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Now, before I have all of you bashing my head in with your copy of Gaider's book, let me just say that I am not the one to bash fanfiction, or any kind of fiction for that matter. Some of them are brilliantly written and it never ceases to make you laugh, no matter how many times you've read it. But what I've come to realise is that spin-off novels generally aren't well written. Prime example: Baldur's Gate novelisations. I couldn't bear to finish it.
I'd grown up with what I'd like to believe quality fantasy writing; for example, Tolkien (although Helm's Deep bored me to tears), David Eddings, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ursula Le Guin. They never cease to amaze you, and after you finish reading them, you put it away, then pull it back out a few months later to read it and explore the world anew. It's like starting a brand new campaign a year after you've last beaten the game. It's fresh. You're excited. You whoop with joy and cry bitter tears with the characters.
I have just finished Gaider's Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne after hesitating for a while. I have to say that Gaider, while he might be brilliant at game writing, is not a stellar writer when it comes to regular prose. I don't blame him; he's not a novelist, he never was, and it's one thing to write a script and another to write a novel. There is a subtle balance in prose writing between dialogue and exposition that requires much proofreading, which, for some reason, either Gaider or his editor did not do. As the result, the majority of his sentences end up clunky; it just does not flow well. For example:
Maric dug into his stew ravenously. Katriel picked at hers gingerly, sipping on some of the broth. The dwarf all but gulped his down greedily, finishing it long before the others were even half done, and then belching loudly.
I can't even begin to describe my moment of "... what?" when I read this paragraph. Out of three sentences that I have written here, there are FOUR adverbs. FOUR. That is way too many, and what's even worse, most of the sentences END in adverbs, which makes it sound like a bad imitation of Dr Seuss... or a mad lib.
But the horror did not end there. I am not going to bash Gaider's writing any more than what I've written here, simply because there isn't much to bash at, apart from his evident love of adverbs.
But this was so bad it made me laugh.
There is a fanfiction, written by a certain woman named Michelle Franklin, called The Sten and the Warden. It evidently tells the tale of Sten and the Warden who travelled to Seheron after the Blight, and fell in love, and had the customary shag. Now, this already sounds bad, but what made me giggle hysterically was this (which is the humorous account written by a BSN user, Imported_beer):
And the lovemaking. Oh...I don't know if my limited command over the English language can even express that scene of passionate culimination of hours of festering sexual tension where despite him warning her that physical intimacy with him CAN KILL YOU, she shows interest in his ...other sword. You know...the one attached to him. And would you believe it? It is HUGE! Unlike any human "sword" she has ever seen. After a few remarks she makes about its size, shape and "general grandeur" (I AM NOT KIDDING), he gets right down to his "well-knit thighs" (sic) and gets started with insertion.
I guess the qun doesn't demand foreplay!
But instead of "sweet succulence" (sic), he causes- internal bleeding, a broken sacrum, broken ribs, and pain which only serves to excite him to further...er..lengths. After all that...err..tender intimacy, he is amazed that she is still alive- broken but still alive. And she speaks about how his style of love-making is what women want more than anything else in a mate because it is ENTHUSIASTIC! This is also illustrated in her fan-art section where there are a lot of illustrations of the warden and Sten in various copulation poses.
What made me cringe about the DA community in general was not that. I've read plenty of bad fanfiction (one of which involved a rather descriptive sexual encounter between Gandalf and Treebeard... *shudder*), and this was nothing compared to many cringe-worthy adventures of Elissa Cousland and her beloved shagman, Alistair (often humorously misspelled Alistiar. Or Alister. Or any of the three hundred misspellings of the poor man's name). Oh no. What made me cringe was this.
Now, I came upon that page first. And I was rather excited to read the actual fanfiction, since A: I was procrastinating from writing my 10 page political science paper about the fallacy of the healthcare reform (justification: I've written three other papers about this. I'm starting to feel I have full justification if I just copied and pasted what I've written before, bunged it up and turned it in), and B: Gaider's "A did B, C-ly" was echoing through my mind in a rather persistent manner. So I did some google search, and came upon this horror, written by the same author.
My first alarm was the price. Fifty dollars for a 160 page paperback fiction?! My partial differential equations book, which was 500 pages and hardcover, cost me about the same. What's even worse, the series is an almost DIRECT rip-off of the beloved Dragon Age, down to the character. Frewyn is Ferelden, Alisdair is... well, you can guess that. What's even worse, this person was compared to Tamora Pierce. And Tolkien (WHAT?!). As I grew up reading both, this GREATLY offends me.
But the horror refuses to stop there. She continues to write about this "Frewyn" and what have you, and people are giving laudatory comments. It's one thing to use a setting - that's what fanfictions are - but it's another to claim it your own (which she did, by the way, claiming to never have played DAO). Despite what people may say about Bioware writing team, they created an entire world from scratch. I know how hard and arduous that task is. It sucks. And so, stealing their hard work irks me. I'd be suing if I was on the writing team.
So what am I trying to get at here? Well, first of all, if you're going to shag Sten, erm, use some lubricant. Actually, scratch that. Use a lot. And make sure you have a safeword, because evidently you will need it. (And that's the dirty joke of the day. I'm done.) Second, DON'T LIFT SOMEONE ELSE'S WORK AND CLAIM IT YOUR OWN, for Christ's sake. Third, don't use phrases like "her fauld canting her ample hips". It makes Alistair's inane puns look serious, and it also induces some more experienced writers and most of all, readers into a hysterical laughing fit that will asphyxiate them in the process and kill them. And then you'd have murder case on your hands. Fourth, don't do repetitive endings, such as "A did B C-ly" or "A [action verb]ed". That turns writing into mad lib. Fifth, instead of bashing Hepler, why don't you go bash this author? I think she deserves it more. Don't you?
And for those of you who just did a desperate search on google to find the said fanfiction, I have at least one page for you. Her deviantart also has chapters from the published book, which Gaider condemned.
And no, I have absolutely no idea what Blackmarsh oil is, but considering what had happened there, I'd rather not eat it.
All right, I'm done ranting.
P.S. I claim no ownership to any of the writings referenced here.