It’s not a surprise for anyone that I like fanfic, I think? Or at least that I read fanfic when I’m on “easy mode” for some other reason.
Like, you know, I find myself reading fanfic when the stress level reaches a certain point.
At this moment it’s not the stress, so much as I’m working on a lot of things, and by the time I read it’s spare cycles all the way. In fact, my husband just asked if I’m reading only fanfic, and I said “No. Sometimes I find a series I WANT to read, but finding one takes time, and I haven’t had time.”
I mean, if I were really stressed and depressed, I’d be reading about serial killers. Or dinosaurs.
However even in fanfic it’s hard to find stuff to read, mostly because the only fanfic I can read is stuff that’s out of copyright. Not that I have not in the past read stories for movies and series I never watched. I can totally do that. It’s just those aren’t on Amazon and properly formatted, so I don’t often read them now.
I almost end up defaulting to pride and prejudice fanfic (and let’s stop for a moment and realize what a miraculous world we live in, that there are people making a living out of pride and prejudice fanfic. And from the look of it a vibrant living — good numbers, one or two books a month — what a marvelous world that has such things in it.
But in Pride And Prejudice Fanfic, there are things that annoy the living daylights out of me, so I often abandon a book.
No, not just — or even especially — historical mistakes. The things that frost my cookies are more fan annoyance. And I wonder if they have parallels to things people are fans of say in anime or manga or even movies and series.
I know they have something in common with “breaking your own series.”
You can totally break your own series, and chase away a significant number of readers. Now this might not matter if you’re Janet Evanovich, and the readers you chase away are a minority — when she had Stephanie sleep with Ranger. Sorry. it was understood she would end up with Morelli. You put up with the sexual insanity, because you knew they were in love and would end up together. And then — or if you still get pushed by your house, etc. But if you’re a beginning writer, just starting your indie series, it can be fatal.
The main way you break a series is by breaking one of two things: world building or character.
So, imagine in the shifter series — if you’ve read it — I suddenly revealed in book 4 that there are no actual shifters. These are all mental patients, in an institution, hallucinating adventures. Yeah. OF COURSE you’d stop reading.
But you’d also stop reading if in book four someone walked in and you found he was a sorcerer who had enchanted Goldport, so that people there became shapeshifters. I MIGHT be able to sell it, maybe, but it would take a lot of tap dancing and finessing. (For those who haven’t read the series, while there is some psi stuff, there are NO magic things. No spells, enchantments, curses or even vampires. ONLY shape shifters.)
In the same way you’d probably stop reading if in book four Kyrie decided she doesn’t want to marry Tom, though they’ve been a couple forever, and went off with Rafiel. I mean, MAYBE it could be done, but the finesse it would take is more than I could muster.
I don’t know why writers convince themselves that fanfic is different.
Look, I can take “piled on” world building, in which in THIS version of fanfic there are space aliens, or magic, or whatever. (In fact there are some decent fantasy pride and prejudice variations. Also, some truly and spectacularly wretched ones.)
The really strange thing is when the world breaks because suddenly the girls don’t need to marry, because there’s a decree from the king saying entails are invalid. (What?)
Or my least favorite one, recently, where there was a flu epidemic, so of course everyone was “quarantined” (Yes, the healthy were “quarantined”) in their homes, you had to be six feet apart, and you must wear masks. And this was sane, and talked about as what you always do for an epidemic. I both want to beat the writer with an history book until they acquire some by osmosis, and want to cry for the poor brainwashed child.
But one of the common things is breaking the characters.
Sometimes annoyingly, a story will start amusingly, and then you realize in this version Elizabeth is daft and takes offense at the most bizarre things. And Darcy thinks this is enchanting. And you’ll read it, in the spirit of watching a train wreck, wondering what in heck the writer thinks she’s doing.
There are many examples of this, and honestly it’s probably ONLY that the writer is a beginner who doesn’t get how to do characterization. And within that, fanfic might not be a bad training ground.
But then there is a whole series of writers who break standard pairings, and always in the same way. Such as for instance — this is common — they decide that Jane is MUCH TOO GOOD for Bingley who is a “puppy” because he follows Darcy’s advice and leaves her for months.
Honestly, I don’t know what to make of this, beyond the fact that people don’t understand the sway someone with more experience in society had on a social inferior back then, and also that they misunderstand that both Jane and Mr. Bingley are cast as too agreeable for their own good.
And I can’t explain why this annoys the living daylights out of me. It just does.
In the range of annoyance, casting Jane as an evil b*tch annoys me less. (While still annoying me.)
What absolutely takes the cake is giving Jane to Colonel Fitzwilliam, because he’s a “veteran” and a “real man.”
This combines lack of understanding of the clues int he book with presentism. The clues in the book clearly indicate he’s “expensive” and somewhat of a fop. I.e. he probably gambles and dresses very well. More importantly though is the presentism. I understood his light military duties (he’s at Mr. Darcy’s disposition) and the fact he’s “expensive” to mean he’s basically in the “for show” honor guard. He’d no more be sent to the Peninsula than he’d be flying by flapping his arms.
(I will excuse the marine who routinely writes Colonel Fitzwilliam as a grizzled ptsded veteran, who wins Jane to his manly arms. One suspects a good level of Marty Stu on that one.)
I am however amused by how most of the fanfic turns into the very gothic romances that Jane clearly looked down on: murders and madness, poisonings and pregnancy, oh my.
Anyway, all of this to say: Why does breaking the relationships bother me so much? I mean, it’s not the main one, and so many people do this.
Does anyone else have a clue why?
(On a side and strange note, I fully intend to write Fanfic and Frivolity where they all have these correspondence groups and write fanfic for a wholly invented regency novelist. Yes, including Mr. Collins under a pen name. Eh. Someday. When I have a surfeit of time.)