Salutaions, one and all.
I should point out that I am not, at this present time, an author of any sort. I am an avid reader, and a fairly enthusiastic connoisseur of quality genre television. Like, I suspect, most of you, I read a book or watch a movie, and find myself mentally rewriting it, or writing my own scripts from scratch in my head. I don’t necessarily want to say I look at what’s on and arrogantly think “I can come up with better stories than this” but really, who doesn’t? Heck, looking at some of the crap on TV these days, who couldn’t?
Because of my desire to get more of my favorite characters from ... whatever I’m currently into, I came across this website. I thought the very concept of fan fiction was great. Stories written about things and people I want to see more of, when the original source material is in reruns. Stories that can be more purely about the subjects of said stories, as opposed to scripts that have to be vetted through marketing consultants, advertisers, and lawyers for approval for mass consumption. Most importantly, stories by people who GET IT. By that I mean, these stories are written by people who were drawn to and inspired by their source material for the same reasons as I was. Fellow fans. For example, did anyone here read the comic book “Saga of the Swamp Thing” by Alan Moore? That was great, haunting, gothic storytelling. But then they made the terrible movie “Return of the Swamp Thing,” the one with Heather Locklear. It was obviously commissioned by corporate suits and farmed out to wage hacks; all people who just thought: We need an idea for a movie. What are kids into right now? Swamp Thing? That’s a good commercial property; we’ll put in some people with the character names and some costumes that look like these funnybook pictures, and the comic-nerd audience will give us their money. In other words, people who didn’t GET IT. Didn’t understand why Moore’s SwampThing had a following, didn't see what we read that book for. Sharply contrasting this example, in a way fan fiction authors should really appreciate, the novelization of the movie was done by Peter David, a writer who unquestionably GETS IT. He essentially disregarded everything from the movie that wasn't true to the world Moore wrote about, and was able to capture what we 'comic-nerds' wanted in a book or movie about the Swamp Thing, because he saw it there too. And in the process of making movie spin-off merchandice, he accidentally committed art. So much so that today, even people involved in making that rotting piece of mulch of a movie (who have since gotten wise that a comic-nerd audience WON'T automatically shell out for movies that don't respect the source material)will tell you “forget the movie, read the book.”
So I figure you guys are doing what I do: revising, adding to, or creating anew your favorite popular mythologies. The only difference is that I do it in my head while I read or have the diligence to turn your musings into a concrete, legible form, and the guts to show it to other people. In many cases it’s better entertainment than what I’d have to pay money for elsewhere, and it doesn’t cost me a dime. Who ever heard of such a deal, this day and age?
Based on the correspondence I’ve had with some fan fiction authors since I discovered this site, I’ve learned one of the main reasons you folks do it: feedback. You post your stories on the internet not only because you want your work to be seen and appreciated, but also because you want to know what other people have to say about what you write. Ideally, you want critical evaluations that might enable you to improveyour writing skills.With that in mind, I’ve taken it upon myself to start leaving a few reviews here. Not being a fan fiction author myself, I didn’t see a reason to register with the FanFiction.Net website, and so left my reviews by simply clicking on the ‘leave a review’ function. Or, I’ve since learned, in net-speak, leaving them anonymously. Because I just type as the commentary runs through my head, my reviews have so far tended to be a little on the long-winded side. Some of you may have received or read these: I was the reviewer that went by the screen name GAP (my initials.)
Because I try to be as honest as possible, and because I often care about the characters and source material a fan fiction story might be based on, I don’t have a problem saying a story is bad, and actually using the word ‘bad,’ if I think a story is, in my opinion, genuinely bad. Working on the principle of treating people the way I’d want to be treated if positions were reversed, I figure I wouldn’t be posting my stories where people could read and comment on them if I weren’t willing to cope with the ones who will hate my work. And if my purpose in posting was to get unbiased feedback, then I can’t imagine anything more useless than a negative review that doesn’t explain how or why the reviewer thinks the story is bad. So, while a review that says “Woo-Hoo! Good One!” can be taken as a complement up front, I feel that “You can’t write. Your story is terrible!” begs for explanation,or at least a little more detail. (As opposed to the reviews that say “man u cant rite u suk,” which I think can be ignored without fear of missing out on someone’s penetrating insight. Yes, you aspiring writers, spelling and punctuation count.)
My reviews seem to have generated some interest among writers who want an opportunity to rebut or comment on my conclusions, or otherwise engage in dialogue. And it was pointed out to me that it would be easier for them to do this if I were registered on the website. However, I find that my initials are currently in use as someone else’s screen name. So I have created my new, kitschy-yet-hopefully-internet-savvy-sounding nom de plume, combining a quote from the Book of Job and the enigmatic aliens from Babylon 5.
And finally, here I am. The reader and reviewer formerly known as GAP. I look forward to reading much of your future works, and if you are amenable, discussing them with you.