Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Democratic Genre: Going There - Narrative Forms and Structures

Interesting discussion on micro stories—Drabbles (100-worders) and others—with the notion that the fanfic genre, with its shared canon, lends itself to this form because expository, backstory, scene setting, and characterization are not required. Pugh makes the point that in profic short stories, “’experimenting with how much I have to actually put on the paper and how much I can leave to happen in the reader’s head’ certainly does happen…” but the reader is left to fill in the backstory of the narrator with only the keyhole view of the story to provide the context.

Pugh also discusses at length the common fanfic practice of serially publishing a work in progress. I know there are many Austen writers who finish their story before commencing posting it, but they are alien creatures to me. I enjoyed Pugh’s anecdote about the poet who declined sharing a work in draft form: “the Muse is a lady and does not appear in her dressing gown.”

Publishing serially during the creation of a story means that readers can leave feedback, and this feedback can’t help but affect the creative process—perhaps not the story arc, but when readers love what you’re doing, it’s hard not to give them more of what they like. One of the authors that Pugh quotes on this topic is Kethni:

Sometimes readers pick up on things that I hadn’t consciously noticed but do make sense and really add to the story overall, so I steal them and pretend they were my idea all along!

The interesting thing about this somewhat self-deprecating remark is that those “things” are in the work, albeit unconsciously, so it’s not really stealing to play up and further explore what a reader remarks on. In fact, that’s what makes fanfic so dynamic and so different from profic. The audience is an active participant, helping to mold the story to some degree, helping to produce the story by providing constant motivation. Pugh does point out that in the research she did on this aspect of writer/reader interaction, no writer ever said that she went back and edited already posted chapters. Profic writers tend to rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite…as Susan Kaye points out on her block: Good writing is rewriting. That may be true, but serialization doesn’t leave any room for reworking posted chapters. Sort of like jumping off a cliff.

1 comment:

  1. Drabbles: Have written a few. Not skilled enough. Need lot-O-words.

    It's funny you should mention rewriting something already posted. Laura Louise Hile began posting her summer story, a continuation of her work, Mercy's Embrace. When a reader pointed out a missed detail with big implications, she went back and finessed a few lines to reflect this, posted a to-the-point mea culpa and now is carrying on with a backwards glance.

    I think it's safe to say that FF pieces are more fluid as they can be so easily edited. I think there may be a lot of rewriting going on and no one is saying so. Or, the new twist is incorporated into a new rendering of the story later on.