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17 May 2005 @ 16:42
not quite a thinky but still slightly thinky "Doctor Who" fandom essay  
So, I've been working on this rant-cum-essay on and off all, and I've been a bit on the squirrelly side, regarding posting it... But I figure what the hell.

Okay, remember how a few weeks back I was sad, because there had been over the course of one week-end major polarisation of Doctor Who fandom, mainly in regards to the new fans versus the old fans, and the Doctor/Rose fans versus the folks who are very anti-Doctor/Companion? What bummed me out was seeing about a year's worth of fannish evolution smushed into such a small span of time.

However, in the last 2 weeks, what has really started to depress me is an alarming homogenisation of current series "Doctor Who" fanfic, particularly Doctor/Rose. I realise that the series has only been airing for 8 weeks--that's barely 2 months. And as such, long, plot-driven stories are rare because they take time to write, which is part of why I'm pouncing on them like catnip when I do find them. So we have been seeing a plethora of missing scene and episode codas posted each week.

The thing that's alarming though is the sameness of a lot of the stories posted since "Dalek." I don't know if it's a case of hive mind so much as it's writers reading each other's work and picking up trends. But there are a depressing number of clichés that have surfaced in Doctor/Rose fanfic of late. I say depressing because we're much too young a fandom to have glaringly obvious clichés already. But if you go to fanfiction.net or Teaspoon or time_and_chips (the main forums and archives for Doctor/Rose fanfic and fannish discussion thus far) you'll find increasingly common patterns:

The Doctor and/or Rose is upset. They comfort one another. They may or may not be sharing a bed due to nightmares (a plot idea that I really though had great potential when I first saw it, which now makes me cringe every time it's been cloned since) There is kissing, which leads to sex, which leads to heartfelt "I love yous." End scene.

I'm not kidding. If you were to randomly sample anything shorter than 2000 words currently up at FFN, I think 8 out of 10 would fit this bill, and that's not a happy statistic. I wish I could just laugh about this. But it's getting to the point where I'm half-way through reading a vignette and then have to walk away from my computer because they all go the same way.

Every kiss leads to sex.

Every orgasm leads to "I love you."

It's as if there's a recipe out there that everyone's following to turn out "The Perfect Betty Crocker Doctor Who Fanfic" and all the Bree Van de Kamps are lined up next to their differently-coloured iced cakes at this long table and you taste a slice from each cake and they all end up tasting exactly the same and you can't tell one from another, even if, if there had only been one cake and you were really in the mood for cake, you would have really loved that cake. And now all you can think is "I've gone off cake forever, now."

Does that make any kind of sense?

Fanfic which is based on other fanfic does not equal good fanfic.

I think part of the reason I sometimes have these conflicted feelings about identifying myself as a Doctor/Rose fan is that there have become different kinds of Doctor/Rose fans on a scale of "I love the canon relationship with all its flirting and subtext" to "OMG they are SO DOING IT ON THE CONSOLE ROOM FLOOR!andalsothedoctorswillyisginormous." And if you're at one end of the scale, you end up resisting the idea of being automatically identified as being at the other end (tho pretty much everyone admits that the one story where the NC-17 language was replaced with **** was A Very Bad Idea. Hurrah for solidarity.), and there's plenty of room in the middle, but it's lonelier there. And there's a very clique-ish "us against the world!" thing going on as well, which turns one's own preferences into a kind of fannish political statement.

What I love about the on-screen relationship I really want to see reflected in fanfic. I don't want every story's plot to be a race to the finish line of The First Kiss, or The First Fuck. I love fanfic which has the same range as the series--from humour to drama, and everything in-between. I love exploring their relationship, their reliance on one another, the giant age gap, the shared love of adventure, the rows and the sniping, the tactile nature of it, the genuine caring, the genuine frustration. I adore that, and fanfic offers a medium where you don't always need exploding aliens as an A plot to justify your character driven B-plot, because television is a visual medium and prose doesn't have the same requirements.

But I'm getting bummed at the sameness. I'm getting bummed at the volume of short fics tossed off in the hours after the episodes air, which may have a kernel of a really good idea at their heart, but aren't given time and care to develop into an actual story.

(And I'm frankly getting very tired of the Doctor's enormous penis. Honestly, with 900 years experience, don't you think it really would be all about how he uses the equipment, not how big it is?)

