Fanfic and Fatuousity

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.)

115 thoughts on “Fanfic and Fatuousity

  1. The worst is when the author opens a new book with significant and implausible changes. Suppose you started a Shifter book with Kyrie and Rafiel already married and having a kid.

  2. Because breaking the relationships tends to break a strong part of the connection, as well as part of the reader contract, especially in fanfic. Especially if it isn’t advertised up front to catch the fanfic reader subset that LIKE an egregious meddling with the original.

    1. That would explain why the Marine’s re-write isn’t so objectionable– it’s a known quality.

      Part of why I like crossovers is that it *explicitly* makes it so that This Is Different, and the authors need to work to make it function.

      Heck, even just stick “AU” at the front of the tags, so folks KNOW it’s SUPPOSED to be That But Different, instead of The Continuing Adventures In type story.

  3. Does the Flashman series constitute “Tom Brown’s School Days” fanfic? (Tom Brown does show up peripherally in the series as do several other characters from “Tom Brown’s School Days.”

    1. This makes me wonder if the Robert van Gulik Judge Dee stories (police procedurals set in Imperial China) can be seen as fanfic of the original from-China Dee mysteries.

      1. If Robert van Gulik knew what “fan fic” was, IMO he might agree that his Judge Dee stories were “fan fic” of the original Chinese Dee stories.

        1. I imagine he might have at that. He was a big fan of those works.

          A bit OT but I wonder — I’ve seen so many books being sold that are set in franchised universes like Dr. Who, Star Wars, and more, or that use characters invented by others such as Sherlock Holmes, Conan the Barbarian, etc. What makes these ‘real’ fiction and not fanfic? Where is the dividing line?

          For that matter how long has fanfic been around? I’ve read that many Classical Greek and Roman writers apparently did their own tales of the Trojan War that usually revolved around either their OC kicking the backsides of the tale’s canon characters, or said canon characters beating up the badass OC from the earlier story. Maybe one of these days someone will find a clay tablet that retells the Epic of Gilgamesh, only now it’s the forgotten hero Garystuicus who really did it all.

          1. Basically *all* of the greek and roman myths we have are from the regular fan-fiction play events. (Yeah, there’s some other sources, which is why I said *basically*.)

            Don’t get me started on Dante’s Inferno.

            That’s before stuff like “lord of the rings started as a Beawulf fanfic”

            If you get paid? It’s not REALLY fanfic. 😀

            1. I’ve heard the same about Norse mythology. Apparently scholars can’t be sure what the old pagan Norse actually believed about their gods, and what was made up by Snorri Sturluson.

              1. Yep!

                Although I am highly amused by the folks who get mad about the guys who finally decided to write things down…rather than at the folks who had writing, and knew their mythology, and chose not to write it down… even before they became Christian…. this may be A Hint, you know? 😀

                1. From what I’ve read that may be because to the pagans who believed in them these tales were sacred things, and thus it would be blasphemy or desecration to write them down. I think the idea was (I know it was this way among the early Indo-Iranians, or the authors of books I read have lied to me) that spoken words were ‘alive’ and had power. But if you wrote them down it killed them and took the power from them, making them useless.

                  1. I’ve heard the same kind of argument often enough– even in cases where we later found out there were things written down– that I suspect it’s one of those grand Victorian theories that didn’t have much to it.

          2. I went to a thing on writing for franchised universes at a GeekCon years ago, and asked if I could use my fanfic to show my writing skills. The presenter said I had to write something original, because they want people who can write.

            1. If that attitude has become common, it explains the dropping quality of the franchise books over the last few decades.

              Being able to take established characters are write them, in the established universe, without breaking the established world-building– that’s a definite skill.

              If they’re actively selecting for people who are not writing characters that are consistent with what is established… well… :points at all the comic messes where a toddler playing with dolls would manage more consistent writing:

                1. Which should be obvious from listening to authors talking about how it is hard to do long-running series– yeah, they made the world and characters themselves, but then KEEPING them on key—!

                  1. Oh yeah. And then developing voices for a next generation so they don’t sound like “Mom 2.0” or “Dad Junior” . . . I’ve read fanfic that did it better than the original author managed.

