ladybrooke: (Default)
[personal profile] ladybrooke
Is it merely the opposite of fanfiction?

The word original has several meanings, but in the context of original fiction, the following is the most important:

3. arising or proceeding independently of anything else: an original view of history.

Definition , original numbering kept in place.

In order to be considered original fiction, the story must consist of something that has arisen independently of anything else. That is to say, it must not be based on any preexisting ideas or books. This has been the dividing line between fanfiction and original fiction for decades.

In reality, all of the the so-called original fiction is not original and publishable by any grand idea that the author had, inventing everything in the book from scratch. The fiction category at bookstores and libraries would be much smaller if that were the case. It is publishable because the character did not come from media released recently.

How can people, as readers and writers, say that fan fiction is lesser because it does not contain original characters, but turn around and write stories that contain characters that are not original? The fact that Tolkien’s books were published in the 1900s does not mean that if a person takes Argon or Aragorn and writes a story about them, that character is automatically less original than if somebody takes the Henry VIII and writes a book about him. In fact, it is arguable that any work featuring Argon would automatically include a more original character, by sheer virtue of the fact that save Tolkien and perhaps his family, the world knows far less about Argon than is known about Henry VIII. More must be invented to write a story featuring him than must be invented for a story featuring Henry VIII.

Historical people, legendary people, and mythological characters are no more original than any character from a book published this century, regardless of how much work an author has to put into making that character come to life. Regardless of if you’re writing Henry VIII or Sir Frederick Tilney, Guinevere or Dindrane, Aphrodite or Bia, the work put in does not make them an original character. A writer cannot claim that they came up with the idea of Aphrodite, the idea is laughable.

The difference between original fiction and fanfiction therefore lies in the matter of copyright dates. Nobody accuses Shakespeare of writing fanfiction, though Romeo and Juliet was very much a play based on a preexisting poem. But nobody at the time was thinking of copyrights, much like modern people don’t think of copyrights when it comes to claiming Guinevere or Bia for a story. Fanfiction is only as Historical Fiction, and for a person to look down upon it merely because it does not include all original characters and is based on preexisting media shows a lack of understanding of many of the major players and themes in modern day literature. Unless, of course, the person also looks down upon Historical Fiction and any book that mentions a person, mythological, legendary, or historical, who the author did not come up with.

So who is ready to criticize Rowling for Nicholas Flamel, Yolen for King Arthur, and Gregory for using the Tudors?

Yes, I'm back. I brought you all a nice, shiny 500 word essay on original characters in original fiction, non-original characters in original fiction, and fanfiction. Hopefully, I don't forget my password again.
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