My pal Whuffie wrote an article on writing fan fiction (see here). This week I have been pondering the whys and wherefores of writing fan-fiction, myself. I mean… why doesn’t one just write unique stuff? Why borrow/steal/use someone else’s creations and characters and such? I can explain.
First, you need to understand fandom. You can like, love, and/or live a work. For example… back in the day, I used to watch The X-Files every Friday night. I didn’t watch it religiously, I just watched it every week. I didn’t really love the show. If it had gotten cancelled, I wouldn’t have cared much at all.
Some episodes I really liked, like the circus on. I adore the messages in that one about “freaks” vs normal people. And Mr. Nutt reading and dressing-down on Mulder is a total riot. Oh, and I liked the deep pathos in the episode where they blow Mulder’s head off. So I taped a couple like those, but not every single one.
Contrast this with my all-time favorite TV show: Wizards and Warriors. I loved that show. I was totally ga-ga over that show. All week, I would count down the days, hours, and minutes until Saturday night at 8pm when it would be on again. Also note, that every single show I have ever loved anywhere near as much has been cancelled. I have a deep complex about this. Everything I love, the world hates and it gets cancelled. I’m traumatized.
Anyway, so there are shows you like and shows you love. And when you love a show (or a movie, or a book, it doesn’t matter what genre), sometimes something happens… and you start to live it. I can’t speak for normal people — in fact, I can’t even speak for other creative people — but personally, I’ve always had fictional versions of myself who lived in various stories and universes. I had a character in Star Wars, I had a character in Wizards and Warriors. I had a character in ReBoot, and I still can’t explain my attraction to that show.
This doesn’t always happen. For example, I love Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald Mage trilogy, and I like all her Valdemar books and stories. But I have never crossed-over and wanted to be a Herald or a Bard, or even a Companion. I also love Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, but I don’t have any characters in that world, either.
Okay, so sometimes things click between you and a story or character or world, and you start fantasizing about it and making up your own stories or variations of the stories. And it’s no big deal, it entertains you, like when you were a kid and pretending to be Batman, or Robin, or Batgirl (or BatDog, if that was your thing).. But then sometimes, your mind is going along with these stories and something else happens….
You stumble across (or create, really) a very moving, very powerful story. And this story grips you so much, you want to preserve it for posterity — and, most likely, you want to share it with others.
And this is why fan-fiction happens. At least, for me.
And this is why even more bizarre things like cross-over fiction happen. You see two characters from similar, or heck, totally different worlds, and you imagine how they might interact. And as your brain plays this little mind game, this thought experiment, something develops out of it. Something that is at the core of mankind’s penchant for telling stories, a message you want people to receive.
Or… sometimes it’s just too funny to pass up. ;)
So… motivation for creating fan-fiction is not the uniqueness of the world, or of the characters, or the creation of something out of nothing. It’s a fundamental message that uses whatever media is at hand.
Could I take Bannon & Zevran’s story and translate it into something that is not Dragon Age? Make them something new, in my own world? I seriously do not think so. Oh, their personalities can translate to anywhere, any time; that’s not the issue. But the nuances of who they are and how they came to be that way; how they interrelate… that could only happen in Dragon Age: Origins, or a world/storyline so similar that it would immediately be noticed as a rip-off.
That’s why I write — anything, whether it’s fan-fiction or fiction based on role play — and even why I create art. There’s a message, or a vision, or an experience inside me and I want to let other people experience it as well.