Fanfic Rant II

Karabair defends fanfic on her blog

I think some of these real TV writers need to breathe. Lee Goldberg writes for "Diagnosis Murder," so I’m not sure exactly what kind of artistic or professional integrity he’s protecting. On the other hand, anyone who writes fanfic about "Diagnosis: Murder" worries me much more than someone who writes it for money.


I have to admit, that made me laugh out loud. It’s mean, but it’s FUNNY. No one will ever mistake "Diagnosis Murder" for great literature or even exceptional television. For what it was, a humble little whodunit, I believe it was done well. Whether you agree with that or not, "Diagnosis Murder" represents an expression of someone’s (or a group of people’s) creativity. Those characters belong to somebody. You don’t have to like "Diagnosis Murder", or appreciate it, to respect the author’s right not to have his or her characters ripped off by someone else.

She later writes:

I mean, for most people it’s not a choice of publishing in the real world for money and publishing fanfic among their friends

Huh? I don’t get her reasoning at all. 

Writers write. It’s part of who they are. Most can’t help themselves. If they are lucky, they are able to sell their work and make a living at it. If they can’t, there’s nothing preventing them from making copies of their stories for their friends to enjoy. Who says if your work isn’t published you have to write fanfic??

Why is it a choice between "publishing in the real world" and "fanfic?" 

Because, um, it isn’t. It’s a bizarre rationalization.

I think it’s far more likely that writers turn to fanfic because it’s a hell of a lot easier than coming up with something original. It’s creative laziness.

This, of course, is coming from a guy who writes "Diagnosis Murder" novels, based on a TV series created by Joyce Burditt, who obviously isn’t me.

Ironic, huh?

The difference is I wrote & produced the TV series for years…I have a certain pride of ownership (if not actual ownership) of those characters. For a long time, they were were my characters… I was responsible for them, and "controlled them," for nearly 100 episodes (with my writing partner, William Rabkin, of course, assisted by a terrific staff of writers and freelancers).

But even if you don’t buy that argument, I’m now getting paid by the copyright-holders to write authorized novels. They have, in essense, given me the characters and their blessing to do with them as I creatively see fit. Big difference from fanfic.

She then argues:

I don’t see fanfic as an attempt to replace the show’s writers or tell them how to do their job. It’s a way to tell stories that don’t fit within the format of a series. Cutting away from Buffy & Spike in the basement in "Chosen" is absolute-fucking-lutely brilliant story telling.

That’s like saying somebody adding lyrics to somebody else’s hit song is engaging in "abso-fucking-lutely brilliant song writing." The logic is faulty, to say the least. 

3 thoughts on “Fanfic Rant II”

  1. I’m sorry to hear about the accident, and I don’t want to argue with someone who can’t even type in defense! I hope everything is as good as you can expect. My blog: The “Diagnosis Murder” crack was just silliness, I apologize — I wouldn’t have made it if I actually thought you’d read it! Of course, I’ve got tons of respect for writers who work for a living and their interests in the characters. All I mean is that I don’t think that fanfic writers — aside from the obvious freak you had the bad fortune to encounter — see themselves as being in competition with the writers for the actual shows, not in any way. If anything, fanfic increases an audience’s participation in and passion for a show. And the particular type of fanfic that interests me tells stories that were left off of the shows, usually with good reason. And my reference to “genius” was NOT to a fanfic, but to the actual writing of the “Buffy” series finale (“Chosen”). Joss is the genius, the rest of us work in the dark —

  2. PS — note that the sentence you quoted about the “choice” contains the word “not.” So when you say “why is it a choice. . “? etc, you’re actually kind of agreeing with me. Though it’s my latenight garbled syntax that’s causing the confusion, because, God knows what I meant with that sentence. I sure don’t.

  3. Adding your own lyrics to someone else’s hit song would, of course, result in the nightmare known as “filk”.
    A different kind of evil altogether.


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