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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    Love for fictional characters in fan fiction

    I wrote an Artifice article called "Can You Really Fall in Love with a Fictional Character?" (That’s not shameless self-promotion, that’s context for this topic). I got a comment about what the topic looks like in the context of fan fiction.

    Based on comments I’ve seen, many people express their love for a fictional character by writing “self-insert” fan fiction in which they have a relationship with that character.
    Fan fiction could also be used to express agape, non-personal interest in the well-being of the character. A fan can rewrite the ending of a story so it is happier for a particular character. This is often called “fix-it” fiction.

    I’m not sure if there is enough subject matter here for a full article, but then again, I am not enough of a subject matter expert on fan fiction to write it myself. If you know more about fan fiction, perhaps you could flesh it out more?

    • Oh, this I love. I don't write self-insert fan fiction, but I am a big fan of "fix it" fiction. The best personal example I can give you is, I just finished reading Harry Potter for the first time, and I have a *lot* of feelings about Severus Snape. Not a character crush, but I identify with him on some significant levels, and I hate the way his life and arc ended. So recently, I've been hunting fan fiction that redeems this character (without making him nicey-nice), and have even written a bit. It's inspired me to think about other characters and plots I might want to fix, and changed my attitude about canon. (I used to think, if it's canon, you have to accept it, period. You don't mess with it. But now, I'm not so sure). Anyway, as I said, I love the topic and think there is definitely an article in there somewhere. – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
    • I think this would be a very interesting article and I would love to read it once it's written! You definitely have the general topic of it down, but as far as fleshing it out there are a couple of things you could do. The main one would be to read fan fiction. By reading it you can try to understand how and why people choose to write self-insert or reader x *insert fictional character here*. How does it feel to read it? Why did you pick that character to read about? Does reading it satisfy or heighten your feelings towards the character? Another would be to try to reach out to the authors of these fan fictions. No one knows the work better than the ones who create it. Websites like wattpad,, and even tumblr are your best bets for getting replies from authors.I hope these help you start to expand your topic. G'luck! – isabelladannunzio 6 months ago
    • I do read fan fiction, and I probably would reach out to some authors if I was going to write the article myself. But I posted the topic here so someone else - maybe someone with firsthand experience writing self insert fanfic - can write it. That's how this works. Those are definitely good suggestions for whoever wants to take the topic. Thanks for the input. – noahspud 6 months ago
    • I would love to read something about this, since it is rarely discussed, even on sites where it happens almost exclusively, such as Archive of Our Own. I used to write fanfic, mostly "fix it", about The X-Files. But when Mulder and Scully finally did spend the night together in the ep. "Amor Fati", it felt a bit of a letdown. Still, there were many more arcs and great characters, such as the mind-reading Gibson Praise and of course The Smoking Man, a.k.a. Carl Spender. When Duchovny left the series and Mulder went into self-exile, I definitely would have fixed that, since I felt the show began a slow death then. Shippers will often tell you that it all started with Mulder and Scully, though they compared them to the couple on Moonlighting. The lasting favorite seems to be Sherlock, with more fanfiction than you can tally up, usually "fix-it", regarding Sherlock's and John's teased-at romance. Self-insert in this show seems counterproductive, since you would then interfere with the two flatmates and any budding love. Then again, you could always fall in love with Lestrade! Another great companion to fanfic is the Meta, or analysis of a character, arc or trope. Mary Watson, the psychopath, spawned LOTS of these, which went along quite well with both fix-it and self-insert fanfic, usually disposing of her in various, violent and some more humane ways! I just don't know enough about the fanfic of other shows or movies, like Harry Potter, which seems too popular to just leave out of such an article. – SharonGenet 3 months ago

    Fascination with Groundhog Day-esque stories

    Buffy, Angel, Supernatural, Community, the Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Farscape, Person of Interest, and many other science fiction/fantasy shows have had episodes inspired by the movie Groundhog Day. A character relives a series of events multiple times, occasionally making changes to see what the effects are. There have also been movies revolving around the same idea, including Happy Death Day and When I First Met Her. Explore the reasons why the idea presented in this movie (or possibly originating earlier, if you can find past examples) is such a crowd favorite. Are there deeper meanings to be found here, or is it just a comedy bit that other writers reuse because it’s well-liked?

