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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Eternal Debate: Why Fan Scripts are not Fan Fiction





There has been a long standing debate between myself and fans who do supposed “fan fiction”.  The main sore spot between me and these supposed fan authors is on the subject of what they consider fan fiction and what I consider fan fiction. When I think of fan fiction I think short stories and novels. Hell, I’ll even include fan poetry as fan fiction. But, the one thing I will not includes as fan fiction; and this causes screams of rage and foul in most forums and groups I’ve talked about this subject, is fan scripts. Give me a fucking break people they are scripts. They are meant for filmmakers to use as a blueprint for a film production and for actors to give them a quick and easy way to learn their lines. It is not intended to be used as literature.  Scripts are written in a short hand, rather than in pros and don’t even require full sentences. They lack description and only give a hint at characterization. Therefore, it takes next to no writing skill to create them.

On the other hand, short stories and novels require great amounts of descriptive skill and understanding of characterization, because they need to work with the reader’s own imagination to bring the scenes and character to life.

For the writer of novels and short stories it is a long and tedious process filling a blank pages, building locations, and creating completely life-like people with nothing but words. That kind of writing is a craft that only a few very talented people can achieve. On the other hand, writing a script takes next to no descriptive skill. In most script scenes there is a very basic description. Characters are handled mostly through dialogues and gesture notes. For example, here is a scene the way a fan script writer would write it…: We open on a boiler room with pipes snaking out of the rusty boiler. Steam  is shooting all over the place.  A blond girl (Ashley) stumbles forward and looks around. She is in a sweat soaked nightshirt. We see a sheep runs down the aisle. ….

Ok, let’s see what an actual writer would do with this scene….:  Steam shot out in every direction. There was clanking sound of metal as  the rusty, battered boiler expanded and retracted with heat. Ashley stumbled forward and looked around in shock. Her nightgown was soaked with sweat and stuck to her slender form. Her butt length blond hair was slick and stuck to her back. Beads of salty liquid slid down her face and touched her lips.

Where was she? She asked herself. How did she get here? She looked around and a sudden movement caught her eye. She jumped back. Then she heard a scream echo through the boiler room. It sounded like the scream of a child. Then, the source of the movement and clomped into view. It was a white and black dotted sheep. The animal bayed and ran down the row of pipes that fed into the boiler. What the hell, she thought to herself……

See the difference?

A writer must craft the description to the character and their perception, where as the script writer need only give basic information for the set designers to get ideas and perform their art.

It is said that writing is bleeding. A writer must go into every that he is and knows in order to build believable worlds round his characters. This takes hours of writing and rewriting scenes until they come together and flow. It is not so with a script writer. Not to say his craft doesn’t have its challenges. I know those challenges because I’ve written scripts myself. But as people have noted I can quickly knock out a scene in a script in less than an hour, where as the same scene will take me hours if I’m writing a novel.

So, I gather the ever increasing horde of fan script writers are exclaiming “Who gives a shit!” It doesn’t answer why they can’t be called fan fiction. Ok, here is the reason…because fan scripts are too easy. Fan script writers don’t bleed. They are too lazy to actually write stories, yet they have the gall to expect to be lumped together with artists that do bleed and have the privilege to call themselves authors. They expect to get the credit and admiration without putting in the work. Sorry, my mentor Harlan Ellison would have a heart attack…and don’t go there. You don’t want to suffer the wrath of Harlan. I’m a Care Bear in comparison to him.

Also, these so called “fan fiction writers” seem to think that because their scripts are so easy to write,  then writing is easy and so published authors are a joke.  Thus, we have come to the situation where convention organizers, who are mostly former fan script writers themselves, think that authors deserve no respect because they, themselves, were considered authors by their peers  and it wasn’t a big deal, so therefore these ego case, big shot, authors are no big deal ,and are a ridiculous for expecting to be treated with any kind of respect.

I recall when I was being harassed on From Dusk Till Con, a number of my harassers called me a fan fiction writer, because they were too ignorant to know the difference between a published writer and a fan fiction writer.  No matter how many times I explained they refused to see the difference.