                2. Well, when I was writing for the FMA-manga fandom, I was the one who kept track of the timelines and geography and characters and so on. People would ask me things like “Can Havoc be older than Hawkeye?” And then I’d tell them what the manga said and how they could make their concept work and still be manga compliant, if they wanted to. I like to have someone else’s structure to work within.

                  I wrote for Harry Potter until the seventh book came out, but that broke so many things, I gave up. Rowling didn’t keep track of her own timelines or character relationships towards the end, and I just needed most things to fit or at least be plausible. I understand the Wizard of Oz books were like that (in terms of not being consistent).

                3. Yeah. I have heard fanfic writers talk dreamily about original fiction one day. They sound very like non-writers talking about writing at all, and face the same problem. Only, in some respects, worse, since they have learned some bad habits. (Depends on their strengths and weaknesses, of course.)

  4. “…you realize in this version Elizabeth is daft and takes offense at the most bizarre things. And Darcy thinks this is enchanting.”

    THIS. Oh yes, this is the thing that drives me berserk with ‘modern’ writing. The female lead does things which by any standard are insane, and everyone else nods and says how brave and independent she is for speaking her mind like that. Holy. Freaking. Mozzarella.

    There is a series on Snotflix called “Being Erica.” It follows the time traveling adventures of our heroine Erica, the ideal Torontonian woman, as she undergoes semi-magical ‘therapy’ for her many and various mental and moral shortcomings. I am ashamed to say that Being Erica, all four seasons (!!! Four freaking seasons?! Are you kidding me?!) was a CBC production and was made entirely in Canada. I will state here, and defend my stand to the death, that any season of Love Island (except season one) is a better show than this nightmare. (Love Island is not a good show. At best it is harmless, at worst it is boring.)

    Because why? Because the writing is the perfect example of what Sarah is talking about here. The time-travel gimmick does nothing to add interest to the story, because they use it to affirm the incompetence and morally vacuous actions of the MC. Unwatchable crap, from your socialist betters at the CBC. Starts bad and gets steadily worse for four seasons.

    It’s like an East German Trabant, in television form.

  5. One of the things I realized about a third of the way into the current thing I’m working on was, one of the characters was going to do something rather horrible to someone who trusted them, and for that character, it was going to come out of complete nowhere.

    I also realized, if I don’t foreshadow it well enough, it’s also going to come off like Attack of the Giant Space Flea from Outerspace, and I am terrified that I haven’t done a good enough job of it yet.

    Oh well. In many regards, this is practice, so if I try something hard here and it goes sideways, I can just learn from the experience and try to do a better job of it next time.

  6. The popularity of Colonel Fitzwilliam in fanfic frankly stumps me. In the book, he’s a stick figure who exists to show Elizabeth how an honest, basically well-intentioned guy acts when he’s hanging out for a rich wife (ie, not like Wickham) and make it clear that Darcy is to blame for separating Jane and Bingley. I did think of him, and I think a lot of fans think of him, as more of a responsible adult than your description here implies – maybe that’s due to the military title, or the shared guardianship of Georgiana. As far as the adaptations go, I’d love to cast the lead guy from Ant-Man* in that role in a version long enough to give space to the minor characters, but I don’t hugely like any of the existing screen versions of Col. Fitzwilliam. (Okay, the Italian take on the character is amusing but very little to do with the book version.)

    As far as characterization and pairings go, alternate interpretations of those things are a large part of why fanfic exists: to see the passive, pathetic Shinji from Evangelion stand up for himself, or pair DG from the Tin Man miniseries up with either the title character (after a due period of mourning for his deceased wife) or Glitch. It’s not my thing, but it doesn’t actively annoy me. Breaking the pairings in P&P is something I personally don’t like, because the entire point of the story is that the people of marrying age all get what they were looking for in a spouse: Charlotte gets a decent home, Mr. Collins gets a sensible wife for a clergyman, Lydia gets a soldier, Wickham gets financial support, the 2 eldest Bennet daughters get wealthy soulmates.

    *After seeing comments on youtube proposing latest Spiderman for Bingley, latest Superman for Darcy, and Loki for either Darcy or Wickham, I’m all in on using comic book movie actors for the male characters and the slightly older female characters (especially since alot of those actors are Commonwealth anyway) but haven’t seen anyone I liked in recent films/TV for the Bennet daughters or Georgiana.

