… or: me petpeeving again.
For part one, it’s here: Something about Fanfiction
Yes, I’m back into fanfiction thanks to the gloriously gay and amazingly sparkly Yuri on Ice and with that comes my general annoyance by certain things writers tend to do. Before we take a huge bite out of the cake of crap, I would like to point out something I recently discovered and that I just absolutely love: soulmark fanfictions.
Soulmark fanfictions revolve around the idea soulmates exist and every pair of soulmates has a matching pair of soulmarks to identify them as such. Sounds cheesy, cliche and hopelessly romantic? Hell yes. Do I enjoy it nonetheless? Fuck yeah. However, I have to add I enjoy it in Yuri on Ice in particular, that is because the relationship between Yuri and Victor is so natural I can totally picture them as being meant for each other.
Yuri on Ice in general walks a very fine line between beeing the cutest thing ever and the biggest cliche ever. Somehow, even though it has it all to be as sassy and cheesy and disgustingly unrealistic, it’s the exact opposite. Victor and Yuri are meant for each other and I believe it. Therefore, soulmark/ -mate fanfictions fit.
Now, let’s get to the bad stuff. Why do so many people think it’s a good idea to convey a character’s feelings by writing out their thoughts as if they were talking silently to themselves inside of their brains? Maybe I’m just incredibly abnormal, but I don’t really talk to myself in my brain. Well, maybe the occasional: “Damn, I’m supid” but that’s about it and even that often ends up vocalized. Chances are high, if you try to remember the last time you found yourself conciously telling “OMG, I didn’t just say that!” you’re not going to remember anything, because there’s nothing to remember. That’s simply not how our brain works.
The thing is, when we do something wrong, we know we did something wrong, but we usually don’t put it into words unless we’re going to say them. Again: unless I’m just incredibly abnormal for not conciously talking to myself inside of my brain. When someone tells you he’s in love with you, there’s no voice in your head that goes “OMG! Did he really just say he loves me?” That’s just not happening, even though you probably are overwhelmed and in disbelieve and this is exactly what’s going throught your brain, but you don’t put it into words. Look: this is your brain. You don’t need to tell your brain what your feelings are right now, your brain is the control center of your body it knows what you’re feeling without being told.
To make a long story short, talking to yourself in your head the way you would be talking to another person, is so unnatural, because this is you. You don’t need to tell yourself about what’s going on inside of yourself, because this is you and you already know all that without putting it into worlds. Therefore, every time I read something like that, it’s quite literally making my toenails roll up. If it doesn’t belong into your head, it doesn’t belong into the heads of your characters in your fanfiction. … if we’re talking about people in a state of mind that would be generally accepted as “normal”.
As for the reason why I think so many people do it, sometimes to the extent they’re giving thoughts their own quotation marks to differentiate them from outspoken conversations, I think it’s probably just the easy way out. It’s short and it’s very much on point and that’s the problem. In my first fanfiction-rant-thingy I was talking about the need of desciption. You’re not telling a story, if you’re just stating facts after facts. Unless you’re writing a stage play, you need to describe.
And yes, it’s perfectly fine to put your character’s thoughts into words, how else would you convey them to your readers? There’s just such a HUGE stylistic difference between writing: “Did he just say he loves me?” and “She stood before him in utter disbelieve, his words still ringing in her ears. Never did she imagine, even in her wildest dreams, the day would come when he would confess his love for her.” Are you noticing that difference? Isn’t it cristal clear?
If you want to write a fanfiction, you need to be aware of the fact that you are telling another person (aka the reader) a story. There’s a connection between the author, the reader and the story. Imagine it as a triangle. It doesn’t matter what kind of narrative form you choose, if you’re going for a third-person narrator who stands above everything and knows everything about every character, or if you’re going for a first-person narrator who’s one of the characters of your story and only knows about himself. These are the two most common narratives you find in not just fanfiction, but also in novels.
You, as the author, give the narrator your voice to tell your reader the story you thought of. You can tell the reader about the feelings of your characters, that’s perfectly fine: “She knew she was wrong.” However letting the character tell to himself what he is feeling, as if he was talking to another person in direct speech inside of his head, that’s just wrong on so many levels.
Of course, like ever, there are situations where it’s okay to write like that. However, the rule of thumb is: whatever you do, is okay for your characters to do. Try to think when you talk to yourself in direct speech and if you do so in your brain or if you vocalize it. Chances are you vocalize it. In most cases, we’re writing stories about humans. You are human, you are the best example, try to write what you would do and if you notice this is something you never do, like talking to yourself in your head as if you were talking to another person, then just find another way to express whatever you were about to write. Instead of using direct speech, use indirect speech or descibe.
I hope I was able to convey what I was trying to say about this and why I think this is one of the big no-goes so many people are guilty of doing.