Maybe in 2 months time, when we're faced with months and months wait between the 13th episode and the Christmas special, and the only way to get new Doctor/Rose or "Doctor Who" current series adventures is from fan fiction, that is when we'll really see that kind of variety, of stories of every stripe and colour, length and complexity, and startling simplicity become more than the exception, but the norm. These first two months have been a shakedown cruise, after all, for many of us--first time writing in a new fandom, first time writing for many, and the series is new and shiny and feeling its way along just as we are, so maybe that's a big part of it too.

But when I see people complaining about the quality (or lack thereof) of fanfic based on the new series, my initial instinct is to leap to my fandom's defence and point out the wheat among the chaff. But lately, it's been harder to deny that not only does the chaff exist, but it's getting harder and harder to find those kernels of goodness among all the chaff. And I worry that there's an element of "if I write a certain type of fic because there's an audience for it, then I will get positive feedback, because I'm giving people what they want" rather than writing a story for the sake of the story, and not giving people what they want, but managing as a result to maybe give people what they didn't realise they wanted until they got it. There's no real challenge, giving people what they've said they want. That's easy. That's working at McDonald's, handing out Big Macs and fries. And as we all know from "Supersize Me" one cannot live on McDonald's alone, forever. Sure, you crave it once in a while, but as a steady diet, it kills you a bit at a time.

Clichés become clichés when they go from something true in the moment, to something over-used and commonplace and taken a short-hand for truth, in lieu of establishing truth. But it's getting to the point where a lot of us are feeding on each other's fan fiction, instead of the series itself. So we're getting a fuzzy Xerox copy of the characters that subscribes to whatever "popular" view of the characters presented by a handful of influential, prolific authors. Whether its conscious or subconscious, the end result is a depressing sameness to the output of the sub-fandom.

As for clichés, hey--I'm as guilty as the next gal of jumping onto moving bandwagons. I've written "chipfic." I've written a post-"Dalek" hurt/comfort coda. It's not as if the same ideas that have occurred to many of us at once aren't valid ideas, worth exploring, and that no one has explored them well. It's that so many people all seem to be saying the same thing, with little variation to make them stand out. It's gotten to the point where, if I have a post-ep story idea, I have to stay away from the fandom until I've finished it, and once I have, I am seriously debating posting it because I don't want to end up just another anonymous vendor of generic fiction.

(and before anyone laughs, I was actually delighted to have been completely mistaken for Ponygirl, after "Dalek" aired, because I quite like Ponygirl's work. But it doesn't change the fact I do worry that my work stands out not one bit.)

But not every story has to end with the Doctor and Rose going off for chips. Or falling into each other's arms. Or screwing like space-bunnies. Or declaring their undying love. There's room for taking things one step at a time, instead of jumping straight to the end. Cause the journey really can be the best part.

ETA: I'm not trying it single any one writer out. This isn't about pointing fingers and assigning blame. What I'm getting at is that it's not just one writer. It's the trend appearing in a large number of writers' work that's depressing me. My show is too damned young to have this many fanfic cliché already.
Tags: ,
mood: depresseddepressed
_tweeter_: Dr and Rose_tweeter_ on 17th May 2005 21:01 (UTC)
You know, you have very eloquently stated my frustration with the slash stories I was reading. There are some absolutely fantastic writers out there and most of the fanfic seems to be slash, but after awhile, they all start sounding alike. They started to just write PWP's, they all had similar phrases and had the characters speaking the same way, so much so that after awhile I realized that the character didn't really sound like that in the show.

I don't read fanfic anymore, just because I really don't feel like it, but I used to read it all the time.

I absolutely LOVE Doctor Who, and it's all due to nycdeb's raves and my brand new DSL line and torrent sites!
ljc: TARDIS callingtaraljc on 17th May 2005 22:17 (UTC)
It's the rate at which stuff is happening that surprised me. I'm used to fandoms taking months or even years for the clichés to start actually bugging me.
Calapinecalapine on 17th May 2005 21:01 (UTC)
Word. That's why I've kinda given up on reading at ff.net, and, er, why I wrote April Showers, because I wanted a fic with an unhappy kiss.

