Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

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forgetmenot
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by forgetmenot » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:23 pm

Guys. GUUUUYYYSSS. (and gals.) I kind of feel like we're all circling around the same point.

Fanfiction is kind of self-defining: i.e., it's fiction centered around and written by a certain fandom.

All that's required to be considered fanfiction is that:
a) The story is a work of fiction (duy!),
b) It has at least somewhat of a connection to the original work, and
c) It's created by a fan! (Not the kind that will kill you in South Korea, a flesh-and-blood person. Or sentient robot. With good taste in cripple porn.)

We can go on and on with analogies (a valiant effort by Prof, btw) and endless debate over subgenres such as routes, nail fics, alternate universe fics and whatnot. Per the quality issue, fanfic is fanfic, whether or not it's written by the next reincarnation of Dumas, or by 12-year-old Timmy down the street with dyslexia and no proofreading.

But that's not the point.

What's best suited to fanfiction is whatever meets the three criteria above. Everything else (e.g. what makes a good and compelling story) is another discussion entirely.

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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by Oddball » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:10 pm

There's a few things things that makes something Katawa Shoujo fanfic.

Characters
Any story featuring Rin or Hanako or whoever is by default Katawa Shoujo fanfic. Of course this brings up the topic on how much you ca change them, before they aren't Rin and Hanako anymore. If Rin has arms and isn't acting like Rin normally does, is she still Rin? The more changes you make to a character, the less they feel like the character. I've seen a few stories where writers make the characters into wizards, action heroes, cyborgs, starship pilots, or whatever and some of them work because they still feel like Rin, Hanako, or whoever, and others where it just feels like the names have been put onto original characters.

Location
Setting your story in Yamaku makes it KS fanfiction. You might set the game 15 years after Hisao leaves and none of the original cast is there anymore, but as long as it's still a Japanese school for the disabled, you can make the argument that it's still KS fanfic. Going out a bit further, the world of Katawa Shoujo is a realistic one. There's no super cybernetic power armor, magical cure potions, or monsters.

Plot/Themes
I'm putting this under one category because some people are going to disagree where the line is drawn between one or the other, or even what the particular themes are. However for the most part, I feel we can agree that learning how disabled people are still people. This along with a (mostly) realistic and upbeat mood help give the basic feel of a KS story.

You could probably break this down into further categories or add a few others, but I feel this gives us the basics. Now when writing a KS story, you don't have to include all the elements mentioned, however the further you go from the base material, the less it's actually going to seem like Ks fanfic.
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:06 pm

