Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Canon vs Fanon, Who Cares?

(I may have harped on this before. It’s still relevant, lol.)

Fanfiction is pretty much older than dirt–I would argue Homer was writing fanfic of the Trojan War since it was a) way before his time, b) he made a Turkish city Greek, and c) he brought in legendary heroes from a bunch of time periods together. But the point is, a lot of people accepted Homer’s stories as fact, without even questioning it.

They had accepted Homer’s story as their new canon, making it now what is commonly referred to as fanon.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, canon means the information that comes directly from the source material. Now, what counts as source material can vary. Some people narrow their view to one specific source, such as the film series but not the comics or cartoon spin-offs. Others cherry pick, accepting all sources but not all episodes or facts. A lot of people you just have to ask or read their notes to figure out what they are treating as canon for any particular discussion.

Fanon has two separate meanings, depending on context, and I’m going to look to my Homer example again. The first definition is Homer’s work itself. Homer’s particular combination of characters, setting, and events is its own fanon. In his playground, you have both Ajax’s and yet more contemporary heroes, and the Trojans are a traditionally Greek society. Now, when a group of people argue that they are going to adopt Homer’s fanon as their own, that’s another–and the second meaning–of fanon.

Fanon can be over something small, such as one character having a particular hobby. Another fanon can be a lot bigger, such as how one character feels about another or even about themselves. Sometimes a consensus about names for background characters happens, and the rest of us are left confused. (Looking at you, Miraculous Ladybug with the concept-art Quadatic Kids or whatever they are.)

The trouble that fanon seems to run into is when the fans who create it forget to leave their fanon at the door when new material becomes available. Whether that’s the next movie in the franchise, new books set in the same world, or just a new season of the show, it’s hard on the fandom to make their own fanon and the new bits of canon to mesh sometimes. Long hiatuses make this worse, fyi. It’s why whenever I write fanfic for an unfinished series or I’m reading something in a fandom that is always evolving, I try to keep that in mind. It prevents me from being completely disappointed. It also gives me a refuge if the writing jumps a shark or two. (I refuse to acknowledge Season 8 of Game of Thrones unless it is to call out the mess and bad behavior and how nothing has changed. I literally only watched the series for Dany.)

So what can we interpret this all for as writers? Well, for one thing, it’s gonna happen. You just have to accept it, be amused by it when people ask you questions about it, but otherwise avoid participating in it. The other? Know where to have an answer and where to back away, which comes back to my Law of Writing: never lie to your fanbase. If you haven’t thought of a particular aspect of a character, admit to that if asked, and say it hasn’t come up yet and you wouldn’t want to make a decision without all your notes in front of you. Admit if something is a spoiler for later if it comes up. Some fans hate spoilers with a passion and want to see things in context. And too many spoilers, not only does it raise expectations to unrealistic level, but the fanon can work against you and come up with stuff waaaaay better than your own. (Again, looking at you Miraculous Ladybug and Zag.)

Or if it’s a fun detail that hasn’t come up yet in the books and is just extra, or you happen to know it…tell them. Yes, it’ll feed the fanon or maybe contradict it, but like I said, it’s going to be there regardless. The little facts can create whole spin-offs of ideas and thoughts, especially if your series is finished but you are writing in the same world. But J.K. Rowling has made a name for herself as being the worst example of this. Know when to back away and go, “You know, this is inappropriate for the age demo of these books,” or in her case, I swear she’s just making random stuff up as she thinks it up, which is hell on the rest of us since very bit takes away from the magic that we grew up with and makes it…more like the dirty reality we live in.

Anywho, that’s a whole bag of salt to unpack on another day. I just wanted to take a chance to talk about something I’ve been seeing on tumblr in a couple different fandoms. I’ll be back next week with…something, not sure what yet. Maybe review the new Fast and Furious spin off? It has Hobbs, I’m bound to be amused…


Writing: Unicorns Need a Publicist

…Okay, stay with me on this one.

While I spent the last weekend sick, I had time to do some musing on my novel getting type-casted as being middle-grade, despite knowing my prose is at 9th grade reading level, my main characters are seventeen (if sometimes decidedly immature, but…teenagers), and while the goblins are ridiculous, the hobgoblin is a real threat. I also knew most of the elements I used in my query/first 10 appear in other YA and even adult fiction books, so it couldn’t be them. What did that leave me with?

Unicorns.

Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I grew up watching The Last Unicorn on repeat from the ages of 6 or 7 till…present. I love that movie. I can quote that movie from memory, and I’m due for a rewatch. And I can quote most of the Butterfly’s speech at that. Around 10, I found Bruce Coville’s A Glory of Unicorns and then his Unicorn Chronicles series. (I discovered The Unicorns of Balinor too young for it to click with me, the shortness started driving me nuts.) As a teenager, I kept hoping unicorns would feature more prominently in the Harry Potter series or in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books since they keep getting name-dropped along with the werewolves. I read the Acorna series by McCaffery, but it wasn’t the best thing ever since it was very much sci-fi and that isn’t my cup of cocoa most of the time (plus I got bored about the time the lead got a girl and gave up).

And now as an adult writer who keeps getting told her YA book is too MG in sheer concept, I have to wonder. At one point was it decided that after the age of 12, we no longer like unicorns? That they are meant to be cutsey and wootsey and pretty, but we have to grow up and start liking “serious” books that talk about the world around us, or that if we must do fantasy, shouldn’t we read about dragons, who can be both good or bad or neither and be beasts or companion?*

When I googled unicorns, I didn’t pull up images of Amalthea. I didn’t pull up pictures of fantasy artwork featuring them, like the poster that was in my childhood bedroom up until my mother sold her house four years ago. I didn’t even pull up pictures from old medieval texts, where they were trying to hash together what a unicorn looked like, and boy, were those a mess.

