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Lessons from the Aether: Fan Fiction and Keeping Your Characters in Context



Tweet of the Day: The Yorkshire Enchantress


For many characters are the point of contact with the story. They are the people that make a narrative come alive. They live vicariously through them: they visit new worlds, conquer their fears, defeat mighty foes, suffer their tragedies, and aspire to be better than themselves. So it should come as no surprise when fans create strong emotional attachments to their favorite characters. Nor for that matter when they want to create their own stories, that they would focus on the characters they love.

It is a fun exercise, one that keeps the fans going even after a book or show is over. But the problem is that characters are a product of their respective narratives. From a structural point of view, they are not stand alone subjects, even if we analyze them as such, but part and partial of the story. They are as much an element of the narrative as are setting and plot. A plot without a setting is simply a collection of actions, stuff that happens in a vacuum. A setting without a plot is a place frozen in time where nothing happens. A character without a plot or setting is an archetype or stereotype with a name. Characters are a product of and movers of the narrative. Without these elements to support them, they are nothing.

So the next time you read a fanfic, or for that matter an adaptation or remake of any story, know that those characters might sound like the originals, but they are not the same. They are new characters in a new story. They belong to someone else.



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