On Writing: Fan Fiction

Tweet of the Day: Exercise Your “What-if” Muscle


According to Wikipedia, fan fiction is:

Fan fiction (alternately referred to as fanfiction, fanfic, FF, or fic) is a broadly-defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters (or simply fictional characters) or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published. Because of this, many fanfics written often contain a disclaimer stating that the creator of the fanfic owns none of the characters. Fan fiction, therefore, is defined by being both related to its subject’s canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside the canon of that universe.[1] Most fan fiction writers assume that their work is read primarily by other fans, and therefore tend to presume that their readers have knowledge of the canon universe (created by a professional writer) in which their works are based.

Fan fics are by modern definitions, derivative works which are written by (and many times f0r) fans of an established piece of fiction. The truth is that fan fiction is as old as storytelling itself. Most of the versions of the classics we know today are retelling/re-interpretations of older versions, whose author(s) have faded from our collective memory. From the ancient Sumerian King Gilgamesh (who in turn incorporated an older tale about a garden which made its to another famous book you might have heard of) to Greek Mythology and even Arthurian Legend.

Why do you think those stories are so convoluted?

When you have dozens if not hundreds authors dipping their pens into clay or ink, confusion was inevitable.

What separates the modern form from it’s predecessors is mainly legal. Fan fic writers make the explicit claim that their work is derivative and not meant for profit. But even that claim has ancient roots. Many authors, in order to lend credibility to their work would make similar claims,whether the “originator” was real or simply a creation of the author.

But  why would anyone to write in someone else universe or appropriate their characters?

I can think of a few reasons?

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….: Most writers at one time or another which they could vocalize, accentuate or punctuate like their idols. What better way than to tap into their works. Many would be authors never go beyond this point, while others find their own voice and go from there.
  • The Story never ends….: “Always leave them wanting more,” or so goes the (in)famous piece of writer advice. But what happens when the writer moves on (figuratively as well as literally)? The fans want more and some will get it, even if they have to write it themselves. Many an expanded universe came from the ranks of stories that demanded juts one more chapter.
  • What if I was there….: We live vicariously through the lives of the characters. But sometimes we want to be in the action, as ourselves or as close to it as we can get. The wellspring of many a self-insertion character/Mary-Sue/Marty Stu. When done well it can put a new spin on a well known story. When not…let is not speak of it….please!
  • Question unanswered….: Close cousin to the bullet point above. Any good story will raise as many questions as it answers. Many do get answered during the course of the story, but others remain a mystery, until an intrepid fan decides to fill in the blanks.
  • I liked it, but…..: “I could do it better/differently!” The fan doesn’t like who ended up with whom at the end or thought there was a better solution to a given problem or simply thought he/she could do it better.  Sometimes they in fact do it better, sometimes….

I’ve done my share of fan fics, although I try hard to write my own material. Still I’m divided on the validity of fan fics. On one hand, you run the risk of copyright infringement (on both sides), plagiarism and the like. On the other, nothing boosts an author’s ego than to have loyal fans pour over every word and try to extract every inch of meaning, even if sometimes do go places you never imagined.

So, have you written a fan fic?


4 comments on “On Writing: Fan Fiction

  1. Prior to serious attempting to write long original fiction, I (hand wrote) a (very bad) 50+ page Lord of the Rings fan fiction, about what happened in the Grey Havens if it were the modern day. Not terribly good…
    I still write fan fiction from time to time, never posting it. I like it because its practice to remain in character and in universe.


  2. I scribbled some fan ficiton scenes. I think fan fic can be an excellent way to work on writing skills as well as share your love of the universe. 😀


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