Monday, April 28, 2014

COLLINSPORT SHIPPING: Fanfiction For Dummies

author of the Willie Loomis World Series and other DS fanfiction

"Fan fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couch-bound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language."
 — Lev Grossman, TIME, July 7, 2011

"Fan fiction can be seen as an unauthorized expansion of these media franchises into new directions which reflect the reader's desire to "fill in the gaps" they have discovered in the commercially produced material."
Henry Jenkins, Transmedia Storytelling 101, March 22, 2007

"I reject your reality and substitute my own."

Let’s get out the old I-Ching wands and travel back in time about 350,000 years to check out some pre-comic book drawings by a Neanderthal who calls himself cavedweller121. Neighbors quickly become engrossed in the adventures of his hunter/gatherer protagonists to the point where they will not allow the story to end. And so, the readers becomes the writers, and the saga continues to parts hitherto unforeseen by the original author.

Arthur Wellesley
So, where the term fanfiction is relatively new, the phenomenon is not. Long before copyrights, or even the printing press, stories were told and retold or acted out with little or no regard for the source material. The most famous early fanfiction writer who comes to mind is William Shakespeare, master of the redux. Although none of his works contain a disclaimer, the Bard almost exclusively stole borrowed plotlines and characters from history, mythology and other authors.

Chaucer wrote Troilus and Criseyde in the 1300s, Robert Henryson in the early 15th century imagined Troilus’ tragic fate in a continuation titled The Testament of Cresseid, and Shakespeare penned a dramatic alternate-universe version in 1602.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the young Bronte sisters, writing “real person” fanfiction about Sir Arthur Wellesley and his sons, Arthur and Charles, one of whom becomes the Duke of Zamorna, a superhero of sorts.

Napoleon/Tsar Alexander
And if you thought the first slash fiction dates to Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, you are mistaken. Paintings and descriptions of romantic encounters surrounded Napoleon Bonaparte and Tsar Alexander I. They even appeared together in a thinly disguised passage in Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

In the 20th Century, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was subject to several unauthorized “parodies” and fans of Arthur Conan Doyle published the further adventures of Sherlock and Watson in early fanzine publications.

So, ain’t none of this new.

But modern fanfiction has undeniably advanced. We have a relatively new venue, namely the Internet,, Archive of Our Own, LiveJournal and Tumblr are all homes for fandom stories, and you can now read them anytime on your Android device, because there’s an app for that.

But you got to know the lingo, so here is handy dandy reference guide to Dark Shadows fanfiction:

ACTORFIC: A subdivision of Real Person Fic. A story centering around not a character, but the actor playing him. Within the realm of Dark Shadows, it is utilized most by preteen girls in fantasies involving Johnny Depp.

ANGST: A very popular genre of fanfic writing. Refers to a character who experiences fear, anxiety or is just plain depressed. He may whine or spend a lot of time feeling sorry for himself. There are a number of Canon characters who fit this description.

AU: Alternate Universe. This is the most commonly used genre in fanfiction. As opposed to a prequel or sequel, the author diverts from Canon and retells the story had the circumstances been different. Stand Fast and Damn the Devil by Osheen Nevoy is a tale of what might have happened had Bill Malloy not been murdered on Widow’s Hill that fateful night. In Eternally Bonded by The Creative Brewery, Barnabas and Josette are a cute vampire couple set loose in modern times.

AVATAR: aka Self Insertion. Often associated with a Mary Sue, the author inserts herself into the story, usually in order to become romantically involved with a Canon character.

BETA: An editor for fanfiction. A beta will proofread and review a story so the author may revise accordingly before posting for the general public. It is highly recommended to have one of these. Seriously.

The plot guidelines established in the OS (original series).

CHARACTER DEATH: A warning that, within the story, a Canon character will die. But they have to really die, not just die and come back in the next chapter as a vampire, like a certain author did in Interlude.

CON: A header warning which indicates there will be scenes of consensual sex between (presumably) two characters. Heterosexual mating is indicated with F/M. Related terms include dubious or DUB CON (coerced sex) and NON CON (nonconsensual, or rape). I like to include a warning for nonconsensual bloodsucking when appropriate. See Trigger Warnings.

