elements were changed and then built upon so that it became its own monster.

    I am on the fence as far as whether it is good or bad. I had no idea it kept Barnes and Noble running in the black. I thought they were doing quite will with the brick and mortar stores thanks to the bump from their Nook line.

  14. #14
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolvery View Post
    The catch is that before it hit the marketplace she had tweaked the derivative elements to make them less obvious - names were changed, no vampires, etc. Is that sufficient?
    Yes, because none of Meyers' material was actually being used. The characters were thoroughly different, the story wasn't fantasy, none of Meyer's narrative was used, there were no setting or thematic similarities beyond both being romance and plots are not copyrightable, plus the plot was different anyway. Simply being inspired by and writing a first draft in fan fiction does not provide a court case. In written fiction, derivative is not copyright infringement. Plots are common. Character roles are ancient. You have to have substantial evidence to prove actual copying of character, plot, structure, setting, etc., not simply similarity and inspiration. Meyers, more to the point as you note, has no interest in bringing a lawsuit. Grey's success has, through the symbiosis of the fiction market, helped her out further.

    Quote Originally Posted by durzoblint
    I had no idea it kept Barnes and Noble running in the black.
    Not exactly running in the black. It helped decrease Barnes & Noble's losses for the year by racking up large sales for them. A phenom, which runs sales ten times the usual bestseller, usually has a big impact on bookstores' bottom line because book publishing is a small industry. The Nook is doing well thanks to investment from Microsoft.

    Again, 50 Shades of Grey ended up having very little to do with fan fiction, other than the fact that James started writing a slash fiction of Twilight and then switched it to something else. So fan fiction was the inspiration, but that's not new. Its success has had far more to do with it being talked about erotica than with any connection with Twilight. It has more in common with the movie Secretary than it does with Twilight.

  15. #15
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    You think maybe it was just a marketing ploy? Get readers by writing about characters in a new story they know and love to build some kinda street cred as a romance author and then flip it by getting rid of the names? By that point enough people have read it and liked the story that they spread by word of mouth. It's not really tricking them as they liked the story, rather they were tricking themselves by thinking it had to be Twilight.

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