by Christopher M. Comparri
The appeal of books, movies, television and any sort of story-telling platform can be boiled down to two key components: having a great story and having great characters to fill out said story. As viewers and readers, we often find ourselves rooting for certain characters and despising others to the pits of our very soul. This can be for any number of reasons: rooting for the underdog, finding a character that is relatable, finding one that embodies the essence of what we feel is right or wrong with the world. Finding the handful of characters that you feel strongly about builds an emotional tie between the content produced and the individual consuming it. However, the trend of incorporating huge casts of characters into stories is now having an adverse effect. People are finding too many characters to like or hate in passing. These characters are being masked as huge markers in a story, but the reality is quite different. In literature, sometimes less is more.
by Kaitlyn Gaffney
I am an unabashed fantasy nerd. I was raised on Harry Potter, YA vampire novels, Brandon Sanderson, and Dungeons & Dragons. I still play World of Warcraft and I world-build for fun, but my entire life, I have heard fantasy--and genre fiction in general--referred to as a “guilty pleasure.”
With the explosion of YA and genre fiction in the past decade or so, the literary world has seen many arguments for the distinction between genre fiction and literary fiction and, in many cases, for literary fiction’s superiority. Arthur Krystal, in his piece “Easy Writers” for The New Yorker, promotes this hierarchy on the basis of genre fiction’s disproportionate focus on archetypal plot and inherent escapism. He describes genre fiction as “a narrative cocktail that helps us temporarily forget the narratives of our own humdrum lives.” I read this article a few months ago and felt the familiar sting of shame for my love of fantasy fiction.
By Mikaela Langdon
Before the internet, fans of books, movies, and television shows had to keep their opinions and ideas about characters and storylines largely to themselves. At most, they might have shared them with friends or relatives. Now we’re in an age where people can share ideas at the push of a button. This has opened up the doors for something known as “fanfiction”: original stories with characters, settings, and sometimes other characteristics borrowed from popular culture. This concept originated, surprisingly, prior to the internet age in Star Trek fanzines such as Spockanalia (1967). This zine contained fanfiction written about the popular science-fiction show and was mailed to super-fans for their enjoyment. With the invention and advancement of the internet, fanfiction has practically become its own industry, allowing fans to become co-creators with the writers they so admire. These works are not intended for publication, at least not in their initial format, and give full credit to the original authors or creators. Fanfiction is not meant to overshadow the original content but rather to celebrate it. But what happens when a fanfiction author takes characters we all know and love and makes them her own, complete with a new backstory and personality? At what point does fanfiction go far enough from the source and just become regular fiction?
by Elizabeth DiPietro
Young Adult (YA) books often get a bad rap for being shallow, underdeveloped, and cliché. There are huge bestselling series that have transcended to films and television shows that fit that description to a T, which only adds to the idea that YA best sellers are cliché money grabs that uneducated teens are desperate to consume. On August 24, 2017, one author decided to test this limit by attempting to steal the #1 spot on The New York Times Best Seller list.
by Nicolina Givin
I sat on my couch on the fourth of October and flipped through the channels on my television. I caught a glimpse of Emily Blunt grabbing a blonde by the back of her head and dragging her onto the floor. The title, The Girl on the Train, flashed at the end and I was in bewilderment. “That’s a movie now?” I thought to myself. The movie was released to theaters on the eighth. I picked up the novel, which had been sitting on my bookshelf for some time, and opened the cover, ready to finally read what everyone was about to see on the big screen. I could not have the world tell me the plot and ending before I could figure it out myself; I had to finish it before the movie release. Why was I motivated soon after that preview to read the book rather than when I first purchased that book eight months prior? The answer was always sitting there on my bookshelf, but the media pushed me towards it and spoke clearer to me in that thirty-second preview.