#FanFiction: Love it? Or Hate it? #writing #amwriting #writerslife #writerproblems

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

But, is it really? Perhaps, one day, long ago it was, but in this ever-growing world of WE are due everything WE want, I’m starting to think it’s not flattery at all, but rather a form of entitlement.

More specifically reader entitlement.

Don’t like a story? Think it should have been written a different way, like a way you think it should have been written?

Why should you have it your way? They aren’t your characters, it’s not your world, so why are you entitled to have it your way?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot with my Facebook, Twitter, and other social media newsfeeds blowing up over the 50 Shades of Grey movie premier. This isn’t a post regarding the novel series or the movie franchise, though. This is about something else altogether–Fan Fiction.

You know, the copycat, red-haired, stepchild of the literary world.

Do I think Fan Fiction should be banned? No. We live in a free country and as long as the fan doesn’t do any damage to the authors’ career or profit from the story in any way, then there is no damage done.

However, with that said, in all honesty, I don’t really care for Fan Fiction. I’m not 100% against it, but I’m not for it, either. I don’t read it and wouldn’t waste my time on it. From what I’ve gathered it’s usually poorly written, and, in my opinion, it’s really just someone stealing an authors world and characters and rewriting them into a situation the author didn’t put them in.

Don’t worry if you don’t like that Edward Cullan had a high moral compass (no sex before marriage, always considers Bella’s father, Charlie, by asking permission to date, and such) and who loves and is very protective of his wife, daughter, and his family, because you can just write your own Edward and turn him into an insecure, controlling, possessive, man who gets his kicks with BDSM.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say I hated the 50 Shades series. I’m actually rather indifferent to the series because it wasn’t really my cup of tea…or should I say crack of the whip. Reading the synopsis and the first chapter of the first book, I knew it was a book I would throw across the room if I tried reading it. Of course, that’s because I know my personal taste. I know what I like and don’t like, and I know that a lot of people don’t think as I do. I have several friends who read and loved the series. To each their own, and I’m glad they had an enjoyable experience with the novels.

50 Shades really aren’t my point here, though, Fan Fiction is…

While authors like Stephanie Meyers and J.K. Rowling are more permissive (with exceptions, of course) when it comes to fans stealing their characters, others like Anne Rice, Orson Scott Card, Diana Gabaldon, and George R.R. Martin abhor the concept. And, for several good reasons.

The tip of the Reason Iceberg is money. Media rights, copyright laws, and tarnishing the authors’ reputation are a few of the several others. As well as those authors that are panster writers and are working on a series that isn’t finished. If said series isn’t completely plotted, and by some chance, the author takes their work in a similar direction as a fanfic piece did, then the author is liable, either with rights or being accused of stealing the fanfic piece for their ideas.

And, that, I’m not okay with.

I agree that as writers we are always taking inspiration from somewhere, whether a movie, another novel, a song, or a life event, we get story ideas all the time from things around us in our world. With that said, though, I’m a firm believer that with those inspiration moments, instead of taking another’s work, create something of YOUR OWN.

Don’t simply steal someone else’s characters and rearrange them into your own fantasies.

5 thoughts on “#FanFiction: Love it? Or Hate it? #writing #amwriting #writerslife #writerproblems

  1. Ha, I didn’t even know what fan fiction was until 4 years ago. So no, I do not read it. I’ve always wondered if plays/scripts that take from an original story is also fan fiction. For example, the play Wicked. I enjoyed the play (saw it twice) and loved the music, but was quite disappointed that they changed my characters. I liked it the original way. So, I had to tell myself it was an entirely different story that had nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz. I too, don’t like it when even movies can’t come up with something original. Good post, Angela.

  2. I think if someone is going to put that much effort into rewriting a story, they should just write their own story. I’d rather be known for my own work than my spin off of your work.

  3. Well, it’s an old post, but I saw it shared on Twitter. That being said, here goes nothing.

    I’ve been reading ever since I can remember. With that constant influence, my mind developed a rather strange way of thinking. Coupled with an already imaginative child, plot holes, characters, and worlds left me with a constant question-What if?

    It wasn’t just “What if Character A died before _____?”, or “What if Character B had betrayed _____?”. My ‘what ifs’ were larger questions, sometimes taking place in the same world but the main characters from the story never being caught in the situation that I had created.

    I began writing in elementary school, about fourth of fifth grade. At that point, I had one strong idea for a story of my own, but knew that I did not have the talents for developing the story I had created. Instead of writing that story, I began to write those situations that I had created from already existing novels. I didn’t even know it was Fan Fiction. All I knew was that I was practicing my skills, and that the only way to get better as a writer was to keep practicing.

    I guess my experience is differnt from your experience. I used Fan Fiction to practice my writing due to the simple fact that it was an easy way to develop without all of the stress. All of the characters already existed (unless I introduced an OC, or original character), the world was formed, and I could still express my ideas with the challenge of trying to not only grasp each character and situation, but make the characters sound and act like themselves with no other basis on how they would react other that inferences. I could practice balancing dialogue with descriptions without having to worry about building an entire world, background, research the topic, and craft each character.

    I am now in high school and have begun to write my own original novels. For me, Fan Fiction was a stepping stone and a vital part of moving from a reader to a writer. It gave me the base to grow as a writer.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

    1. Hi Caroline! Thank you for stopping by! I tend to share old posts on Twitter, especially when they are relevant to this day. I hadn’t really thought of the young adults who use Fan Fiction as a way to explore the craft of writing. Your point is very good, and I thank you for your input! My experience and main argument against it is geared toward those who intend to make a profit from it. Those who want to either sell it, ride the curtails of author by using the popularity of the characters they stole, or sue the author for rights to the characters they’ve stolen and created their own fantasies. Unfortunately, it’s that part of the fan fiction that ruins it for those like you who only use it to help themselves.

      Good luck on your writing and your novels. I hope that you are able to follow your dreams to publication!! 🙂

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