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Yultetide and How the Source Constrains Fanfic - Mo's Journal
December 17th, 2008
11:50 am

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Yultetide and How the Source Constrains Fanfic
I uploaded my story yesterday, yay!

It was very different from what I usually write and very challenging, which I think is part of the point of the exercise. We're not allowed to say anything that would reveal the fandom or anything specific about the request and I will honor that, but I will say that it's fanfic based on a novel. I was really struck by how much more constraining that is than fanfic whose source text is movies or comic books.

With movie and comic fanfic (and, I think, with tv as well, although I haven't written any) the author is bound to write a story that fits with canon and to make the characters consistent with how they are portrayed in canon. So you need to know what happened to them, you need to know their speech patterns and personality characteristics and so on. But beyond situation, plot and character, you have a lot of leeway in style and tone.

With a novel, I think you need to match the style and tone of the original. Or, at least, I felt bound to do so. Now that I think of it, a lot Harry Potter fanfic doesn't really sound like Rowling, but I digress. Anyway, I felt I wanted to sound like it could truly be another chapter of the novel, so I needed to write like the original author did and I found that very challenging.

The story also takes place in a different place and time from what I'm accustomed to writing, and the characters are very different from what I usually write, too. In addition, since my story concerned activities alluded to but not discussed directly in the original, I needed to research specialized terms the characters would have used in that time and place.

So, all told a really challenging assignment, but a fun one. I'm pleased with how it came out and pleased to be done in time. Now I'll go back to the X-Men series I was working on.

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From:talktooloose
Date:December 17th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
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I'm not aware of this writing challenge. Yes, I hear you about source. It would be an interesting challenge to write in the original authorial voice and, it seems to me, that would be the right thing to do.

When you're allowed to, will you reveal what this is?

I'm depressed about writing now; the task ahead seems mammoth. But I usually find the cure to such worries is to write.
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From:mofic
Date:December 17th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
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I have heard about Yuletide for years now, but this is the first time I'm doing it. It's a kind of Secret Santa fanfic thing with "obscure" fandoms, meaning things that don't really have fandoms but someone would like fanfic for it. It's a huge list of "fandoms" (http://www.yuletidetreasure.org/master.shtml) and you say which ones you're willing to write in and which you would like a story in, and then you are automagically given a recipient to write a story for, someone who has requested at least one fandom you said you'd write in.

I will certainly reveal all when permitted to do so.

Good luck with your writing. I'm looking forward to reading the final of your last chapter.
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From:lilacsigil
Date:December 18th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
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And all of this is why I love Yuletide! I'm on my fourth year now - my issue was that other years I have written in a "closed" canon, or at least one not being frequently updated. This year, I've got something that has several updates between the time I posted my story and between the time it goes public. I'm crossing my fingers that my fic doesn't get horribly contradicted before the recipient reads it!

With novel fandoms, the less fic there is, the more people seem to be determined to stick close to the book's style, as far as I can tell. Maybe it's because there's no fanon, and so the fanfic isn't playing off other fanfic? Harry Potter had tremendous interplay between fans as well as between the fans and the source, and the fans and the author, so there was a lot more space to move. Writing a small fandom is wonderfully challenging!
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From:mofic
Date:December 18th, 2008 12:03 pm (UTC)
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That's a good point about novels with little to no fic engendering a feeling of keeping close to canon. That may be part of why I've mostly found HP fanfic pretty inaccessible. I wasn't part of the fandom, so I didn't really understand that interplay. I was just a fan in the sense of liking the books and when I looked for fic, I expected and wanted it to sound like JKR.

I think there also may be a couple of other factors - that it's a series has to be part of it. The characters evolve over time and to some extent she evolves a bit stylistically. I think one of the things she does very well is to age the characters - they always sound genuinely the age they are in each book. So those writing adult fic (in the literal sense - the kids having grown up) may feel some freedom to create their own style. I also think for a lot of people HP is at least as much a movie fandom as a book fandom, so they may feel constrained by speech patterns of the characters while feeling free to create their own narrative style. Anyway, meta musings are always fun.

This year, I've got something that has several updates between the time I posted my story and between the time it goes public.

How interesting! Of course, now I'm dying to now what it is. I'm thinking "TV? No tv shows have big fandoms. And so do comics. What else could be updated several times in just a few weeks? Maybe it's some sort of RPF..." and so on. I wish we could talk about what we wrote! Would you tell me what fandoms you wrote other years?
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From:lilacsigil
Date:December 18th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
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Of course, now I'm dying to now what it is.
I feel so mysterious! In previous years I wrote Elektra (movie) in 2005, Malory Towers and Young Avengers in 2006, then V for Vendetta (comic) and Excalibur (comic) in 2007. The years when there's more than one is because I had a pinch hit as well. I think the Malory Towers one is my favourite, though.

You may be right about the HP style of people writing post-series fic - I know my preference is for things set in and around book canon (including backstories for the adult characters) because I feel more anchored that way. If you're wanting something very much in the style of JKR, fernwithy writes novel-length fic set both during the canon era and during the next generation's era. I don't agree with all her decisions, but she expands the world and the characters in a way that is completely cohesive with JKR's vision.
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From:mofic
Date:December 18th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
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I never heard of Malory Towers. Although I guess that's likely to be the case for a lot of obscure fandoms.

Thanks for the HP rec. I'll check her out when I feel up to trying novel-length fic!
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