This was only brought to my attention, bizarrely, after six years of fanfic writing in Fanfiction.net. And after I had fanfics that fell into the issue addressed by a Fanfiction.net user by the name of Yemi Hikari who said this-
“There wasn't enough introspective. Most of the story just repeated canon events that we already know, and the only original part is the bar scene. The piece needs major editing, as just repeating canon events and not adding anything to it's a big "don't-do", as that means the majority of the work is the original creators, and not your own, and thus plagiarism. And no, typing up existing scenes, that doesn't count as work. However, cutting down the paraphrasing, and adding introspective will fix this problem.”
The bizarre thing I am talking about is if it is a big writer “don't do” then why didn't anyone tell me until this point? Why did those stories that the problem applied to remain for years without someone telling me?
The reason for the paraphrasing was, a few years ago, I was doing Naruto fanfics. And I feel I can describe my “fear of doing characters out of character by accident and getting hateful comments” as a borderline phobia. Since I had gotten so much hate and vitriol from 2010-2012 when I tried to do crossovers involving Mass Effect. It wasn't so bad with my Naruto fanfics at the time. Since I had done fanfics back then that were like that for a few of them, and some having minor characters that I wasn't so worried about since they had little personality and character to start with. Some examples-
Fanfics using minor characters or OC characters:
Cold Ice: this was a Naruto fanfic with Urakaku, a Samurai character who had a lot of personality room to fill in.
Headband: another Naruto fanfic. It was a story that had an OC with no canon characters. This was based on a scene from the Naruto anime that showed a headband on the ground with a blood streak under it.
Invasion of Hidden Leaf: this Naruto fanfic used Iwashi Tatami, who like Urakaku had room for development. And thus I wasn't so scared of doing him wrong by accident. It had a few canon characters but they only showed up very briefly and thus I felt I could do them right.
Kage Duel: this Naruto fanfic didn't stay on Fanfiction.net long, since while the Kages used were more minor and not as much developed in personality, I felt I didn't do them justice so I took it down.
Ninja Escape: a crossover containing a Naruto character. Yes, my fear even extended to crossovers. I used a minor character named Reki as the main character.
Sealed Clan: a Naruto story using Kurotsuchi. I wanted to do a female Naruto character, and used her since she didn't have so much personality and thus one would have to really try to screw up.
Fanfics where the paraphrasing problem applied to:
Death of a Hero: The paraphrasing problem applies to this Naruto fanfic, as it was about the death of Kaiza who tried to stop Gatō in the Land of Waves. And time skips to a scene with Sakura. I did add some original content but not enough. The main original content parts, which are not that large, are the beginning when Kaiza went off to face Gatō, some tiny single sentence original additions here and there, and an add on where Sakura saves the kid who stole some food to feed his starving family from a group of men about to beat him. I wanted to have a strong Sakura. I could very well re-write the fanfic, to include the “strong Sakura” parts, and include at the start of Kakashi teaching Sakura the “Flying Mist Nail Technique”.
Poison: another Naruto story with paraphrased content using a filler character named Tatewaki, a Samurai. There was a few original spots here and there but much of it was paraphrased content. And I added an extra scene at the end where Tatewaki dies.
Deidara Kills Sasuke: a Naruto fanfic, now named Out with a Bang, that before it was beta'd by
had a lot of paraphrased content. As it was basically the scene of when Deidara exploded with Sasuke dying instead of summoning Manda. Though the dialouge has been changed so its no longer paraphrased content.
Swordsmen: this is a story using a minor character presumably killed by Suigetsu named Funari. I gave him a bit of a back story but I used paraphrased lines. The original parts were the back story and some added stuff such as showing Funari's death.
Tyrant: another Naruto story that has paraphrased content. I did add some original content but not enough. I had an original scene at the start.
The Pain of a Jinchūriki: this is another Naruto fanfic with paraphrased content. And as Yemi Hikari said, the only original scene was the bar scene. There was some other spots but only sentences added and stuff.
Unstoppable Ninja: yet another Naruto fanfic with paraphrased content. There was some original scenes but not enough.
I have one fanfic where I used my favorite character Neji Hyūga and also Rock Lee. It is called “To Protect One's Best Friend”. I did so to try to overcome my phobia and it actually helped. It is a few years old now, was posted in 2013. It seems I did the two very well since I didn't get the hateful comments I was so fearful of.
Not onto another thing I want to discuss and know some answers to-
Is it a bad thing to use lines from something in a game, TV show, movie, cartoon, or anime, or manga in the story word for word and add introspection, emotions, and content that I created myself?