        1. On the bright side, that makes it easier to file off the serial numbers for original fiction.

    1. Military rank was BOUGHT and the second son of an earl wouldn’t be sent to battle. But other than that, he seemed to be a decent young man. Or at least Darcy’s dad thought so. Then again that gentleman ALSO liked Whickam.

  7. “Why does breaking the relationships bother me so much? I mean, it’s not the main one, and so many people do this.”

    Yes, this is a thing in (at least some) manga and anime fanfic too. In my case, it happens when an IP does a really good job of describing relationships or a specific relationship in a way that makes sense from my own background or personal experience. And then the people who “break” the relationship don’t know what they’re doing, and take it back to a trite pop culture misinterpretation.

    It sounds like that is what they’re doing in your Pride and Prejudice example.

    Fanfic writers do that a lot in the Fullmetal Alchemist fandom with Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye. They like to give them an ongoing sexual relationship during the time period when they and their military subordinates are trying to take down the Fuhrer. So yeah, trying to take down who they think is the big bad, but willing to risk getting thrown out of the military for breaking the fraternization regs? Those two characters? Because “sexy” and “twoo wuv”? Can’t read that stuff, and it makes no sense for the characterization of the people and the world-building in the manga, but it sure is right in line with pop culture.

    And don’t get me started on ‘magic birth control’ — by which I don’t mean in-world ‘magic’ or ‘science’ but just the general idea that sex doesn’t lead to pregnancy unless the plot calls for it. With no attempt at all to explain — kind of like the way Storm Troopers never hit anyone.

    1. I mean, part of what makes the Mustang/Hawkeye dynamic so fascinating in the series is just how complicated it really is between them.

      You just can’t have a scene like the Hawkeye and the doppleganger if things are even remotely transparent between them. Having them already have resolved that at the start diminishes them.

      I wonder if that is the real difference? Merely changing the choices the characters make and having it have no cost to them has the risk of diminishing what made the characters great in the first place. Which leads me to think, if you want to explore the relationship dynamics, you’d probably have to change something that would impact the characters starting situation, and see how that played out instead?

      1. To me, what was absolutely brilliant is the way Arakawa sensei set up the “complication.”

        Their backstory in the manga looks to me like they fell in love while he was an apprentice with her father, which in-world is completely unremarkable, in terms of the mores of the world. All the usual romance drama and parental disapproval can come in, and her father hating the military, and so on, but there’s nothing wrong in-world with an alchemy apprentice falling in love with a girl and then joining the military.

        Then Hawkeye joins the military, which is also not that big a deal in-world. Women in the military, while rare, are still considered normal. But then, they both end up in Ishval.

        And now he needs her to keep him from becoming a “monster” again. And since he’s in the military, she has to be with him. So she has to be part of his team. And he’s the head of the team, so he ends up as her commanding officer. So what could have just been a simple case of a married couple in the military where you just make sure one spouse doesn’t report to the other spouse as commanding officer turns into “can’t get married until you bring down the big bad.”

        And since I met and married my husband while we were both military officers assigned to the same office (but neither reporting to the other as CO), I know exactly how that looks in the USAF anyway. (or did back in the ’80s) And Arakawa sensei just nailed it. As far as I could see.

        So yeah, what a lot of fanfic writers do does diminish what made those characters great to me. I just feel like so many depictions of male/female relationships in the military are wrong in most media in general — whether fanfic or shows or books or whatever.

        I’m a huge fangirl of the whole Mustang team, done right.

      2. Honestly, this right here is why I don’t write fanfiction. The worlds I want to write fanfiction of are typically tight enough that I can’t without fundamentally altering an aspect of the world that makes it not the one I want to write in anymore.

        1. Well, that’s why I tend to write second or third tier characters, that the manga ka has already left less defined. I pretty much try to keep the main characters intact. So I actually don’t mess much even with Mustang/Hawkeye.

        2. For me, case in point, Star Wars: A New Hope. As a kid, I saw it about a zillion times and it felt like this stand alone thing that happened to have some random, mildly interesting addons (its two sequels, the Ewok TV movies, the Droids/Ewoks cartoons) attached to it. It wasn’t until the prequels had been out for a while, and I’d had time to process them, that I started feeling the urge to fix/borrow from Star Wars. But I never felt the urge to write Star Wars stories per se. Same with Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer: I’ve sometimes used their novels as a frame of reference for character types and story arcs I wanted to write, but I’m pretty sure I would trash Regency England like Godzilla if I tried that setting, so I don’t.

