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09 May 2009 @ 02:28 pm
Is it real or is it mimicon?  
You probably know by now that I'm not a fan of RPS fic. I wonder why sometimes, there's a feeling I get when reading it that I don't like - my skin literally crawls and my face usually screws up in the effort not to shout out loud "Just No!".

I have read some though, and not always in a self-hypocritical way. I judged that category along with others in the last judged round of the S&B Awards (I'm hoping not to judge that one next time, I don't think I'm the most objective judge for it). Sometimes though, it has been hypocritical of me. I read and loved the first 'season' of Things I Learned in My Freshman Year (a J2 AU college fic). The second 'season' of it lost me after working at the con last year. Spending so much time with one of the major players in that fic (Steve Carlson) made my innate abhorrence for the genre come to the fore and I just couldn't read on. I even used to beta read RPS fic for wenchpixie, decent fics all, although to be honest all I was really required to do there was point out the aberrant capitalisations and explain the realities involved with owning dogs.

All that said; I'm not a fan of RPS. There's still, to me, something inherently wrong with it. I'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy it or write it, heaven forefend: this is just my opinion.

So why am I saying this again? Well, the thing is, running awards sites is something I love doing and I take the responsibility of making awards seriously. This is why I was so disappointed when my flash drive was corrupted after I spent a week making personalised banners for the winners of the first round of the S&B Awards. Personalising the banners means I have to have at the very least an idea of the story.

Last night I was making the banners for the Readers' Choice round of the S&B Awards and part of me was dreading making the RPS banners - and then I opened up the winning fic. I started to skim read, thinking that I could garner an idea of timing and use appropriate aged J2 pics. I stopped skim reading pretty damn quickly, went back to the beginning and read the whole thing from start to finish. It's not a short fic. Half past one this morning I finished it.

It's wonderfully written (caveat - there are a few grammar errors which jumped out at me in a slightly annoying way and would have gotten it an 8/10 on my 'beta' judging criteria). The characters are so beautifully drawn and the situations they find themselves in are heartbreaking, amusing, rewarding, wonderful.

But that's the thing - these characters are just that. They are characters. The story is an AU, these are not Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and sundry others as we know them. These are characters who happen to share the names of the actors whom the author sees in the roles.

And that makes me think - if this story had been written as original fiction it would probably not have been a bestseller, but I'm damn sure it would have found a publisher.

Writing fanfiction gives the author the chance to take shortcuts in character development. You don't need to fully explore a character's background if you're aware the reader already knows it. I'm going on the assumption that RPS writers make use of the same shortcut - the reader knows who Jensen and Jared are. When the names are used in writing it calls up not just a photographic image of them, but also personal quirks, laughs, sense of humour, reactions - all of the things that are bundled together into their public personas.

The fic that kept me reading for three hours last night was not based on the public personas. The author did not seem to rely on the audience's awareness of who these people are to shortcut the character development. They are fully developed within the fic as uniquely individual people within this particular story.

In fact, I would be extremely interested to see if someone who is not in the Supernatural fandom, who is not as aware of these actors as I am, (and who doesn't mind reading male/male slash,) would be able to read this as a story and come away feeling they had understood these characters. (Volunteers anyone?)

So I would like to know, why do RPS AU writers write RPS? Why not write that story as original fiction? If the image of the characters the author carries in their mind matches an actor then… really? That's not so different from the way I and others I've spoken to write their own original characters. (My recurring original character Brogan looks exactly like Dawn Steele for example.)

I'm not judging - I have my opinions that I hope are clear without offending - I genuinely would like to explore the reasons behind RPS AUs.

(Unfortunately I cannot tell you the name of the fic in question until the winners are announced.)
 