    • I think it has something to do with our fascination of wondering what we could do differently if we could go through the same day again. After a hard decision, who hasn't thought: "what if I did this instead?" I suppose it's a fun and easy thing to explore for an episode or two in a TV show. A fascinating look at these time loop stories is 2016's "Re:Zero" a fascinating anime about a boy in a fantasy world who after dying discovers that he comes back to life several hours before his death. The disturbing nature of facing unavoidable fates and dying repeatedly to save the people he loves is the emotional core of the show, and showcases the true horror of endless time loops. It's a dark and interesting look on the genre/cliche. – Dimitri 5 months ago
    • An intriguing topic suggestion and one that deserves a broader and deeper investigation. I'd suggest breaking away from the limitations of 'Groundhog Day' to consider how other cultures have addressed the same, or similar theme. Off the top of my head I'd recommend the very clever and fiendishly evasive Korean time-loop tale 'A Day' (2016. Directed by Jo Seon-ho) in which not one, but three disparate characters experience the same day, each from his own perspective. No spoilers as to the outcome, but it is unexpected. – Amyus 5 months ago
    • Excellent feedback. I wouldn't have thought of those examples because I know very little about anime, Korean drama, etc. Considering how other cultures see the concept of quantum do-overs would be a great addition to this article. – noahspud 5 months ago

    How do fans ruin fandoms?

    For this, I define "fandom" as the content – the book, show, movie, etc. – well-loved by fans. But some fans say their fandom has been ruined by other fans. Whether a fandom can be ruined for a fan is, of course, subjective; it’s more interesting to consider why the fans say the fandom is ruined for them, how it’s even possible, and what fans can do about it. Examples may include H.P. Lovecraft’s books and, more recently, Rick and Morty.

    • I would suggest a few more examples of how some fans can be considered to ruin fandom for other fans. What might be viewed as enthusiasm by some fans might equally be considered obsession by others - such as Star Trek fans who love their shows so much that they buy Star Trek pyjamas; and how far can fandom go before it becomes idol worship. All fans are 'guilty' of overdoing it in other fans' eyes or conversely failing to take their fandom seriously. You're right when you state that it is subjective. I'd also suggest looking at how some fans who don't have the money to buy official merchandise can be very creative in making their own props and costumes. An example of this would be the incredible costumes made by some Dr.Who fans in Latin America (where the show is titled 'Doctor Mysterio') who did so simply because they had no ready access to official merchandise. – Amyus 1 year ago
    • Interesting topic. I ran into this as recently as last night when the second episode of Once Upon a Time season 7 aired. Fans are already griping and moaning about the writers' decision regarding Hook (won't spoil it if you haven't seen it). Reading all that griping had me bummed because I thought, "They've got a point; this could be the death knell for my favorite series." But then I thought, that's stupid. I still love the series, and in cases like this, what matters is what I think. Then again, being a fan isn't as fun if a bunch of other fans are dissing your show, your movies, your books...whatever. I'll be interested to read about these and other thought processes, and the conclusions different fans of different media come to. – Stephanie M. 1 year ago
    • I think you should use a more formal definition of the term fandom or even give a few definitions. It will help someone writing this topic really get a grasp of what you are trying to ask here. Also, I think if you do write this topic you should consider writing about things that are similar and not so broad. For example, writing about H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkeins. Or comparing Rick and Morty, Adventure Time and The Regular Show. It will help you keep focused and it could be neat to see if any of the fandoms overlap for similar shows or similar genres. – IAmToast 12 months ago
    • Here's what I'm thinking: Fan A and Fan B watch Rick and Morty. Fan A throws a riot in a McDonald's because of the show. Fan B says that the show is now "ruined" for him, and gives Fan A as a reason. That's an example; I may not have a clear definition, but the definition doesn't matter. The author who takes the topic can use whatever terms they want. – noahspud 12 months ago

