Do you read any fanfiction? I’ve noticed your somewhat-professed interest in anime, and fanfiction is a pretty prevalent subset of anime fandom, and fiction = writing, so it kind of all connects upon itself, leading back to you. If so, what are some of your favorites?
Also, do you think writing fanfiction is useful for honing writing skills(as your characters are already established and you’re given somewhat rigid specifications), or not useful(because of the previous parenthetical aside, and because that gives you less room to be truly creative)?
Er, no, I don’t read fanfiction.
I think that all writing is useful for honing writing skills. I think you get better as a writer by writing, and whether that means that you’re writing a singularly deep and moving novel about the pain or pleasure of modern existence or you’re writing Smeagol-Gollum slash you’re still putting one damn word after another and learning as a writer.
(I just made that up. I imagine it would go something like: “Oh, the preciouss, we takes it our handssses and we rubs it and touchess it, gollum….no, Smeagol musst not touch the preciousss, the master said only he can touch the precioussss…. bad masster, he doess not know the precious like we does, no, gollum, and we wants it, we wants it hard in our handses, yesss…” etc etc)
To be honest, I don’t really have much of an opinion on fan fiction. I don’t actually have much of an opinion on people using my characters in fan fiction. For that matter I barely have an opinion on “slash” fiction (although I still find the idea of Good Omens slash fiction fairly mindboggling) (er, and Knight Riderslash fiction. I think that Knight Riderslash fiction is pretty weird, to be honest).
As long as people aren’t commercially exploiting characters I’ve created, and are doing it for each other, I don’t see that there’s any harm in it, and given how much people enjoy it, it’s obviously doing some good. It doesn’t bother me. (I can imagine a time and circumstances in which it might. But it doesn’t.)
Either way, it’s a good place to write while you’ve still got training wheels on - someone else’s character or worlds. I remember, as a nine-year-old, writing a Conan-meets-some-Ken-Bulmer-sword-and-sorcery-characters. And it’s fun to head over into someone else’s playground: I’ve written several stories over the years set in other people’s worlds (including an episode of Babylon 5); and if I don’t miss the deadline, I’m meant to be writing a Sherlock-Holmes-meets-the-Chulhu-mythos story very soon.
I do understand that there are grey areas, and I think of fan fiction as existing in them. I know authors who love fan fiction based on their stuff. I know authors who have formally attempted to stamp it out. I’m just sort of [shrug] about it.
I don’t honestly mind if you stick (for example) Shadow or the Marquis De Carabas into a story intended for your friends, and not for commercial exploitation. I’d rather you put a note at the end saying who the characters belonged to, which most fan fiction people seem pretty good about doing anyway. But I’d hope you’d see it as a privilege and not a right.
(On a similar subject: Every now and then someone wins a local short story competition using a story or plot of mine, and I hear about it (often when they send me embarrassed notes, years later) and I try not to grin, and to look angry, but I haven’t managed it yet. I keep meaning to tell Marv Wolfman that I won a school essay competition when I was twelve with a horror-comic plot of his….)
What are your thoughts about fan fiction? Based on your work or in general? Written solely for one’s own personal pleasure or posted on the internet? Would you say that an established author who writes something based on another author’s work (such as your own visit to H.P. Lovecraft’s world) is participating in “fan fiction”, or is it a different phenomenon? -Joanna
I don’t have much of an opinion about fan fiction. And I’m not sure where the line gets drawn — you could say that any Batman fan writing a Batman comic is writing fan fiction.
As long as nobody’s making money from it that should be an author or creator’s, I don’t mind it. And I think it does a lot of good.
I’ve read that you allow fan fiction of your works, and I was curious as to why? Most authors don’t allow fanfic because of concern for losing their rights.
Why? Because fan fiction is fan fiction. I don’t believe I’ll lose my rights to my characters and books if I allow/fail to prevent/turn a blind eye to people writing say Neverwhere fiction, as long as those people aren’t, say, trying to sell books with my characters in. I don’t read it (and that way no-one has to wonder whether I stole the plot of something from their fanfic).
I don’t think my attitude on this is particularly uncommon among authors — I noticed the other day that JK Rowling doesn’t mind Harry Potter fan fiction. Except for the x-rated kind. (I’m sure there are people out there writing Harry Potter fan fiction that isn’t x-rated). On the other hand I consider it an author’s right to not want fan fiction and do everything the author can to stamp it out, if that’s what he or she wants. It’s one of those “your mileage may vary” things.
As a fledgling writer, I really wouldn’t spend too much time worrying that people will write fan fiction with your characters in. If they ever do, take it as a sign that you probably did something right and made some characters that people liked and believed in and wanted to write about. Or wanted to imagine in the nude. Or something.
Hello my name is Andrea bucy I have seen the moviestardustand I intend to read the book by you I was wondering if I could possible write a spinoff book that has some of the same characters and setting. But I wanted to get you permission first because if i were to get it published i don’t want someone coming after me cause i stole their ideas. I am prepared to offer you a deal if the book does sell i will offer you royalties of 60/40 50/50 or 40/60 i don’t write just for money but i realize that for some people like Jane Austen do and did go along in life and pay for many things by the money they make from their books. So i am asking you if we can maybe make a contract that says you have given me permission, only if you do give me permission, to use your ideas and work in my story and you will get credit for it.Pleas get back to me.
