not your typical annihilatrix (furiosity) wrote,
not your typical annihilatrix

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In defence of genfic.

In the past couple of months, since starting hp_gen_ch, I've seen people say that they don't read genfic ever. What more, some people say they hate genfic.

I know several people (and there are hundreds more I don't know, no doubt) who don't read fic at all -- that's different. Fic is the ultimate in creative canon interpretation and it's the area where most fanon hangs out; some are allergic to fanon. These members of fandom are often seen discussing the source material or (sometimes, to a lesser extent) role-playing.

I can certainly understand wanting to avoid any and all fic, Reorx knows I've sometimes contemplated doing the same but I'm a writer at heart and I can't write if I don't read other fic to see what's been done to death. It's why I stopped writing in the Matrix fandom: I was too busy with trying to participate in meta and keep up with admin duties at TMC; I didn't have time to read fic in that fandom.

Genfic, the way I've always looked at it, is like meta in fic form. In my first ever Matrix fan fiction, Neo Takes the Blue Pill (which has been on hiatus since early 2001 *eyes it warily*), I tried to invent new ways of interfacing with the Matrix, new roles for ship crew, new functions for the various machines, new characters, new special abilities -- you get the idea. I really strove to make sure all of it made sense given canon.

I basically took my ideas about what could exist in the universe and wrote a story that incorporated them, rather than write a non-fiction treatise on them. It's certainly meta, but it's couched in a fictional story rather than an essay or whatnot. There are also several shippy story arcs in Blue Pill but they aren't the reason I wrote the thing.

Anyway, enough about that fandom, let's talk about HP. ;D

The way I see it, disliking genfic as a genre of fannish writing makes just as much sense as disliking the existence of meta.

I can understand disliking the K2K theory because one doesn't agree with it, but who dislikes the K2K theory for the simple fact it exists? By extension, what kind of fan dislikes meta about their fandom? Aren't we all fans of the source material first? Isn't it supposed to be interesting (to a fan) to think about things that could exist in the universe and scenarios that could happen given what we know from canon? If that kind of thing isn't interesting, then what kind of fan are we talking about?

I can understand disliking pairings, scenarios, turns of phrase, styles of writing. I can even understand disliking slash, het, and femmeslash -- hey, sometimes a story about boys (or girls) fucking is just not a person's cuppa. There's even that whole "ew, het" trend in the slash part of the fandom (which amuses me endlessly, but that's another story).

I've spoken to several people over the past few months who said they hated shipfics and refused to read them. Isn't that the same as hating genfic? Well, not really. It all comes back to the source material in the end. Genfics are, as a rule, much closer to canon in their spirit; much less fanon surrounds genfics because there are fewer constants in genfic -- you're not always writing about the same two (or three, or four... >.>) characters.

It's certainly just as unfair that some people don't give shipfics a chance -- not all romance-oriented fics are purely pornographic and there are lots that offer plenty of insight into canon. But there's hardly a concern, because from the people I've spoken to, those who don't read shipfics no longer read them and that much I can understand; I am currently boycotting all PWPs myself. With genfic hate/indifference, it seems that a lot of people who don't bother with genfic never bothered in the first place.

This isn't about questioning canon or disliking aspects of it -- that's legitimate meta, shit, my own H/D novel-length (that got criticised for having too much genfic-y content, heh XP) is all about the fact that I'm really unhappy with the way 1/4th of Hogwarts is portrayed as nasty, brutish, and mean. There's nothing wrong with wanting to see more depth to canon.

Meta and genfic are two of the most legitimate ways of attempting to see/show more about the canon from different perspectives because let's face it, your PWP where Draco turns into a godlike were-leopard by way of buttsex with Mrs. Norris is not examining the canon in a creative way. Well, amend that, that's certainly "creative", but I use the word derisively.

Again, it's not my intent to knock shipfic, either. As much as I bemoan the abundance of shipfics compared to the scarcity of genfics, shippy stories are invaluable for shedding new light on characters -- love is a powerful emotion that gives way to all kinds of insight into characters as well as to character development.

The majority of the "classic" shippy stories out there, the ones that everyone reads and squees over, are the ones that deal with more than just the ship itself; there is almost always insight, there is character development -- meta on the characters, in other words, as seen by the author; most ships that aren't cracktastic in their nature involve thinking about the source material and seeing if it allows for the ship, and if not, what could happen, given the source material, to make the ship possible.

The way I see it, genfic = meta in fic form and I do view genfic as superior to shipfic in terms of what it can accomplish -- genfic allows for both character exploration and pure storytelling; a genfic story about Snape's years at Hogwarts can include many shippy story arcs, pr0n and all. Shit, the HP books themselves contain shippy story arcs -- not in abundance, but they're there (Molly/Arthur, Lucius/Narcissa, James/Lily, Bill/Fleur, Hermione/Viktor all come to mind).

Just because JKR doesn't write the explicit sex doesn't mean it doesn't happen -- all those Hogwarts students had to come from somewhere :P. Genfic is not limited to stories about family life and wizarding history and the childhoods of various characters. Genfic can include romance, slash or het, and genfic can contain sex -- the highest rating of a genfic story is not PG-13, contrary to popular belief, it's NC-17 (or whatever newfangled rating the MPAA approves of *snerk*). It's not just the "safe for the kiddies" side of fandom.

We have growing lists of cliches in every ship and in fanfic in general but the thing is that you can take a cliched Harry/Draco storyline or plot device, stick it into a genfic story about, say, Harry's Auror training (as a subplot), and you instantly have a fresh take on the pairing -- by virtue of everything else that's happening in the story, the ship is examined from a new angle and it's much easier to get the characters to interact with each other.

So... give genfic a chance. Please? Read a genfic (jetamors has a rec list). Write a genfic. If you have an OTP that features antagonistic characters, you might be surprised and find them gravitating towards each other of their own accord in your genfic (speaking from experience here >.>)...

Try it, you'll like it. :)

-- f, AKA She Who Holds Many Unpopular Fandom Opinions, Knows It, Doesn't Give a Damn.
Tags: fandom:hp, meta:fandom, meta:genfic
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