Let me be straight here: I both hate and love fan fiction. I also hate and love writing it. And yes, I have written fan fiction; since I was a teenager it was one of the few outlets in in written format – apart from poetry – that I wouldn’t get bored with mid-project.
I understand the stance of authors such as George R. R. Martin and Anne Rice, that feel it is theft and view it with them same distaste as one would view plagiarism… but really, no one claims to be the original inventer of their idea; besides, ideas give rise to new ideas, especially when they are popular. If you think about it, maybe Anne Rice should forward some of her income from her book sales to the estate of Bram Stoker, or the people of Transylvania. Few ideas are truly original.
Let us not forget that the greatest composers were also the greatest thieves. They stole from everyone and everywhere.
– Pablo Casals
The first time I read fan fiction was in my early teens, and the interesting part of it was that through reading it, I became of fan of the original source material: Star Trek. Yes, I’ve said it, I’ve put it in writing so all posterity can stigmatise me as a trekkie; I am not ashamed anymore, I am leaving that closet behind! In any case, I watched one or two episodes of The Next Generation, somewhat irritated at the campy feel of it; when I went online, fan fiction caught my eye. I loved it (but hated the bad spelling and grammar,) reading about Spock giving Kirk the Vulcan salute from behind was just one of these things that preluded my “previous coming out”.
Though X-rated stuff aside, most of it are just short stories, written by fans in their commitment to a given canon of fiction. I personally find it the best compliment to an author, not to mention a bit of a measure of added publicity. It keeps alive something that would have died after the author moved on to greener pastures, or when executives at places like Fox cancel a brilliant TV series. Furthermore, the fan fiction community is in many places overwhelmingly female… that just brings warmth to my li’l old feminist heart.
In my life, writing fan fiction is work-shopping my own skills. Once, I attended a talk by Jeanette Winterson, there she said to the audience that to one needs to exercise writing skills, that you need to start a fire throw by ideas and words on a spark, over and over, like building getting a camp fire to burn with from a small flame to a roaring fire. Only then, when the fire is hot enough, can you start to create for real. The internet provides that space, with comments and reviews by others, and fan fiction is a tool, that piece of kindle or the box of matches, to light that fire.
To finish, just a quote from J.K. Rowling, who made my late teens and young adulthood less of a nightmare… And let us consider, that in this modern day world, the internet is the proverbial bin for all ideas and words.
Read as much as you can. Keep writing and then throwing it away until one day you do something that you don’t think belongs in the bin. Stick to writing what you know about. Don’t give up.
-March 4, 2004, regarding becoming a writer.
Waters, Darren. Rowling backs Potter fan fiction. BBC News (2004-3-27). Retrieved 2013-8-21.
Grossman, Lev. The Boy Who Lived Forever. Time Entertainment (2011-7-11). Retrieved 2013-8-21.
Bode, Dana L. (2008). And now, a word from the amatheurs. Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 1. Retrieved 2013-8/21