          1. To be fair Godzilla in Regency England could be interesting in a B movie type way.

              1. The various Dragonriders of Waterloo stories derived from the tradpubbed Temeraire address that sort of thing pretty well, I thought. And there’s an entire series of “P&P with dragons” retellings on Amazon which I haven’t gotten around to reading, because honestly? I was dragoned out three books into the Temeraire series. The fact that I like basilisks, unicorns, and griffins better than dragons is going to be a severe handicap if I ever knuckle down and write the high fantasy idea.

        3. Now, me, when I start ripping off ideas, I end up pulling it so far from context that sometimes I can only remember what the original was.

          1. Fun fact: I can still, however, get reinspired by reading the original again even if no one could recognize it. (Even me. I have to remember.)

  8. Not going to rewrite the whole long comment I just made, just going wait and see if the administrators can retrieve it. However, I did think of something else I wanted to address: sassy Elizabeth.

    She is, by the standards of the time, pretty outspoken but in an appealing way. The narrator specifically says that at one point Lizzy’s trying to needle Darcy but that her manner is so sweet and arch that he is rather charmed by what she’s saying. It’s hard to nail this quality onscreen: the 1995 version is a little too smug and twee for her own good, Keira Knightley is alot too smug and twee, and two out of three surviving black and white versions just make her uptight and patronizing. And in general, it’s hard to convey in modern terms the specific kind of polite needling Lizzy, Darcy, and Caroline all engage in. All three in-color adaptations portray Darcy as suffering such severe social discomfort that he can’t get a sentence out without a long pause in front of it, which I don’t think is the net effect Jane Austen was aiming for.

    So, it’s a difficult balance to pull off, and an inexperienced writer, who’s been brought up to believe that rudeness is female empowerment, by women who felt* that men got a pass on bad behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated in women, is probably not well-equipped to capture an era and social class where men and women were both expected to be polite.

    As for Bingley, there are usually these beta males floating around in Jane Austen’s books, who aren’t hugely appealing to modern sensibilities (Edward Ferrars and Edmund Bertram, the young man in Lady Susan) but who the author clearly feels are pretty upstanding guys. A lot of our own era’s fictional beta males will look equally unappealing in about 200 years.

    *rightly or wrongly, not my place to say. I am Gen X, came of age in the 1990s, and a world with any kind of uniform social protocols is a place I am only aware of through books and movies.

      1. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the terminology, but to me, that’s what a beta male is: someone who may be an okay guy, but is definitely a follower rather than a leader.

        I’m one of those who think that Darcy is more or less justified in initially* convincing Bingley that Jane doesn’t love him: all he sees is a pleasant, docile woman who doesn’t seem all that taken with his friend, but has an overbearing mother who would make Jane accept Bingley if he ever proposed to her. He doesn’t really have a problem with her as a personality, he has a problem with her misbehaving family and her lack of fortune, and he doesn’t think Bingley can keep the crazy in-laws at bay. (He seems to have no doubt about his own ability to keep said crazy in-laws at bay, if the first proposal is anything to go by.)

        *Helping Caroline conceal Jane’s London visit from Bingley is shady, and he admits as much.

        1. I argue there are no beta males in humans. It works great for other primates, but it’s a stupid thing to apply to humans.
          And in Bingley’s case he was YOUNGER and taking his first steps into the ton (since he came from trade.) HE NEEDED Darcy’s patronage. Nothing to do with being beta or alpha or other made up categories.
          As important as patronage was in that society, he’d need to be a sociopath to assert himself vs. Darcy. Kind of like guy who first day on the job tells boss to go f*ck himself. NOT sane.

          1. “I argue there are no beta males in humans.”

            I haven’t heard anyone say that before, but it makes sense to me. It seems to me that we confuse an almost infinite number of overlapping merit hierarchies of a huge number of kinds of merits with just one or two very simplistic kinds. The “alpha” male is the strong, charismatic, leader. Well, that’s one kind of hierarchy and one kind of merit. But in working with teams IRL and writing fic about teams, it seems to me that any working team is made up of people who are all at the top of some merit hierarchy in some way.