Leaty wrote:Let me know if you do stuff like this; I never go to any part of the forums but the fanfiction section, so I didn't realize you were replying to me.
Sorry.
Leaty wrote:At least in Miki's case, I'd argue that she gets characterized in canon to at least five times the extent that Iwanako is. I might even argue that Suzu is better characterized than Iwanako, on the grounds that prior to the release of the game her identity was explored deeply in the fandom and in various semi-official artwork.
I’ll give you Miki, but the only quasi canon information about Suzu is her name her disability and her club. Rika and Saki get a bit more from the April fool’s post.
Beyond that, I think basing a route around the cameo characters (Lelouch, et al) is a bit silly. I've always found it hard to maintain my suspension of disbelief when the grounded story that I'm hoping to read starts having mirror universe characters from mecha anime running around.
Well, there is a character in that class whose name is Ritsu (for example). The route about her wasn’t finished, but what is there wasn’t too bad either. It didn’t have too much in common with the source anime.
I used Lelouch as a major side character in one of my stories. I also included some allusions to his past that I hope people who know Code Geass will find funny, but people who don’t know it will probably not notice them at all. The main reason I used him was because I thought it would be interesting to write an aphasic character and it was/is. I don’t feel bad for using him.
Leaty wrote:No, not of every fanfiction—but certainly every pseudo-route. We're not talking about Sisterhood or Reconciliation or Mendacium. We are talking about stories written in such a way that they resemble additional content added to the VN through previously unselected choices.
Maybe that’s where some of our disagreements originate. I am talking about fanfictions in general. “Pseudo-route” is just an arbitrary label that means different things to different people. For example it seems that your definition is much more narrow than mine…
If you write a pseudo-route, you are catering to what is actually a very specific desire; the desire of somebody who has finished all of KS to experience more of that game.
The same could be said about fanfiction in general.
And let's be totally honest here: Hisao is a nondescript character. He is at his most defined once placed in the context of one of the canon love interests.
No argument here.
If you were, for example, to write a fic where Hisao goes to Hogwarts how are you even going to make that feel like a Katawa Shoujo fanfic? I submit that no matter how strictly you maintain his canon characterization, that fic will never feel like a Katawa Shoujo fic.
It would be a crossover and crossovers notoriously have problems maintaining the feel of either of their parent stories.
And I feel that a fic in which Hisao dates an OC without a disability (maybe even an OC that doesn't go to Yamaku!) is similarly troubled, to a lesser extent, and I do not think this concept is compelling as a Katawa Shoujo fanfic.
See what I posted above about the placement of the threshold. If we ignore crossovers for the moment, a story about Hisao dating a non-disabled person would still be about (or could still be about – of course it depends on the writer) coping with a disability and also explore things so far rarely touched upon by KS fanfiction.
Characters who are "born of clay," (i.e. created by the developers and tied to the greater narrative of the VN) don't have the problem that OCs have, because they're inseparably an aspect of the Katawa Shoujo experience. OCs are not, so their inclusion represents a step away from that experience. An OC with a disability is thematically consistent with the VN while not being a part of the greater narrative, so their inclusion, when handled correctly, can constitute an enhancement of the basic experience.
And I think inclusion of a healthy OC, when handled correctly, can also constitute an enhancement of the basic experience. Let’s just leave it at that.
I'd like to provide a quote from Thoreau: " . . . instead of studying how to make it worth men's while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them."
That quote implies that the quotee does not enjoy weaving and selling baskets. I’d like to think that most authors around here are writing because they enjoy doing it.
Every good story in the pseudo-route genre has a point of divergence of which Hisao possesses sole agencyhe (and therefore the "player", who is in this context just a reader) makes the decision to move the story onto it's new tangent. Stories where something different just magically happens aren't in that genre (and represent a betrayal of that genre—not in an inventive way, but in a clumsy way,) so yes, if somebody screws that detail up, I'm not going to be particularly happy.
I wasn’t even aware that “pseudo route” even IS a genre…
Anyway, in general I also dislike it if different branches of a story develop differently because of a decision that couldn’t have possibly influenced an event. My favourite example is Tsukihime, where the decision whether or not to investigate a noise at night will change who the main antagonist is.
Naturally this example applies only to VNs (or fanfics with branching), but analogues can be constructed for normal fanfiction as well.

That said, even the different branches of KS are not entirely consistent with each other. For example Iwanako’s letter arrives at different times, Tanabata falls on different dates or Hisao is more or less prone to heart attacks. Neither are events that Hisao can/does influence with his actions, (except for Emi’s route he doesn’t really work out in any of them) but the changes are to an extent necessary to tell the story the writers wanted to tell, and they are within themselves plausible. It’s not like one route suddenly has a miracle cure for arrhythmia or a plane crashing into the auxiliary building.
So if the devs could get away with such minor changes, I don’t see why fanfiction authors shouldn’t.
Obviously, I don't know everything, and if Guest Poster, Helbereth, Robnonymous, etc. were to try to write an Iwanako pseudo-route, I'd be tentatively interested, even though I think the idea is bad, simply because I know that those authors are very good and I think there'd be an awesome twist.
Sadly, only a small minority of authors are Guest Poster, Helbereth or Robonymous. All the others will just have to write with what meager skills they have. Nobody’s forcing you to read it if you don’t like it.
Without a mission statement as strong as that (and monkey told me that his was to "write something that people haven't seen before and make them smile when reading it,") I definitely think it's pointless.
Again, only very few stories have a mission statement as strong as that, and while I also like those stories best, I prefer “something original that will make me smile” to the 73rd Hisao X Lilly bad end fix-fic or the 47th Hisao X Hanako happily ever after.
Leaty wrote:I'm pretty sure monkey explained the premise. I just checked and yeah, it's there.
I see a difference between a story’s premise and how it’s going to be handled. They are different steps in the storywriting process.
Mirage_GSM wrote:Hisao fell in love with Iwanako before. If they go the chance to work through Iwanako’s (presumed) guilt and Hisao’s self-pity that would make an interesting story…
Interesting maybe, but I don't think that's possible, given what we know about Hisao.
“Success is determined by those whom prove the impossible, possible.” (James W. Pence)
“When writing the only thing that limits what is possible is your imagination.” (Mirage_GSM)
And I can't help but think this idea isn't too different from a story about Lilly entering a romance with that teacher she had a crush on or Emi getting back together with that boyfriend she dumped.
You’re right.
I think at least the second one could be made into a decent story, though. And the OC would probably even be disabled.
Hell, by that logic, Katawa Shoujo is an NYPD Blue fanfiction, since they're implied to take place in the same universe by virtue of the fact that nothing in Katawa Shoujo contradicts NYPD Blue. You have to draw a line somewhere.
Come on, now you’re just being contrary…
”The Prof” wrote:KS is a Big Mac. KS fan fiction is a burger….
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by bhtooefr » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:13 am