I guess it is just a matter of the same things occurring to the same people because that's the direction we're pointed in by the episode. I really don't mind what bit of the scale the Rose/Doctor shippiness is at in the fic, but I'm struggling to find fics that have something new to say.

ljc: teh hawt sex (doctor/rose)taraljc on 17th May 2005 21:47 (UTC)
I really don't mind what bit of the scale the Rose/Doctor shippiness is at in the fic, but I'm struggling to find fics that have something new to say.

nail + head = calapine.
Mrs. Premise: Fantastic!tundraeternal on 17th May 2005 21:02 (UTC)
Thanks! Seriously, i've been reading all the fic lately going 'oh this is lovely!' and adding none of it to my rec list, and i was wondering if it was cause i was going off fic, but really i think you've got a fantastic point, and i hope this trend doesn't just end up spiralling downward (as a talented writer, you're gonna have to help out on this one. I declare it so). I'm also really glad you put this forward because i'm stuck right in the middle of a fic, no idea where i'm going, and you've given me a very good place NOT to go, so that's definitely a start. So really, thanks :D
ljc: TARDIS callingtaraljc on 18th May 2005 00:15 (UTC)
plot by process of elimination *lol*?
(no subject) - tundraeternal on 18th May 2005 00:31 (UTC) (Expand)
Lysfalzalot on 17th May 2005 21:08 (UTC)
Wow. I'm glad I've been too swamped lately to read much -- I don't think I could handle sappy 9/Rose with declarations of love. :-> Though come to think of it, in one of the two things I did waaaay back in the dawn of time, I did refer to willy-size. Boy. I was following cliches before I knew what they were!

And I must've blinked during the polarisation thang ... better look that up to see what side I'm supposed to be on. :->
ljc: doctor who MIBtaraljc on 17th May 2005 21:19 (UTC)
I don't want to have to pick sides, me. But I think migrating between borders works too...
Doyledoyle_sb4 on 17th May 2005 21:09 (UTC)
Excellent essay, and I say that as someone who's written nothing but three plotless episode codas, including a dreaded chipfic. It's been weird watching memes spread through the fandom - like the sharing beds due to nightmares, and 'Theta', which seems to crop up everywhere (why did that one in particular catch on, I have to wonder? He's been called John Smith far more times, and I always liked One's Doctor Caligari alias) and which is making me twitch from repeated exposure.
R.J. Anderson: Fifth Doctor Surgeryrj_anderson on 17th May 2005 21:25 (UTC)
Excellent essay, and I say that as someone who's written nothing but three plotless episode codas, including a dreaded chipfic.

Yeah, but they're good, so who cares? Cliches are only bad when they're handled in a cliched manner, IMO.
(no subject) - taraljc on 17th May 2005 21:32 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - renn on 18th May 2005 01:43 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - doyle_sb4 on 18th May 2005 01:46 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rj_anderson on 18th May 2005 02:18 (UTC) (Expand)
warinbabylonwarinbabylon on 17th May 2005 21:15 (UTC)
Excellent essay.

I'm writing an essay right now about the dynamics of how I see the relationship...could I discuss it with you before I put it up? I would appreciate your input.
ljc: doctor wanktaraljc on 17th May 2005 21:20 (UTC)
sure. All I can give is sort of my take on it, but I'd be happy to help...
(no subject) - warinbabylon on 17th May 2005 23:42 (UTC) (Expand)
gwynnega on 17th May 2005 21:15 (UTC)
I suspect that during the summer, stories will be written of more substance and complexity (although, naturally, mileage will vary depending on how skilful the writing is). A lot of what's being written right now is just immediate reaction to the eps, and you're right, a lot of it is generic and ephemeral. Personally, I don't write or read nearly as much fic as I used to (when I was active in the Buffy fandom), and I'm not necessarily looking to read long, involved Doctor Who fics (and I no longer write long, involved fics, because I'm working on original fic). But complexity and uniqueness is, of course, something I'm always looking for in fic...
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 17th May 2005 21:45 (UTC)
I didn't mean to imply that length = complexity. That would be a glaring generalisation, and not a good one. I ought to ammend that, I think. Because you do get some stunning stories in all diff. shapes and sizes. Just that you see it more with the episode codas. It's more obvious with the short stories, as they're easier to get out in the 6 days between eps.
Fearless Diva: dw fuck daleks!fearlessdiva on 17th May 2005 21:15 (UTC)
Here's the thing about fandom cliches, though: I think often it isn't so much that one writer's work inspires another to use the same cliche. I think rather that there are some obvious inferences that one can make which become cliches when writer after writer draws on them. If you never read any Ninth Doctor fic and didn't even know it existed, but you were a shipper and had a sudden desire to write a Ninth Doctor/Rose story, it's very likely that you might write a "going for chips" story just because it comes out of canon and it's an obvious missing scene. So I really don't think it's that all these writers are reading each other and copying each other. Rather, I think it's that they're all drawing the obvious conclusions from the canon and writing from those obvious conclusions rather than writing something more original and interesting.

