Thoughts

Thoughts #7: Pros & Cons of Fanfiction

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Today I want to talk about a hotly debated topic in the world of books: fanfiction.

Some love it, some hate it. I think it depends on what the topic is, and the skill of the person writing it – as well as the reader’s preferences. For instance, a fun and unusual scenario that (reasonably) takes the characters of one series outside of their usual constraints might be great to read, even if the writing isn’t brilliant. And a brilliantly written scene that completely sticks to the canon of the universe it is set in might not be so exciting.


Now I have to admit, I haven’t read a lot of fanfiction. Most of what I have read has been Mass Effect and Dragon Age fanfiction, so not strictly related to books, but I think the pros and cons will be the same.

Dean approves of fanfiction. And there’s a lot of it out there. Especially concerning him and a certain angel.

Pros:

  • Want to read more about a specific character? Missing that favourite series that finished several years ago? How about some fanfiction to tide you over!
  • If you’re interested in writing, but a little overwhelmed by the idea of inventing completely new worlds, characters etc, then fanfiction can be a great way of practicing your writing style.
  • It often connects fans, particularly those who ‘ship’ certain characters together, or want more information on a minor character.
  • Some people are amazing writers and really capture the essence of a character, or a perfect moment, or something you wanted to happen so badly in the series.
  • It’s just plain fun. There’s nothing harmful about it (unless someone is trying to rip off another author’s work) and allows the writer to create new scenarios in which the characters would not normally find themselves within the limits of the book/TV show/film etc.

I would’ve thought Sheldon was a big fanfiction fan.

Cons:

  • It lead to certain books, that are now widely published and bestsellers, when there are so many amazing, original writers out there.
  • Some of it is just awful. Awful. Anyone can write it, there’s no filter.
  • So yeah, there are the amazing ships – and then the horrible ones. Ones that should never be, and make you want to gouge your eyes out.
  • Some say that fanfiction is lazy. I personally don’t agree with that – some people have great writing styles but can’t think up an original plot, and fanfiction just works for them.
  • Some fanfictions don’t even bother to keep a character’s traits, and essentially just use a character that looks exactly like the one they’re writing about, but acts exactly as the writer wants. Which is no fun and pretty unrelatable for the reader.
And yes, I have written fanfiction before. Just the one piece though, and it’s simple and short, and I was trying to get over my Mass Effect and FemShep/Garrus feels.

So what do you think about fanfiction? Are there any elements that annoy you e.g. certain pairings, moving too far away from canon, AU (alternate universe) fanfictions? Let me know in the comments!

Thoughts

Thoughts #6: Video Game Novelisations

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I love video games. I’ve always played them, ever since I was a kid. My dad has always worked in IT, so we always had a PC at home. From a young age I was playing Doring Kindersley games, Mia Mouse – and Tomb Raider, Return Fire, Thief or Age of Empires.

It’s a hobby that has continued throughout the years. Some of my favourite games include the Mass Effect series, Tales of Symphonia, The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker, The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim, Borderlands and most recently, L.A. Noire.

       

I am, or more aptly was, a big online gamer. I’ve been playing Lord of the Rings Online on and off for two years, and have played so many different MMOs in the past. That was why I was so excited to read Ready Player One, a truly brilliant and completely geeky novel based in our future, where almost everyone escapes from their miserable real life to the online universe known as OASIS.So really, what could be better than combining two interests of mine, video games and reading?

Well, in all honesty, it hasn’t been quite the successful venture I’d hoped for.

As I wrote in my review of Mass Effect: Ascension, when the Mass Effect series finished I was pretty disappointed. If you’re a fan of the games you will understand, but if you’re not: the premise of the game series is that every choice you make has a consequence. You are essentially in charge of the path the game takes, your actions have a real effect. So when Bioware promised that there would be over sixteen different endings for Mass Effect 3, and your actions throughout the entire trilogy would affect it, fans were excited. But what we actually got was essentially three endings that were exactly the same, apart from being different colours. There was so much backlash that Bioware released a patch to improve the ending and clear up so many unanswered questions.


Genuine reactions to the game ending.

It really wasn’t enough. I was left with this need for more Mass Effect: so what better to turn to than the books?

It would have been better for me to turn to fanfiction.

I’ve read some brilliant Mass Effect fanfiction (Garrus and FemShep. I ship it. Hard.) – and I plan on covering the subject of fanfiction in a future ‘Thoughts’ post. The writing in the four Mass Effect novelisations that I devoured soon after the series ended was clunky, the plots were paper thin and so full of holes, the characters (even those fleshed out in the games themselves) flat.

And honestly, video game books, just like the film adaptations, have a pretty bad reputation. I was surprised by the average rating of a lot of the novels on Goodreads. But despite all this, despite knowing that the quality won’t be great, that the authors are most likely in it for the money and link to an established series more than a love of the series itself, I will probably read more of these. I know that I’ll read any Mass Effect book I can get my hands on – and I’m keeping my eye out for Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim adaptations too (though I’m interested to see how a Skyrim book would work, since the main character is completely your own). It’s probably for the same reason that I’ve stuck with a series like the Sookie Stackhouse novels, even when the quality has gone downhill – I have some great memories and feelings associated with the series, and through reading the books I’m hoping to get them back. Mass Effect is truly one of those games where you get really attached to certain characters – especially as you can be responsible for their deaths if you’re not careful.

However, I’m sure there are plenty of gamers out there who aren’t readers. Seeing a novelisation of their favourite game series might encourage them to pick up the book – and maybe more books after that. If a book gets someone into reading, then who cares what that book is? It doesn’t matter what they’re reading, whether it’s good or not (although that is completely a matter of opinion), what matters is that they are reading. The reverse may be true also: although you’re less likely to pick the books up if you haven’t played the relevant game, as many assume a basic knowledge of the game’s plotlines; a video game novelisation may introduce someone to the game series who would not have played it otherwise.

And now I turn to you, my dear readers: do you read video game novelisations? If so, what have you thought of the ones you have read? Are there any video games you’d love to read a novelisation of? Please leave your thoughts and comments below, I’d love to hear them!


Atlas and P-Body hugs for anyone who comments!