I really don't think fanfic has to have the same moral as the game to be appropriate, or even good.

Fanfic just has to incorporate elements of the original work - the characters or setting. And, it has to do that in a believable way. Otherwise, IMO, it's fair game. Now, including the morals may well make it more interesting, but it's not required in any way.

Actually, I wonder if a fic that incorporates the morals of KS without the characters or setting would work as a fanfic... Probably not.
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by monkeywitha6pack » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:17 pm

I guess I should join this since it was started because of me. I'll start by saying sorry to everyone involved in the fig on the original thread I don't like that that happened I don't like what happened or how it ended. It was 1 in the morning I lost my temper in sleepyness when I saw leaty say my writing was ludicrous literacy noodling and I apologize leaty. But what mirage and Lloyd said is true. It may not be a Big Mac but some people like burgers and mirage saying it may not turn into beef Wellington but it can turn into pizza and some people like pizza. I have scrapped everything I had when I posted that thread and started from scrap with help and hopefully it will be a pizza instead of bland oatmeal.
And I feel a fan fiction only needs characters and a relatively similar personality. Obviously other things like location can help it. But overall I feel that anything that uses characters from a source can be fanfiction to a point. Going into examples I feel would just be repeating what others have posted so I'll just leave it at as long as it uses more then one character from a source it's a fanfiction
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by delta » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:38 pm

I can indeed confirm that KS is an NYPD Blue fanfic, please adjust your writing accordingly peace out
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by Leaty » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:47 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:I’ll give you Miki, but the only quasi canon information about Suzu is her name her disability and her club. Rika and Saki get a bit more from the April fool’s post.
Prior to the release of the game, though, Suzu had oodles of fanart and a lot of appearances in the early fanfic, so there was a wealth of NON-canon material with which one could have drawn inspiration. Before the game was even released, I could have told you a clear picture of what I thought Suzu was like; Iwanako's never had that. I think she's in approximately as many shimmie pics as she's in fanfics, and most of those were written post-release. I would also argue that Iwanako's portrayal in almost every fic I saw her in before I got serious with MTB gave her the most bland personality imaginable. Iwanako is, let's face it, just not a creatively fertile character.
Mirage_GSM wrote:Well, there is a character in that class whose name is Ritsu (for example). The route about her wasn’t finished, but what is there wasn’t too bad either. It didn’t have too much in common with the source anime.
This is beginning to go off topic, but it's a can of worms I'd just prefer not to get into in my reading and in my writing. I feel like involving them makes the setting feel less down-to-earth. Obviously it's not always terrible but it's never good, either.
Leaty wrote:If you write a pseudo-route, you are catering to what is actually a very specific desire; the desire of somebody who has finished all of KS to experience more of that game.
Mirage_GSM wrote:The same could be said about fanfiction in general.
You're making this sound more broad than it really is. Luminosity is a Twilight fanfiction, but it by no means constitutes an extension of the Twilight experience; it is a polemic reimagining of the series that postulates what the story would be like if Bella Swan were a logical human being rather than an unmitigated moron. To that end, it actually has a smaller reader base than it deserves, given how good it is, because Twilight fans aren't going to like what it does with the plot and Twilight haters aren't bold enough to see for themselves how much of a brilliant salvage operation the story does.

