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Why oh why oh why? - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
heleninwales
heleninwales
Why oh why oh why?
I just discovered today that Fifty Shades of Grey started life as a Twilight fanfiction.[*] This explains sooooo much, including its instant popularity. All those people who loved Twilight but who thought that it just needed more sex must have rushed straight out to buy it.

impropaganda reviews it here and links to a PDF file comparing the Twilight fanfic version with the serial numbers filed off version.

In the few paragraphs I managed to force myself to read, there were such howlers as: "The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor." This woman obviously had no idea what terminal velocity is. Also (department of impossible anatomical feats) "I roll my eyes at myself." Why oh why oh why do people want to read such badly written stuff? It's obviously providing them with something that they like and it so clearly misses the mark where I'm concerned.



[*] I'm quite prepared to believe that everyone but me already knew this.

[Cross-posted from Dreamwidth by way of a backup http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/48717.html. If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]

Current Mood: confused baffled

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lil_shepherd From: lil_shepherd Date: June 21st, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good heavens, how did you miss that?

There are any number of examples of published and (occasionally) award-winning novels which are fan fic with the "numbers filed off." I can think, immediately, of a "best first novel" winner in one of the major crime categories that is Starsky and Hutch with the numbers filed, and a very famous SF novel started life as a Sarek/Amanda piece (though there is not much left of that), while the same author has characters who are pretty obvious versions of Avon, Servalan and Travis, and a famous UK fantasy writer who wrote a novel, much recc'd in the fandom, where the two male leads were plainly AU versions of Avon and Vila... and those are only fandoms with which I am familiar.

Naturally, they would all deny it, for copyright reasons.
julesjones From: julesjones Date: June 21st, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, to be fair, the last of those denies it's the B7 characters by saying that she based it on the relevant *actors*. :-)

What I found fascinating about the recycled Twilight fanfic was the resulting furore in romance fandom about how evil and deceptive a practice it was to recycle fanfic into profic. Because not only are there well-known novels in SF&F which nobody bats an eyelid over, there are any number of pro writers whose stated policy on fanfic of *their* stuff is, "Cool. Just remember that it's *my world and characters, and don't try to sell it. If you want to sell it, file the serial numbers off first." It had never occurred to me that anyone could take offence as a *reader* about fanfic to profic, other than over the quality of the workmanship on filing off the serial numbers.
From: joycemocha Date: June 21st, 2012 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear God. I didn't make it past the first page and the praise for her roommate on the PDF comparison version. And why, oh why, did she change it from PDX to Vancouver Washington? Portland flows more easily.

Of course she gets to drive her roommate's hot car. Of course. Geez, college roommates with hot cars have gotten a lot more accommodating than in my day!
(let's not even mention the unlikelihood of such a roommate mismatch in these days and times, much less that there ISN'T ANY FREAKING COLLEGE IN VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON THAT WOULD ATTRACT SOMEONE AT THAT LEVEL OF INCOME! Portland, yes. The 'Couv? Unlikely. The broke girl would be living in Portland because busing to Portland State is a pain from the 'Couv and the rich girl would be living with her family in one of the 'Couv's gated developments).

Arrgh.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's just not my fantasy and I feel sad that so many women are happy to fantasise themselves into a story as someone who can't even enter a room without tripping over her own feet. Whereupon the gorgeous control-freak of a male will help them to their feet and set their hearts aflutter. Whatever happened to imagining oneself stronger and more powerful than you really are? A sort of inner role model if you like.

The thing is, I would run a mile from such a man in real life and I don't want them in my fiction either -- other than as the bad guy who gets his comeuppance in the end.
sartorias From: sartorias Date: June 21st, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I heard about it first as Twilight fanfic, which was enough to decide me against ever looking at it.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I somehow missed out on that and was almost tempted to buy it by various women on the children's lit Facebook group mentioning that they'd read it as relaxation now the course was at an end. If I'd known it was based on Twilight, I'd have run a mile! I feel I've had a lucky escape!
pickledginger From: pickledginger Date: June 21st, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
This explains so much.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
It definitely does!
halfmoon_mollie From: halfmoon_mollie Date: June 21st, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't know it.

I read the first Twilight book and have no wish to ever read another one. I read one of her books - 'Host'?- that I did like.

And I really don't wish to read Fifty Shades of Grey either...

heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was almost tempted to buy it by various women on the children's lit Facebook group mentioning that they'd read it as relaxation now the course was at an end. If I'd known it was based on Twilight, I'd have run a mile! I feel I've had a lucky escape
batwrangler From: batwrangler Date: June 21st, 2012 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's obviously providing them with something that they like and it so clearly misses the mark where I'm concerned.

I suspect that they aren't reading for the words, they just need the framework for what the story makes happen in their heads/hearts (note: this is not a bad thing). In other words, the part of the reading experience that they are bringing to the work is powerful enough to make up for deficits in what the author has written.

I generally notice the words in a story enough that the stuff you mention will tend to keep me from engaging with and enjoying it. The Harry Potter books, particularly the earlier ones which were edited in their American editions to be less British (grrr*), had a bunch of awkward stuff happening at the sentence level that I didn't notice when I was reading them, but did notice when I either read parts out loud or listened to the (Jim Dale) audiobooks, but overall I was engaged enough that it didn't interfere with my reading experience (until Order of the Phoenix, when other factors combined to trigger more critical reading on my part).

