Today’s Quote: It Is Better To Fail In Originality

Now this gives me another reason to think that maybe it’s time for me to take a step beyond the fandom world, beyond the world of fan fiction. No?

I do value originality more than anything. One thing I can’t stand is imitation. No matter how good it looks, it’s still an imitation. So what is fan fiction then? Is it an imitation or is it an original work inspired by one’s obsession over a particular subject (fandom, OTPs, etc)? The answer depends from what angle you look at it. As the original author of the fandom, you might look down at fan fiction and label the writers as copy caters. But as fans of the fandom who don’t feel completely satisfied with the original materials (i.e Dawson’s Creek and Candy Candy), you might find fan fiction to be a gift from heaven, offering you a brand new perspective on the material.

These two quotes from wiki perfectly capture the essence of what fan fiction is. However, there is one part from the first quote, about the motivation of fan fiction writers, that I don’t quite agree. But I will save that for another discussion.

Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.
Lev Grossman, TIME, July 18, 2011

Media scholar Henry Jenkins explains the correlation between transmedia storytelling and fan fiction:

The encyclopedic ambitions of transmedia texts often results in what might be seen as gaps or excesses in the unfolding of the story: that is, they introduce potential plots which can not be fully told or extra details which hint at more than can be revealed. Readers, thus, have a strong incentive to continue to elaborate on these story elements, working them over through their speculations, until they take on a life of their own. Fan fiction can be seen as an unauthorized expansion of these media franchises into new directions which reflect the reader’s desire to “fill in the gaps” they have discovered in the commercially produced material.

How does the general public feel about fan fiction? Does the public opinion lean more toward the original creators or the fans? Based on my own limited research, the answer seems to be divided almost equally. Some people think fan fiction writers are a bunch of lazy people who like to piggyback on someone else popular creation, but others think that fan fiction writers are truly talented individuals who haven’t truly realized their potential.

In the end, fan fiction (and fan art) will continue to create a dichotomy for as long as they exist.

Does this mean I’m going to stop writing fan fiction? Not a chance. At least not in the near future.

Today's A New Day

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” Herman Melville #Quote

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2 thoughts on “Today’s Quote: It Is Better To Fail In Originality

  1. i think its ok to create fanfics so long the characters or background are credited to the oringinal writers. same for fanart so readers have a clear idea.

    fanfics fill the gaps left by original writers. in fact i learnt more about the story from fanfics than originals

    • I totally agree with you. I had never written anything before, aside from school’s assignments, until my dissatisfaction with Dawson’s Creek compelled me to start writing my first fan fiction.

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