    Prequel-itis: Causes, symptoms, and cures

    Symptoms of prequel-itis, in TV shows specifically, include 1) pointless cameos and foreshadowing for the sake of fan service and 2) backtracking to keep the plot from progressing "too far," which would result in the show ending. Examples of victims include Gotham, Smallville, and Merlin.
    What I don’t know about, and what I’d be interested in reading, is possible cures for this problem. I am unfamiliar with the Star Wars cartoon prequels, but I’m told they do a better job, so they may hold answers.
    Another possible piece of this topic is causes of prequel-itis. Why do prequels exhibit these problems so often? Is there something inherently problematic with prequels in general?

    • Sounds like a good topic in my opinion. Although a more specific definition of prequel-itis would definitely help. You might also include a third point to them. Which is: retroactively improving the already established lore and story of the series. The best example for this include the Walking Dead, as well as Flash. Looking forward to reading about this topic :) – shehrozeameen 2 years ago
    • @shehrozeameen Prequel-itis, as I see it, is like a syndrome, a set of symptoms that commonly occur together. There isn't really a definition other than "a set of symptoms experienced by prequels including x, y, z...." If the author of the topic could think of a specific definition, of course, he/she'd be welcome to apply it. – noahspud 2 years ago
    • I'd certainly be interested to read this. Would you also consider doing one for sequelitis, because there are a ton of bad sequels out there. Disney is particularly guilty when it comes to both prequels and sequels. They're also fond of the midquel for some reason. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
    • To be clear, this topic is a suggestion for someone else to write (that's how this works). Also, you do have a point, but sequelitis is a separate thing, and I felt that prequelitis was a topical subject that hadn't gotten much attention. – noahspud 2 years ago
    • I think this is a very interesting topic but I disagree with Merlin being placed in the prequel category. Although the show did begin before Arthur was King, the show very much did hit every major event in Arthurian Legend. It included everything from the sword in the stone, knights of the round table, Guinevere's Affair and Arthur's (spoiler alert) eventual death in the series finale. I'd argue that rather than backtracking, the show fast forwarded a bit to hit all these plot points before their pre-decided series end in season 5. The only real difference was that Merlin was depicted as young rather than a wizened old sorcerer adviser. (The series has a host of finale issues that I could probably write a whole different article about but that's not relevant to this comment) – LC Morisset 2 years ago
    • Fair point. Except for the first, what, three seasons, Arthur isn't king, Morgan isn't evil, and Merlin isn't a respected advisor. So it certainly begins as a prequel, and it does indeed backtrack: Arthur starts to think magic is okay. Merlin almost tells his secret. Something bad happens. Arthur is once again convinced that magic is bad. Repeat. Morgan dies as punishment for her bad deeds. Oh wait, she has more to do later. Let's bring her back and let her sit in a cottage for a year. All the Arthurian mythology stuff happens in those last couple seasons, and we see the set up for all of them: the lady in the lake, Excalibur, each major knight of the round table, and Morgan's descent into villainy. I call that a prequel. – noahspud 2 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Your comments on Iron Man not doing enough for the world are very interesting. Tony Stark is, canonically, a futurist. He’s all about trying to predict the future so he can prepare for it. In business, it’s so he can offer a potential solution to a future problem or need and thus make profit from his ability to predict. As a superhero, it’s about anticipating the next big threat and preparing, in his case, suits of armor ready to protect him and the people he loves. This leads to PTSD in Iron Man 3, creating something he can’t control in Age of Ultron, a desire to restrict other superheroes in Civil War, and a general obsession by the time of Infinity War with taking on the big threat… himself!
    This brings me to your point. Iron Man was very future-oriented, but a little too egotistical to think about passing the torch or even swallowing his pride for the sake of teamwork.
    Of course, in the end, stories like these wouldn’t be nearly as effective or, to be blunt, profitable for movie studios if the main characters were quick to step down. They’re built with great heroic traits as well as personal flaws to work out over the course of their story arcs, and they need to remain in the spotlight for the sake of those story arcs.