 
Current Mood: curiouscurious
 
 
 
Robyncakes: Spn// wordbitterbird on May 9th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
RPS Aus are like my crack, I dont even know why but they are my favorite things ever and I much prefer them to if they are orginal fiction, I understand the not liking it hough.
I think for me, its because I already adore Jared and Jensen, I think they are good guys and aus are just a bit of fun really, they get to have different lives and stories and its really fun. I wouldnt changeJared or Jensen for anything but I really do love reading rps aus'
There are some aus which really are so amazingly built they would work as orginal fiction (like "The doors of time" which seriously if it was a book I would buy and send to everyone its an amazingly beautiful story and if yiu changed the names you wouldnt even know it was Jared and Jensen that the characters were based on)
but yeah I love aus because they are fun, and I dont have to take them seriously to be able to enjoy them, and they are always really well done (the ones I read anyways)
Im not sure if that answered your question lol
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: spn//sam smiling - mewhiskyinmind on May 9th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
You make very good points here - my problem is, is that when a writer takes it so AU (like having the boys in college together for example) then where do you draw the line between RPS and original fiction?

I remember from reading the first year of the college fic I mentioned, that it was fun. Reading it each week made me smile (even when they broke up in the middle of term). But to be honest I wasn't reading them as Jared and Jensen, I was reading them as other people. And yet, to contradict myself straight away, I had to stop reading the second year because I 'knew' Steve by then and was extrememly uncomfortable with the way he was being written. (No different than he had the previous year, the difference was purely in me and my experiences.)

I guess in a way I may have been spoiled given that I don't read a lot of RPS AUs, those that I have read have been the best out there and as such I can see them as being able to stand alone as original fiction.

I'm waffling again amn't I?!
petit_rhino: SPN brotherspetit_rhino on May 9th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
The Doors of Time is amazing, really a breath taking fic. I've actually been talking about it to non-fandom people (without saying it's fanfic) because it's so beautiful. I read it a month ago, but I'm still thinking about it and listening to the soundtrack.
petit_rhino: j2petit_rhino on May 9th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine reads J2 fanfic without watching SPN or being in the fandom (and she has not intention to either).

But that's the thing - these characters are just that. They are characters. The story is an AU, these are not Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and sundry others as we know them. These are characters who happen to share the names of the actors whom the author sees in the roles.

Writing fanfiction gives the author the chance to take shortcuts in character development.


That's pretty much why I don't have a problem with J2 RPS. They are characters as much as Dean and Sam are characters. They are so completely different in my head I sometimes forget why it creeps some people out to read RPS. Though I remember why when I read RPS that's too much set in real event. I love AUs and even if I do read fic where they are both actor on SPN, it's not often set in the present or doesn't refer to really specific events like cons.
I like it that way. There are so many beautiful stories out there and yes, a lot of the time I think you could replace the names easily to make it original fiction
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: spn//rl j2 hugs - lidiwhiskyinmind on May 11th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
I think if I were to start reading RPS it would be purely AUs like this.

When I do read a story that is really good, I almost feel let down that it's an RPS fic - that's no doubt a personal failing on my part based on my own prejudices, but I can't shake the feeling that if only the author took that one extra step into original fiction it would have been so much better.
silveronthetree: sam'n'deansilveronthetree on May 10th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
Came across this via Friends of Friends. This is something I've thought about a lot. I also feel somewhat uncomfortable about reading RPS but I find that I don't have that problem about RPS AUs. I think of them as fanfiction of imaginary film/tv shows that happen to star the actors. They may share the same appearance/certain characteristics but they aren't actually about the actors themselves.

I agree that most AUs could be written as original fiction and I believe that at least one J2 writer has had a fic published as original fiction (with certain details changed). I think that it is all about the audience. There is a much smaller audience for a romance between two random high school boys. However if those boys are "Jared" and "Jensen" - you have a built in audience.

i.e. an audience on the internet, without going to the trouble of getting published. I also think that there are often copyright issues with getting an audience for original fiction on the internet

Edited at 2009-05-10 12:14 am (UTC)
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: spn//dean & sam/DT - mewhiskyinmind on May 11th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
Hi there - thanks for reading!

You make a very good point about the built in audience perhaps being the critical facter. There are no doubt thousands of wonderfully written 'original' stories out there which never get to see the light of day because they lack that audience.

I think of them as fanfiction of imaginary film/tv shows that happen to star the actors. This is also how I tend to see them, but I've also been lucky enough to meet some of the people being written about and the more I get to know them in person, the harder it is for me to make that disconnect.