I think some canons lend themselves more to this kind of obviousness than others; for whatever reason - and I'm not sure really it's a flaw, more of just a historical coincidence - Ninth Doctor fic lends itself to the obviousness.

Maybe part of it is because Rose and the Doctor are a heterosexual couple with a good bit of canonical shippiness, so there are fewer obstacles to work around, thereby producing less interesting, more obvious stories. The more obstacles a pairing has in canon, the more writers are forced to think up increasingly unlikely (and therefore typically more interesting) workarounds. A lot of the Rose/Doctor fic I've read has been drowning in sentimentality and suffering from a lack of conflict, which results in a certain kind of cliched story.

Also, the fandom is *really* young. There just hasn't been time, as you said, for the long, plotty stories of quality to have been written yet. I suspect there will be an explosion of quality stories over the hiatus, as people have a respite from the weekly barrage of canon and can mull over things undisturbed. And it seems like a lot of the writers are fairly young, which means that they need time to get seasoned and learn their craft.

I feel confident that more good stories, and especially more good *long* stories, will start appearing in time. The vast majority of stories in any fandom are crap, anyway; there's no getting around Sturgeon's Law. Try to enjoy the good short stuff that's being written for now, and I think you'll see longer things showing up over the summer.
Doyle: Doctor/Rosedoyle_sb4 on 17th May 2005 21:32 (UTC)
I think the obstacles to a Nine/Rose relationship depend largely on whether the writer's looking at this series as a self-contained unit or as part of the whole 27-series history; either way there's the close-to-1000-years age gap and the different species, but there's also the fact that the Doctor's only ever had one prior romantic interest (two, if you count One's fiancee in The Aztecs). I don't see this as an insurmountable barrier to Doctor/Rose - or Doctor/Peri, Doctor/Tegan, Doctor/Adam or Doctor/anyone - but it raises the question of why now, why this person. I think there's a lot of potential fic mileage in that.
(no subject) - pbristow on 17th May 2005 22:01 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rj_anderson on 17th May 2005 23:51 (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - loneraven on 18th May 2005 12:13 (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - circe_tigana on 20th May 2005 15:32 (UTC) (Expand)
cornfieldscornfields on 17th May 2005 21:18 (UTC)
Word, LJC. You've nailed it on the head. And you've said it a lot better than I ever could. And the McDonald's metaphor was very apt indeed. Thanks for this.
R.J. Anderson: Ninth Doctor Grieverj_anderson on 17th May 2005 21:22 (UTC)
I think your work does stand out -- or at least, I always look forward to seeing your latest fic -- because it doesn't succumb to the all-too-prevalent notion that because the Doctor and Rose have strong feelings of some sort toward each other, they're shagging like bunnies every chance they get, or that they would do so at a moment's notice if only one of them would Make The First Move.

I've read very little of the new fic for exactly this reason -- that early on I saw a few offerings that looked like the Reader's Digest Condensed Version of the Latest Bodice-Ripper With Characters Coincidentally Named "The Doctor" and "Rose", and it put me right off reading anything labelled Doctor/Rose unless it's got a low rating and/or is written by an author whose work I already trust. I've said before and I'll say again that I'm not opposed to the idea of a Doctor/Rose romance, but most of what I've seen so far isn't Doctor Who in any recognizable form. Change the characters' names and take them out of the TARDIS, and you could make the story fit just about any fandom you like, which to me is a Bad Sign.

I think part of the problem is that a lot of the new writing is being done by people who are completely or mostly unfamiliar with the old series -- and I'm not saying this to be a snobbish elitist, but I think it does make a significant difference. For someone just coming into the fandom, the relationship between the Doctor and Rose may seem much more like your standard TV romance, and be expected to develop accordingly. It's an honest mistake, in that respect -- but it's still a mistake. Whereas if you're aware that the Doctor has been (as far as we can tell) virtually celibate for hundreds of years and shown no particular romantic interest in any of his previous companions, there's much more of a sense that you can't just go cheerfully tossing the Doctor and Rose into bed (or onto the TARDIS console), there are a lot of important issues to be dealt with first...
ljc: doctor who MIBtaraljc on 17th May 2005 21:43 (UTC)
well I watched original series, but was not quite Old Skool, so I don't know if it's entirely n00bs vs Old Skool, but you're right that there's an element of that. Certainly with folks like mr treacle around, there's almost a knee-jerk desire to write smut just to make his head explode.
(no subject) - rj_anderson on 17th May 2005 22:07 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - doyle_sb4 on 17th May 2005 22:30 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rj_anderson on 17th May 2005 23:29 (UTC) (Expand)
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nhawk: dw - aliennhawk on 17th May 2005 21:48 (UTC)
What I love about the on-screen relationship I really want to see reflected in fanfic. I don't want every story's plot to be a race to the finish line of The First Kiss, or The First Fuck.

