“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.