I read a lot of fan fiction at one point in time. I even dabbled in writing a bit a couple times. I was surprised to find that there is some very high quality fan fiction out there, and some of the authors have become very well known in their particular sphere because of it.
I started reading fan fiction because of that feeling – you know that one I mean. The feeling that you don’t want to leave a fictional world because you are so absorbed in those characters or that setting that you don’t want to let it go. Reading and writing fan fiction allows you to spend more time in a world and create stories that maybe could have happened there, even though the original creators didn’t get around to telling those particular stories.
But as a writer, should one bother with it?
Fan fiction authors, unlike the rest of us, are not writing with the hope of someday being publishable. They aren’t constricted by the concerns of aspiring professional writers. They’re writing purely for the joy of writing, something the rest of us should be doing, too. So that’s one thing we can learn from them. Remember that you’re writing for love.
But writing fan fiction can also be good practice for aspiring professional writers. For those days when your creative wells are feeling dry and you just can’t get started, telling a story using characters and a setting that’s already real for you can get your creative juices flowing again.
And of course, some fan fiction does get published. What else could you call all the Star Trek, Buffy, Warcraft, and Dr. Who novels out there? They are published fan fiction, sanctioned by the original creators.
Of course, if you’re writing fan fiction, you need to think about the author’s rights to the work, too. Many published authors have no problem with fan fiction; some have serious objections, however. If you’re going to put your fan fiction on the web, it’s a good idea to find out what the author or creator’s view on fan fiction is.
For instance, some of the fan fiction I wrote back in the day was set in Robin Hobb’s Six Duchies world; Robin Hobb, I happened to know, strongly objects to fan fiction. They are her characters; she doesn’t like other people abusing them (though she heaps plenty of abuse on her characters herself! Poor Fitz!) But at one point, I was so deeply unhappy with the fate of some of her characters that I felt compelled to rewrite their endings.
It’s foolish to object to fan fiction. Nothing could be a greater compliment to an author than knowing that her fans love her fictional world so much that they want more of that world than she provided. It’s also great for keeping interest in that author’s world and works alive for her fan base during the gaps between novels or movies. Research shows that a television show which isn’t inspiring fan fiction is probably in a lot of trouble.
But be considerate (and possibly save yourself future legal hassles). If you write fan fiction and you know the author objects, don’t post it online. Maybe share it with some close friends who are also fans (after all, everyone needs people to read what they’ve written).
And if you have aspirations to create your own original fiction, you may find that writing fan fiction stimulates your creativity and saves you from the punishment of those days when you can’t move past the uninspiring blank page.