    True Superheroes Should be Replaceable

    Hello, everyone. In case you’ve read all the way down to this part of the page, you might be interested in this other Artifice article by Emskithenerd:
    Byronic heroes seem remarkably similar to villain protagonists, so it’s easy to confuse the two concepts. Indeed, many of the commenters on my article have made that very mistake. Read Emski’s article, and perhaps you’ll better understand the distinction.

    Antagonist-Centered Stories: What Can We Learn?

    Well done, Emski. For everyone who read my article about villain protagonists and tried to suggest example characters: this is the category most of those suggestions would belong in. And this article is a great addition to that discussion. (Shameless plug, I know, but most of what I would actually comment here is already in that article.)

    Bad Boys, Bad Boys: The Persistent Presence of the Byronic Hero

    Cool. I was a little confused because your first comment has nothing to do with a Biblical, Godly worldview. At all. But your second comment seems to suggest you’ve had a tough life that has colored your philosophy, and it’s good that you have God to hang onto throughout all that.
    Also, you say you have no one to talk to about all this? Find a church. Many of them are full of people ready, willing, and able to love you unconditionally, do life with you, and help you understand the crazy parts.
    Thoughts and prayers, Orion.

    Can You Really Fall In Love With a Fictional Character?

    P.S. God loves you. It’s agape, unconditional love and interest for your well-being, although it’s also storge because he is very familiar with you and cares about you like a child. Consider making him your Father. You won’t regret it.

    Can You Really Fall In Love With a Fictional Character?

    Ooooooh, friend. You are just asking for some kind of response with that comment. But how do I respond to that?
    First of all: wow. You achieved what writers dream of; you made a character with a life and a thought process that you didn’t have complete conscious control of. You made an imaginary person who could tell you things you didn’t consciously know. That is awesome.
    Secondly, the answer to all those questions you asked is God. If you don’t know God, it’s understandable you would come to this unusual conclusion. But you should really consider the Bible for answers. Here’s a rundown.
    Your consciousness, with all its inexplicable parts unrelated or unsatisfied by the physical world – that’s called a soul. It was created by God. And yes, it is a unique, beautiful creation.
    If you feel like a character in a story, that’s because you were once an idea in the mind of God, and he put you here to be a part of HIS story. We don’t get to know all the details of how the story fits together right now, but it will all make sense when our souls leave this temporary world and enter eternity.
    (And if you trust in God’s Son as your savior your eternity will be awesome, but if you don’t then your eternity will suck big time.)
    God’s plan for your life involves the other people in it. They are indeed real, just like you. Please don’t miss out on them. Enjoying fantasy people is okay as long as they don’t pull you away from the real world too much.
    Thank you for the input. I really appreciate it. And by all means, reply again with more questions or comments.

    Can You Really Fall In Love With a Fictional Character?

    Good point. Sounds like you might like the other article I wrote, about looking at stories from the villain’s perspective. These stories tend to make bad guys sympathetic and/or relatable and maybe even likable or lovable.

    Can You Really Fall In Love With a Fictional Character?

    What an interesting way to consider this issue. Well done.
    Both X-men and AI are based on the idea that people are ultimately improving. Of course, the alternative is we were better when we started, several thousand years ago, and we’re just getting worse. But AI could be viewed through that lens, too. Just as humanity rebelled against our Creator, there’s a decent chance that any version of intelligent life we build will want to rebel against us. See also Ex Machina and Solo: A Star Wars story.

    X-Men's Mutants and The Rise of AI: A Reflection on a New Dominant Entity