Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on fanfic

The problem is that, as pointed out by some, “fan fiction” characterizes an entire genre of writing. (One could go so far as to say that ALL comics are fan fiction, since they are written by fans, and that if the writers AREN’T fans, then they have no business writing! - Take, for example, many of the Pre-OYL Batman and Superman books, especially Batman, which read as if the writers actually HATED Batman’s guts, not to mention those of his supporting cast.)

There’s good fan-fiction and bad fan-fiction. Many of today’s writers got their starts because someone noticed their personal fan-fiction and thought that it was good enough to pay them for it. Devin Grayson is a very clear example, whether you like her work or not.

Then there’s bad fan-fiction. This type of work can often characterized as pieces which are rife with misspellings, poor grammar and syntax, many internal contradictions, and a disregard to established characterization or continuity.

To say that something is reminiscent of “fan-fiction” says nothing of one’s opinion of the work. It is indeed similar to comparing the work in question to “pre-Raphaelite architecture”.

In order for a reviewer to use the term as a criticism, he must first explain what he considers to be BAD (about) fan-fiction - at least once - and then contrast the work in question to said fanfic. Otherwise, usage of the term tells the reader nothing concrete - it can be construed in many different ways. So, sure, some readers may get it - but only those who are extremely familiar with the reader’s likes and dislikes. Those who are not on such intimate terms with the reviewer are more likely than not to feel lost and confused.

Case in point: “McDuffie though, has all the bad aspects of fanfiction, except it’s competently executed enough that the laughably bad elements of fanfiction are eliminated.”

What does that mean? All the bad elements of fanfiction except not? Most of the problems with fanfiction are competency issues - basically people who, pardon the expression, can’t write for shit.
But since the reviewer states that McDuffie’s work IS competent, what exactly does he view as negative about it? What additional elements does he view as negative about fanfiction in general? This is what is not clearly elucidated and becomes difficult for the casual reader (which, I’d venture to say, most readers are,) to penetrate.

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