            That’s why (besides obvious moral reasons) you can’t throw anyone away. You never know when that low ranking somebody turns out to be at the top of a merit hierarchy no one even recognized until this particular crisis happened.

            1. The reason I think it doesn’t work for humans is exactly “multiple/overlapping hierarchies”.
              A geek “Alpha” in the sense of most wanted by the females in the group is not a military alpha, in the sense of strongest. The signal might be “will make tons of money” instead of “will beat up enemies” but it’s there.
              Think about it. Bill Gates is repulsive, yes, but does anyone doubt he was female catnip for a good while.

              1. I more or less agree with all that, I just think that even if it’s an inadequate model for real people, it’s an acceptable shorthand for certain kinds of story-telling/fictional-people tropes, including ones that predate these invention of the terms.

                  1. Off Topic from FanFic but my thoughts on “Alpha” Males and so-called “Beta” Males.

                    I tend to see the concept in term of “tribal” organization.

                    The Alpha Male is the Big Man leading the tribe.

                    He is supported (and possibly challenged) by several “Beta” Males. These guys could in theory
                    “do the Job of the Alpha Male”.

                    They have followers who support them.

                    There’s no “biological” difference between the Alpha male and the Beta males. They may support the Alpha for various reasons but may be willing to say “Boss, this isn’t a good idea”.

                    Obviously, even on the small tribe level, the situation may be more complex than what I’ve said above. The woman may have some voice in tribal matters. There are likely “craftsmen” who don’t lead anybody but the leaders would likely listen to them.

  9. Oh, just saw my example wasn’t about breaking a canon pairing, so maybe that wasn’t what you were talking about.

  10. 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.)

    Hey, ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ was entertaining, with a really chilling version of Wickham.

    1. I found it utterly stupid, and bad world building. But I’ve seen it done properly. Look up Mary Benet Regency Mage, or Disenchanted. (There are another three or four well done.)

      1. The Mary Bennett series looks interesting. I’ve downloaded the first one; we’ll see how it goes. My main concern is, has the author made Mary more observant and ironic than she was in P&P? The in-joke in the book was, of course, that Mary was not nearly as accomplished or intelligent as she thought she was. Though making a character like that the center of a series would be really tough to pull off.

        1. I don’t think the issue with Mary was that she wasn’t as accomplished as she thought she was. I think the issue with her was that her “accomplishments” were all she had, so she tended to lean on them more than was really justified. “Yeah, my sisters are all prettier than I am. A lot prettier. But I can play the piano, darn it, while most of them can’t. I just told you I can play the piano. LET ME SHOW YOU HOW WELL I CAN PLAY THE PIANO!!!!!”

          But in general, I agree with you, that people tend to see Mary as the intelligent but introverted bookworm, when I don’t think that was her character at all.

          1. While not being an expert on P&P or Mary Bennet, I see the “fanfic” from the POV of “does the story/characters” hold my interest.

            I’ve been reading the Regency Mage series featuring Mary Bennet and have found it an interesting/fun read.

            Oh, while “this” Mary isn’t “closed” to the idea of marriage, she believes that she’d have problems if she marries some man who doesn’t know about magic with her wanting to continue her work with the Magic Order that she’s associated with. Of course, I think the author has somebody in mind for Mary. 😉

    2. You might want to take a look at Vera Nazarian’s Magical Jane Austen series. She actually weaves the changes into the world, rather than merely inserting them for cheap laughs, and makes you believe in an alternate world where Regency England is fascinated with Ancient Egypt, or awash with lycanthropy.

    3. PPZ struck me as a joke that had pretty much played itself out by the end of the first chapter. It was kind of amusing to have zombies randomly inserted into Austen’s prose, but I doubted it could continue to amuse for 300 pages.

  11. “suddenly the girls don’t need to marry, because there’s a decree from the king saying entails are invalid”

    This will be my excuse for breaking off an engagement.

  12. It’s just those aren’t on Amazon and properly formatted, so I don’t often read them now.

    AO3 lets you download fanfic like it’s an ebook, and you can use the Send To Kindle app from Amazon to put it directly in your Amazon documents.

