Tag Archives: fanfiction

Fun with “Canon AUs” in The Good Place

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The celestial, “afterlife bureaucracy” setting of The Good Place gives its storytelling a degree of elasticity you wouldn’t find in a non-fantasy series—as of the recently-completed third season, I’ve lost count of the number of times the story-world has been reset, rewound, rebooted, or generally bamboozled. And hey, if you’re writing in the realm of the ethereal, why wouldn’t you take every opportunity to play with spacetime? It turns out, you can get some very interesting character writing done within that cosmic framework and all the divergent paths and “what if?” narratives you can play with as you stretch and squish the Universe. So today let’s sit back with a tub of frozen yoghurt and look at how The Good Place, with all its timeline reboots, raises questions of nature and nurture, of fate and destiny, and even of soulmates, all while giving its writers a smart exercise in consistent characterisation and its audiences an endless parade of alternate versions of the same story—in many ways tapping into the methods, and the appeal, of the good ol’ Alternate Universe fanfiction. (Spoilers ahead!)

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Mary Sues Revisited, Part 2: Practically Perfect in Every Way

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[Mary Sues were the very first topic I wrote about on this blog, some years ago. I’d like to re-examine them with my current mindset, under the hopefully true impression that I’m now older and wiser]

The long and short of my opinion on self-insert characters in teen girls’ fanfiction is really: man, who the heck cares? Writing stories that are deeply self-indulgent, highly autobiographical and borrow heavily from other people’s work is an essential (if sometimes embarrassing) part of the growth of a writer. Maybe these young authors will use their trashy OC fanfic as a practicing ground and eventually move on to write Man Booker Prize winners, maybe they’ll just keep it up as a fun creative hobby. If they’re having fun and not hurting anyone—except for annoying the Fandom Guardians, or whoever it is that gets so up in arms about these things—I see no reason they should not be left to their own devices, especially when placing yourself in a fantasy can often be a great source of safety and self-esteem.

If a Mary Sue is defined as being a) an author self-insert, and b) unbelievably perfect and wonderful and ideal and with great cosmic significance, I’m going to try and examine the second point today. Continue reading

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Mary Sues Revisited, Part 1: Insert Self Here

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[Mary Sues were the very first topic I wrote about on this blog, some years ago. I’d like to re-examine them with my current mindset, under the hopefully true impression that I’m now older and wiser]

People have been talking about Mary Sues a lot these days, mostly in the great kerfuffle of a conversation that sprang up around Rey, the undisputed heroine of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The young lady did very much awaken the force, and it seems to have upset some folks… though equally as many (if not more) folks have been keen to rebut that Rey being a Mary Sue is a ridiculous accusation, mostly pointing out that she’s a perfectly reasonable and un-Sueish character compared to the male heroes of previous movies. And even if she is some sort of Mary Sue, what’s so wrong with that anyway? Continue reading

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Art of the Ship Tease

Humans have a deep-set desire to watch people fall in love but a pathological upchuck reaction to watching couples. Thus, fictional love stories must traverse the middle ground for want of avoiding projectile fan-splurk and negative energy that could unbalance the universe, and this is where we find the ship tease.

For the uninitiated, “ship” is (supposedly) short for “relationship” and has become a verb of its own. To ship a pair of characters is to want to see them get together (the nature of this is not crucial; whether they are settling down to adorable domesticity or engaging in casual angry copulation is up to the individual).

In almost every piece of fiction you will find some semblance of a love story. There are whole genres for romance of course, be they comic or tragic, but it seeps into every genre and medium. Basically, we’re in love with love. I’m sure there are countless psychological papers laying out reasons for this. Maybe we want to instil hope in the world and receive warm fuzzies. Maybe we want to imagine that one half of the couple is us. Maybe we just like excuses to gush at our TV screens/books as we cry into our cats about how truly alone we are. Continue reading

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Fanfic: A Shady Area

Ooh Mister Darcy, comic by Kate Beaton

Credit to Kate Beaton

You know fanfiction. You’ve heard it in whispers from the grimier corners of the internet and you’ve heard that it’s poorly written, explicit sludge hatched together by greasy nerds and manic fangirls frothing at the mouth.

I humbly beg to differ.

Fanfiction is often shot down as being the uninspired work of slimy fangirls, but can we talk about the amazing fact that it even exists? No one is paid or asked to write it, it’s just created for the love of it as a tribute to the impact the original work had on its audience. Someone somewhere watches or reads something and it sticks in their brain and stirs into their imagination, switching on a light that was not there before and setting the creative process in motion.

It’s the ultimate compliment to the creator—one day, hopefully, I shall be published, and I’ll lie awake at night wondering of somewhere in the world my characters and story are rolling around in a reader’s mind, soon to come out again in a piece of creative expression. Continue reading

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The Simply Perfect Adventures of Mary Sue

There’s a girl we’ve all come across at one time or another. She lives next door,is average in every way but simultaneously stands out from the crowd and attracts the attention of every major character she  breathes the same air as. She is ridiculously beautiful, intelligent, talented and spins the entire plot, however implausibly, on her dainty little finger. She seems to have it all but is the most hated character type in any fan circle… and her name is Mary Sue.

It’s a strange phenomenon, saturating many genres of literature, especially things aimed at the YA audience and fuelled somehow by magic… but not that strange when you think about it.

First of all, some people may not know who Mary Sue is. Let me explain. It’s perfectly simple.

But not as perfect as my artwork

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