For the most part we've done a lot of talking about published authors, but every once in a while I wanted to discuss something close to my heart: fan-fiction. Some of you may be aware that I wrote a Twilight one-shot for MsKathy's Twifans For Haiti author compilation. It's a Star Trek/Twilight crossover, a parody of quite a few things, and can best be categorized as "crackfic." (Psst... If you donated and have the compilation, it's called "Fully Functional" and is on page 855.)
When I tried to explain the premise to the uninitiated (aka Rain) I was fairly uniformly met with this: "Crack-what?" So, today I thought I'd explain to you (and Rain) what a crackfic is, and more importantly, why crackfic matters. (Bear with me here.)
The thing about fan fiction is that we (writers and readers) take it really seriously. I mean, we're often placing poor Bella in these terrible gut-wrenching situations. She has had to go through the heartbreak of Edward's departure thousands of times thanks to thousands of different keyboards. Edward has watched her die, almost die, chosen to leave, chosen to stay, died himself, been horribly abused, and/or been left behind for Jasper/Emmett/Alice over and over again. Sometimes, in the midst of all the drama, you just need a laugh. And that is where crackfic comes in.
According to Wikipedia's list of fan fiction terms (see, it makes it seem all official):
Crack fic:Named after the drug to imply that it can only be the product of a deranged mind, crack fic is identified by its random, nonsensical contents. The plotline might be twisted into a knot, the fic might be a thick parody, or the fic might feature an unlikely or rare pairing ("crack pairing"). Generally these are humor pieces.
Crackfic is essentially the Saturday Night Live of fan fiction, but often funnier. (Unless we're talking classic SNL, in which case crackfic can only hope to be half as amusing as Gilda Radner.) Like SNL, what makes it good is that it is not only funny but also smart. Crackfic is not an excuse for bad writing and dialogue, it's a platform to poke a little fun, and when done right it's golden.
Some of my favorite fics have fallen into the crackfic category:
Psychotic Super Powered Vampirism, by Pastiche Pen, for example. It's told through varying viewpoints, some of them fairly off-the-wall, but is a very original and witty commentary on Bella's reaction to Edward's abandonment.
In Diary of a Mad Flask Ciao_Bella lets us in on some backstory for her fic, Living Backwards, by giving voice to Bella's trusty flask, Joan. A talking flask is definitely crack, but Joan is priceless and totally worth the suspension of belief.
And then there is Well This Sucks: Life According to Seth by Krum Kake. The only reason why I include this is because any story told from Seth Clearwater's "man journal" has to be at least crack-influenced. It's truly hysterical, though, and you're missing out if you don't at least give it a chance.
Of course, not all "crackfic" is fan fiction. Personally, I can't help but feel that Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is crackfic of the original variety. Hitchhiking aliens, intergalactic bulldozers, and a towel? But it all comes together so perfectly that I've read and reread it more times than I can count. It still makes me laugh and may be my favorite book. Then there's Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Only their twisted minds could write a book about the coming of the Antichrist and have me snorting aloud as I read it.
Okay, so it's funny. But why is it important? That's simple:
If we couldn't poke fun at the things we love (Twilight, our country, our life, our kids, etc) then we get bogged down in it. How do you learn and grow without that distance, as Bob Newhart said? Sure, we all adore Twilight. But we also all probably laughed so hard we almost peed at this video clip:Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on. ~Bob Newhart
So, go out and laugh today. Read a little crackfic.