I pulled up My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters. I pulled up cute, stout little chibi figures. I pulled up rainbow and glitter silhouettes. I even pull up a couple of collections of Unicornos, a collection of figurines big out of Asia with different crazy designs that reminds me of MLP in a lot of ways. Or I pull up the horn with a smile and big eyelashes underneath, which is the latest fad, particularly for these “unicorn” cakes. Worse, I pull up super cheap figurines and stuffed toys that are fine for those about age 9 and younger, but any older and you will get some funny looks.

This strikes me as odd. Now, I liked the first two seasons of MLP, but let me tell you, I’d have never admitted to that in high school. (Especially since the show got increasingly juvenile after Faust left.) And as for what I did have… Amalthea faced hardship, and had to change the fundamental core of what she was in order to save the others. Lightfoot and his people went to war, so people could continue to be happy, could continue to have art and music and joy to their lives, for without them, humans were a sad, miserable lot. I wasn’t embarrassed about enjoying those characters, because I knew that they could withstand the scrutiny. Yes, I was able to immerse myself in a fantasy about unicorns, about creatures called to young girls mostly, but they weren’t these one-dimensional ideas, they were actually people with personalities and flaws and growth.

So that now leaves me with a question. Has the world changed? Have teenagers decided they are too old for unicorns, that they don’t need the ideals but instead need the dark and the gritty reality of their world, or only knights and dragons? Or have we, the adults, just decided that they don’t need it anymore? That it’s just a security blanket of childhood, and that there is no depth to be found there?

I hope it’s the latter, and that we can change it. Because I don’t know about you all, but I still need unicorns. I still need to believe in something fundamentally good…even if some of them are jerks, like Moonshine, or a little too interested in fighting, like Sunny will grow up to be.


Forum RP: Politics and Picking Battles

Just when I thought I was out of these to write about, a friend pulled me back in… And for once, I don’t have to wait a couple weeks because I’m not personally involved! There is a Harry Potter rant at the end of this post, but I’ll mark it so you know where it is.

So, you’ve had a big fall out with another player. You just can’t get along, and it’s better if you stay in different RP circles. You join a new RP that excites you…and then they join a little while later. Not only that, but they manage to attach their character to yours. You don’t want to leave the RP, and you know they are going to have some issues with how you do things. You know this is going to be a problem, but what exactly can you do about it?

(For those curious, yes, Sue strikes again.)

Well, here is what my friend is doing, and then there will be my take on the situation. She is hoping that it won’t end up being a big deal. The RP is supposed to be centered around canon characters, and overall Sue’s OC should remain a very minor thing. If it remains that way, they will probably be able to survive the RP without any serious flare ups. However… Having been in RPs with Sue before, I can say that she is never happy to be a minor part of anything. So either she is going to meddle and get her character into the center of the action, or she is going to pout and grumble in a way that completely doesn’t help her situation, just makes her victim, like she has done before (see my post here with Sue’s introduction). I could be wrong, but… I doubt it.

So what would I do in the situation? Well, I’m rarely as attached to a character as my friend is this early in an RP. But this is a character she has played in other canon RPs and has seen others play her, and the way I see it, it’s a bit like me and Rogue. I don’t handle seeing others play her well either. So if that was the case, I suppose there are a couple options. On one hand, you could message the player and make sure that you are going to play this as civilly as possible. Not something I could do, but I’ve burned my bridges with Sue and I have no regrets about it. But it is an option for my friend if things start trying to fall to pieces.

The other option…is wait for her to shoot herself in the foot. It will happen, of that I have little doubt. Unless the girl has managed to drastically change. Anything is possible, and I’ve had very little to do with her, so I suppose there is a chance. But because she’s the one with the OC insert in this case, the group is going to be more likely to let her fall to the wayside than they are my friend’s because she is a canon character. It’s cold and a little cruel, but it puts the problem on the player who is the problem, letting you relax a little without necessarily having to deal with her. Definitely keep the rest of the group it the loop though if sand starts being thrown, though. You want them to see what is going on. Her group has a chat thread going, so I encourage her to keep all her interactions with her in there, where everyone can see them.

Okay, if you have no interest in Harry Potter, feel free to scroll to the end and leave a comment or whatever you like. Rant begins now.

The original character is a Muggleborn Slytherin. A Muggleborn. SLYTHERIN. Apparently there is a wikia somewhere that says that this very rarely happens. I call balderdash. And there is a reason behind this.

Throughout the ENTIRE book, it is bashed into our head that Slytherins are obsessed with the bloodlines. It takes generations for someone to move from half-blood to pure-blood status. While the wikia may claim that Muggleborns may get sorted into the House, the only way I would really accept that is if they are actually descended from Squibb bloodlines, which would make more sense. Somewhere in the character’s ancestry, there has to be a witch or wizard of a pureblood family. Because if they don’t? Think about the description of characters in the house.

The main traits of the Slytherin House, once you take the pureblood aspect away, are their charisma, cunning, and stubbornness. Charisma, like a Gryffindor. Cunning, like a Ravenclaw. Stubborn, like a Hufflepuff. I’ve seen memes that talk about how Gryffindor is actually a merging of all the other houses, they just have to be brave enough to ask to be put in Gryffindor instead. But the same can be said of Slytherin. If you don’t have that bloodline in you anywhere, you can easily be shunted into one of the other three houses. It is also a matter of choice, just also about who you happen to be related to.

And to make matters worse, she’s a Muggleborn Slytherin in Voldemort’s hayday. Yeah, this is set when the Marauders were still in school. I just don’t even. Like the last remaining descendent of Salazar Slytherin would let a Muggleborn who was admitted into his house live after he found out about it. (And I’m sure he’d find out about it pretty quickly.)

End Rant.