Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Democratic Genre: Across the Borderline – Fanfic and Profic

Chapter 7 is so rich with interesting tidbits as well as ahas that I expect to need a few blog entries to do it justice. Just thumbing through the pages shows that I have bits of post-it notes on virtually every page, reminding me of something to mention.

“Filing off the serial numbers” is fanfic lingo for taking a fanfic story and changing the names, and perhaps setting and other canon details, and marketing it as profic. Again, it’s interesting, and a bit surprising, that I went down this path myself, all the while thinking I was so clever in doing so. What’s interesting about this is not that writers try to leverage existing limited-market stories to a larger market, or to make the leap from fanfic to profic, but that Pugh claims that fanfic themes and trends actually precede and influence profic themes and trends.

She cites several examples of slash fanfic that has been republished as gay lit, and she also discusses how the popularity of fanfic, which often comes down to its intense focus on character and relationship, drove profic and litfic writers, including writers of TV series, to turn more to character development and less to plot since fanfic took off in the 1970s and 80s.

Pugh points out that when slash fanfic really took off, in the mid-70s, “this phenomenon—women writing about and exploring the emotions of men in homoerotic relationships—had few parallels in litfic…the only female writing who was making a specialty of this theme then was the novelist Mary Renault.” Pugh goes on to say that these days, “…if I wanted examples of women writing about men…I should not have far to look.” The point being that the interest in reading and writing slash extends far beyond fanfic.

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