Fanfiction vs. Original Fiction

By Nightsong

The other day, a friend of mine informed me that he 'doesn't read much video game-based fiction.' This sounded a bit odd to me; this person's an avid reader, and a video game fanatic to boot. When asked why anyone would avoid reading VG fanfics, he said that they just weren't as deep as what he liked to read. ...That statement led to a rather long and perhaps incoherent argument - the reasons I'm going to point out here should be better than "U R Suxx0R!!" I hope. And if they're not... you can just deal with it, and agree with me anyway. That's the safest thing to do, after all.

The reasoning my friend used to back up his non-interest was fairly simple; there's a lot of crappy VG fanfiction out there. Well, damn. I suppose one can't really argue against that, at least not on its own. There are a lot of l33t fics out there that simply revive Aerith, Search for Schala (not as many these days, since so many of the new generation or RPGers never even picked up Chrono Trigger... blasphemy), and have incredibly poor grammar and spelling doing it. But by saying that he'd rather read published stuff because there's crap out there... he's ignoring all the horrible, HORRIBLE original, published fiction out there. Sure, you may not have any Lavos Core-quality grammar (editors typically fix those problems, though it's quite possible that "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner is an exception to that rule), but what do you get instead? The Great Gatsby by William Fitzgerald. Sure, you may not get a fic that completely bastardizes Icy Brian himself, but you get Pride and Prejudice, the single most boring book I've ever seen in my life. My point? It's completely impossible to judge an entire genre based on a statement that can encompass all genres.

I've also heard the argument that fanfiction writers, being amateurs, are simply not capable of weaving as complex a tale as the published authors. This one is possibly a little harder to refute. But on the opposite side of the coin I used last paragraph, I would say you can't exclude an entire genre from that label anymore than you could include all of it. Stories like Nanaki's Origin/Aftermath of Mount Woe, Mox Jet's The Planeswalkers, and Cain's Chrono Continuum (I realize I'm just plugging the other authors in the WoI fanverse I write in, but hey, it's still true) are equal to a number of 'professional' books I've read. The only difference is that it's not as comfortable to sit at your computer screen reading them as it is for me to read the latest in the Death Gate Cycle or Salvatore's Forgotten Realms books. In fact, in several cases, I've seen fanfiction authors create a more complex tale than original authors. Now, I'm not going to go into the argument about whether or not an author should use the original characters; I've seen it done well, and I've seen it done abysmally. But for the sake of my example, I'm going to refer to a fic that basically leaves the original characters out of it: Mox Jet's "The Planeswalkers." Now, what do we have here? A fic featuring a cast of completely original characters (and a few supporting roles from Chrono Trigger characters), set against a backdrop of Chrono Trigger. Been done before, I realize, in the form of the ever-popular "Next Generation" fanfics. But wait! This fic takes place during the game, using both it and later on crossing over with Nanaki's Origin/Aftermath story to create one of the most complex plots I've ever seen. Believe me, no original novel has ever inspired the goosebumps I felt in the chapters where I saw Mox Jet's characters working from a different angle with the same events described in both the Chrono Trigger game itself and in Naki's fic.

And perhaps that's my main point; what separates fanfiction from original, making it a unique and interesting genre. You get to read about other events in worlds you already know and love. You get to see things explained that were never explained in the game; basically, you can see the gaming 'world' take on a whole new dimension. Oh, and it's free.

What's not to love, what's not to respect?


WARNING: If you feel a burning desire to flame Mr. Nightsong after hearing the points of his latest debate, you should hold that thought, and read it again. If you find you still do not agree with what he has to say, you may get bent, and keep your comments to yourself. That is all.

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