CRACK FIC: A story that is entirely pointless and utterly ridiculous. Characters are most often OOC and the author was probably high/drunk/on a sugar rush when they wrote it. Usually intended to be humorous. Usually isn’t.

CROSSOVER: A story combining two or more fandoms. Sometimes abbreviated as Xover. My favorite is still Leap into the Shadows, by TrudiRose, which mixes up Quantum Leap and Dark Shadows. Other popular crossovers have combined DS with the Addams Family, Harry Potter, Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

DISCLAIMER: You gotta put one at the beginning or end of every fanfic, saying something to the effect of I do not own Dark Shadows, which is a Dan Curtis Production, or any other copyrighted material contained herein.

DRABBLE: A self-contained fanfic of roughly 100 words. A half drabble is 50 words and a double drabble is 200 words. It can be used to describe any extremely short piece. Source of Evil by Yarol says it all in 100 words, and it is a must read.

FANON: Elements that are generally accepted by the fandom as being true but are neither confirmed nor denied by the official source material. Example: Barnabas is a terrible driver.

FEMSLASH: A lesbian pairing, which may be indicated in the header with F/F. For example, Josette dumps Barnabas for Angelique in Two Women in Love by Daryl Wor.

FLUFF: A work that is light-hearted or silly. Usually a one-shot. In Collinsport High, Vicki encountered some mean girls.

GEN or GENFIC: Fanfiction that would be rated G or PG. It contains no sexual situations or graphic violence and has little if any cursing.

HURT/COMFORT (h/c):  A term for stories in which a character is put through a traumatizing experience in order to be later comforted. In Deep Water by N.J. Nidiffer, Willie gets mugged by local thugs and (for a change) Barnabas puts on the Band Aids. The corresponding genre is HURT/NO COMFORT, in which no Band Aids are involved.

LEMON: Light the candles, pour some wine and get ready for some explicit sexual material. The Courage to Stand by mtinpa2005 fits that description and throws in lots of violence as well; aka ADULTFIC.

LIME: Some sexual material, but not quite as lemony.

MARY SUE: An original female character who is unrealistically perfect in every way, or otherwise badly conceived. It comes from a 1973 Star Trek zinefic titled A Trekkie’s Tale, starring Lt. Mary Sue, the youngest lieutenant in the fleet. It is sometimes associated with self insertion and carries negative connotations of wish fulfillment on the part of the author. The male counterpart is a GARY STU.

NOTP: No True Pairing. Your least favorite couple. The match made in hell.

OTP: One True Pairing. Your favorite couple. The match made in heaven.

A single chapter story. In Drastic Measures, by neverwithoutyou, Dr. Hoffman gets rid of her rival, that pesky Angelique, once and for all. Julia is pretty bad-ass to be able to do that in just one chapter.

OC: Original Character. A character not in the original story but created by the fanfic author, i.e., Willie’s wife, Abigail, in the trilogy by Mina225 or the dozens of new faces in the Collinsport Chronicles by Maryland Rose. Variations include OFC (original female character) and OMC (original male character).

OOC – Out Of Character: A term used when a character acts in a way that does not fit with the source material. Example: Vicki understands something, Roger turns down a drink, or Willie uses good judgment.

PLOT BUNNY: An idea that sticks in a writer’s head and will not go away until it is put to paper or screen.

PRE-SERIES: A prequel to the original storyline. Legacy of Shadows: Symphony of Terror by jeuxsansfrontieres takes place in 1927 with 12-year-old Elizabeth and four-year-old Roger Collins. Likewise, a CONTINUATION picks up after the series ended. For instance, Julia marries Barnabas, they produce a hoard of bloodsucking doctors who experiment on themselves, and live happily ever after. A need for closure is often the motivation here. 

POV: Point of View, like when Adam ponders his feelings for Carolyn in Poetry in Motion by Magical Irish Dolphin.

PWP: Porn Without Plot, or “Plot? What Plot?” Often a series of sexually oriented vignettes with no discernable storyline.

RL: Real Life. That thing you have to do between fanfictions.

ROUND ROBIN: A fanfiction written by more than one author; they take turns writing chapters. A kind of Who’s Line is it Anyway? improv game for writers, except that Drew Carey will not be there to buzz you out.