*In fact I avoided the Sorcerer's Stone until I found out that it had been retitled/renamed for its American audience because my response to the synopsis was an indignant "that's a Philosopher's stone!"

Edited at 2012-06-21 02:17 pm (UTC)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking more about the particular fantasy that the book provides, rather than the prose. The downside of learning to be a better writer is that bad prose clunks, but I can just about suppress my inner critic if the story is good enough and the characters appeal.

But from reviews I've read, Fifty Shades of Grey is not my fantasy at all and I feel sad that so many women are happy to fantasise themselves into a story as someone who can't even enter a room without tripping over her own feet. Whereupon the gorgeous control-freak of a male will help them to their feet and set their hearts aflutter. Whatever happened to imagining oneself stronger and more powerful than you really are? A sort of inner role model if you like.

The thing is, I would run a mile from such a man in real life and I don't want them in my fiction either -- other than as the bad guy who gets his comeuppance in the end.
coth From: coth Date: June 21st, 2012 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Because in every generation there is a new cohort of uncritical readers waiting to be engaged by the first instance of something that tickles their fancy. In this instance newly adult female readers who want plenty of fantasy sex.

I'm not knocking it - I started reading SF with Kemlo (genetically engineered to breath in a vacuum!) and got my fix of this particular genre in my late teens/early twenties (The Story of O and The Life and Loves of Frank Harris if you are wondering). I won't be reading this one, this particular fantasy just doesn't do it for me any more.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no problem with erotica, but I'm afraid this particular fantasy never did it for me. I would run a mile from such a man in real life and I don't want them in my fiction either -- other than as the bad guy who gets his comeuppance in the end.
birdsedge From: birdsedge Date: June 21st, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did read Twilight (the first one) - to see what all the fuss was about - and was appalled. I will not be reading Fifty Shades.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no problem with people enjoying escapist sexual fantasies, but from reviews I've read, Fifty Shades of Grey does not float my boat at all. I feel sad that so many women are happy to fantasise themselves into a story as someone who can't even enter a room without tripping over her own feet. Whereupon the gorgeous control-freak of a male will help them to their feet and set their hearts aflutter. Whatever happened to imagining oneself stronger and more powerful than you really are? A sort of inner role model if you like.

The thing is, I would run a mile from such a man in real life and I don't want them in my fiction either -- other than as the bad guy who gets his comeuppance in the end.
readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: June 21st, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having consigned the first Twilight book to the bin marked 'Misogynist, Anti-Feminist, Abstinence Porn Trash - please BURN'[*] I have no desire to read anything remotely connected to it.

And you are not alone. I've heard of Fifty Shades of Grey but had no idea to what it referred.

[*] Yes - I mean burn. It's crap & an insult to grown women & their girl children.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I seems that Fifty Shades of Grey has dispensed with the abstinence part so it's simply Misogynist, Anti-Feminist, Porn Trash. :(

I suspect people will say that it's just a laugh, a fantasy, but makes me sad that so many women are happy to fantasise themselves into a story as someone who can't even enter a room without tripping over her own feet. Whereupon the gorgeous control-freak of a male will help them to their feet and set their hearts aflutter. Whatever happened to imagining oneself stronger and more powerful than you really are? A sort of inner role model if you like.
From: cmcmck Date: June 21st, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
'Why oh why oh why do people want to read such badly written stuff?'

For the same reason some people want to read Mills & Boone I suppose- it doesn't really require any intellectual effort on their part.

I find this deeply depressing.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 21st, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suspect people will say that it's just a laugh, a fantasy, but makes me sad that so many women are happy to fantasise themselves into a story as someone who can't even enter a room without tripping over her own feet. Yet despite that, the gorgeous powerful control-freak of a male will help them to their feet and set their hearts aflutter then lavish expensive consumer goods on them and turn them into sex slaves.

I have no problem with people enjoying a rich and exciting fantasy life but to me this is not it! Whatever happened to imagining oneself stronger and more powerful than you really are? A sort of inner role model if you like.
lizziebelle From: lizziebelle Date: June 21st, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some friends of mine were discussing those books, saying they wanted to read them. When I told them about their origins, it made them want to read them more. I will never take a book recommendation from either of them ever again!
From: coldhighmountai Date: June 21st, 2012 11:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

terminal velocity

Terminal velocity has to do with an object falling not an object ascending. Enof to toss de book...
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 22nd, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: terminal velocity

I know. Ironically, the original, though a cliche, at least made sense. The reference to "terminal velocity" was in the published "improved" version!
nutmeg3 From: nutmeg3 Date: June 22nd, 2012 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Don't even get me started... As if Twilight didn't make me crazy enough, when I first heard this - and saw how absolutely horribly written 50 Shades... is - I just wanted to despair. So many wonderful books go begging for readers, and this steaming pile makes millions. Now I just try not to listen when more news of its rampaging success hits the news.
dendrophilous From: dendrophilous Date: June 22nd, 2012 02:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Twilight did keep me turning pages. I read the second one, too. Someday I should take a look and see what kept me reading and then apply it to my own work.

I have absolutely no desire to read 50 Shades, though I'm curious to see the serial numbers.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 22nd, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, from what people have said who have read my books, I can write a page-turner. My weakness is not being high-concept enough and probably not being perceived to have high enough stakes with regard to plot. Basically, my writing is just a bit too bland for today's tastes. :(
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: June 23rd, 2012 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I told my colleagues at work it started out as Twilight fanfic, none of them believed me.

And yes, you're so right. Why do people put up with so much cack??
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