First off, for those reading this who are not in the world of fanfiction, I am a fanfic writer as well as an author of original novels. I have been writing fanfiction for years and I make no money off it and just write it for fun. Fanfiction is fiction written about other people's universes, e.g. Harry Potter or Stargate SG1. I'm mostly focusing on book fanfiction here, but I think the principles are similar for all fictional person fanfiction.
Now it's more than obvious that there are authors out there who do not like fanfiction, which is their prerogative, but I cannot understand why.
Here's why I think fanfiction is great:
- It spreads the word - anything that spreads the fandom and increases it has to be a good thing. It's free advertising.
- It allows the fans to take part - engaging people surely has to be one of the aims of any creator; that fans want to write about your characters has to say something good about your work.
- It makes people read and write - encouraging people to share the written word is a wonderful thing.
- It makes people use their imaginations - the imagination is a rare gift and urging people to expand and use theirs is brilliant.
- It often encourages people to improve their writing - now I have to admit this is not always the case, but it's a nice goal :).
Here's why I think some people think fanfiction is a bad thing and why I think they are missing out on a good idea:
- You are stealing someone else's ideas when you write fanfic - incorrect, as long as you declare all your sources and do not attempt to make money off someone's copyright you are stealing nothing.
- If a creator does not protect their copyright they will lose it - also incorrect, you cannot lose your copyright. It's trademarks you have to defend.
- If a fanfiction author writes something that later shows up in one of the author's books, they can claim they wrote it first - this is why I think an author should never read fanfiction of their own work. I would suggest that authors make this very clear. Also, fanfiction authors, trying to sue someone for something in their own universe is bad form and don't send an author fanfic unless they've asked you to!
- Fanfiction authors do not see the source material in the same way as the author and hence they are doing it wrong - sorry, readers can interpret the source any way they want, that's up to them.
- Fanfiction authors like to "fix" things that are wrong with the plot, which is disrespectful to the original author - again, sorry, not everyone is going to like how a plot turned out, especially in a longer book series. If they want to play with it a different way, it's just their opinion.
- Some fanfiction is terrible - this is true, but so what? Different people think different things are awful and fanfiction is not the work of the original author so why should they worry?
- Fanfiction is all about sex, think of the children! - very not true and even when some stories are all about sex, fanfiction writers are usually very good at making sure people cannot stumble into it without knowing what they will be reading.
I don't believe fanfiction allows an author to explore all aspects of writing, because it is based on something known. This means that readers are coming in with expectations and knowledge that you don't usually have in a normal book (even if it's just what the characters look like), but it is still a wonderful place to practice word craft. It brings people together (and occasionally throws them apart) and allows them to share their enjoyment. I think this is a very good thing.
This post is also on the wittegenpress comm if you would like to chat about it (i'd love to hear other people views), please comment over there so we're all chatting in the same place. Thankies. (You don't have to be a member to comment)