I’m not really sure where to start on this one. If you want to write fan fiction, you can. I don’t mind. Sequels and prequels and meetings and pairings and what have you. You can put it up on the web. But you can’t publish it commercially. You need to stay on the non-commercial side of the street, which means you can’t sell it, not even if, like Jane Austen, you’re in it for the big bucks. Otherwise bad things would happen, involving lawyers from publishers and lawyers from movie studios, and your week would be ruined. Trust me on this.
Dear Mr. Neil Gaiman: I wrote you once before (about what I cannot remember) and you are possibly the only author I’ve ever seen to actually take such a personal level with his/her readers. Thank you for that—now, to my M.O.: I am writing about a short story I plan on writing for my AP English course, and I know I want to expand upon that idea if it fleshes out the way I hope it will—however, it is (most grotesquely) a metafiction loosely based on AMERICAN GODS. I suppose I am asking for your blessing, and wanting to know if I get it published in my school’s literary arts magazine—is this plagiarism? Would it upset you to know a girl somewhere in the Midwest is taking characters you slaved over and gleefully bending them to her will? (I would, of course, give you credit for the original work.)
Considering your possible response to the previous question, I also wanted to know, in general, how do you feel about metafiction and its lesser appreciated (and usually for good reason—usually) cousin, fanfiction? Giggling teenaged writers aside, do you believe books like GRENDEL and ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDERSTERN ARE DEAD, ect. are as valid as totally new ideas? Or is it more intellectual to delve into the facets of existing work to find something new-ish? Do you think it fair for Anne Rice to become upset by her fans continuing the stories of Louis and Lestat where she left off in their own, amateur fictions? And how would you feel if you stumbled across a hypertext morass of misplaced modifiers and conjecture, detailing parts of characterization you did not state in your works? (I’ll have you know there are currently 220 fanfictions on “fanfiction.net” devoted to the SANDMAN series alone—Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes only beats you by two works.)I wanted your opinion as you are the inspiration for my work-in-mind (tenetively taken from Sam or Jaquel’s point of view—not directly detailing Shadow’s journey, but occuring within and around it, I suppose). Thank you for your time. Well, here goes nothing—I’m hitting SEND now.
No, I don’t mind. Have fun with it.
The last time I was foolish enough to say anything at all about fanfiction, a paragraph, taken out of context, was widely quoted on websites, and I got several hundred e-mails taking me to task for not understanding, appreciating or acknowledging that writing fanfiction was the highest and noblest aspiration of mankind. (I think I told someone who asked if writing fanfiction would be good for “honing writing skills” that of course it was, but if that was what he was writing for, he’d have to start writing his own stuff eventually. This was, I was told at length and by many many people, a terrible thing to say.)
So… yes, I think that playing with other people’s ideas and work is a perfectly valid way to make art. I also think it’s much wiser and safer to do it with ideas and work that are comfortably in the public domain if you want your work to be seen professionally.
Beyond that, go and read http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/02/long-occasionally-frustrating.asp and http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/02/you-know-i-should-know-better-than-to.asp . Which taken together are pretty much all I have to say on the subject, and include a paragraph of Gollum/Smeagol slash.
Public Radio’s SELECTED SHORTS has a podcast. (I’m subscribed.) This season has two of my stories coming up (one I even read for them). Check it out. First one, “The Thing About Cassandra”, comes up next week.
Longtime friend/collector Trevor Valle (he is the reason I have the Neilgaiman.com domain) is sick, and is selling off his Neil Gaiman collection to pay for medical care and living expenses while undergoing care.
Cat Mihos is helping Trevor by putting his things on ebay. There are rarities and collectors’ items: Original Marc Hempel KINDLY ONES pages, woodcuts, books, prints - even a one of a kind Jon Singer porcelain bowl, made with clay from beneath my house.
“When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn’t make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. “It’s all right” we whisper, “I’m here, I love you.” and we lie: “I’ll never leave you.” For just a moment or two the darkness doesn’t seem so bad.”—Neil Gaiman (via aintno-sunshine)
“I thought I could take off my clothes in front of the Degas nudes, and then Neil could draw me,” she said to the Museum people, as they began our tour.
They conferred, decided this would be just fine as long as the security cameras were turned off. Then they discovered that they couldn’t turn off the security cameras, so they had a man in a forklift come in and hang coffee cups over the security camera lenses in that room. And I sketched nude Amanda in chalks for ten minutes. Then I got in a cab and went over to WBUR Boston to record a bit I’m doing for THIS AMERICAN LIFE about Adventures and How I Don’t Have them.
“Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas—abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken—and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.”—Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman (via thehoundsoflovearehunting)
“Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses. You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened, not really. It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear — not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.”—Neil Gaiman (via sofuckingchuffed)
“Somehow she knew that you didn’t get many moments like this in your life: moments when you knew, without any doubt, that you were alive, when you felt the air in your lungs and the wet grass beneath your feet and the cotton on your skin; moments when you were completely in the present, when neither the past nor the future mattered.”—Neil Gaiman (via thechocolatebrigade)
“Stories are like spiders, with all the long legs, and stories are like spiderwebs, which man gets himself all tangled up in but which look so pretty when you see them under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each.”—Neil Gaiman “Anansi Boys” (via freshestsummergreens)