Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Werewolves, vampires, and orginal content

Now the obvious flaw of inclination is that people are often inclined to write fanfiction. I shall not here condemn fanfiction, I admit that I am not in favour of it but there are good arguments for its creation and its existence does not do us harm.

The trouble here is who is choosing to write. Inspiration is a wonderful and powerful thing but that does not make it useful. It is amazing what power stories can have over us and if all we desire is an emotional reaction to a particular story then fanfiction is acceptable. If we desire to be writers then it is a different matter. There is a drive for originality and no one who wishes to be a writer can allow themselves to fall completely under the power of anothers stories.

So we must not fall under the power of other writers, we must write stories that are our own. This falls into the originality debate. I like tradition and I like structure and I have a great affection for literary allusion. Therefore we can say that we do not need complete freedom from influence (which leads to scary things like postmodern toilet art) but instead we need to draw upon pure sources.

Clearly another writer, one writing in our generation cannot be a pure source, it is impossible to tell what is lasting and what is transeunt. So, to be specific, what is fantasy? It is stories that draw on other times and ideas, that permit things which cannot exist within a basic scientific understanding. It is not breaking new ground but reiterating old. Such, at least, is my view of fantasy. Therefore the appropriate source material is that of old things. Ancient culture, ancient mythology, and old folk and fairytales, along with general history and the various understandings of the world make up the material with which fantasy can play. Therefore to avoid the trap of influence we look to the past, and isn't that why we write fantasy to begin with?

2 comments:

Steve Thorn said...

Well, there are the themes that you see a lot of writers like to re-visit. Whether it is to re-tell an old tale or make a new spin to an old one. Look at Stephen King and Robert McCammon recreating their own vampire and werewolf stories. And I have to admit, I have begun my own werewolf story.

Liosis said...

Oh no, I like werewolves...Or at leat I write about them. It was sort of accidental when I did...so maybe they like me. just the vampires I have trouble with because the modern idea of them is so different from what you find in older stuff.

The distance between 'new spin' turns into 'blatant avoidence of precedence' is very small for me, which means I'm very picky about what I read. But I'm weird like that. Heh, I guess I should be careful to clarify preference.

Thank you for your comment :)