To help clarify what I mean, my story is about the characters first mentioned in the Halo 3 Terminals- The Didact and The Librarian. Their real names were eventually reveled in later media. Here's a sample of one of their conversations in the Halo 3 Terminals copied and pasted from the Halo wiki (The Halo 3 Terminals are like logs the character can access if they can find the logs in the level, they're kind of hidden in most cases so one has to look while others are more hidden in plain sight)-
L: Categorization has sped since the
improvements were announced, but
there are many hurdles. The indexing
of sentient species may have
irreversible effects on the
surviving insentient species.
We will have extinction events and
irreparable environmental harm on at
least 18 worlds. Current projections
estimate post-archival cataclysm on
as many as 31 worlds. The paucity of
sentience has been a blessing in
D: How formal you are, Librarian.
We're receiving shipments of indexed
beings more frequently than
communications. Don't compound
scarcity with brevity. I know things beyond the [Maginot]
line are harried. But I worry about
you. I've asked you time and time
again. Abandon your cataloging.
Come back inside, where my fleets
can keep you e home.
L: Would that it were my choice.
I have committed to this course
because it's the right thing to do.
We no longer have the manpower or
materiel to excise remedial measures
at a planetary level. I certainly
can't justify using the [transit
measure] to save my own skin when
there are still so many innocents to
protect and index.
D: You know I oppose your mission,
but you're exceeding its parameters
anyway. You've put yourself in
jeopardy. You've done enough. If you will not come to me, I will
find my way to you.
L: We have no time to spare, Didact.
Every vessel we can fill, we send to
the Ark. I dare not cease the
mission. Not now, not until I've
done all I can. Each one of these
souls is finite and precious. And I'm close. Close to saving them all.
As one can see, it is only words without much emotion really. And I become very interested in giving those words emotion, scenes, etc. Expanding upon and giving a story.
In the story itself, I have added more stuff beyond just the conversations. And in cases added an ending to each of those conversations since it is likely they are just fragments in the Terminals. Also I've added more scenes and beefed things up.
Here is what Yemi Hikari said, each block of quotation marks means another message-
“Yeah. That helps jog my memory. It actually wasn't that long ago I left the review. Thanks for taking care of that, as it could have gotten you into serious trouble with the admins.
“I actually know the fandom, but you're right in saying that the question doesn't require me knowing said fandom. Yes, it's a bad thing to use lines from the game word for word, but it is also bad to also paraphrase the lines. There are a few exceptions to the rules. For example, catch phrases get a pass as do the names of attacks. The other exception is when you've got a line which would be considered inspirational, and something another character would remember later on as advice, or something they remember in a negative way.
In regards to paraphrasing, some paraphrasing is allowed. There is a major difference between, however, paraphrasing the entire part point for point, and paraphrasing to get the main points across. Something to keep in mind is the fans will have read the piece, or in this case watched the cut scene. They know what happened, so they only need a brief rehash of the canon material, a brief summary rather than a summarization of every single detail. Focus should be placed on your work, and not the work of another person.
Hope this helps.”
“Yeah. Not only does quoting the lines not fall under fair use, there's a rule regarding copying from works still under copyright. That said, the problem can be easily fixed. For example, if the scene you're working with were say the scene where Naruto's put into his group, instead of quoting the lines which occur, and going into detail, all you need is one or two lines saying what happened.
I can't speak for Herr Wozzeck, since I'm not familiar with either one of those works. If they're just borrowing the races and settings from another fanfic, or even characters, that's not a problem. As fanfic writers, we're already doing that with the fandoms we write for.
I actually wrote a few essays on the topic which I posted to my wattpad account.
wattpad dot com/100902995-how-to-write-a-good-fanfic-2-plagiarism-vs
wattpad dot com/157243728-how-to-write-a-good-fanfic-2-2-copyright-vs
wattpad dot com/319484463-how-to-write-a-good-fanfic-2-3-how-to-properly “
(For those wanting to check, I think one needs an account since when I checked one of the links it said I had to log in to read the rest of it...)
“As for MSTs.
First, MST is actually against site rules, but whether a MST falls under fair use or constitutes plagiarism depends. AN MST is a manner in which to offer critical commentary on a poorly written fanfic, so when used for said purpose the work falls under fair use due to purpose. However, stories which simply have the characters making random comments which offer no critical insight to the work do not fall under fair use, so doing an MST for a well written fic is out of the question, due to the fact the MST does not add any critical insight.