So, in summation, remember this kiddies, an author is a craftsman who takes years of pain and bleeding to learn his art. On the other hand, writing fan scripts are for lazy lumps who want to wow their buddies with their genus, yet don’t want to have to put in the time and effort to actually use pros and write an actual short story or novel. Writing is an art form as is poetry, thus they go together. Script writing is a building tool. It is in essence an outline, that is part of an art called filmmaking. Unlike, poetry, short stories, and writing, script writing is not literature, because it is not meant to be read unless you are going to use it to create a movie. If it is not going to be used to make a movie it is a waste of time and effort. Sorry, guys but that is the truth in my opinion.


3 comments:

  1. I know this may seem like a desperate, cheap shot, but this comment is indeed not meant as a personal argument, like the others you've probably been getting, but rather a an eye-opener, a "correction" or even a "quibbling," because the perception that scripts are not fiction, and therefore not fan fiction, are dead wrong. That is a fact. Why you may ask? Well, English is indeed a stressed language, but sometimes words mean something, and something else then their established meaning. And sometimes those words may encompass many meanings, and submeanings. I think you get what I mean. I also know that when I decide to use Wikipedia in a short while, it may feel desperate as well, as anyone can edit Wikipedia, but just take a look at many dictionaries out there, and I think you may find the same meanings. Perhaps mostly in recent dictionaries, I don't know...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiction Anyway, look at the first block of text. What does it start with?

    "Fiction is the form of any work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and theoretical—that is, invented by the author."

    Now, let's scroll down. "To Forms of fiction" It reads:

    "Traditionally, fiction includes novels, short stories, fables, fairy tales, plays, poetry, but it now also encompasses films, comic books, and video games. Professional wrestling is a scripted show that mimics fighting competitions."

    Now, I need to also make something else clear: A script is not necessarily a blueprint for a filmmaker, or a group of filmmakers. Or for a film at all. For films there are spec scripts, and there are shooting scripts. What is a spec script? Well, it is what you write at first, after finishing an outline, and is what most writers will go to studios with. Then the script will go through revisions and eventually become a shooting script, which is a more condensed version sometimes, so that it is easier to understand for all actors, and also, often, include directions like "Angle On, which mean that the camera is positioned differently than it was before, but some of those kind of terms are mostly used by directors writing their own scripts.

    But there is also scripts for theater plays. And there are scripts meant to be read rather than being produced. Some people may even call a manuscript to a novel a "script." And there's a ton of other definitions. Scripts can be read as fiction, they usually have a story, sometimes even include some information on what the characters feel, or need to feel, and they have dialogue, descriptions etc. Some scripts even have these things in a more than ordinary large amount, which make them feel more like a novel than a script. To dismiss scripts as nothing but blueprints are not a matter of opinion, but of ignorance, unless some people seriously decides to use a psychology that base everything in the world on opinions, so that they may call a red cup a "blue cup or even an "orange shoe." I know it sounds like I am talking down to you now, but I am rather speaking loudly, speaking to everyone. Have some common sense and an open mind guys. It's bad enough that people are being punished from posting scripts in Fanfiction (unless that rule has been reversed by now.)

    Anyway, there is a difference between elaborate fanfiction scripts/fanscripts and lousy attempts at dialogue-based (UNFUNNY WITH CAPITAL LETTERS) "comedies," and I despise the latter wholeheartedly. Especially because it's all random crap and the characters usually never stay in character at all.

    Just my two cents.

    Stay creative,
    Best,
    - Lukas S.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also, I agree that it is easier to write scripts, but saying it is harder to create life-like people in the format is just dead-wrong in a lot of situations. It is very relative whether or not it is hard, or even harder, especially when it comes to fanfiction. What if you're going to write about a very bland character from an even blander story? Some people are able to make such characters extremely interesting, that's true, but for the majority, it is very hard. For many people it is even hard to write interestingly about an already interesting character. Only the original creators really know everything about those characters.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a person who has worked in the the film and published fiction industry I have my opinion on scripts and I stand by it the same as you do, Lucas. The fact is I am looking at this matter in a common sense manner. To say that I am ignorant because I don't see see a script for a stage play as common reading material is just a fact. A script has a purpose as does a book. You can play definition games till the cows come and it won't change common understood facts. It is nice that some script writers put more into their scripts. I do myself, because I come from book write rather than play writing. That is the basic difference in the scripts you speak about. An author will write more like a book writer and a playwrite will write more like a playwrite.
    But in the case of what I've personally seen in the so called "fanfiction " scripts I mention is just pure laziness.
    I'm sorry you don't like my opinion in my blog, go elsewhere. Opinions are like assholes, we all have them....

    ReplyDelete

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