Tweet of the Day: Writing Excuses 9.20: Creator vs. Creation
Let’s say that you pick a book. It came glowing recommendations from your friends, a must read, ten out ten. You read it. It turns out to be a good book. Solid plot, good characters, great setting, a story right up your alley. But you finished the book. So that one friend suggests that if you want to indulge in the further adventures of Perry and the Winkles you should check out some fan fiction.
“Yes, stories written fans. You’ll love it!”
You read some it. Quality varies, but you find a particular story that is well written. Then you stop, dead on your tracks. There is something wrong here.
“Hang on? I don’t remember Sir Hack-A-Lot as a noble savior of puppies and kittens? He tried to kidnap Prince Dalbert!”
You pick up your copy of Perry and Winkles, re-read a few key passages and then go back to the story. That’s right he did try to kidnap Prince Dalbert, and kick his dog twice, once on his way into the castle, and again on his way out. Sir Hack-A-Lot is the kind of character you wouldn’t leave with your children, your dog or your home. Yet here, he romances all the ladies of the chamber, is the Queen secret lover,for only Hack-A-Lot can give the loving embrace her dastardly husband denies her and a is friend to all living thing. And that kidnapping attempt? Oh, no, it was rescue from the above mention dastardly King who meant to through Prince Dalbert into cooking pot and serve him to the Queen for dinner.
Doesn’t sound like story you read before, right?
Enter the Draco in Leather Pants.
The term comes from Harry Potter fan fiction, specially those fics that turn erstwhile villains into desirable misunderstood bad boys that need a good woman to save them from themselves. To be fair, in the original work Draco Malfoy, a boy who is a racist bully does evolve into a tolerable character, after seeing the depths of the mess he and his family find themselves in. However this is far from the re-characterization involved in this trope. In order to pull this off, you have to rip the character out of the story and recast them in a new light. But a character outside of the story is nothing more than a collection of traits with a name attached to it. Furthermore in order to pull off this trope you have to re-arrange those traits and throw away those you don’t like for those you like. The end result is something unrecognizable from the original prompting the question of why, outside satisfying the fan’s ego, did they use an existing character instead of creating a new one. There is also the insinuation (which I seen outright spelled out in places like Tumblr) that the fans know better than the author. That this trope is a corrective trope instead of fantasy fulfillment.
<Insert Face Palm Here>
But this is part of the derivative work phenomenon.
It comes with the territory.