fan fiction vs parallel novel

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Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:45 am Post

how do you distinguish between the two?

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Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:46 am Post

aside from the fact that fan fiction is rarely published, the concepts seem to be much the same?

a parallel novel is considered more legitimate because: it's well-written and researched? it has permission from the author of the original novel?

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Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:06 am Post

I'm no expert, and I have only ever read two or three pieces of fanfic so it is not an area I know much about. But this struck me as an interesting question, so please excuse me for leaping in with ill-informed comment! It seems to me that there are three main differences.

The first is the motivation of the author. If the new work is born out of admiration for characters, storyline, setting or other features of the original work, and simply uses, extends or embellishes those without substantially changing the overall feel of the original, then it is leaning heavily towards fanfic. If, however, the work is saying something wholly new, and does not merely reflect the writer's desire for a different outcome in the original or for rehabilitation of a baddy into a misunderstood goody, then it is tending towards being a parallel novel. I'm thinking of Wide Sargasso Sea, for example, or Jasper Fforde's books, or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (OK, that one's not a novel, but I hope you see what I mean).

The second is the nature of the original work. If it is a recognised literary masterpiece, rather than (for example) a chick-lit or a Saturday-evening family-orientated drama series on television, then the new work stands a greater chance of being seen as a parallel novel. Developing a new work out of Anna Karenina is going to carry much more literary weight than doing practically the same thing to Dr Who. (A time-travelling Vronsky -- now there's a thought!)

The third is the quality of the new work and the degree of respect it attracts. If it is a stunning piece of high quality writing, it's more likely to be a parallel novel, whereas if it is badly written it may be doomed to fanficdom for ever and ever. This being a very subjective judgement, the acid test may be whether the new work can achieve commercial publication. The decision may even rest on the previous publication history and repute of the author; a book by a Booker winner might be seen as a parallel novel, whereas exactly the same book by a newbie might be seen as a fanfic. Harsh.

I've just asked my daughter, who has read lots of fanfic and who is very keen on English literature, and her first reaction was: "isn't a parallel novel just sophisticated fanfic?". However, on reflection, she is now wondering whether there is a difference at all, and whether it is merely a matter of perception on the part of the audience.
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:23 pm Post

I believe it was Rudyard Kipling that said

"If... the primary enjoyment of the story is that you get to spend longer in a certain place or with certain characters, ie...
If... the you couldn't change the names of all the characters without destroying the point, ie...
If... the story is only enjoyable to fan(atic)s

then you'll be a fan (fiction), my son" |
"Some dice only have sixes." nom, 19 Oct 2013
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Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:55 am Post

I've written some fanfic my self. I love to use an establish charter that I know and love and put him/her into a siuwashion that I make my self and how they respond to it is fun. This one fanfic that I am writing is based in this one world but all the charters except one are of my own making.