Note: I finished this post and realized that I should come back and add this for a little clarification. The only fanfic I really read these days revolves Veronica Mars. I read all of cadhla‘s pieces for the fandoms I’m involved in but those are typically one-shots so it doesn’t count as a foray into other fandom fic. I’ve been reading jwynn‘s recent Supernatural pieces and started Rob’s BtVS/Firefly crossover out of curiosity but that’s the extent of my reading beyond VM. So, that’s why my examples below are all from VM and/or use VM characters. As for the rest… well, if you care why that’s the only fic I read, I attempt to discuss that at the end of the post.
Twice! Twice I’ve missed the chance to get in on cadhla‘s Iron Author, Valentine’s edition. Dang it. But, I’m not sure I would have gotten a request in there even if I’d known about it the minute she posted it. (Which I sorta would have, if I’d been at my desk.) Would I have been fast enough to think up a snippet of fiction I wanted? I have trouble identifying that at times.
Well, that wasn’t a fair way to phrase that. To fanfic or me. Because I never actually considered it like a plague. I just happen to be an extreme canonist. That explains why I still pretty much avoid all AU fic. The only AU fic that I have read is usually from authors I know well enough to know they will maintain canon characterizations as closely as possible. And even then I have a hard time with it.
There are lots of reasons for this but the most important to me is that characters, like humans, grow and change based on their experiences. An AU fic that has Lilly alive? Means that the Veronica I fell in love with wouldn’t exist. Veronica isn’t defined by Lilly’s death but it changed a lot of things in her life and, while she might have changed based on other things changing, it’s the chain of reactions to that continue to shape the story today. Change that element and it’s no longer the world or characters I’m interested in learning more about. This is true for all of the other characters in the story.
So, the fiction I enjoy is that which sticks to the canon. Probably my favorite pieces of fiction are those that capture the “in between” moments that we don’t get on screen or those that give us another characters point of view on the story. In truth, I probably love the latter the most because I’m a big fan of getting multiple POVs of a story. (See, my love for GO isn’t just because Katie is in it!) You may blame the FL CLAST exam (college level standardized test) for it. I had to take any well known story and tell it from another character’s POV. Turns out? Cinderella’s stepmother wasn’t really all that wicked after all.
I find these type of fics especially interesting when it comes to Veronica Mars. The only side of the story we ever really get is Veronica’s. That’s not quite as true this year, with more side stories taking place without Veronica’s presence, but the majority of the show is still told from her POV. But think how different the story would be told from Logan or Weevil or Sheriff Lamb’s perspectives. The possibilities fascinate me.
Yet, those stories still have to stick to canon. I’m not going to buy a Logan’s POV if it has him being mopey over Veronica or Sheriff Lamb regretting ignoring Veronica’s claim of rape. That can’t be supported by anything in canon so I’d have a hard time believing it. Their perspectives can have elements of moping or regret with completely assasinating their characterization.
Future fic is the one area that gets messy. It’s not really AU… yet. So, I can read it without obsessing over canon. It opens a lot of possibilities but, again, you can’t forget what came before. As much as I’d like to see a post-DR story with Veronica acknowledging some of the issues in her relationship with Duncan, I don’t think it’s true to canon. Also, I see this one a lot and I’ve yet to find an instance where I can really believe it, don’t make Veronica an alcoholic. In fact, I have a hard time with Veronica randomly getting trashed in stories. Now, this one probably bugs me because I am a child of an alcoholic and I’ve paid close attention to how Veronica’s been portrayed in regards to that aspect. We’ve seen her drink twice. TWICE. At Shelley’s party and during Christmas dinner with her Dad (yeah, yeah, grape juice my ass!). The first time, it’s a reaction to being shunned by the 09ers and wanting to prove she still fits in with them. Watch her when she takes that first sip. That’s not a girl who is used to drinking. Look at how that drinking ended and add in what Lianne’s alcoholism has affected Veronica’s life and you end up with a girl who isn’t going to be attracted to the idea of drinking or do it lightly. So, when Veronica starts casually knocking back drinks? I get a little uncomfortable.
Hmm. I got sidetracked! (My f-list should totally make up a drinking game for that. Y’all would be drunk A LOT.)
I was going to go back to the future fic talk but I think I’ll just be repeating myself. The other thing that affects my enjoyment of fics is the tone of the story. You know, I’m not sure you can ever really have “fluffy” VM fic. VM is happening in the Noir Universe. Any fluff that takes place there should come with dark undercurrents. I’m not sure how to give an example of that. I still don’t read much BtVS/AtS fic but I can think of more solid examples in that Universe. Let’s take a Buffy/Angel story vs a Buffy/Spike story. Ignoring which ‘ship you prefer, I find “fluff” more canonly organic to Buffy/Angel. The closest moments of Buffy/Spike “fluff” we ever got during the show came in the last season and, even then, they never happened because the two of them planned it. The dynamic between the two just makes it hard for me to ever accept them choosing to engage in fluff. In fact, fluff pretty much flies in the face of what I like about Buffy/Spike so I can’t read it. That doesn’t mean it can’t be written convincingly, it just means *I* can’t get past the makeup of the fic to actually enjoy the fic itself.
It should go without saying but this is all just my personal take on fanfic. Everyone reads what they like. Some want the alternate ending or the re-writing of history. Some want fluff and fun. Thank goodness there are writers for each type! And I’m certainly not discussing what makes good or bad fic, that’s a different beast entirely. I’m just talking about what fanfic appeals to me and why. I only like fluff that makes sense or comes with the promise that it hasn’t forgotten the world it’s taking place within. I like knowing what happened between this moment and that moment. I like seeing takes on things we know took place but didn’t get to witness. I like seeing things that have happened through the eyes/mind of someone else. And, occasionally, I like to see a glimpse into what could happen between characters that I like.
And, yet, I won’t read much fanfic outside of the realm of Veronica Mars. I’m not sure why. For BtVS/AtS it’s because so many people want to change Joss’ version of things. I have no desire to retcon anything in that Universe and, therefore, have no desire to read fic that does that. And, sadly, any future fic often suffers from my preconceptions of author intent. Too many people don’t like Joss’ creative choices and, since that’s one of the things I love about him, I’m constantly debating whether Joss would have taken the story this way when I’m reading BtVS/AtS fanfic.
Hi! Hypocritical Rae here! Yes, yes, it’s funny that the one thing that drives me crazy about people and their opinion of Joss is the very thing I am doing with RT and his take on Duncan. Shush. I can see a difference in that I’m not asking for the story to be different at this point, I’m just trying to understand why RT’s view of the character is so different from mine. I always got the “why” of Joss’ choices.
However, in the end, it’s the visual component that ruins fanfic for me. Part of what I enjoy about a television show is, well, watching it play out for me. I’m not even sure how to make this make sense. Maybe it’s because, when I read books I have to build the world in my mind, so I enjoy the contrast of having that world supplied for me instead. It’s a different type of consumption and I don’t really enjoy mixing the two. I can enjoy a piece of fic here and there but it’s never going to replace the show for me and rarely does it feel the same as watching the show does and I don’t like the slight feeling of dissatisfaction that I am left with after reading fic. I have no explanation for why it’s different for VM. Maybe because so much of the show itself takes place off screen or because it’s told from one POV so it leaves room for me to see it in other ways? I have no idea. I don’t read that much VM fic anymore but, as opposed to other shows, I still actively seek out pieces that fit the mold of what I like.