    Go to the fanfic you want to download, make sure the first clickable button across the top, under the header, says “Chapter by Chapter”. (It’s a toggle that says the opposite of what the work is currently set to.)

    Go to the toggle at the far right, which says “Download.” Select “Mobi.”

    Install the Send To Kindle app, and follow the directions to upload it to your Amazon account. (You’ll need to name it what you want to see in the Amazon listings.)

    If you use the phone app, which is what I’m familiar with, you’ll have to go to the library option and look at documents to see the stories you downloaded this way, but otherwise it functions just like an ebook from the store.

  13. I can’t stand when a series does that to me. I don’t read fan fiction but no editors or other outside readers are involved.

    In trad pub, presumably a longtime writer has a regular editor (or beta readers or first reader or ANYONE) who can say that giving characters radical full-brain transplants that completely go against everything that came before is a *bad idea*.

    I stopped reading a series I loved because of this. Can we name names?

    1. Please do. It is helpful calibration.

      If a person has a really radical change to make to the fanfic world, it’s probably just as easy to make other things alternate. Like “I’m going to have Darcy fall for Charlotte, so it would be helpful to move the story to a modern world, where Charlotte could be a viable marriage candidate.”

        1. I have considered that myself (well, Heyer regency/fairy) and may get there yet. But for reasons unknown I find myself writing a romance (no fantasy) set in the reign of William IV about whom I know very little, and I suspect will be unsellable. Oh well. Trying to break the dam loose.

        2. I’ve got a fairy Persuasion except that it’s pulling away from the original at full speed.

      1. Patricia Brigg’s Alpha and Omega series. The series ties loosely into her Mercy Thompson series. Book Five of Alpha and Omega (Burn Bright) turned Bran from Mercy’s caring surrogate father into the man who’s been waiting for her to grow up so he could marry her, Leah’s no longer a bitch (her entire character changed), Sage turned into a traitor for no reason other than the plot demanded it, and there are other things I’ve forgotten.

        I don’t know if I’ll read book six.
        Sorry this took so long to answer. We’ve been at Malice Domestic 2022 selling books.
        I’m also using my husband’s laptop.

    2. “And in today’s episode, everyone’s favorite character will be carrying the Idiot Ball the entire time!”

      Also closely followed by everyone’s favorite, the Designated Villain Ball…

  14. I know what you mean, but you have to admit that it is a little ironic coming from the author of What if He Were to Pick Me? : – )

    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?)

    Which, if I understand how these things work, would make Jane an heiress. That might make for an interesting story. Jane has enough trouble recognizing people trying to take advantage of her as it is. Imagine if she were a target for fortune hunters…

    1. Yes, but this is more “Marriage is bad, and now they’ll never marry.” WHAT?
      Oh. You see, I ACTUALLY prefer the exacting fanfic to read. What if he were to pick me HIT ME BETWEEN THE EYES and demanded to be written. What was I supposed to do?

      1. Yeah, I understand. At the moment, “A Single Woman in Possession of a Good Fortune,” is begging for me to write it, while I’m trying to explain to my muse that we’re already scheduled out a year, and there’s no time…

    2. Perhaps the fairies in Iolanthe got annoyed earlier and that was one of their caprices.

      1. See, that’s an explanation. And people could do something fun with that.

        It’s possible to do EXTREMELY unlikely things, especially in fanfic, as long as you create verisimilitude around it.

    3. Not…really. The problem is that there’s barely enough money to sustain the Bennetts as they are now. The legacy MIGHT be enough to sustain just Jane living fairly plainly, but then the other sisters would still have to marry or figure something out, because even without entailment it all goes to the eldest, and there isn’t that much to begin with. Certainly not enough to sustain five adult females. Especially if they all want separate establishments.

      1. Huh? It supports both parents and all the daughters. If the father dies, how could it be reduced to supporting just one?

  15. I’ve had the sin of writing fan-fiction, and I got stuck having to edit bad slashfic. (Usual reason why I was doing this-because of a girl.) And, I made the mistake of being stuck near some yaoi slashfic writers at one of the earliest Yaoi-Cons (if I had to guess right, about ’04-’05) and listening to them talking about with glee some of the most abusive relationships you could think of…and these were all girls.

