With the advent of the internet, both fan writers and artists have found more opportunities to showcase their work, as there are no longer any limitations to what people could create and put on display. However, lifting those limitations gave rise to a whole new set of problems.
The biggest problem one can find with amateur fan fiction writers and fan artists is that they become very defensive when criticized, taking criticisms as personal attacks. While some critics are equally bad, in the sense that they don’t post anything constructive, the defensive backlash of these creators indicates an unwillingness to improve as an artist.
The Mary Sue
I’ve already written an article talking about this trope at great length, but here’s a quick refresher.
A “Mary Sue” is a character created by a fan fiction writer that serves as an avatar for the author for the purpose of wish-fulfillment. As a result, said character is written as a flawless demigod who succeeds at every single endeavor they’re made to deal with.
This is where the purpose of the story is to pair two characters from the main canon romantically. Result may vary as some pairings are more “likely” than others, depending on the relationships that have been established canonically.
However, there are many “crack pairing” stories where characters that have shown no romantic interest in one another, and in some cases may even dislike each other, are paired up.
Lack of grammar, punctuation and general understanding of how to write
Simply put, the story reads as if it was written by someone who never passed the fourth grade. Often the stories read like an excerpt from Flowers for Algernon where thigs are speld rong wiff. punctuation, marks! in; “all the wrong,” places and UNNECESSARY CAPITALIZATION. Frustration is likely to ensue.
To illustrate this point, we’ll once again use Bronies as target practice as we take a look at the Tumblr blog, Terrible Ponies.
This is a blog where users submit badly created pony characters that are both poorly written and poorly designed.
While some people usually submit their own characters for ridicule, more often than not, the characters are submitted by third parties.
Some of the artists that have been featured on the blog have been pretty good sports about it, even when some of the blog’s followers tend to resort to the non-constructive criticism mentioned earlier.
However, others haven’t been as civil, as the blog and its moderator have been sent several hateful messages ranging from accusations of hypocrisy to “destroying the brony community from the inside“.
These sort of reactions and issues can apply to really any fandom and can also contribute to alienating people from the topic of interest.
As someone who’s going into the arts, namely film and animation, I find the whole thing a little disconcerting
Fan art and fan fiction are good tools for people who want to get into drawing and writing as it allows people to get their feet wet while working with something their familiar with. That’s something even the paper’s cartoonist can attest to.
As any student at the college or anybody in the artistic community would tell you, it takes a long time to get better at something. To truly improve, you have to be willing to put in long hours of creating your work, and then revising it multiple times in order to create something that can be enjoyed by the audience you’re crafting it for.
So imagine you’re an artist that puts in several hours of time into sketching, studying, learning to use different tools, researching compatible color schemes, listening to criticisms and revising your work accordingly only to get a mild degree of attention from an audience.
Now imagine that you come across an artist who doesn’t put in nearly as much time into their work, doesn’t understand the basic elements and principles of design, and is the type of person who will throw a tantrum when someone so much as points out a valid problem with their work.
If you’re the hard working artist, that’s naturally going to make you more than a little bit angry as this person appears to have a sense of entitlement that they don’t actually deserve and is not willing to improve as an artist.
This whole thing has become a huge mess when it comes to the prevalence of fan works on the internet
With people going this crazy over what certain people are doing in their stories or how some people design their characters, it’s no wonder than most people think fans of these franchises are a bunch of raving lunatics.
Is there a way to remedy all of this? Not really, as the internet itself has the tendency to be overrun by vocal minorities of any fandom. All people can really hope for is that a lot of attention can go to the artists that actually deserve it, rather than to those who only think they deserve it. In the end, we just have to have faith in the fact that the vocal minority is only a minority of the fandom.
As for the artists, all I can say is that you should continue honing your skills and get better over time, the way the masters before did in their heyday, and hope it all pays off in the end.
On a final note, for those of you reading this who have had their work “attacked” by the various non-constructive and constructive criticisms of others, the only remedy is to simply do a better job in the future.
An artist is a lot like Sisyphus, once you’re finished with one work, the boulder rolls back to the bottom of the hill. You just have to keep pushing it back up, even higher than before.