Monday, July 12, 2010

Fan Fiction

Google the term and you'll come up with 22.9 million different possible websites. Fan fiction is the phenomenon in which any and every average fan of a book or movie or TV show can take their beloved characters and write original stories for them. Sometimes these stories come about as ways that the fans would have rather had things end. Sometimes these stories are created to continue the drama that ended when a show was prematurely cancelled. Whatever the case may be, fan fiction is a pretty popular thing on the internet, considering just how many websites come up in a simple search of the term.

Fan fiction isn't something that began with the inception of the internet. It's been around for thousands of years. There's evidence that people took the works of Homer and spun their own tales. Several of the Arabian Nights are in fact parodies of other stories found within the same work. The internet simply gave fans a hugely open forum for which their ideas and stories could be shared with other fans.

But I got to thinking about what professional authors think of fan fiction. As someone who aspires to be a published writer, I think I'd find it pretty flattering for someone to take a piece of my original work and try to continue or change the story in some way. At the very least, it would mean something I wrote made people think. Now, I guess when it comes to copyright issues, professionals wouldn't want someone else making money on their property. But that involves legal issues that I have no clue about.

What about professional writers that are fans of other writers' works? I've read several articles that have said Stephen King was a fan of the Harry Potter series. I wonder if it's safe to assume that J.K. Rowling is a fan of King's novels? Do the pros ever write their own fan fiction? I suppose it could be argued that Gregory Maguire's Wicked is a form of fan fiction.

But what would be Stephen King's take on the world of Harry Potter? How do you think he would spin a tale set within the walls of Hogwarts? I'm sure it would be a lot darker than even Rowling's darkest installments in the series. But what about J.K. Rowling? Let's say she's a fan of Lord of the Rings. How do you think she would write an adventure in Middle Earth? How do you think Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) would handle the Twilight world that Stephenie Meyer created?

So many questions. So much speculation. I'm sure there aren't any professional authors reading this blog, but if you're out there, I'm curious. How would you do it different?


  1. Good thought. In the "Republic", Socrates says that imitation of the original is of poor taste (Book 10). I disagree. In a world that seems too ready to give up the jewels found in literature I think it is respectful to further solify the existence of a character by introducing hypotheticals. The genuine value of the character can truly be found in the original author, but the imagination and dream-building of the masses can make a character immortal and legend in history. Maybe its dramatic to think that way, but Fan fiction is, what I consider, an introduction of an amateur writer to a whole world of their own character development. In fact, it may just be the first stepping stone in writing that early writers need to make that next step to creation.

    George Lucas is a good role model with Fan fiction perameters. He allows books to exist that may not be "canon" to the Star Wars universe. While it may be easy for a writer to say "Get your own"; I think a lot of writers including Stephen King have an appreciation for developing writers.

    I am with you there.

  2. While I agree with both of you on some points, I'm not not a fan of fan fiction, professional or amateur. Maybe it has to do with the inspiration. I mean, I'm a Stephen King fan, but if he tried to re-do Harry Potter, wouldn't it likely turn out like his other dark, sometimes vulgar, often gory works? And Rick Riordan couldn't touch Stephenie Meyer's melancholy/fantastic love story (Annabeth and Percy's romance was cute, but hardly touching)....just like she couldn't bring the fun spirit that is necessary to the PJ series. And no one should even THINK of touching LOTR. I get in serious defensive geek mode over my beloved epic being touched by anyone. These stories are revered for a reason - because they're loved just the way they're written.

    And I'm not published (or even acknowledged in any way), but I do write short stories, and I don't think I would want fan fiction of my stories. To me, it would be insulting to see someone take the characters/plot that I worked so hard on and use them for their own stories. I think instead of encouraging fan fiction, authors should convince aspiring writers that they would be better served to focus on learning how to create and develop their own characters and plots, rather than shaking up the world of those that already exist.