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Friday, May 7, 2010

Fan Fiction: WTF?

I recently had a conversation with a New York Times bestselling author (it was the highlight of my year so far) who told me many wonderful things and offered me quite a lot of great advice. One of the things that we discussed was the existence of fan fiction, which she herself has been a victim of? Honored with?

See, I don’t get the fan fiction thing. I didn’t realize it even existed until a few months ago and when I was having this conversation with this author (did I mention it was the best day ever?) it really struck me as bizarre. Why would someone want to write stories based on someone else’s characters? And then why would they turn around and put it on line for everyone to read? I truly do not understand and would love it if someone could enlighten me.

I would feel immensely weird if I took someone else’s ideas and used them in any way. I like to come up with my own characters in my own plots. I think that writing fan fiction is a total waste of time (for me anyway, as it is my goal to get published...well, further published). I mean, I guess I can see how there’s an argument for practicing or something but still, wouldn’t it be better to just make it up on your own?

I’m not sure how other authors feel. The one I was talking to didn’t seem too put out by it. I mean, other than the fact that we laughed about the absurdity and all, but this person wasn’t angry or offended. I have read blogs written by other authors who threaten lawsuits and whatnot. I can’t really say how I would feel about it if it happened to me or my characters.

I do feel icky though at the thought of doing it myself. It would never have occurred to me as an option to write based on someone else’s ideas.

On the other hand, I can see how tempting it could be take someone else's characters and do whatever you want with them...tee, hee.

So, what do you all think? What’s the point of fan fiction? Is it purely for entertainment? Some kind of strange homage to the author? Or is it so strange that authors have a right to get offended and take legal action? I’m just not sure what the right answer is. Although I do think it is awfully bizarre,I’m trying to keep an open mind.


  1. I think it depends on the person doing the writing. I've written fan fic (though not posted it online). The reason? Because I am a fan of the show (Supernatural in this case) and one day this story idea for the show hit me and wouldn't let go. I was trying to work on something else, but this idea just dug in until I couldn't focus on my own work.

    *Shrug* So I wrote it to get it out of my head.

    I've also thought that it wouldn't be a bad way to practice character voices (for me, this is more of a TV/movie thing than a book thing). There are shows where I know how characters talk, but writing that is different. So practicing with characters that I already know how they talk, rather than trying to create that individuality, is helpful in learning how to stay consistent. (Haven't tried it yet, but I think it could be a good idea).

    I don't read much fan fic, but I don't dislike it just because it exists. For me it doesn't take away from the initial work.

  2. I'm not a fan of fan fic myself, but I don't think there's a problem with it. I feel like most of the time it's people that are just so obsessed with the books/characters/world that the want more when more isn't available, so they make their own. I also wonder if a lot of those people wouldn't even be interested in writing their own things too. Hm. Really not sure of that one.

    As for authors. . . I'd be flattered someone was so into my world to want do more with it. But, as I've heard from other authors, I probably wouldn't read them. It might skew my thoughts, or people might THINK it skewed my thoughts.

  3. I have long not been a fan of fan fic, and finally decided to leave it with "to each his/her own." As a would-be novelist, I need to work on my own stories, and I'd like to eventually get paid. As a fan, I want to read the canon rather than anyone's random stories.

    But I can *almost* understand the urge. I finished Seanan McGuire's second book and I want more. Now. I want to sing songs about my longing. If I were someone else, I might write about her characters and share it with other fans. I'm not, so I'm thinking about world building around Native America, African American, and Irish myth--different from hers with my own flavor, but inspired by her work.

  4. I have a hard time understanding fan fic as well. I can't imagine ever using someone else's characters - it would just feel wrong. Although I do see Julie's point - sometimes a story just won't let go.

    I think most authors are flattered by it as long as the fan fic doesn't take their characters to some bizarre level that was never intended.

    As to how I would fee if someone did it to me? I guess I'll have to get published first and go from there. :)

  5. It's not my thing, but whatever floats your boat, I suppose.