Stories that heavily thematically diverge from the source material might cater to the desire to experience more of it indirectly (and some don't cater at all,) but in the majority of that fanfiction, the experience is adulterated to some degree. Now, a bit of adulteration isn't that bad (obviously, I would personally argue that a lot of adulteration is rarely if ever good,) but to me, what makes a pseudo-route a pseudo-route is that it is the purest form of KS fanfiction. A good pseudo-route reads like reading Katawa Shoujo itself, whereas a good general fanfiction is usually only like reading about Katawa Shoujo. Even Sisterhood doesn't read like Katawa Shoujo plays; it switches to Hanako and Lilly's perspectives (for the better, but it could have been for the worse.)
Leaty wrote:If you were, for example, to write a fic where Hisao goes to Hogwarts how are you even going to make that feel like a Katawa Shoujo fanfic? I submit that no matter how strictly you maintain his canon characterization, that fic will never feel like a Katawa Shoujo fic.
Mirage_GSM wrote:It would be a crossover and crossovers notoriously have problems maintaining the feel of either of their parent stories.
You got me on a technicality. A story about Hisao becoming an agent for the CIA isn't a crossover and it would still have the same problem.
Mirage_GSM wrote:a story about Hisao dating a non-disabled person would still be about (or could still be about – of course it depends on the writer) coping with a disability and also explore things so far rarely touched upon by KS fanfiction.
This, to me, is weaksauce. Hisao's own pathos (well, from his heart attack, anyway) has already been very thoroughly explored, even in canon, and to assert that Hisao's presence in a fic legitimizes it as an insightful exploration of KS' themes strikes me as disingenuous. I'm also not sure what things you're talking about that are rarely touched upon by KS fanfiction; does everything under the sun need to be explored? I'm of the opinion that you don't need to go to the grocery store when there's plenty to work with in the cupboard.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
I'd like to provide a quote from Thoreau: " . . . instead of studying how to make it worth men's while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them."
That quote implies that the quotee does not enjoy weaving and selling baskets. I’d like to think that most authors around here are writing because they enjoy doing it.
Enjoying writing is one thing, but I'm convinced that a ton of writers who have a story they'd like to tell wind up deluding themselves into believing the only way this story can exist is as a fanfiction of something else. I don’t believe that many of these authors have ever even considered that perhaps a more expeditious way of telling the story they're excited by is to write original fiction, and of those that do, I am convinced that many of them realize that this is the case but decide to write it as a fanfiction anyway, either out of laziness or out of a desire to deceive fans of the source material into providing a ready-made audience.

No matter how inspired you are by a work of fiction, when you get the impulse to write a fanfiction, the very first question you absolutely must ask yourself is, “does this need to be a fanfiction?” If it doesn’t, maybe you need to critically reexamine your motivations.
Mirage_GSM wrote:So if the devs could get away with such minor changes, I don’t see why fanfiction authors shouldn’t.
I look at the same problem completely differently. I see that the devs made a handful of mistakes when making the different paths cohesive with each other, so the only areas in which the prospective pseudo-route author should allow a similar divergence is in one of those exact areas where the devs made mistakes. If it doesn’t have something to do with Iwanako’s letter or the date of Tanabata (though I disagree that the latter is actually in contention,) you can’t mess with it.

Also, there’s a lot of difference between doing something on accident and doing something on purpose. That’s like filling your fanfiction with plotholes because there was a plothole at some point in the source material.
Mirage_GSM wrote:“Success is determined by those whom prove the impossible, possible.” (James W. Pence)
“When writing the only thing that limits what is possible is your imagination.” (Mirage_GSM)
I really think you have to take Hisao out of character in order to accomplish this task. I can imagine Hisao acting out of character, but I certainly wouldn’t want to write it.
forgetmenot wrote: What's best suited to fanfiction is whatever meets the three criteria above. Everything else (e.g. what makes a good and compelling story) is another discussion entirely.
bhtooefr wrote: Fanfic just has to incorporate elements of the original work - the characters or setting. And, it has to do that in a believable way. Otherwise, IMO, it's fair game.
See, I personally don’t think there’s a lot of merit to the “egalitarian” model of fanfiction. Yes, if we want to, we can define fanfiction so broadly that just about anything can fit under it, and then based on that definition we could become a hugbox where everybody belongs and nobody is challenged on the validity of their concept, but I don’t really think that results in a productive environment, and I don’t think that anybody really improves as a writer in that setting.

