Saturday, January 24, 2015

Rambling Thoughts on Fan-Fiction

Like many of the mistakes I talk about here on T.T.P, this one started off with a television obsession. Namely, the CW's Vampire Diaries - a teenage vampire, night time soap opera, which would be terrible if not for the fact that I, for the sake of honesty will admit, absolutely love. I was sold on it from the first episode and in classic style, managed to chew through an entire catalog of the 120 episodes currently available in little over three weeks. I should be embarrassed but I did it, so no harm in admitting it now I suppose.

I'm not telling you this to persuade you into the same demented marathon watching I engaged in, but to convey how deeply engrossed I'd become. I was a lost cause. Have an hour to kill? Throw on another episode! Start a new book? Nah... I'll just stay up until 2 AM and finish up season three, thanks. Let's just say it was an unhealthy addiction and after that kind of binge let's just say that withdrawal ain't easy.

So I did what I've always done - I sought out the books it was based on. Well, that was mistake number one because at least where T.V.D. is concerned those books are so incredibly different that it's hard to consider them as even occupying the same relative spaces. For starters, characters not only look entirely different but act differently as well. We aren't talking substituting a tertiary character for another or an eye color on a protagonist here. No, the TV show is a full blown re-imagining of a crappy novel that shares little more than some names while it loosely borrows a few plot points. Without the original to fall back on, I made what I now recognize as being the worst move of all - I downloaded some fan-fiction.

Ah, fan-fiction. An entire arm of literature born from adoring fans who can't be sated on the original content of a book, movie or television show alone. No. These rabid followers go one step further and feel like the only way to express their love is by taking creative control of the characters. In some cases it's to 'fix' a plot point that they felt was handled poorly and write up an alternative ending. In some cases it's a way to keep the story going for themselves and their group of like minded readers. In all cases, I can't stand the stuff. I knew this.

I downloaded it anyway...

...and it only took a page for me to realize what kind of train wreck I'd made myself audience to.

But did I stop? Of course I didn't! I read all thirty three pages of some of the most poorly written garbage I'd ever had the misfortune of laying eyes on*. Just know that every missed capitalization of a proper noun, every misuse of the words their, they're and there, every grotesque editing error was noticed. Pile that onto a story that was, for lack of a better description, absolutely freaking terrible, and I was shaken. How could this exist? Not all fan-fiction is this bad is it?

Well, I'm here to tell you that it is. Not based on this one title alone. Oh no, no, no my dears, I wouldn't ever make such a sweeping judgment of an entire genre based on one title and that's because when this one turned out to be so terribly pathetic I read three more. Yes. Three. All by different authors mind you. Every single one was a steaming pile of literary poo.

You probably think I'm a bit crazy, and while that's probably a true statement, this venture through Kindle Worlds did do two things for me. The first was that it cured me of my T.V.D. addiction, (at least enough so I'll be sated with the new weekly episode). The second? Well, this adventure has shown me the darkest depths of the Kindle store. Thankfully, I recognized it as a mistake early on and managed to escape relatively quickly. But do yourself a favor - if you ever find yourself with an itch you think that only fan-fiction can scratch you'll probably be better off sitting down and writing your own. Not only will you get the story you want, but with the bar set so incredibly low, you can kick it over to Amazon and make yourself a few bucks in the process.

This belongs to the entire genre of fan-fiction.
Be gone, foul beast!
*In an effort to be kind I'm not going to mention the author or title of the work here, just know that I didn't stumble into the Kindle store and download the first thing I saw. I took my time and downloaded one of the highest rated titles with a ton of glowing reviews. Outside of that, my only criteria was that it was based on the television program and not a spin out from the book characters which turned out to be the easiest part of the whole thing: Turns out I'm not the only person whose absolutely revolted by the books but loves the program. Go figure.

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