Yeah, that's what I've been looking for. If you find any fic like this please rec them and I will snap them up. I'm all into the Doctor/Rose relationship as it's shown in the eps, but anything much further in fics tends to squick the hell out of me. And I'm not even sure why.
ljc: TARDIS callingtaraljc on 17th May 2005 21:52 (UTC)
If it's done well, then I admit I eat it up with a spoon becasue I am a romantic. This I admit. Just not a treacly sort of romantic, and there's a fair bit of treacle out there. But it's getting harder, finding fic that does it well.
(no subject) - nhawk on 17th May 2005 22:00 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - taraljc on 17th May 2005 22:08 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tundraeternal on 17th May 2005 22:35 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - morgandawn on 18th May 2005 00:45 (UTC) (Expand)
Elke Tanzer: HP geek girl Hermione from Snapleselke_tanzer on 17th May 2005 22:08 (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. Gives me Stuff To Think About.

Must poke nonstandard episode codas in my WiPs folder and get the darned things posted...
mswyrrmswyrr on 17th May 2005 22:15 (UTC)
It's just as bad in the vidding corner of the fandom. And knowing I've spend a not inconsiderable amount of bandwidth and, oh, 30mb of my disc space housing a vid with edits that make my skin craw is rather dispiriting.

*sends you sympathy vibes*

With fanfic, I've found that it helps a lot to only read fic that's been recced. You know, the old "some kind person read crap so I don't have to," but since you're the kind person in my case, maybe I shouldn't be telling you this...

*frightened twitch*

Seriously, though, I've heard it said again and again on time_and_chips that Doctor/Rose is "the friendliest fandom" ever, and I think that might be part of the problem. People do what works. If a writer feels she can post something mediocre and still receive lots of positive reviews, there's no incentive for her to be tough on herself, and try to tighten the story up, or retool it.

Doctor fic, and Doctor/Rose fic in particular, doesn't seem to have a hierarchy a writer can aspire to. I mean, other fandoms have fic awards, and established reccers, and archives that only house fic the web mistress or master likes. A writer can look at these glowing areas of fic-repute, and feel like she's got something to work for.

I don't know. Maybe I'm unique in my admitted desire for instant gratification, but I've used that trick on myself before. I always set myself a goal of quality. I don't actually think I'll be nominated in the such-and-such awards, but I tell myself that I am going to make the story one that is as worthy of the such-and-such awards as I can possibly make it. It gets my ass in gear.

I'm so accustom to thinking that way that I do it even on the small things. When I wrote "A Triumph of Necessity," I knew it was fluff. I knew it had flaws, but I thought, "I want it to be good enough at what it's trying to do to deserve to be on TaraLJC's recs list."

I know I need to give myself something to aim for, because I'm a lazy ape at heart. Other writers might need to have a hierarchy established for them, i.e. through establishing a source of approval that they want, either in awards or a ficsite that only accepts quality, or whatever.
mswyrrmswyrr on 17th May 2005 22:21 (UTC)
Er, I mean, I seek a goal for myself, but others might need to hear positive buzz, and respect for a certain reccer or suchlike before their heart palpitates in hope & fear for said person/site's approval. Almost everybody wants approval, and most people are willing to work their little hearts out for it. It's possible that it's just being given out too easily in or fandom, or being given in such a away that doesn't encourage writers to strive for better.

...and now I shut up. :)
(no subject) - calapine on 17th May 2005 22:28 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - taraljc on 17th May 2005 22:45 (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mswyrr on 17th May 2005 23:07 (UTC) (Expand)
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Bojiboji on 17th May 2005 22:56 (UTC)
Read and really enjoyed your essay. I'm not majorly into this fandom, more like dipping my big toe into the pool and seeing if I like the water, but I ADORE the show. My fandom/fanfic credentials have been gathered over the years in many a fandom but the one in which I see the most similarities to what you have written above is Harry Potter.

