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.”
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.”
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.