And I do think this can be confusing, because I think that this idea doesn’t necessarily apply to other derivative works of art—if you want to rearrange a Beethoven composition into a prog rock song, or sample a bluegrass song in your hip hop album, it’s quite likely you’ll wind up with something really cool, but if you want to write a sequel to Huckleberry Finn where Huck is a space cowboy, you’ll probably wind up writing something utterly asinine and artistically bankrupt. Fanfiction is unusual and tricky, and I think the rules it follows are similarly unusual and tricky.

Frankly, one of the reasons why fanfiction isn’t well-respected as an expressive outlet is because of its anything-goes culture; fanfiction is treated as easy, a crutch, as a sandbox for untalented or inexperienced writers to play around in. All too often, an irredeemably terrible fic will be gushed over by members of a very young audience who frankly haven’t developed particularly sophisticated tastes (do not target this audience, they like everything,) which more often than not results in the author becoming hardened to the idea that his work needs a lot of improvement. This creates kind of a greenhouse effect where people who do know better become unwilling to offer constructive criticism in the first place, which just leads to terrible authors increasingly believing their terrible work is good, because the only comments on their work are neutral or positive, and eventually you have a literary hugbox on your hands.

Where I’m concerned, fanfiction is harder in a lot of ways than writing an original story; you have to be willing to know your source material backwards and forwards, you have to have an understanding of the source characters well enough that you can write them in character, you have to mine the source material for plot possibilities that were never taken advantage of by the writers, you have to explore the themes of the source material in a creative and compelling way, you have to understand the voice of the author if not know how to emulate her style entirely... Anybody who says that writing fanfiction is easy isn’t doing it right.

You can invoke the Fiction Identity Postulate as much as you want, and insist that there are no bad ideas because a talented enough author could make anything work, but that’s honestly kind of reductive and silly. A skilled enough lawyer could get a Not Guilty verdict for the most obvious of criminals, and a skilled enough chef could make cow bungholes taste like calamari. To suggest that all ideas have equal merit because they could all be palatable as long as a hypothetical demigod came along and acted upon them seems like really fallacious reasoning, because for the most part these Superheroes Of The Art don’t exist, and even if they did, they’d probably be more eager to act upon their own, considerably better ideas.

So yeah, I subscribe to a “elitist” model of fanfiction, rather than a “egalitarian” model, because I toil like hell over my writing and I really think it shows, and I don’t think it would if I didn’t put as much thought into it as I do. If that means I’m being “pretty damn ridiculous,” then Mean Time to Breakdown is ridiculous, because that’s the mindset I write it under.
bhtooefr wrote: Actually, I wonder if a fic that incorporates the morals of KS without the characters or setting would work as a fanfic... Probably not.
And we come to my other problem with this overly broad definition of fanfiction, which is that, under this definition, a story about Mutou joining the JSDF and becoming a fighter pilot constitutes Katawa Shoujo fanfiction, but a story about a teen with multiple sclerosis being forced to attend a school for the disabled in Greenwich, Connecticut isn’t. Even though the latter is significantly more like Katawa Shoujo than the former.

The consequence of that is that we got a ton of absurd shit like stories about new students coming to Yamaku who have no business being there because they’re half-Mongolian, half-Inupiat, but somehow they can speak Japanese perfectly and they transfer to Yamaku because apparently their home country doesn’t have any schools for the disabled at all. Except “Yamaku” doesn’t look anything like Yamaku, because the author is either unable or unwilling to actually research what life/education in Japan is like, so they wind up writing it exactly like whatever school they go to at home, even though that makes no sense whatsoever.

If these authors based these characters closer to the environment they’re familiar with, and made OCs similar to the people they actually knew in real life, they could still tackle the themes they found interesting without pissing off/annoying every reader who would otherwise offer constructive criticism. And their stories would be more cohesive, more genuine, would arguably be more interesting to readers (certainly more interesting to me,) and they’d walk away from the experience with a positive attitude and more confidence in themselves as a writer, even if the fruit of their labors wasn’t strictly fanfiction.
monkeywitha6pack wrote: I saw leaty say my writing was ludicrous literacy noodling and I apologize leaty.
I would really like to take a third swing at this and get you to understand this, because I think you’re going to keep thinking I’m a bitch unless I can get you to see what I’m saying. You might think so anyway, and that’s mostly fine, as long as it’s for the right reasons.