However, there's never been a real consensuses on how much of the original fic one may use within an MST. I suggest checking out das-sporking dot livejournal dot com/247319 dot html if you really want more information. For me, the rule of thumb is to limit the amount of quoting one does within the MST or spork, and only quote if it actually adds something. Most of the work should still be your commentary. It is as Das_Mervin says, "a review. It's constructive criticism..." Add to this, fanfiction falls into a weird place in regards to copyright, so while one's protected from having ones fic plagiarized, not so much in regards to MST and spork.
It takes a lot of work to MST or spork something though, and do it well.”
The reason for all of this here is because, to be truly honest, I am so confused and feels like there's...contradictions. No fault on Yemi Hikari's part though, he/she did nothing wrong, was just trying to help. And I appreciate it. Will list questions at the end.
Also, in the Fanfiction.net guidelines, does it clearly say anything about paraphrased content? Copied and Pasted the guidelines-
Here is a list of conducts that should always be observed:
1. Spell check all story and poetry. There is no excuse for not performing this duty. If you do not have a word processor that has the spell checking feature, use a search engine such as Google.com to find one.
2. Proofread all entries for grammar and other aspects of writing before submission. 'Hot off the press' content is often riddled with errors. No one is perfect but it is the duty of the writer to perform to the best of his/her ability.
3. Respect the reviewers. Not all reviews will strictly praise the work. If someone rightfully criticizes a portion of the writing, take it as a compliment that the reviewer has opted to spend his/her valuable time to help improve your writing.
4. Everyone here is an aspiring writer. Respect your fellow members and lend a helping a hand when they need it. Like many things, the path to becoming a better writer is often a two way street.
5. Use proper textual formatting. For example: using only capital letters in the story title, summary, or content is not only incorrect but also a disregard for the language itself.
The chapter system is not to be used as placeholder for non-story content such as author notes. You can add short author notes to the beginning or at the end of stories but never as individual chapters.
FanFiction is not an archive for non-fanfiction literary works. Please visit FictionPress to publish your non-fanfiction literary works.
Do not upload chapters, series, or segments of a story as separate entries. In order to submit a 5 chapter story, for example, use the 'Create Story' page to submit chapter 1, and then use the 'Edit/Upload chapter' feature in the left menu, after login, to submit chapters 2 through 5.
Entries not allowed:
1. Non-stories: lists, bloopers, polls, previews, challenges, author notes, and etc.
2. One or two liners.
3. MST: comments inserted in between the flow of a copied story.
4. Stories with non-historical and non-fictional characters: actors, musicians, and etc.
5. Any form of interactive entry: choose your adventure, second person/you based, Q&As, and etc.
6. Chat/script format and keyboard dialogue based entries.
Actions not allowed:
1. Multiple entries of the same material. There can only be one copy of any unique story on the entire site. No exceptions.
2. Rewriting names of characters/locations of one story in order to upload to multiple categories.
3. Copying from a previously published work (including musical lyrics) not in the public domain.
1. Entry title and summary must be rated K for all audience. No exceptions.
2. Entry must be given the proper rating. No exceptions.
3. Entry must be placed in proper category. No exceptions.
4. Chapters of the same story are not allowed to be submitted as separate entries. All chapters/segments must be grouped together using the 'edit/upload chapter' feature in the left menu.
I can't seem to point my finger at it but will list the things I find off-
if paraphrasing is so bad, why isn't it on the Fanfiction.net list of rules clearly defined?
If paraphrasing is so bad, would that make MSTs bad too since they use paraphrased content from fanfics?
One thing that bothers me is- when someone steals fanart, takes it and posts it without another's permission, people flip and send comments telling the person to take the stolen artwork down. Yet, when someone takes and posts someone else's fanfic and MSTs it, sometimes gravely insulting the writer (happened to me and my wrath would make Naruto's Six Tails rampage look like a minor tantrum) it is allowed and when one tries to fight back, they get called dumb, hostile, and other mean things. And people don't get up in arms against MSTs even though it basically is like stealing artwork if you don't ask for permission first. And when they ripped apart my stories, they never asked for permission, and the person who did it and commenter who commented on it said some deeply insulting and upsetting things about me.
And my second biggest question- if paraphrasing is so bad, why did no one else tell me until Yemi did, four years after I started doing those stories with the paraphrased content?
And my biggest question and source of hesitation in trying to restart a crossover I put on hiatus- how is one supposed to keep a character in character when one covers scenes from a video game? Wouldn't changing the lines throw the character out of character?