James here with a quick word about this blog and the next: The most recent podcast episode where we interviewed Dave Schmidt lead to some awesome off mic conversations about worldbuilding and audience. We thought it’d be fun to highlight a specific disagreement Dave and I had and post our best arguments on the blog. This post is Dave’s rebuttal to my prior post about an HP fan theory. Enjoy!
In James’ blog he asked “dare we accept this [fan theory] as canon?” I say, “We dare not!” Let me explain…
When a story teller builds a world and tells a story in it they have created a piece of art. To say that others can add to or extrapolate from that piece of art is tricky. It means that we will end up with something created by a (doubtlessly bickering) committee that becomes a kind of exclusive club. Newcomers may find the needlessly complicated “artwork” to be unapproachable or feel that they’re not welcome.
Does this mean I disapprove of fan theories? Not at all! They’re fun, not to mention unavoidable, as most who enjoy a well-built world have a bit of world building built into their own imaginations. Who doesn’t want to know how Indigo Montoya’s career as the new Dread Pirate Roberts goes? Does he actually accept the job? Is Fezzik his first mate? But I digress. Now that I’ve demonstrated an apparent paradox, how do I suggest we proceed?
I suggest that we all build our own versions of every world we explore through fiction. James says that it’s the fan base as a whole who builds something with the author but I believe it’s more of a one-on-one experience. It’s every individual fan experiencing the world and interpreting through their unique perspectives and predispositions. This way, we each receive our own copy of that “piece of art” which we may modify and interpret to our heart’s content. We can then share that interpretation with the fan community at large.
It is my opinion that canon should remain only that which the creator presents to us. This view keeps arguments to a dull roar by leaving rooms for differing opinions. “Oh, you see Arthur as a good father figure playing dumb for Harry’s benefit? I always saw him as a satirical depiction of a woefully uninformed bureaucrat!”
So I say let the fan theories fly, and kudos to those who’ve built worlds so wonderful we refuse to let the borders they’ve provided keep us from exploring their frontiers!
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
David Schmidt is an author, illustrator. He is the creator, writer and artist of the post-apocalyptic scifi western webcomic Recovery. His work can also be found on his online portfolio and on Instagram @artbydaves. He is the married to his awesome best friend and is father to three wonderful little monsters. He also has two cats, which is the kind of thing people include in these bios.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.