When Good Writers Go Horribly Horribly Wrong
So last week, I got sucked into a universe in which I seemingly could not escape. It’s happened before, when I go looking for answers to questions I have, especially when working on fan fiction. While I love my fan fiction and thus, my shows that I write for, I don’t know everything. Therefore, I do some research.
Last week’s research started by looking up something on TV Tropes. If you have never been to TV Tropes, I suggest you basically kiss the rest of today and tomorrow goodbye, because this is the universe in which I fell and then could not escape. TV Tropes is a Wiki offshoot and I think we know how addicting Wikipedia can be, so take Wikipedia and combine it with everything you want to know about television, movies, and video games is thus here.
So there I was, on TV Tropes, looking for I don’t even remember at this point and of course, as I was reading, one particular story kept popping. It’s mentioned in nearly every single tropes page, not just in relation to the fan fiction that it is, but for…well…perhaps I should explain. I’ve talked about fan fiction before and you may think this is another fan fiction post (it’s not, actually) and certainly I’ve spoken about good fiction and bad fiction.
As a freelance aspiring wanna be writer, I made this blog to talk about being a writer and help other writers, though this is also for the point of freelancers too. As a writer of course, there are those stories that live in infamy; the proverbial Ed Wood movies of the creative writing world. As fan fiction is a creative writing outlet, there are of course those fan fictions of Ed Wood magnitude.
For instance, there’s the Get Smart porn fic (a true treasure for everyone on the Get Smart mailing list, especially when someone knew stumbles across it) and then there’s the Crystal Matrix series for ReBoot. I have yet to find the pinnacle for KOTOR or Ninja Turtles or TNG, but I’m sure they are out there.
And then…there’s the work that not only trumps all of these, but is almost like the reigning king (queen) of a fandom gone wrong. Two words, my friends –
I’m not even going to attempt to explain the story to you, only that if you are a true Harry Potter fan and love HP fan fiction and you have not read this…I’m going to ruin your childhood. In thinking about this post, I almost did want to explain the reasons why this fic is considered the worse possible offense to ever hit the Harry Potter fan fiction fandom.
And then I thought…there are some things in this world that can not be explained; only experienced.
Getting back to my point, this isn’t about bad fan fiction, this about bad writing in itself. As writers, we all assume that other writers such as ourselves know the very importance of character, backstory, important information that can be proven or at least summed to the point of making actual sense.
Writers, we are wrong.
Yes, there are some of us who spend years working on getting the right tone of something, getting the right voice for our characters. Obsessive? Probably. Maniacal? Most definitely, but there is a method to our madness, really. Take myself for example. The reason I fall into the ‘researching hole of darkness’ is because I’m spending more time researching than actual writing. Again, there’s a reason why I found fan fiction so great in the aftermath of creative writer syndrome.
Some writers however throw caution to the wind, not caring if they are single-handedly responsible for destroying the very fabric of what a good book or novel should be. Remember that post about how Glen Beck and Snookie topped the New York Times best-seller list? There you go.
What does a horrible fan fic have to do with writing in the real world? Perhaps you should go and read the story. It’s okay, I’ll wait for you. It won’t take you long, unless of course the absolute horror of it keeps you reading. It’s a train wreck on top of an auto accident on top of a murder scene. You won’t be able to take your eyes away, I promise you that.
All done? Did you manage to finish? Yeah, me either. But I think you’ll see what I mean. Constant misspellings, unrealistic settings or places, and what TV Tropes calls ‘purple prose’. And it’s not just fan fiction; there are actual published novels (though many are the online, self published ones) that are filled with the author just failing everything from history, to biology, to sex ed (and these are adults, mind you. Exceptions are made for the teeny boppers writing fan fic).
When good writers go wrong, their very stories go wrong, and thus can cause a backlash against them. There are some things so very basic that should come to a writer while in the midst of their writing, especially now with the use of the Internet. There really is no reason to not spell check your work nor is there reason to just not do the research. Real authors do this – claiming that their work of fiction is a case of true life (in the case that it’s fiction) and then are either exposed as a fraud (some count the Amityville Horror as example) or just dismiss the craziness of their detractors.
Every writer should know at least one story gone wrong. They should have read it and cried, “My eyes! Oh God, my eyes!” for the spelling mistakes or had their inner editor and writer die a little at each implausible plot point or encounter or whatever else. Why?
Because it makes you a better writer. It makes you, as the reader, wonder why this was allowed to be published and makes you think, “Oh…snap. Are my works like this?” Now, I will state that every writer has their “I suck” phase, which is usually discovered years after they’ve written their greatest works and look at their beginnings and go, “wow.” I’ve done this, with both my original stories and fan fics. And it’s okay to let those go, as long as you have improved.
The great thing about writing and creativity in general, is that we are always still learning and improving. And as long as we get better, that’s the best way to keep ourselves from going off the deep of end of shitty.
PS. Just in case my words have scared you, here’s the TV Tropes article on My Immortal, with links to the original, as well as the dramatic reading on YouTube (which is hilarious in itself, so if you want to spare your eyes, torture your ears)
Posted on March 19, 2011, in Interludes, The Business Side and tagged creative writing, fanfiction, Fiction, fiction writing, my immortal, non-fiction, TV Tropes, Wikipedia. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.