Fan fictions are stories set in or drawing elements from a particular fandom that are not created by the original author(s) or their designated continuers; they are created by unauthorized writers or artists who want to use another creator's vision. The FanonFall wiki is designed to encourage and celebrate fan works of art or fiction set in or drawing on the MMORPG ( Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall. This particular article is meant to make suggestions to help fans create works that better reflect the game and the fun of playing it. Obviously, fan fiction is an even broader field than fiction, so this guide will be a mere skeleton outline, as well as a work in progress.
Let’s start by explaining some of the concepts used to discuss fan works.
Canon, Fanon, and Fan-Fiction
Let's say Craig McCracken creates a cartoon about three little girls who are superheroes. It is picked up and developed by Cartoon Network as The Powerpuff Girls. This creates the Powerpuff Girls "fandom" — a "mythos" or "universe" created by some original creator or group of creators in a particular medium or media (books, movies, television shows, video games, etc) and the collective body of admirers of that universe.
Whatever the original creators produce in official form is canon for a particular fandom — the most correct and acceptable version of that created universe, in this case, the original run of The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network. It is possible for there to be official remakes or sequels to the original body of works. These may or may not be considered "canon": fans often debate whether such works are properly regarded as authoritative or not.
Anything not created by the original creators or their authorized heirs is a "fan work." Pictures or representations of a particular fandom are generally called "fan art"; stories based on a particular fandom are "fan fiction."
The term fanon (derived from "fan canon") was originally devised to mean "an idea or concept accepted by all, a majority, or a large number of the fans, which cannot actually be proven by means of canon." For instance, the ideas that Sherlock Holmes wears a deer-stalker hat and Inverness cape or says “Elementary, my dear Watson!” cannot be proven from any of the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but are accepted by the vast majority of those who have heard of Sherlock Holmes. However, on this wiki we often use "fanon" rather more loosely, to stand for any fan-derived idea, whether accepted by large numbers of fans or only by one.
Any fan authors will have to decide for themselves if their fan fiction will adhere to canon or not. Let's look at a possible scenario:
- My original character, Princess Stripedtiger, finds new friends like Ben Tennyson, Rigby, Marceline, Scooby-Doo, Rolf, Chris McLean, Ash Ketchum, Green Lantern, Timmy Turner, Indiana Jones, and One Direction, and has fun adventures!
The difficulty here is based on the characters. Oddly enough, the problem is not with the original character, who has a name that could actually have belonged to a player character in the game — in fact, it is arguable that even a wholly made-up name would be acceptable to most readers, even if it were one that could not have been created by the game. It is most of the other characters, derived from various previously created universes, which destroy the canon congruence of the story, though this is done on a number of different levels. Let's take a look at them.
- Ben Tennyson — This is the one character who is absolutely acceptable. Ben was indisputably used in FusionFall.
In the strictest sense, all of the other characters are uncanonical. They never appeared in FusionFall. However, there are degrees of canon congruence, which we will examine further:
- Rigby — Rigby did not appear in person in FusionFall, but he did appear in Nano form, and does appear in the game's sequel, FusionFall Heroes, and is therefore demonstrably part of the game universe. He is, in fact, a "fanon" character: nearly any reader would accept him as not seriously disturbing the canon congruence of a fan-fiction.
- Marceline — Marceline did not appear in FusionFall in any form, but she does appear in its sequel, FusionFall Heroes, and is therefore part of the game universe. She is, like Rigby, a "fanon" character: nearly any reader would accept her as a canonical character.
A line is crossed here. The following characters are much less likely to be acceptable as canon congruent by most readers.
- Scooby-Doo — Scooby did not appear in FusionFall, even as a Nano, nor is he in FusionFall Heroes. He is depicted on a monument in the game, and it is arguable that he and his fellow Hanna-Barbera characters (since Hanna-Barbera was absorbed by Cartoon Network Studios, before they themselves were absorbed by Warner Bros. Animation) belong to the same universe (possibly at some other point in time). Further, Cartoon Network has produced sequel shows in which he appears. Some fans might accept him as canon congruent, some not.
- Rolf — Rolf did not appear in FusionFall in any form, nor is he referred to in any way. However, he does clearly belong to the Cartoon Network Universe, as he appeared alongside characters in the game in the shows from which they were derived, and was created by Cartoon Network Studios. He could be argued to be canon congruent.
- Chris McLean — Like Scooby-Doo, Chris appears as a picture in the game, but unlike Scooby, the show he appears in was not created by Cartoon Network Studios, but by Teletoons. However, the two studios are related and his show has been shown on Cartoon Network. Chris might be considered canon congruent.
Another line is crossed here. The following characters probably would never have appeared in FusionFall or even been referred to in-game.
- Ash Ketchum — Ash’s show has appeared on Cartoon Network, but it was not made by Cartoon Network Studios or even a related studio. Few would consider him canon congruent.
- Green Lantern — Green Lantern has appeared on Cartoon Network, but his show was not made by Cartoon Network Studios, nor did he originate as a cartoon. Few would consider him canon congruent.