    There was the perverse fascination with gay sex. And if you thought guys would always make a fetish out of lesbians, that was nothing in comparison to what these girls would think of with guy-on-guy sex. Often with a very…physical and older male “breaking in” a younger and more effeminate male partner. And, in relationships that started out with borderline rape and worked into Stockholm Syndrome.

    There’s some stories that I still enjoy and I’m waiting with baited breath for more to be written. But, the stupid, it burns it burns so badly at times.

    1. Never had to edit any of that nonsense, and if a girl I was interested in asked me to I would just nope on out of her life, but in my time in online fandom I’ve run into exactly that kind of person. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a slash writer in most IPs, including LOTR.

      It’s one of the many reasons why I don’t take claims that women are more virtuous than men seriously.

    2. (Also, side note: this is one of the reasons that online fandom is so bonkersly woke–the writers don’t want to admit that they’re writing slash because it provides, ah, satisfaction, so instead they’re doing it for “representation” or whatnot.)

      1. Right. Some of us realize it’s a thing with the female mind. Females prefer written stories to movies, is all, but it is exactly the same as males being turned on by Lesbians. (YES there are exceptions, but it seems to be a weird kink in human sexuality, that’s all.)
        I had a massive argument with Gardner Dozois, because he was telling us how great this story was he’d just published. Yes, it was “planet of women”. I LOST MY MIND. I mean actively lost it. “You just publish these stories for the lesbian titilation, and then tell yourself women are peaceful. They’re stupid stories. And they’re no better than m/m slash. In fact, since most of your readers are female, come up with an excuse for planet of men, and give it equal opportunity.” (Hey, I was in a mood.)
        He actually argued with me that women DIDN’T want to read m/m. “That’s just disgusting” HOWEVER he also believed f/f is “just beautiful” and even straight women are turned on by it.
        He’d ASKED women. They’d told him that.
        …. I could have sent him addresses to slash sites written by married women for married women, but why? He’d probably think I’d faked them.
        There are none so blind as those who will not see.
        I, btw, have no argument with people who want to see or read this stuff. I just get upset when it invades “real” sf/f on stupid feminist “women are peaceful” excuses.

        1. Gals like m/m written for the same reason that dudes like f/f visual. You’re getting the thing that hits your buttons, in the area that hits your buttons.
          Guys are visual. Der.
          Gals are not easy to describe, but the mind-reading stuff in books? That hits it.

          Of *course* each is turned on by Sexy Time that has only the target demographic. It’s kind of like the romance writer advice to make the POV character a blank slate so folks can slot themselves into the character.

              1. Sometimes they’re just the folks who make those situations hellish, or they’ve always been lucky to be in *really* well led ones. (where any drama and ugly is handled before it gets really big, and quietly; they’re more rare than they use to be)

                1. Often, there’s a queen bee that’s in charge of everything in those circumstances. The queen bee has her court, the enforcers just below the court, the drones, and finally the whipping girls at the very bottom of the pile.

          1. Chuckle Chuckle

            I remember Barbara Hambly’s The Ladies Of Mandrigyn where Sun Wolf (an experienced mercenary captain) was shocked by the Bad Jokes he over-heard made by some women. 😆

          2. Work in a sewing factory or any job where most of your fellows are women. I did once. Boy did I get an education.

      2. A friend of mine theorized that the reason why you got the abusive, borderline impossible stories with just boys in them (or the much older male/younger female ones) was that many of them grew up under teachers and “role models” that made it clear that Boys Were Evil and Heterosexual Sex Is Bad. They would internalize their desires for something that was impossible to have-and since they couldn’t have it, they didn’t have to feel guilty that they never got it.

  16. I still wonder how the switcheroo I pulled in the current WIP will affect readers. The entire first twenty some odd chapters were about survival, protecting the innocent, and *escape.* Then in act II we find out that escape may not be the best idea (or even remotely survivable), and remaining and rebuilding is a thing.


    There may or may not be red herrings in the subplots worked in that I’m now assuming will need some heavy editing to not suck once the editapocalypse (that needs to happen) occurs after the last chapter is posted. I can see ways to show character growth, foreshadowing, and plot twists in other people’s writing. Yet somehow my own work is often like stumbling through heavy fog.