This is noodling. You see how she just plays random Nintendo shit on her violin and has a lot of fun with it? That is totally okay. That is not only a good way to have fun, it’s also a good way to learn. I have no problem with people doing this. None. And when you just horse around with a fanfic and have a lot of fun, you are doing the literary equivalent of what that girl is doing on her violin. You are just throwing around ideas and experimenting with wordplay and (hopefully) slowly getting better at formatting, spelling and punctuation. I have never called that “ludicrous.” That is healthy.

However, I tried to warn you that if this was your intention (and I only suggested it could be,) you would probably not attain much of an audience. And this is true! That girl with the violin is noodling on a YouTube video, not in a crowded concert hall. Writing solely for the sake of fun and improvement rarely results in a product with any kind of staying power or broad appeal and often results in an incomprehensible, jumbled mess. Also, without working on your fundamentals, it’s quite possibly the noodling wouldn’t even be fun for you.
monkeywitha6pack wrote:But what mirage and Lloyd said is true. It may not be a Big Mac but some people like burgers and mirage saying it may not turn into beef Wellington but it can turn into pizza and some people like pizza.
I think you’re deriving an inappropriately high amount of encouragement from Mirage’s take on the Beef Wellington Metaphor. Let me at least try to explain why it is flawed while staying within the constraints of the metaphor.

You’re cooking for the first time, and you want to make the people you’re serving really happy. You’re looking through your refrigerator and you find pâté de foie gras (Iwanako) and duxelles inside. With filet steak and a puff pastry, a very skilled chef could make a wonderful Beef Wellington with these ingredients. But you already know you don’t know how to prepare Beef Wellington, so you say “Fuck it, everybody likes pizza, I’ll make pizza.”

But rather than putting the pâté and duxelles away, you keep them on the counter and you insist that you’re just going to make pâté pizza. This will really go over well with the people you’re serving, you reason, because nobody’s ever done pâté pizza before. Of course, you’ve never really made pizza before, but you know that it’s much easier than preparing Beef Wellington.

I’m the person walking into the kitchen and telling you “hey, pâté is actually kind of gross unless you really know what you’re doing with it, I really don’t think you should play around with it and I definitely don’t think that it belongs on pizza. I really don’t think you would like it. Maybe you should just make a normal pizza?”

Then Mirage comes in, and he says, “hey, if you want to make a pâté pizza, go right ahead. I’d much rather eat something new than eat Vienna sausages for the seventy-first time. And it might be really tasty!”

Upon hearing this, I shake my head and say “um, but he’s never even made pizza before, shouldn’t we walk him through that before he tries to make it with pâté? I mean, the pâté would get overpowered by the pizza sauce and cheese and everything.”

Then Mirage says “Well, who says he even needs pizza sauce and cheese? All you really need to have a pizza is a flat, round crust, anyway. You don't know what he's going to do, all you've heard is his idea.”

To which I respond, “Um, that’s not really a pizza in the conventional sense, though, is it? Maybe we should just spread the pâté on a cracker then; it’s a lot easier.”

Mirage shakes his head and says, “No, I think Monkey has a good idea, and I want to see how it turns out.”

And then the kitchen suddenly collapses and all three of us die.
delta wrote:I can indeed confirm that KS is an NYPD Blue fanfic, please adjust your writing accordingly peace out
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by dewelar » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:23 am

Leaty makes a lot of good points in this post, but I want to single (double?) a couple of them out that I consider particularly insightful so they don't get lost in the wall of text:
Leaty wrote:No matter how inspired you are by a work of fiction, when you get the impulse to write a fanfiction, the very first question you absolutely must ask yourself is, “does this need to be a fanfiction?” If it doesn’t, maybe you need to critically reexamine your motivations.
...and...
Where I’m concerned, fanfiction is harder in a lot of ways than writing an original story; you have to be willing to know your source material backwards and forwards, you have to have an understanding of the source characters well enough that you can write them in character, you have to mine the source material for plot possibilities that were never taken advantage of by the writers, you have to explore the themes of the source material in a creative and compelling way, you have to understand the voice of the author if not know how to emulate her style entirely... Anybody who says that writing fanfiction is easy isn’t doing it right.
All of my yes to these (although I might replace "fanfiction" with "proper fanfiction" or some similarly modified form in the second quote).
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by Eurobeatjester » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:23 am

For me, it depends. At what point does it remain fanfiction or become its own story with nearly nothing to do with the original inspiration besides character names?