Until recently ff.net was the main archive for the Potterverse and despite the fact that stories numbered in their thousands there was a lot of romantic cliche'd dreck out there. Among the sludge pile you'd find some marvellous works archived elsewhere, written quietly, starring unpopular pairings, the heroes not always living happily ever after.

Slowly this changed. Writers who had written complex works in other fandoms gravitated towards HP. Writers started posting long, multi-part fics that were written with care and attention to detail and love for Rowlings universe and all it's unexplored possibilities. But by this time four books had been published, read, re-read and broken down by writers who were eager to explore who other POV - not just what went on between people's bedsheets, or under the Quidditch stands.

I am of the opinion that the writers were older and were interested in more than romantic pairings and PWP fics with a dab of romance. They wrote and write for other reasons than instant feedback gratification.

And hopefully given a chance and the tie-in novels that might happen with this fandom. Maybe. Also I think a fandom benefits from both a talented pool of writers and a wide pool of writers as the bar is either lowered or raised fic wise. You aspire to emulate what you read, if you're not just aspiring to really do the characters justice, that is.

But hey the 9th Doctor fandom is only two months old. Give it a chance to flourish and grow and maybe it will surprise you.

ljc: i'm okaytaraljc on 17th May 2005 23:44 (UTC)
But hey the 9th Doctor fandom is only two months old. Give it a chance to flourish and grow and maybe it will surprise you.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm giving up only 2 months in. Cos I'm not--and I actually do believe it will continue to surprise me. I was just disappointed to start seeing cliches in such a (if we isolate it to current series, like TNG versus TOS) young fandom. But I think it's a phase. It just semed to have reached it earlier than I'm used to, based on previous online fandoms...
(no subject) - boji on 18th May 2005 00:01 (UTC) (Expand)
HawkMoth: plotisgoodhawkmoth on 17th May 2005 23:59 (UTC)
Excellent thoughts and essay.

So, we have insta-fanfic and insta-fanon, then?

I think that's a trend in other genres, these days. If you look back at the dates of some of the earliest Firefly stories, fics were being written within the first--well, it's hard to pin down with the stupid FOX scheduling--ok, let's say several weeks of first-run episodes. Granted that Joss and his actors had these characters pretty well defined from the get-go, but some people were doing a lot of second-guessing, establishing motives and traits and backgrounds that really didn't fit as we came to know more. I didn't get inspired till after Ariel, and even then I didn't feel entirely comfortable until I'd rewatched tapes, saw the last few episodes, and wrote a few more stories (longish ones that took time).

Random observation, just from what appears up on LJ and in other forums:

When other new shows that are attractive to fannish people debut, there seems to be fic popping up within a few episodes. Boom! You get the impression that some people tune in just to see the fanfic potential, especially for shipping (and a lot of times, it seems, for whatever HoYay subtext they can find). I'm not saying this happens all the time, but it is noticable--at least to me.

Does the immediacy of getting feedback on the net spur on the need to write immediately?
Samantha Wilkinsonsamantha2074 on 18th May 2005 02:56 (UTC)
I was thinking something along similar lines. I think the nature of fandoms, or at least the composition, has changed over the past 5-10 years. I think young people, instead of writing fanfic for themselves and/or their friends, are now posting it to the Internet, where it reaches a wider audience. We see them publicly going through the stages of writing, when before they often got through them before connecting with the fandom at large.

In addition, I think that many people come online, see people shipping pairings and believe that's the purpose of fandom. I recently read a post by someone in another fandom saying she'd look for good slash and then read the book/watch the show. Which seems strange and backwards to me, but I think I'm approaching fandom from a completely different mindset. I was flummoxed months ago when by episode 2 of "House," people were already shipping House/Wilson, and I was still trying to get to know the characters. I like shipping as much as the next person, but I don't have a ship for everything I watch, nor is it necessarily my primary focus. I'm not saying my approach to fandom is better, just that it's a different.

I realize I'm making gross generalizations here, but I think the phenomenon taraljc is describing can be generalized to a description of a style of fannishness that is prevalent among, although not exclusive to, young people. As you say, I've seen it in other fandoms.

As an aside, I get a little bit of cognitive dissonance when people describe Doctor Who as a new fandom. I realize that for many people it is, and the new show has in many ways a different feel from the old one. But for me, it's still Doctor Who. I've been watching it for more than 20 years, there's a long-established fan base, and this "new fandom" stuff is just... weird.
(no subject) - hawkmoth on 18th May 2005 03:14 (UTC) (Expand)