"[W]hy do you hate "shipping?" What makes it so uncreative?"
This question was put to me in a recent thread in the devART literature forums. I wrote a rather comprehensive answer to that question, and now for the sake of posterity I am posting it in a journal to save myself the hassle of writing it over and over again. The next time this subject comes up, answering will be as easy and linking them here:
While it's one thing to build on the Ship Teases
of the original writers (I get just as frustrated by Will They or Won't They?
moments as anyone else, and I can see where someone might want to pick up where they think a writer let them down), it's another matter all together to just slap two random characters together because you think they look "hot together."
Love is an extremely personal thing. You can't just fall in love with anyone.
A person's attractions, both sexual and emotional, are a huge part of their psychological makeup. Being in love is more than just rainbows and roses 24/7. It's a merger of two souls, and even the most compatible people have their points where things don't quite match up, and work has to be done to bridge those chasms. And when you disregard the deeper, more realistic aspects of love, it shows you don't really understand the emotion at all.
Falling in love is like building a jigsaw puzzle and finding two pieces that go side by side. Shipping ignores all this and crams two pieces together, regardless of their matching up or not. It throws characterization out the window. For serious storytelling, a fictional character has to be treated as realistically as a flesh and blood human being, otherwise they're not a character at all, they're a sock puppet. How would you
feel if someone wrote a story depicting you in a relationship with someone with whom you're not compatible? With a family member? With someone you hate!?
I treat fan fiction with the same seriousness as original stories. Even Shakespeare wrote "fan fiction."
The only difference is that you're working with characters created by someone else and not ones of your own creation. When that is the case, you must be extra careful to treat the characters with respect, because you're only borrowing them. How would you feel if you wrote a story about two best friends who are like brothers to each other, poured your heart and soul into it and eventually got it published... and then a few years later found a story some kid wrote with those two blood-brothers having sex?