I've read and wrote fanfiction under different pseudonyms for years. For me you have to retain either the original setting, the personality of the characters (or characters themselves) or both.

I've seen fics that will take the characters personalities and place them in a new world or setting, while still retaining the core of what makes them unique. That can be good.

I've seen other fics that put original characters in the established world.

For me, when someone does neither of these (looking at you, Hollywood) and simply uses the names of people and places with no resemblance to the original at all, then that to me is no longer fanfiction. The sad thing is that a lot of these stories can stand on their own, but most of them simply name their characters the same and label themselves as "fanfiction" for page views.

Look what happened to 50 Shades Of Grey. It was originally a Twilight fanfiction that didn't retain any of the personalities of the original story; instead the author wrote it because she didn't think there was enough hot kinky sex. All she had to do was change the names to different ones and the story stood on it's own.

It's a horrible story and it sickens me that this is what people consider literature these days, but the point still stands.

Two other examples would be World War Z and I Am Legend. The movies have nothing in common with the source material other than the name. And the reason they use the name is to draw in people who are fans of the original. Are they good movies on their own? Yes. But they're horrible adaptations.

When you apply this to fanfiction, it's the same thing. Is the story good fiction? Yes. But is it good fanfiction? No.
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by bhtooefr » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:40 am

Leaty wrote:Yes, if we want to, we can define fanfiction so broadly that just about anything can fit under it, and then based on that definition we could become a hugbox where everybody belongs and nobody is challenged on the validity of their concept, but I don’t really think that results in a productive environment, and I don’t think that anybody really improves as a writer in that setting.
Note that I did say that it has to be in a believable way, though. My opinion on fanfic doesn't allow for crap (well, OK, crap fanfic is still fanfic, it's just crap fanfic), just more genres, I think.

If you're going to use the KS characters, you absolutely need to get them right. You need to get their motivations right. You need to get their personalities right. You need to get their speech (well, communication, anyway) patterns right. If you deviate from what's in the VN, you need to justify that, either using events that happened in your universe (and they need to be believable themselves), or something that happened in the VN. If you could swap a random name onto a KS character in a story and it still be believable, that's probably a bad thing, I completely agree.

If you're going to use the KS setting, you absolutely need to get it right. You need to get locations, policies, culture, and such right. (And this is one area I struggle in, because I so don't get Japanese culture. I do get some of the special school culture, having been in it from 3rd grade to graduation, but the one I was in was very different from Yamaku in some ways.)

I'll note that I tend to like continuation fics the best, and that appears to be what I'm writing almost exclusively (so I'm using at least the characters and at least a setting tangentially related to KS's setting, and KS themes can come into play (but I'm far more character-focused than theme-focused)), but that doesn't mean that genres that don't fit into the KS story can't be good. I'll point to Hoitash's works as an example of that, they're fantastic even if they're set in an outlandish, crossover-ridden fantasy world.
Leaty wrote:And we come to my other problem with this overly broad definition of fanfiction, which is that, under this definition, a story about Mutou joining the JSDF and becoming a fighter pilot constitutes Katawa Shoujo fanfiction, but a story about a teen with multiple sclerosis being forced to attend a school for the disabled in Greenwich, Connecticut isn’t. Even though the latter is significantly more like Katawa Shoujo than the former.
Now, that gets into... is Missing Stars (which was even originally titled Mentaru Shoujo, and it's set in a school for the mentally ill in Austria) a KS fanfic?
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by Eurobeatjester » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:50 am

bhtooefr wrote:Now, that gets into... is Missing Stars (which was even originally titled Mentaru Shoujo, and it's set in a school for the mentally ill in Austria) a KS fanfic?
If so, then you might as well call Katawa Shoujo merely good fanfiction of Raita's concept. :lol:

There's a pretty big difference between a fanfiction of something and fiction inspired by something.
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by Leaty » Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:08 am

bhtooefr wrote:Now, that gets into... is Missing Stars (which was even originally titled Mentaru Shoujo, and it's set in a school for the mentally ill in Austria) a KS fanfic?
I'm going to be bold here and suggest that it depends on context. If a work can exist wholly upon its own strength, without requiring any comprehension by the reader of the works that inspired it, you may call it original fiction. I don't necessarily think that precludes it from being fanfiction, as well, but at that point the distinction becomes academic.

