The Fanfiction IssueInterviews With the FandomThe Fanfiction Issue - RSS 2.0
Klingon Rock Band
Though outwardly tolerant of all participants and protective of their work, fanfiction communities appear to be just as hierarchical as any other group. Andrew says that most fandoms tend to have other fandoms they look down upon, explaining that he himself had no time for manga fanfics "written by Anglophone teenagers." Indeed, age seems to play a key role in how certain works are viewed. Andrew suggests that pieces written by teenage girls are automatically judged to be worse than similar stories written by adults. Likewise, certain topics and sources can be exhausted by their own popularity, resulting in authors who try to write more on the subject simply being dismissed. "Some fictions have been done to death," Tiut says. "I try to give each one a fair chance, but some of them just end up ridiculous."
Oddly enough, Andrew believes that inter-genre squabbles are actually more common than inter-fandom strife. "There's something of a feeling among some quarters that drama and angst are more 'proper' than comedy and humor," he says. Although writers of fanfiction are providing works for a self-contained community who will not necessarily enforce literary standards on them, it seems there is still a trend for passing judgement on the style of a work or its subject matter.
The other side of this division, though, is a strong sense of social unity through writing. "Fanfiction is ... just, well, more friendly. People trade stories for Christmas, like a Secret Santa - 'Dear Santa, I would like a story about Picard forming a Klingon Rock Band!'" Dean told me. "It's goofy, often silly things like this that form the source of most terribad fanfiction that gets passed around outside of the community it was intended for." There are, he suggests, a number of active fanfiction writers penning the worst stuff they can possibly imagine simply to mess with the heads of those not in on the joke.
Of course, it's unlikely that every piece of poorly written fanfiction was written that way on purpose. FanFiction.net, a huge, organized fanfiction depository for readers and authors alike, is unmoderated, a decision which Andrew says naturally leads to the appearance of "everything from professional-quality writing to barely punctuated Draco/Hermione songfics." The preponderance of unmoderated communities often entails a lack of editing and a complete absence of constructive writing advice, something that Tiut feels is a big problem. "There isn't really a lot [of constructive criticism] in the internet writing community, and especially not when it comes to fanfiction," he says. Tiut believes that writers should ask for criticism from their readers, but are often too afraid to do so. In Andrew's opinion, the absence of constructive editing is also doing writers a serious disservice. "[Unmoderated sites] tend to strike me as less supportive than sites where you feel [they] really care about helping you develop as a writer," he says.