Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fan Fiction

Was reading some article online about most read books of the year where Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was mentioned and then a review of a book called Wicked telling the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and it seemed interesting to me (obviously) - people are publishing fan fiction and the reading world is devouring it!
It's always been the general opinion that fanfic is written by complete hobbyists-adolescents who are destined for and nothing more and yet here we are, with obvious derivative works being not only published but also marketed and receiving recognition and even fame. Is this a shift in the general outlook on writing of not-entirely-original material? I sure hope so! Here's why: while I think this is an odd thing to happen, unprecedented even, it's better than nothing at all. We could be living in a world where people didn't care enough about a classical work of literature to submerge themselves in it and resurface with a different interpretation. I also hope that this will be a gateway for people to create their own worlds and characters and wow us with them. Last but not least, I'm not against books like Wicked hitting the shelves because it means that for all us fanfic writers there's something out there besides the thrills of finishing a chapter and getting comments on the site from other writers like ourselves and the satisfaction of finishing a story. If we stick with it and become good enough our stories based on beloved characters can get published! We just have to be careful to fall in love with characters who are public-domain material, other than that it's a matter of quality and persistence. In short, Long Live Fanfic!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bitchy, whiny, pain-in-the-ass heroines

Watched Julie & Julia the other day and was pleased with the work of Norah Ephron as the script writer. She did a great job turning Julie Powell's character from a someone who makes one want to slap them with the book they wrote into a neurotic and at times annoying but still likable lady. I have read the book and more often than not I rooted for her husband to leave her for someone more pleasant. Love is blind and deaf, however, and he came back, so I just hope for his sake now that she doesn't have to kill lobsters she'll have fewer reasons to be unbearable. But I digress.
As I was reading J&J I couldn't stop feeling that a lot was a little too familiar. Then it hit me - The Devil Wears Prada. Andy Sachs and Julie Powell could be the same self-absorbed, bitchy woman in parallel universes. For them both everything is everyone else's fault, they hate their jobs but stay there and they both come out on top despite their unpleasantness. Kudos to Aline Brosh McKenna for that screenplay, by the way, I actually liked Andy while watching the movie.
Apparently in chick-lit the heroine has to be a complete nightmare for the books to fly off the shelves and get turned into movies. Then the script writer comes in and softens the angles, makes the nightmare simply a victim of the occasional circumstance or poor judgement but a nice enough person, the publisher releases another print of the book with the movie tie-in cover and they fly off the shelf once again. Then the reader is disappointed by how much the screen version differs from the book version but the damage's already done and all that remains is to watch the movie again to wash down the unpleasant aftertaste.
Julie & Julia is based on a true story, I'm reasonably sure The Devil Wears Prada isn't and that gives me some peace because, after all, it would be simply awful if to get somewhere in life all the nice girls had to turn into bitchy, whiny, pain-in-the-ass heroines.