    Probably because I am too close to the story right now. Or that could be the constant migraines. Eh. All I know is, there are two chapters that need to be written today. And I can’t fob the job off on anyone else.

    1. As one of the readers, it made sense in the setup, at least to me. It also doesn’t preclude, potentially re-taking earth in the future (even if it’s a far-distant future.) Perhaps it helps to think of this: The problem wasn’t getting off the station. That was secondary. The problem was the power was failing and the protagonist could not fix it himself. He thought the solution was to get off the station. New information presented itself… different conclusions are being drawn.

  17. Of course, some of the time fanfic authors break the existing relationships because a different pairing had way more chemistry in canon and the canon pairing(s) was/were flat and boring. Classic example is pairing Harry Potter with Hermione Granger, rather than having him ending up with Ginny Weasley while Hermione marries Ron Weasley. Judging from the popularity of the EWE tag on AO3 (“Epilogue? What Epilogue?”), apparently I’m not the only one who thought, all the way up through book four or five, that Harry and Hermione would end up together in canon.

    Now, I could go on a rant about the “Weasley bashing”, most of which is a variant of Die For Our Ship. What would you call it? Pick Up the Villain Ball For Our Ship? Something like that. Annoys me to no end. But the ones where Harry and Hermione slowly fall in love with each other, while Ginny realizes her crush on Harry was a silly schoolgirl crush and gets over it as she matures? Those are actually fun to read, because that feels more true to the characters than the ending that Rowling ended up going with.

    1. The problem is that apparently Hermione was paired off with a Ron type because author paired off with Ron types. But she stayed married with a Neville, so why???

      I mean, I am sure the real answer is “teenage hormones, filtered through author” but your characters can’t talk about that much.

      I think Rowling should have let Hermione date and left the marriage question open. Heck, same thing for most of them. It was like she could not let the shippers win, and that was dumb. Leave the theories open, and you can ignore them and grab the money.

    2. At the risk of jumping into very dangerous waters here…

      I always thought that Ron/Hermione had more chemistry than Harry/Hermoine. I’ve always gotten the impression that Ron spends a lot more time with Hermione than Harry does; note that in all of the books except for 2, by the time Harry meets up with the Wesleys, Hermione is already with them. Also, Ron is the one who makes Hermione mad in Book 4 by “not noticing she’s a girl,” and then Ron is the one who gets mad when he realizes that Hermione is dating someone else.

      (Incidentally, the best argument I’ve read against the R/Hr ship wasn’t that Ron didn’t deserve Hermione, but that Hermione didn’t deserve Ron. The author felt that, after the bird incident in Book 6, R/Hr was too much like Ron ending up with his abuser.)

      I agree about Ginny, though. Harry suddenly deciding he was in love with her was definitely a WTF moment, and it makes more sense that she would have a celebrity crush on Harry when she first met him but would eventually come to see him like another brother. My preferred Harry ship has always been with Luna. I liked the conversation at the end of Book 5 where she comforts him after Sirius dies and tells him about her mom’s death. It felt like those two got each other on a level that Ron and Hermione didn’t.

      1. The Harry/Hermione was “signaled” in the early books, mostly via The Hero Gets The Girl (think like “singing in the rain”) but I also felt like Luna was a much better match for Harry.

        Now if Harry was a good match for Luna, that’s another question. 😀

        1. Somebody pointed me to an excellent YouTube video about how Ron was done dirty by the movies, and then the comments included a rather extensive list of “Rowling material that sets up Ron/Hermione, from the first book onward.” Which I thought was fair. But also showed that Rowling was perhaps a bit over-subtle, since I didn’t even remember most of them having happened.

          However, there was also an extensive list of “how Hermione and Ron’s characterizations by Rowling appear to have been changed in later books to be more like the movies,” which I think was the real problem. Ron does tend to become less important and powerful as the books go on, and Hermione seems to get more and more unopposed power.

      2. Personally, I would have married them all off to someone else. Then I contemplate the possibilities. . . or rather how much we see of them. . . Susan Bones? But she really got only one moment to shine, and while it did shine, theorizing about how she’s a possible would be me projecting onto a cypher.

  18. I can see fic writers justifying different couples if the original author hated romance and only paired everyone off for a cash grab second generation sequel. I’ve enjoyed fics like that.

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