Comfort Food

Lately I’ve been thinking about how things work out in fiction, as opposed to how fanfic often works them out. Most of the time, fanfic is forced (or readers want it to be forced) to be the most conventional story that ever existed. I was discussing that with a few friends by PM – the need to have a fanfic wherein the good get rewarded, the bad get punished, and there’s a sense of justice for the characters. It can be as simple as wanting all the ends tied up and infidelity/deceit punished, or Eric and Sookie together, even if Eric is an abusive rapist; or it can be just the (relatively constant) pleas of “You can’t leave it there! What did they do on their third grandchild’s birthday?”

Oh, so I made you one:

There you go – something to while away the hours while you read some samey-same fanfic. You can cross them out and play a little game. If you win, you get one crappy fanfic….so maybe you don’t want to play. But with some fics, you can even fill in the whole grid – a worthy achievement. All that roaring and screaming, juices and gift related tantrums all rolled into the epitome of cookie-cutter fic.

But of course, there are times when this reader doesn’t want just the samey-same fanfic. Maybe I’ve read five versions of that today, and I want a Sookie who doesn’t have to apologise for her life, doesn’t want to give up her dream or change her dream just to “Eric”, didn’t wait around for five to ten years while Eric dicked everything that moved in the name of “angst”. I’d probably even be down with a simple variation of Sookie getting dicked while Eric stays celibate. But hey, women don’t have urges – and Sookie hardly reads any fanfic to get off to – so she usually goes wanting, pining for Eric and the above square of “Eric’s beautiful peen”.

At times I’d be hard pressed to find something different of course – I usually have to make puppy dog eyes at my screen, hoping a writer who’ll actually give me different will update. While I wait, I read bad fic (which can also be samey-same fic) and giggle at the sex descriptions. The paper thin arms, the flipping around of Sookie like a pancake, boning in inappropriate public places, and not to be neglected, the Black Dagger Brotherhood beneficence given to fanfic, juices. And no, Thyra, I don’t care for your lures. I’m never reading them. You’ve told me about them, and I’m going out on a limb and trusting you instead of reading porn.

Fanfic penalises new ideas – it doesn’t reward them.  Some of the most unique stories – with actual storyline other than “Sookie and Eric bone while Sookie stays in the house and Eric fights off her enemies” just don’t come up for attention like some of the smashhits which are “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” (always Repeat). They’re too weird, or they require a great majority of readers to think. Or it’s too far out of their comfort zone. Fanfic is like a comfort food for the actual books. No one is worried if Steve Newlin will come get Sookie, but they’re worried she might break up with Eric. So fanfic is a way to play Barbies with the characters and force them to kiss and then leave them in sex positions for your Mum to find.

In published fiction of course – and I’m not talking published for only for Kindle or ebooks stuff which tends towards trends of BDSM and even tentacle rape (which was last year’s trend by the way, so don’t write that as your breakout book) – I’m talking actual published fiction that more than just the writer and some dodgy company thinks is worth publishing…on paper. Published fiction rewards new ideas most of the time, instead of the recycling comfort food type stuff. That doesn’t mean that no ebook published is unique or new, or that all books on paper are unique or new – but you have a greater chance of finding new ideas on paper.

Fanfic tends to squish new ideas out of people – forcing them to put more HEA into their HEA, forcing it to be an Eric and Sookie story, making sure it’s safe and happy and fun, and most importantly full of boning, roaring, screaming and babies (oh kill me now). The ultimate comfort food. In an endeavour to help those wanting less comfort food, and something with spice and zest that won’t slowly kill them with the boring same-samey, I’m going to suggest some unusual fics.

The Long Way Round – Don’t be put off by the conventional start – it’s anything but.

Bird in Hand – Amish country Sookie.

Two Blondes Walked Into a Bar – Choose your own adventure with Pam and Sookie! And Pam is Pam! Yay!

Sook & the Three Fairies – a very different Sookie. Definitely a heartbreaker, to the point my review is short and useless.

Crazy – Brilliance. Just brilliance. Still sticks with me to this day.

Dissection – Excellent True Blood fic. Definitely something to think about.

La Villa Real: A Boy Named Sue – I am always recommending this writer to those who want some diversity.

A Case of the Mondays – All the supes Sookie’s ever met in one building.

Birthday Surprise! – Eric cooks and manipulates.

Chihuahua Mountain – Parody of Brokeback Mountain

The Sleep of the Staked – Those missing minutes when Sookie was glamoured in Club Dead.

And in future, I’m going to put in a new bit on my LJ – see down there “What I just reviewed” – I’ll try to keep people who want to read what I’m loving enough to review (but maybe won’t go on the Crème de la Crème Fics and maybe will) so that if you want something new and unusual, you too can have it. I can’t guarantee that some of those fics won’t take a turn for the worst (as is known to happen and I stop reviewing) but it might help you wade through samey-sameness with a chance of new. Much more satisfying than comfort food.