Myths about Fanfiction

First off, I apologize for not posting anything on Monday. I’ve been having a hectic week and sleep seems to be coming less naturally to me than it used to, which leaves me more tired at the end of every passing day. Secondly, it seems my brain is unresponsive when it comes to fiction. I got through two sentences before the words shut off. My Camp NaNoWriMo word count is still at a stubborn zero. I have made plans for the weekend though, and I hope I can get something written then. Today, however, you’ll have to excuse me. This post is in response to a lot of stigma out there about the fanfiction writing community. I felt I needed to clarify a few things as someone who writes original stories 80℅ of the time and 20℅ fanfiction.

1. Fanfiction writers are not real authors

To be fair, all form of writing is just a means of communication, so the tag “real” is meaningless. That said, it’s true that fanfiction is a mode of writing that cannot be legally published (being extremely “inspired” is totally fine, apparently). People who write fanfiction do it because they liked a book/TV series/movie so much that they felt the need to take it further and they’re very passionate about it. That’s all the reason one needs to pen stories, in my opinion.

2. Writing fanfiction is easy

It’s just as hard as writing something original because although the character and the world is already laid out, there’s a ton of research to do (disappointed fans who like to point out mistakes are always lurking around the corner, trust me) and there’s always the big question of whether it’s as good as the original. That’s a lot more pressure than writing something new, in my experience.

3. The quality of stories is so poor that they are unreadable

I could say the same for many self-published books these days. The fact remains that everyone who writes doesn’t necessarily write well, and there’s no hard and fast rule that the quality of published fiction is better. I know a lot of amazing fanfiction authors who have great potential. I’ve even read a few which have surpassed the original series. As always, you have to sift through the chaff to find the real gems.

4. It’s only for teenagers

Although the statistics might show that it’s a teenage girl’s wonderland, I strongly believe that books have no boundaries (and I don’t mean that 5-year-olds should read Fifty Shades of Grey). Reading and writing is a hobby for all ages and fanfiction being a subset of that is also enjoyable regardless of how old one is.

5. But real authors hate it

Not so surprisingly, some authors don’t mind fanfiction and they even write a few of their own. Here’s what a few of them have to say about it :-

J. K. Rowling

According to an official statement from her agent,

“She is very flattered by the fact there is such great interest in her Harry Potter series and that people take the time to write their own stories. Her concern would be to make sure that it remains a non-commercial activity to ensure fans are not exploited and it is not being published in the strict sense of traditional print publishing… The books may be getting older, but they are still aimed at young children. If young children were to stumble on Harry Potter in an X-rated story, that would be a problem.”

Meg Cabot

The author says on her fanfic policy page,

“I myself used to write Star Wars fan fiction when I was tween. I think writing fan fiction is a good way for new writers to learn to tell a story.”

Neil Gaiman

This iconic author has published multiple works of fanfiction: a Chronicles of Narnia fanfic, “The problem of Susan;” an H.P. Lovecraft fic, “I, Cthulhu;” and the Sherlock Holmes fanfic, “A Study in Emerald.” When asked about the resemblance of his stories to amateur fanfiction, he replied:

“I’m not sure where the line gets drawn — you could say that any Batman fan writing a Batman comic is writing fan fiction. As long as nobody’s making money from it that should be an author or creator’s, I don’t mind it. And I think it does a lot of good.”

I agree completely with Gaiman’s stance and that’s the essence of what I’m trying to say in this post. I write fanfiction at times and I don’t hide the fact as I write under my real name. I treat it as a writing exercise and it’s obviously not for profit. You can find my fanfiction works here.


What are your views on fanfiction? Did you ever write one? Do you enjoy reading them but refrain from writing any? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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10 thoughts on “Myths about Fanfiction

  1. I guess you could say I write fan-fiction. I am a player in a Firefly RPG and have been a player in many more (most of the canon’s at one time or another) which is sort of the same thing:) I have also written in a Phantom of the Opera RPG (Erik), Jekyll and Hyde (Jekyll), and many original ones:)

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  2. I don’t write fanfiction, but I’ve read quite a bit of it and am not opposed to it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if, like Meg Cabot, that’s how some writers get their feet wet before they come up with original material. As long as the fanfiction writer doesn’t profit from it, I don’t see how it’s a bad thing. It allows them to share their passion for a franchise and stretch their writing skills – and it could be a stepping stone to something much bigger in the future.

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    • Yes, I’ve always seen it as a sort of practice. It’s easy to start writing as there’s already a framework. As long as it’s not crossing any legal lines, I figure why not? But there are many authors who absolutely detest it. Notable examples being George R. R. Martin and Ursula K. Le Guin.

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  3. I agree that any well written story is worth judging on its own merits (and I enjoy reading some short fan fiction, just to see where the writer takes it) but I’ve always equated it to tribute bands; obvious talent and creativity that should be used more originally.

    This is in no way intended as a criticism of those who write it, it just isn’t something I would spend time on, when I could be making up some original nonsense of my own. ;~}

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  4. Pingback: Blog Round Up: July 2016 – Rachel Poli

  5. YAY FANFICTION. I am a big defender of fanfic, as someone who does read and occasionally write it. Whilst there are some not-as-good fics out there, there are also many excellent ones. I find that it’s really useful to learn about sentence structure, pacing & showing characteristics when people are working from premade characters? Like, it’s interesting to see how even if you start with the best world and cast, something can still not be interesting. *nods*

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    • So nice to talk to someone who feels the same! I completely agree with your view. Even I’ve encountered my fair share of bad fics that have been ruined because of poor sentence formation, bad dialogue and spelling mistakes. There are some that are technically sound, but don’t have much of a plot or the characters seem uninspired. And then there are the brilliant ones (funny how many of them are Harrry Potter fanfics). I sift through all of the rest just for those good ones because they’re still telling me a good story for free and they’re doing a good job. What’s not to like? I think that as long as there’s nobody profiting from these fics, they can be a great source of entertainment for fans of a series after the final page of the final book is turned. 🙂

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  6. I guess you cleared up some things.
    I’ve never HATED fan fiction but have never been fond of it.
    I’ve always thought that because someone else is writing a story about a world I loved so much, it could get ruined. But, after reading this post, I might try it out. Thank you!

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    • This comment made my day. 😀
      I’m sometimes ambivalent about it too because some of them are just bad in terms of grammar and composition, which makes me cringe, but the point I was trying to make was that they’re not all bad. Especially some of the Harry Potter fics.

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