- Timmy Turner — Timmy is a cartoon, but never appeared on Cartoon Network, and in fact is from a rival studio. Few would consider him canon congruent.
- Indiana Jones — Dr. Jones is a fictional character, but not a cartoon, and he never appeared on Cartoon Network. Very few would consider him canon congruent.
- One Direction — The boys are real people. Let's hope nobody would be whacko enough to consider them canon congruent.
Remember, all fan fiction is non-canonical by definition. It is perfectly acceptable to write fan fiction that contradicts canon, even though a high level of canon congruence is valued by many fans. Ultimately, however, it is not as important to be correct in mirroring all the details of a fictional universe as it is simply to write an entertaining story.
Some Common Terms
- Angst (from German Angst, "terror," influenced by English "anguish") is extreme suffering, physical and emotional, by the characters of a fiction. For instance, a writer might imagine a story in which Uncle Max is killed and Ben is captured and tortured by Fuse. "Angst fics" tend to focus on this sort of suffering. Though extremely powerful when well done, this can very easily be overdone or badly handled, leading to bathos when the characters’ suffering evokes laughter rather than pain in the reader.
- Canon Congruent (CC) fictions are those which do not contradict anything that can be demonstrated from the canonical universe. For instance, to have the Ice King in a story would be canon congruent, but having the Ice Queen would not be.
- Crossover fics are those in which the characters, locations, etc. of one fictional universe meet or "cross over" with those of another. FusionFall itself is an example of a crossover, wherein the elements of several Cartoon Network shows were joined together. Though it is entirely possible for a crossover fic to be canonical for one, more than one, or all of the universes represented in it, crossovers are often considered one of the main breaches of canon congruence.
- Genfic is short for "generalized fiction." This refers to fiction that does not fall into a specific genre such as horror or fantasy, or which does not have a particular focus, like "Angst" or "shipping fics."
- Mary Sue (said to be derived from the name of a character of this type which appeared in a fan-written script for the original Star Trek) is used 1) for any self-insert character (please see below) or 2) for any character which is portrayed as so interesting that it becomes the total focus of interest of the author and of all the characters. Notice -- "portrayed" as being interesting. Generally this type of character is written as being perfect in every way, so beautiful, powerful, unique, exotic, and all-around fascinating that it becomes an immense bore to readers. Such characters almost always are self-insert characters, the authors' dream-vision of themselves (though occasionally it can represent an author's ideal lover). For example, the Ice King's fan fiction portrays Ice King himself as "mega-rad cool guy," who constantly saves Fionna and Cake and is desired by them as their "best and closest friend." The term "Mary Sue" is sometimes converted to male form as "Gary Stu," "Marty Stu," or the like.
- Original Characters (OC) are persons in a story devised by authors of fan fictions. They are non-canonical by definition. “I had to invent an OC in my story to get murdered by Fusion Finn, since I didn’t want to kill off any of the canon characters.”
- Out Of Character (OOC) refers to a canon character (object, location, etc.) which is noticeably different in a fan fiction than it is in canon. Unless fan authors state ahead of time that they are changing that part of the story ("In my story, Dee Dee is the smart one, and Dexter is stupid"), this is generally considered a bad thing — and very often even if they do stipulate it.
- Shipping or to Ship (derived from the word "relationship) refers to romantic involvements between characters in a story. For instance, "to ship Ben with Blossom" means to involve those two in a love affair with each other. Those who promote a particular "ship" are called "shippers" ("Can you believe she's a Fionna/Ice King shipper?"). Stories that center on such romances are often called "shipping fics."
- Self-Insert(ion) Characters are those in which authors appear, either as themselves or in the guise of fictional characters, in the story they are creating. FusionFall had a number of self-insert characters in the form of various characters, such as "Agent Duffy," who had the same names as some of the game's or shows' creators. There is nothing really wrong with this, but care should be taken to keep the self-insert from becoming a "Mary Sue."
A Few Guidelines
Remember: WHOEVER CREATES THE ART HAS FULL RIGHTS OVER IT. This means two different things.
First, it is the creator of the original work who has the last word over what is rightly written about it. In practice, this means whoever holds the copyright is the final authority: if Cartoon Network wishes to suppress a work based on any cartoon it owns, it has the right (if not always the ability) to do so. CN could shut us down tomorrow, and we would have no right to protest. Thank you, CN, for your forbearance.
Second, however, barring Cartoon Network (or another copyright owner), there is no-one who has the right to tell any fan creators what does or does not belong in their own work. If an author wants to have Dexter turning out to be a robot having a romance with a gender-switched Abraham Lincoln, nobody here can tell that author what to write in his or her own fan fiction.
Members who want to publish outlines of their fictions here are reminded to stay within the bounds of good taste. Remember that FusionFall was always meant to be a "kid-friendly" MMORPG. That indicates that it would be preferable to avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion and, to some extent, sex. Kissin' and cuddlin' is okay; underaged tentacle hentai ain't. Use discretion, folks.
(To be continued…)