FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,
FernWithy
fernwithy

What makes something fandomable?

After doing a couple of posts on things my f-list isn't especially into (Warriors and Tom Sawyer), I got to thinking about the question--what is it that makes something "fandomable" and something else just popular? (I'm not talking about popular vs. unpopular; no accounting for that, sometimes, just kind of, what inspires these insanely talkative and creative fan communities, as opposed to being "the it book" or something along that line.)

Everything out there has some fandom somewhere, I'm quite convinced, but there's a difference. Harry Potter has 281,748 stories at the moment at The Pit, and will probably gain a couple hundred by the end of the week. Stephen King, who has arguably sold a comparable number of books, has 371. The ubiquitous Da Vinci Code has 190. John Grisham isn't even listed. The bizarrely popular Gossip Girl books rack up a total of 70, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants--movie and all--only gets to 203, and all of Georgia Nicholson's full-frontal snogging can only get her to 84, despite a lot of popularity when FFN was at its peak.

The thought of stories focused on kids occurred to me, but Orson Scott Card, who writes of little else, only has 211, while Les Mis has 1392. Warriors has more fics than Redwall, which has been around longer (but features talking mice instead of talking cats). Checking LJ comms, Stephen King comes up on a lot of sort of general discussion comms and only a few individual, while we all know how many HP-exclusive comms.

Some things that occurred to me.

Other than the appeal to kids, some of the things I can think of would be:
  • Character arcs over a long series of books. King has a solid world, but his characters for the most part get a book apiece, rarely revisited. Except when it is. JKR has written one cohesive series of books following the same characters.
  • Point of view economy. King is all over the place, into everyone's head, so people already know what everyone is thinking, leaving less room for speculation.
  • The same, on a more general level--number of things left unaddressed, for fen to mess around with.

Honestly, that's about all I can think of, and I can think of exceptions to all of them. I'd say popularity in the internet age, but Star Trek is the archetypical fandom, and it was going strong back in the days when stories were passed around on clay tablets in cuneiform scripts. Or, well, typewritten and dot-matrix hard-copy anyway.

It's not that one is better or worse, though it's a little frustrating when you're used to an HP fandom and you'd really like to start a wild, careening conversation about the possible paths of the kids in It or gripe about the bad AU structure at the end of DT7. (Sorry, sai King... Eddie's and Jake's ages aren't going to change in an AU, and their actual age spread is only a couple of years; the fact that you pulled Eddie out much further ahead in the time stream doesn't mean he's always going to be an adult to Jake's child.)

Anyway, I thought it might be an interesting conversation.

I got out a spreadsheet to sort out the most fanficced at the The Pit.
1. Harry Potter (281748)
2. Lord of the Rings (39380)
3. Phantom of the Opera (7508)
4. Tamora Pierce (6983)
5. Animorphs (3846)
6. Misc. Books (3065)
7. Outsiders (2569)
8. Fairy Tales (2170)
9. Artemis fowl (2106)
10. Bible (2100)
11. Twilight (1986)
12. Silmarillion (1968)
13. C. S. Lewis (1717)
14. Warriors (1536)
15. Les Miserables (1392)
16. Redwall (1357)
17. Mediator (1291)
18. Eragon (1203)
19. L.J. Smith (1178)
20. Series Of Unfortunate Events (1157)

Conveniently, that also ends the ones that have over 1000 fics.

"Misc. Books," of course, contains all the little itty-bitty fandoms, so that says something. Interesting how high the Bible is, given that you don't have to squirrel away public domain fic on the Pit, and can write it and publish it openly. Then again, I'm not looking at the Bible fanfic, at least not at the Pit. I'll stick to my nice Midrash collection from college. Fariy tales make the list as well, and they're public domain. Then again, Shakespeare (888, number 22) and Greek mythology (653, number 30) are also pretty popular. King is number 47. Trendy Darren Shan is 45 (386 fics). Young Wizards (312 fics) is number 49.

Anyone spotting a pattern? I'm not!
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  • So, "The End of the World" is getting an audio treatment...

    I had an email asking about doing, and it's kind of fun to listen to a podfic. I don't know how often they plan to update, but if you're into it,…

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