fanfiction and creativity

Posted by asterphage 
[www.wired.com]

I'm not sure that I grasp this article's argument. The author seems to be claiming that fanfiction is beneficial to adult creativity, and can help people in their careers. He builds this argument on the grounds that children who engage in imaginative play ("worldplay", or creating "paracosms") are more likely to be particularly intelligent in adulthood. But I don't see how he's connecting that to the effects of fanfiction on persons who have already reached adult brain development. Perhaps the mere fact that this is being discussed openly will result in some research being done that will finally prove once and for all whether fanfic makes you smarter or dumber.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
are you sure this isn't like people making Gundam Side Stories

cuz they have to start somewhere
Sanjeev (Admin)
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ...But I don't see how he's
> connecting that to the effects of fanfiction on
> persons who have already reached adult brain
> development...

I don't think he necessarily was. I think his point was more that young children who engage in paracosmic play benefit from doing so...but because "make believe" is pooh-poohed in our society, such behavior is crushed out of us when we reach pre-teen years. So by making fan fiction a socially-acceptable thing for young (and older) adults to do, it breaks that stigma.

So anyway, does playing with licensed character toys (from established, multi-media fictional universes) in general constitute paracosmic play? Or does the play have to involve *completely* unique world creation? The whole idea of fan fiction seems to imply that one can take an already-created world and just run with it...

Like, when we were kids, me and my buddies would play with GI Joe guys and TFs and whatever the fuck else was at the top of our toy boxes and mix them all into the same "universe" as we played. I guess the raw physics of the already-established fictions governed many things (like, there was NO WAY a single GI Joe guy was gonna be as tough as Omega Supreme)...but we didn't let it hinder us too much (I seem to recall Snake Eyes being able to whoop up on Starscream)...
Sanjeev Wrote:
>
> So anyway, does playing with licensed character
> toys (from established, multi-media fictional
> universes) in general constitute paracosmic play?

I think it has to do with the depth and consistency of the world that the players are shaping or exploring.

> Or does the play have to involve *completely*
> unique world creation? The whole idea of fan
> fiction seems to imply that one can take an
> already-created world and just run with it...

Some fanfiction certainly fails at originality. Some writers will just pick up on hints the original writer dropped in and make explicit what was originally subtle. Others will take characters and bend them unnaturally to fit the writer's preferred themes. However, fanworks worth reading generally find a gap in the original and try to fill it believably. For instance, taking minor characters from an epic story and deducing what their life may be like when they're not involved in the original work's central conflict. I would consider this to involve nearly as much world creation as an original work.

> Like, when we were kids, me and my buddies would
> play with GI Joe guys and TFs and whatever the
> fuck else was at the top of our toy boxes and mix
> them all into the same "universe" as we played. I
> guess the raw physics of the already-established
> fictions governed many things (like, there was NO
> WAY a single GI Joe guy was gonna be as tough as
> Omega Supreme)...but we didn't let it hinder us
> too much (I seem to recall Snake Eyes being able
> to whoop up on Starscream)...

The construction of rules for your toy-vs-toy universe, reasons for there to be conflict, and ways for reversals in the conflict to occur, certainly echoes the basic building blocks of fiction.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
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