SHIPPING: Derived from the word “relationship,” the writer plays matchmaker for her favorite couple who may or may not have hooked up in the original story. Popular DS examples are Barnabas/Julia and Willie/Maggie. Phrases such as “set the ship to sail” and “watch the ship sink” are common.

SIDE FIC aka DIVERSION: Usually a one-shot which takes place during another story from someone else’s POV. It may also fill the gap between scenes in the original source material. In The Earrings Diversion by Sylvia Bond, Barnabas discovers the missing earrings were actually given to Maggie.

SLASH: A homosexual pairing. Fluffybeaumont has written several non-explicit fics, including Gone to Sea which teams Nathan Forbes and Rev. Trask. The Devil You Know by Kirasmommie is X-rated and well written, if you overlook the misspelling of Carolyn’s name.

SPOILER: Something which may appear in the synopsis or text which gives away the ending or plot twist. It is best to proceed these comments with the warning SPOILER ALERT.

SQUICK: Something you find upsetting, disturbing or totally grosses you out. Some people find adultfic, excessive violence or bad language squicky. Others might be repulsed by an unsightly pairing, such as the aged Barnabas and just about anyone.

TROLL: A person who sows discord on the Internet by posting inflammatory, rude, or off-topic comments called FLAMES. If you “feed the troll” by responding, it may result in a FLAME WAR. Readers who frequent a certain DS Facebook fanpage may have recently seen one on the topic of fanfiction.

TW: Trigger Warning. A heads-up to readers of potentially squicky elements, such as abuse, rape and other uncomfortable situations.

UST: Header warning for Unresolved Sexual Tension.

WAFF: Warm and Fuzzy Feeling. A “feel good” story. Try Easter at the Old House by KatieYoung1960. Spoiler alert: chocolate bunnies are involved.

ZINE: A soft cover bound collection of stories dedicated to a particular fandom. Fanzine popularity decreased significantly with the corresponding rise of fast and free fanfiction on the Internet. The nice thing about zines: They were more carefully edited than their modern counterparts.


So, if you have a plot bunny in your head, go churn out a waffy one-shot of lemon fluff with the OTP you ship most.

But, even if you are not inspired to make your own contribution, read and enjoy the many and varied offerings of fanfic writers around the world as they celebrate their favorite Gothic TV soap opera and help keep its spirit alive.

Don’t forget to tip your author, which means leave a comment or review when possible. Think of them as a bartender who isn’t charging you for drinks.

Marie Maginity is the author of the six-part Willie Loomis World Series, and writes under the names Mad Margaret and Lizzie Bathory. She has a BA in Theatre and works as a professional actor, director and drama teacher. She has had many “straight” jobs, including bartender, gas station jockey, graphic artist, website designer, facepainter and film projectionist. Once, she bullshitted her way into a newspaper job as a reporter and, over the next eight years, became a copy editor, feature writer and assistant editor. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with one husband, two daughters and two cats.


D.W. said...

Love it, well done! I'm getting less confused all the time. Also that was a good tip on Eternally Bonded. I just left a review for it. Again, the same pattern I saw. That pairing seems to be coming around in the summer of 2013 so I didn't see it while I was working on my own.

Katie Lynne Young said...

Well done! The terminology is really helpful. Who knew the story I've been kicking down the road for years was a plot bunny. Thanks too, for providing links to so many stories. It's time to do some reading and reviewing over a stack of Oreos and a hot cup of coffee.

Nancy Kersey said...

What a great article! I learned quite a bit.

mtinpa said...

Thanks Mad Margaret, for posting a link to my story, The Courage to Stand. It makes me feel that my writing is appreciated :-)

Melissa said...

The nice thing about reading Dark Shadows fanfic is that if you don't like it, it's easy enough to imagine that it happened in another band of Parallel Time.

Unknown said...

Will have to apply that to my hashtags and headers. I'm more of a "side fic" person that fills in gaps of point A to point B of stories left untold. For instance, I'm doing one right now about how Burke spent his time in prison and how he came into his fortune, then ending it where he lost his life. Lot of open-ended plot holes to be filled there, and that's what I'm going for. Thanks so much for this article! Took good stuff with me as I read it!

Cousin Barnabas said...

Damn, this is the busiest comments section on the site in a long, long time.

Fluffy Beaumont said...

Thanks for the tip o' the hat for my Forbes/Trask slash. I do so love those two. :)

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