Tonbo Rants!

Problems With Fanfiction


The biggest problem I have with fanfiction is (1) that so many fanfic authors "get an idea" and "start writing" to "see where it goes". Almost invariably, this leads to a story which starts out with a nifty or clever idea and proceeds randomly until it becomes clearly lost out in uncharted territory with an author who has no clue how to rescue the story.
The second biggest problem I have with fanfiction is (2) authors who do not have or do not seem to keep in mind a single governing goal for their writing. Without a single one tyrannical idea or point to rule ruthlessly over all the others, a story usually begins with one theme, loses that theme to some sub-plot, wanders or ricochets between two or more competing possibilities and ends up being, essentially, a mediocre nothing that, with proper guidance, could have been truly good.
The third biggest problem I have with fanfiction is (3) that so many fanfic authors just don't know when to stop! If you had a really really cool idea and you wrote it out to the single climactic satisfying end, ... STOP! If the horse is dead, don't keep kicking it!

Now, ... what usually happens?
If a fanfic author does not simply write for the sake of blobbing out something, but to actually make a point, and if said fanfic author has a single overriding idea which dictates the direction of his story, so that it maintains a clear theme and makes its primary point and satisfies its chief goal ... then what happens?
It turns out good. That's what happens.
And when a fanfic turns out really good, what happens then?
No, really ... what happens?
They get asked to write a sequel! That's what happens!!
So, ... said fanfic author, who had a good idea and already wrote it, who had a single clear vision and already met it, becomes inundated with a deluge of mail saying, "Man, that rocked! You *gotta* do a seekwel, dood!"
And, after enough of that, our formerly illustrious author, who actually accomplished the all too rare task of writing a truly good fanfic, succumbs to the delusion that their monument actually needs a sequel.
So, they start writing, because they were encouraged (3) ... without a single clear purpose, since they already satisfied that (2) ... TO SEE WHERE THE STORY GOES, BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW THEMSELVES!!! (1)


So, the fanfic authors who most skillfully avoid making the greatest mistakes end up later making those very same mistakes because they were originally good enough not to make those mistakes in the first place. It's the catch-22 of fanfiction.
In fact, most every fanfic author who ever writes a truly good fanfic can almost always end up being convinced to write a sequel to it which then, perhaps starts out with a nifty or clever idea & begins with one theme, proceeds randomly & loses its theme to some sub-plot, becomes clearly lost & wanders or ricochets between two or more competing possiblilites and ends up being, essentially, a mediocre sequel to a story which was really good.

In other words, the better an author is at avoiding mistakes number one and two, the more likely they are to receive encouragement to make mistake number three ... which then leads them to make mistakes number one and two in their sequel!

The best way to avoid this trap, if an author has a clear enough concept to avoid mistakes number one and two to begin with, is to know when to stop.
That's right, stop.
Don't write that sequel. Don't do it. Just say no.
No matter how crappy the fic, some moron will say, "Oh, man, that was kewl! U gotta do more!"
No, you don't!
If you've said what you have to say, why say more? If you've conquered the territory, why keep stomping on it? If you wrote what you wanted to write, don't let someone convince you to write more!




Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, I have something less ranty to say:

There is another way to avoid the fanfic catch-22 ... only do a sequel if you have a clear idea of what the point of the sequel is. Don't just do a sequel because someone writes you an email saying, "I was curious about what happened next" or "The only problem was that it wasn't enough". We all know what happens next ... everyone goes on, has a life, grows old and eventually dies.
Sure, that's got plenty of room for lots of "stuff" happening, but it doesn't do anything for a "story". You can always go on to write a bunch of meaningless activity (and most do, Lord knows!), but can you write a story?
If not, don't. If so ...
Ah ... if so ... then you've got something.
If you can get a single clear distinct and worthy vision for the sequel ... a single overriding theme or point ... then you might be able to write that mythical beast which is even more rare than the truly good fanfic ... the truly good sequel.

But, don't kid yourself. It's rare.

Good luck.

Please send me any type of C&C.
finished 04/11/00
revised 8/7/00