Links Roundup for 23 May 2012

Here’s a roundup of stories about fanfic that might be of interest to fans:

  • Fan fiction has been widely discussed online, but the recent discussions surrounding the highy visible success of Fifty Shades of Grey continues to take that discussion to new places with, unfortunately, new misinformation. One example is an aside in a discussion of changes in publishing that describes fan fiction as “author-approved online ‘mash-ups’ by fans of cult novels.” Another is the suggestion in a Huffington Post interview that fan fiction has only ever been written for sci-fi and fantasy genres. Still as this “concert preview” that focuses on fan fiction written for Def Leppard demonstrates, there are certainly going to be fewer people than ever who have never heard of it.
  • That visibility suggests that efforts like Social Samba’s “SagaWriter” tool will become increasingly common, though also that fan fiction is going to be less about fans and more about marketing. “One day TV networks might have budgets to hire social TV teams as big as their main writing teams, but for now a show like The Walking Dead could easily make a Saga where you get to talk to your favorite character while trying to avoid getting eaten.” The platform allows for interactive storytelling, but not, it would seem, fan originated stories. Explains SocialSamba CEO Aaron Williams, “Within our tool you can’t use copyrighted material. We follow the same DMCA rules that everyone else does. We see TV shows and other storytellers have interest in creating fan fiction. The WB adding Big Lebowski characters to Xtranormal, the fact that they are taking steps like this was a good thing to point to for us. It means its good for the brand. For us we see that wave coming, brands or storytellers can skin to look like their brand and embed in whatever platform they use to reach out to fans.”
  • Other people are being more thoughtful about the fan fiction that already exists. Wired Magazine contributor Clive Thompson posted ruminations on how fan fiction writers are creating “paracosms”, using the Brontë sisters’ early writing as an example, and cited evidence that “MacArthur fellows were twice as likely as ‘normal’ nongeniuses to have” created paracosms as children. Thompson warned though that “we have to stop denigrating it” if society is to reap the rewards of such play.
  • Britain’s The Guardian in the meantime suggested that authors must value fan work in today’s marketplace. “[T]he success of a novel such as Fifty Shades of Grey is far less surprising to anyone who understands the dynamics of fandom than to the mainstream publishing industry…That it was fan-fiction based in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilightverse is beside the point. That it was chosen by fans and made successful through their support is far more significant. Because what fans want above all else – what in fact defines the very essence of fandom – is ownership of that which we adore.” What’s more “The publishers that survive will be the ones that understand that their role is to amplify the signal of those artists already chosen by fandom. The writers who succeed will be the ones who are there day in and day out, as much a part of fandom as any other fan, and on first name terms with the neighbours.”

If you’d like to help out people still learning about fan fiction, why not write about it on Fanlore? Additions are welcome from all fans.

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