Controversial issues that you may find yourself writing about include abortion, euthanasia, and slash/femslash, among other things. Slash is an entire subgenre, and while generally accepted in the fanfic community, from author’s notes I’ve read, these writers still get grief.
For those who don’t know, slash is homosexual relationships. Femslash is specific to between women.
Setting slash aside, the cardinal rule with controversial topics is to know your audience. Shows like Private Practice and Law & Order deal with controversial topics frequently. As a result, your audience will likely be conditioned and not bothered by reading about them. On the other hand, How I Met Your Mother and Supernatural don’t really get into these topics, and your audience may be more sensitive to them. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write about them, it only means that you should be a tad more delicate when you do.
Flutter-Pony is an Australian author who has been writing fanfic for five years on and off. Currently, she writers primarily for Glee. Please welcome her with me.
It starts with that feeling in your tummy, little flutters of curiosity. You begin to hang on every word they speak and you see them everywhere you go. Holding hands in line at the grocery store, canoodling behind shelves at the public library. When you start calling your housemate ‘Mulder’, you know it’s gone too far but it doesn’t matter, you are in love with a love story.
You’re favourite fictional couple, or ‘Ship’ if you roll that way, can quickly become your favourite hobby, and the internet (God bless it) is bursting with fellow love junkies, desperately searching forums and chat rooms for their next hit. The network TV show, the trilogy of books, they can no longer satisfy the hunger.
Then drifting in like a love song on the breeze comes Fan Fiction. And it is glorious. Hours can be spent hunched over your laptop with starry-eyed devotion. You can see every longing glance between Jack and Kate on that deserted island, you feel every trembling touch between Booth and Bones and you know, with everything that you are, that Castle and Beckett are the end game.
I threw a few topics around in my head for today’s post, but ultimately settled on one that you don’t see in published fiction, but do see quite often in fanfic. It’s also one of my biggest pet peeves with fan fiction.
Character assassination. Also called character bashing.
This most often occurs when there is a character in the way of someone’s ship. The author vilifies said character, so they can make an opening for their ship. They do this without regard to the character’s actual personality, and I think that bothers me most. Characters who don’t deserve it become ugly, cruel or stupid for no reason other than they’re dating someone the writer wants someone else to date.
Now, I’ve seen this happen in multiple fandoms. In NCIS Jeanne Benoit was turned into a nasty, even crazy murderous woman, just to get her out of the way so Tony and Ziva could get together. She wasn’t a bad person, and she was in a lot of pain from Tony’s betrayal. Now, I like the Tony/Ziva pairing, but I don’t feel compelled to assassinate another character on the show to make it work.