melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2010-04-10 02:49 pm

On original fic and fanfic

There are currently a couple of debates going around - about the problem of Sue-shaming and about mixing original fic and fanfic in communities and archives - that have combined with other stuff to make me want to write about original writing.

So, re: the debate going around about whether AO3 should allow original stuff in with the fanworks:

There are some people who want to keep a wall between original and fan fiction, and want to keep AO3 limited to fan writers. And I can see their point - I, too, am far less likely to read something if it's original: it's harder work to read, less likely to be id-tastic, when I'm in the mood for fanwork I don't want original, and either the average quality of original fic is less, or I simply don't have good enough filters for finding the good stuff with original as compared to fan work. Plus, many original writing communities are not only very different in culture to fanwriting communities, some of them are openly hostile to fanwriting, or to some of the values that my particular fanwriting community espouses.

The problem I have with that viewpoint is that the separation between original and fan work *isn't* a wall. It is, at best, a long sloping gradient with something on it that might be an attempt at a wall that has fallen over in places and wasn't very straight to begin with (and has only been there for a paltry few decades anyway.) The boundary between original and fan work is not a hard boundary. People have brought up historical RPF several times already, but as far as I'm concerned, it's only the tip of the iceberg.

I write stuff that is definitely fanfiction. I write stuff that is definitely original fiction. And I write stuff that, um, I have no bloody idea if it's one or the other.

And the thing that attracted me, as an author, to AO3, is that it's one archive where I don't have to worry if my fanwork is "enough" for it. Is it slashy enough, or too slashy? Shippy enough, or too shippy? Too porny or not porny enough? Too long or too short, not canonical enough, not finished enough, too crossovery, too script-y or meta-y or poem-y to be a proper story, not angsty enough, too much or not enough... on AO3 I can just put everything up, as a proper archive, without having to stress over categories.

I would love if "not fan-fic-y enough" was one of those categories I didn't have to worry about on AO3. And since - *for me* - the most important role of AO3 is to be an archive for fanwriters to universally preserve and organize their work, I want all the edge cases to be allowed; if that means blanket allowing original fiction (and I suspect it does), then so be it. I would, however, support a restriction that every author account must have at least one definite fanwork uploaded, to preserve the archive as primarily fannish and to filter out people who are hostile to fanfic culture. And a rule that any original work hosted on AO3 must allow derivative work.

And, sheerly out of curiosity (and not intended to be anyone's opinion on what should or shouldn't get posted at AO3): Here is a poll about some of those "edge" cases. What do you think, fandom-at-large? Original or fanwork? (And no, you don't get tickyboxes or third options. You must make a judgement! Like archives always make me do!)

Poll #2693 Is it original fic or is it fanfic?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 128


Historical RPF about dead people!

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Fanfic
90 (70.9%)

Original
37 (29.1%)

Non-historical RPF about living people!

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Fanfic
112 (88.2%)

Original
15 (11.8%)

Historical fic set in a specific place and time but with mostly-original characters (because the people I'm writing about went unrecorded by history!)

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Fanfic
14 (11.0%)

Original
113 (89.0%)

Fic set in the present with original characters, but all about their relationships with real celebrities, places, and/or current events!

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Fanfic
44 (34.9%)

Original
82 (65.1%)

A story set in fandom with characters who are all recognizeable fangirl achetypes!

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Fanfic
92 (73.0%)

Original
34 (27.0%)

A story based on a story my great-grandma wrote that was only ever published in a tiny edition!

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Fanfic
87 (69.6%)

Original
38 (30.4%)

A story based on something in my high school literary magazine!

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Fanfic
86 (69.9%)

Original
37 (30.1%)

Fic based on a friend's unpublished and unfinished original novel!

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Fanfic
99 (80.5%)

Original
24 (19.5%)

My original story that my friend pulished fic about before my story was finished!

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Fanfic
7 (5.5%)

Original
120 (94.5%)

A non-canon AU I wrote in my own original universe that uses fannish tropes like AMTDI or "five things that never happened"!

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Fanfic
53 (43.1%)

Original
70 (56.9%)

A story where my original characters meet fandom characters!

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Fanfic
125 (99.2%)

Original
1 (0.8%)

A story my original characters meet historical characters or celebrities!

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Fanfic
55 (44.4%)

Original
69 (55.6%)

A fusion where my original characters are put into a fandom-canon universe but no canon characters appear!

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Fanfic
119 (94.4%)

Original
7 (5.6%)

A crossover where my original characters meet me and my friends!

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Fanfic
29 (23.6%)

Original
94 (76.4%)

A crossover where my original characters meet my friend's original characters!

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Fanfic
63 (51.2%)

Original
60 (48.8%)

A story about recognizable living real people where all the names have been elided or changed!

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Fanfic
56 (44.8%)

Original
69 (55.2%)

A story about anthropomorphized objects or concepts!

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Fanfic
39 (31.5%)

Original
85 (68.5%)

A story about anthropomorphized *fannish* objects or concepts!

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Fanfic
92 (73.6%)

Original
33 (26.4%)

A retelling of a myth or fairy tale where all of the names, the setting, most of the details and the ending are different!

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Fanfic
42 (33.3%)

Original
84 (66.7%)

A retelling of a myth or fairy tale to make it work in the framework of my original universe or with my original characters!

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Fanfic
33 (26.6%)

Original
91 (73.4%)

An obvious parody/pastiche of a published author's style and subject matter that doesn't reference any of their characters or settings!

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Fanfic
57 (45.6%)

Original
68 (54.4%)

A side story to my fanfic epic, about two original characters from the epic, which based only on internal evidence could be set in a non-fannish world!

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Fanfic
91 (72.8%)

Original
34 (27.2%)

A novel set in [fandom A] that's all about original characters who live around the world from canon events so the only explicit reference to canon is passing allusions to distant events!

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Fanfic
112 (88.9%)

Original
14 (11.1%)

An AU story based around minor OCs from an AU of an AU of an AU that has since been thoroughly jossed!

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Fanfic
95 (75.4%)

Original
31 (24.6%)

A novel about characters that started out as fanfic OCs or AUs of canon characters but I have deliberately moved outside the fandom context!

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Fanfic
24 (19.2%)

Original
101 (80.8%)

A shared world written by many authors with no "primary" text or "series bible"!

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Fanfic
28 (22.6%)

Original
96 (77.4%)

Biblefic!

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Fanfic
106 (84.1%)

Original
20 (15.9%)

A slashy story about an angel that draws heavily on traditional Western angelology and eschatology, including [list of canon texts in original sense of canon texts], but is not based on specific text!

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Fanfic
32 (25.8%)

Original
92 (74.2%)

A Lovecraftian horror story that mentions the Necronomicon but is otherwise completely original!

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Fanfic
48 (38.7%)

Original
76 (61.3%)

A story that is direct commentary or critique of tropes, plots and characterizations specific to a very small subgenre but with all made-up proper names!

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Fanfic
41 (33.9%)

Original
80 (66.1%)

A novel that is mostly an original work but in which the Doctor makes a cameo (because he can!)

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Fanfic
62 (49.6%)

Original
63 (50.4%)

A professionally published story using other authors' characters and settings that the pro author loudly insists is not fanfic!

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Fanfic
104 (84.6%)

Original
19 (15.4%)



(I will stop there before poll gets even longer, but for the record, none of these are hypothetical cases - they are all either things I personally have written, or things other people who identify as fanwriters have done that I could point you to.)

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