So, today I was talking with a friend who is working on a new fanfic (I admit that I squeed a bit when they told me because their fics are pretty damn awesome) and we somehow got around to talking about whether fanfiction is a bad thing or not.
I say bring it on!
I’m going to come right out and say it at the start – I’m a fanfiction fanatic. I love, love, love it. I love seeing how other people see the characters that I think I know. I love seeing what they do with them, how they change them, the things about them that I might have missed in my own reading of the original material.
Back in the day, don’t ask how long because I won’t tell, I started writing Superman fanfiction (my love affair with Clark Kent is lifelong and I offer no apologies for it) but at the time I didn’t even understand what fanfiction was, all I knew was that I wanted more stories, and if I couldn’t find them then I would have to write them myself.
This opened the door for me to a world where there were other people who felt the same way, but more than that it gave me an outlet I had never really experienced before, and so I can pinpoint the discovery of a love of writing to those first few fanfics.
Over the years I have read some amazing fanfics, and some, well…yeah. (least said and all that).
There are many writers, bestsellers, well respected, award winning writers, who started out in fanfic – Cassandra Clare being one – her Mortal Instruments series draws heavily on her epic Draco fanfics.
More recently we have seen the 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James which started off as a Twilight fanfic and has taken the bestseller lists by storm since it’s publication.
Which brings me to a bit of a sticky area.
Is fanfiction illegal/dangerous and what are authors viewpoints on it?
Let’s start with illegal.
Fanfiction in itself is not illegal. PROFITING from fanfiction is. So, while I can write a Harry Potter story for my own enjoyment, and share it with friends, I can’t make any money from it. This includes publication.
HOWEVER, if I change that story sufficiently that it’s unrecognizable as a fanfic, then yes I can make money. But when I say change it, I mean things like : make them not wizards, maybe make them mermaids. Set it in Seattle. Make Hermione a guy. etc.
I think that writing fanfiction can be a great way for new authors to learn and explore, for sure, but there are dangers, and profiting from someone else’s work is illegal and will most likely see you sued and then cast as a leper among the rest of the publishing industry.
But what about the original authors opinion?
Well, this is where it gets slightly more tricky, and, to be honest, it’s down to the individual author to how they react.
I know from my own FF.net days that there are some authors who don’t like fanfiction and requested that it wasn’t published on Fanfic sites, such as Anne Rice and Robin McKinley. Initially, I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand why. It seemed a bit, well, mean of them.
However, I later read the following post (http://www.robinmckinley.com/faq/faq.php?q_id=20) which explained things much better.
I can appreciate how difficult it is, as an author, to deal with fanfic. I mean, what if someone sent you a fic, or posted one online somewhere, and later, even if you NEVER saw the original fic, you used a storyline that was the same? YOU, as the author, would be the one to blame.
It’s tough, but I can totally see why authors worry about fanfic.
In the end, it’s tough to regulate, impossible to stop, and not always detrimental. I think, like most things in life, it’s all about responsibility.
So, go forth and write, and read, and enjoy. But stop asking me questions about my dog. I appreciate that, based on my last post, some of you are interested in my life and pets, but while I can share images of the Cat (albeit in disguise), the dog is in the witness protection programme and posting pictures of him online would blow the cover on his crime writing career.
Til next time