Two Central Questions (P2P)

December 5th, 2012 § 8 comments

One reason I remain staunchly opposed to the practice of publishing one’s fanfic without credit to the original author (which, by the way, happens automatically in the case of publishing a fanwork of an out-of-copyright source–by keeping Mr. Darcy as Mr. Darcy, you implicitly acknowledge your debt to Austen in the creation of the character) is because I still have never seen an answer to this central paradox that doesn’t rely on “Well, I just didn’t know any better” as the crux of the defense.

And as we are largely a community of adults, and since I don’t know of a soul under the age of 18 who has P2Ped, I find “I didn’t know any better” to be a lame excuse.

So here is the paradox.

1. If your intention was to copy Stephenie Meyer’s characters, and to render a version of Edward Cullen and Isabella Swan,  however changed; if you, as an author, envisioned your male lead as being an interpretation of Edward Cullen, and ideally, recognizable as such, no matter how changed in age, immortality, etc.  then how can you justify anything short of an entire gutting of your novel in order to claim that the new version of the character is original?

Conversely, if the reverse is true:

2. If your intention was to write a novel using the stock archetype that Edward Cullen is a representative of (the Byronic hero) and you never intended your character to be interpreted as Edward Cullen, how can you in any way justify your choice to post the story as fanfiction of Twilight, except as a means to capitalize on the fandom? And further, does not the choice to post the story as a Twilight fanfiction indicate that you did, in fact, intend for your main character to be interpreted as a version of Edward Cullen, and not merely a male character inspired by him?

I know zero writers (except for the people who try to justify P2P, but I would wager from the degree to which they get defensive about this that they realize this argument is flimsy at best) who would claim that the essence of their characters lies in their hair color, their ages, or even their names or whether or not they are human. Well-rounded characters, like humans, are composites of many things, most notably their motivations, their personalities, their worldviews. I could turn my MC into a dragon and he would still be my MC, and recognizably so. And that’s why I am loathe to in any way support a practice which tries to find a an excuse for taking the characterization developed by another author by claiming that simply changing a vampire to a human makes him a different person.

In fact, the whole point of fanfiction is to implicitly argue that this is not the case—that if we take these characters and put them into a different situation, or make them human, or pair them with different partners, they do not fundamentally change. That the character is still Edward is exactly the argument that is made when an AH fic is posted. So to then argue directly the opposite—that very few, and mostly circumstantial, changes are all that is needed to turn that character into someone else is disingenuous at best, and if nothing else, reveal an unbelievable lack of respect for the character’s original creator.

This is why, for me, there is no happy middle ground. I know in my heart whether I’m basing my book in its entirety off someone else’s work. And honestly, I think despite all the rationalization and posturing…that I’m not alone.

crossposted to livejournal and tumblr

(And yes, you are about to be glutted with fic from me, in very short order. A new chapter of SB will go up tomorrow, and two new novellas are working their way toward completion, too.)

Tagged , ,

§ 8 Responses to Two Central Questions (P2P)"

  • Sydney W says:

    I couldn’t have said it better! Thank you! I’ve been trying to explain this to numerous people, especially those who were unaware of fanfic, now that Fifty Shades has hit mainstream. I am so glad someone else recognizes this. Even if your character is OOC, at its core, they are still those characters from an already published book. Original fiction has to start from scratch. I don’t begrudge any P2P author their success, but I definitely stand with you on this.

    • giselle says:

      Thanks, Sydney. I sometimes hope that my arguments give people a little more armor in making the arguments from a place of logic than a place of personal involvement.

      I do begrudge P2P authors their success, I confess, but only because it is success that is built in part on their claimed connection to Stephenie Meyer’s work. Had any of these books simply been self-published, or put as wholly original works on Wattpad, would they have experienced the same success? Maybe, but the fact is, we won’t know. Presenting the characters as Edward and Bella meant they got a huge boost in audience; we all benefit from that in fandom. And I’m not exactly sure why any author would want to feel that her success isn’t wholly the result of her own work. Me, I couldn’t sleep at night were that the case.

  • Sisterglitch says:

    Beautifuly stated.

    You did not name that one particular recent publishing we are all thinking of, but its existence leaves a very bitter taste on the tongue. The most insulting aspect of all to SM’s beloved characters is that the writing and handling of the characters in 50SoG is so mortifyingly hack.
    Yet again, money and media attention trump integrity and taste.

    I always touted your Ithaca as the most well-written fan fiction ever… until Stregoni Benefici. A friend I recommended it to said she was so moved by the Savior chapter, she couldn’t go on to the next one. As a writer that is one of the highest compliments I can get from a reader.
    As always, thank you for providing our world with such excellent delights.

    • giselle says:

      Thank you! Although, it certainly isn’t the handling of the characters or the writing which I take exception to. I’ve worked in the book industry in some form or another my entire adult life so far; bad writing gets published, and that’s a fact of the industry. A wholly original, terribly-written erotica book that makes millions? Meh. I’m not going to point fingers. But one which climbed to its success on the back of another author’s hard work…that I take exception to.

      Thank you for your kind words.

  • NixHaw says:

    Your arguments certainly always leave me thinking…

  • fuzzyltlwingedthing says:

    Gisselle, I think I love you. And I think your writing is some of the best fic out there. You’re at the top of my list and I love that you stand firm in this particular argument. My main argument against P2P is that at any moment SM could pull the plug on FF with just one call to her lawyer to set the ball in motion. In my mind that means she owns it and P2P is just some sort of literary rape of her work.

    PS: My mom turned me on to Twilight and I turned my mom on to FF and we are both amazed that all of your “ask” blogs really do sound like they’re being written by different people. You’re amazing and I hope to someday meet you in RL and… well… say thank you.

    • giselle says:

      Well, thank you. I do think at this point, it seems unlikely that SM will pull the plug on fic; but I do think it makes a lot of authors considerably less inclined to allow fic in the first place. I know I certainly would be uncomfortable allowing fic of my work (should it be published someday) after my experience in this fandom, which seems crazy, as I love writing it. But when I think of myself as a source author and not a fan author, my opinion changes substantially.

      And as to the blogs, I hate to burst that bubble! 🙂 But they actually are all written by different people, except for the askedward/askisabellacullen/asknessiecullen which are all written by amethystjackson. Esme is written by Oh My Carlisle, who writes The Esme Chronicles. It makes it a lot of fun and very real, because “Carlisle” isn’t always certain whether his wife is going to get upset at him about one of his answers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What's this?

You are currently reading Two Central Questions (P2P) at Writings.