I know next to nothing about Missing Stars, but if it ever gets finished we'll probably find out whether it is or isn't fanfiction.

And I pretty much concur with the rest of what you and EBJ said.

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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by ProfAllister » Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:20 am

I think I may have created a monster with that analogy...

I also think my own position on the matter might be unclear.

Generally speaking, I think I'm in agreement with Leaty. KS has a specific set of attributes by which it is identified (hence labelling it a Big Mac in my analogy - the referenced ad campaign works well in that it lists the specific set of attributes that makes a Big Mac a Big Mac). In fanfiction communities, there is the concept of "Original Flavor," which would be the fanfictions that, in the burger analogy, have two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun.

But fan fiction allows for more variation, through continuations, alternate universe, etc. (I would consider nail fics generally restricted to Original Flavor). This is where we get into the idea that not all burgers are Big Macs, but there are certain things that make a burger a burger (and different people disagree on what is required - the real thrust of this discussion is probably the unique aspects required for something to specifically be KS fanfiction).

To continue with my analogy: Katawa Kijo adds imitation crabmeat and sauteed mushrooms; Direction ditches the bun, doubles up on the tomatoes, and replaces the special sauce with barbecue sauce; Mendacium is somewhat undercooked and adds heaping amounts of garlic and onions; and Closure replaces the ground beef with a cut of beef from the primal rib, replaces the sesame seed bun with mashed potatoes on the side, replaces the lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions with roasted asparagus and balsamic vinegar, and replaces the special sauce with horseradish.

Each of the listed works claims to be a burger. In all honesty, one of them really shouldn't be called a burger, because it only ends up hurting the appeal of that work, but the author decided to call it one. Similarly, the pâté de foie gras pizza (no offense, but the analogy REALLY went off the rails there) probably shouldn't be called a burger. As I said before, it'd probably be more fair to say that our ripped primate friend here was trying to replace the beef patties with pâté de foie gras, but otherwise retain the special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun. Then the disagreement is whether this can be called a foie gras burger or if it should be a foie gras sandwich.

Which leads back to my general position - someone can call their "prime rib steak" or "foie gras pizza" or "Whopper" or "raw chicken with ketchup, almonds, and powdered sugar marinated in bread-and-butter pickle juice" a "burger." It doesn't necessarily make it a burger, and since this community is all about burgers, someone is likely to be severely disappointed if the "burger" doesn't fit their definition of burger. Similarly, if you're calling it a burger, only people interested in burgers are likely to try it.

And ingredient choice is somewhat related. I'm not going to categorically exclude the possibility that raw chicken with ketchup, almonds, and powdered sugar marinated in bread-and-butter pickle juice can be palatable, but I will be extremely leery of any attempts to make it. "Hmm... that's a difficult set of ingredients there. I don't think you'll be able to make it work. If you think you can, feel free to go right ahead - I wish you the best. Just keep in mind that I have every expectation that it will be precisely as bad as it sounds."
Hand-in-hand with that is the fact that, going back to the pâté de foie gras, you're much more likely to get something worthwhile if you allow yourself to benefit from those that preceded you. There are special rules and recipes for pâté de foie gras because others have already done the hard work of trial and error to see what works. If you really want to break the rules and make something remarkable, you must first have an intimate knowledge of the rules - why they're there; which can be bent, broken, or ignored; and which allow for no variation.
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by bhtooefr » Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:36 am

Mind you, Closure was meant to be a pre-release fic, and release details contradicted it massively. So, that would be like someone making a burger before it was really known what a burger was, just that it had beef in it, and had vegetables, starch, and a sauce.
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Re: Limits of Fanfiction - What is appropriate?

Post by ProfAllister » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:52 am

bhtooefr wrote:Mind you, Closure was meant to be a pre-release fic, and release details contradicted it massively. So, that would be like someone making a burger before it was really known what a burger was, just that it had beef in it, and had vegetables, starch, and a sauce.
The fact remains that he really shouldn't have called it a burger, 'cause it didn't need to be a burger. In this specific instance, it could be so much more if it weren't tied to cripple porn games. I recognise that it's not perfect (that whole "but I only did porn with one guy" bit REALLY irks me), but tying it to KS as fanfiction really does a disservice to a story which could easily stand on its own.
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