In a word: UGH!
A songfic is not to be confused with background/incidental mood music, simply mentioning a song in a scene, or describing how a song when heard by a character in a scene, makes that character feel. We've all been there, touched, annoyed, or had memories brought back by hearing a certain song. So why not our characters? Everyone knows music can really help set a mood and even hint at upcoming trouble in a movie.
But songfics are completely different. They are something that never happens in real life. Instead of a song's role in a scene to reveal something about a character, the song is usually a favourite the author is into at the time, and the story's plot and character actions are all written to fit into the song's lyric or narrative. Sometimes the words of the song are changed as it is written out to fit with the story setting.
Songfics are written in the format of a paragraph or a few of story, song lyric, bit of story, then song lyric again, and when the song wraps up, so does the story.
Here's an example off the top of my head.
If I was a Twilight fan and really liked Sarah Mclachlan's "Building A Mystery" a songfic from me might look something like this.
"Oh, Edward, you are so perfect!" I sighed as he took me in his cold diamond arms that were hot with passion.
"Take it easy, Bella, I'm dangerous, I could hurt you."
'You're so beautiful
With an edge and a charm
But so careful
When I'm in your arms.
Had enough of that?
So have I.
And that was only a demonstration of the format.
Songfics go that way from beginning to end, because the author loves some song, the characters s/he is writing about, and thinks they all go together perfectly.
But to anyone who doesn't like either the song or the characters much, well, that falls flat. And songfics are just plain annoying to read.
This article, originally found on Fanfiction for Dummies, explains what they are, and why they are a problem.
Here it is presented in its entirety as well, without edits. It is that good.
Song Fics: Bring the Curtain Down! 17dec11
Oh boy, song fics.
What is a song fic, you ask? Why, it’s a fanfic that incorporates a song. The most common example is this:
–>Line of story.
Why is this so bad? It’s boring. It’s usually just the author showing off her favorite song. The line of story is something weak, usually to justify the song choice. If you took out the song, it wouldn’t be much of a story. For example:
You look wonderful tonight
She did look wonderful tonight, he thought.
And so on and so forth.
Another example is when a story contains a character that sings. This is very common in Mary Sue stories. Often, the Sue begins to sing a song that doesn’t fit the situation nor the setting. And it brings the story to a halt.
Yes, you may have a favorite song. And maybe you think it perfectly fits into what is happening in your chapter right now. But trust me: We don’t care. Most of us will just skip over it anyway. Just keep writing the story.
Here’s an example of something else not to do: I was reading a story that was a Harry Potter retelling of the movie “Anastasia.” The author was pretty clear that she was writing the story because she loved the songs. So, she kept the songs in the story. And she changed the words to fit Harry Potter. Or at least tried. It wasn’t done too well. For some, it was done with little care given to fitting the rhyming pattern or the rhythm.
For other songs, it was done with little care to logic. The author in question has moved the main action from Paris to Scotland. One of the songs from the movie is entitled “Paris Holds the Key.” She revised it to “Scotland Holds the Key.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t do well. She only changes the place name to Scotland and adds in a few Harry Potter references. Yet the song contains lines that firmly set it in 1920s France. Mentions of the “Moulin Rouge” and “can-can dancers” are kept in. It makes no sense.
I would just like to note one thing: Fanfiction.net doesn’t allow them. So stop posting them.
1Jeyna Grace on December 18, 2011 said:
Cool! This is a new term to me
2taiorafan21 on April 9, 2012 said:
The fact that Fanfiction.net doesn’t allow them doesn’t stop people from posting them. And they almost never get reported. There’s an unspoken understanding on that site that the “no songfic rule” doesn’t really apply.
3mackenziew on April 14, 2012 said:
There’s a lot of things that don’t get reported that should. It seems the rules don’t matter to people on Fanfiction.net.
There are definitely things that Fanfiction.net is ignoring and shouldn't, like sadistic fangirls issuing blanket threats of torture/death on their pages.
Oddly enough, there seems to be nothing in their TOS against that kind of post.
But Fanfiction.net has banned songfics. We're not sure why, maybe it has something to do with copyright issues. It can't be just the annoyance factor, because there is a lot of annoying crud on that site.
But wherever you write, if you don't want to ruin a song for someone else, please, don't write songfics.