In which I rant about fan fiction
Fan fiction is something most readers either love or hate. And 99% of the time, I absolutely hate it.
For those of you who are blissfully unaware of this thing called fan fiction, I’ll explain it to you. It’s where a person takes a world and the characters created by another author (from either a book, movie, TV show, etc.) and does whatever he or she wants to do with it. Wikipedia has an excellent article describing all aspects of fanfiction, for those of you who are still curious.
Now, before I really start my rant, let me just say that the type of fan fiction I’m ranting about is the stuff published online. There are some published books out there that are technically fan fiction. Such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith and Romeo’s Ex: Rosaline’s Story by Lisa Fiedler. Both novels take the original authors’ worlds and characters and created new stories. I have read Romeo’s Ex and can honestly say that I enjoyed reading it even though I hate fan fiction.
As for why I hate fan fiction so much, first and formost, is because a vast majority of it is just straight porn. I have read and enjoyed my share of erotica novels, and if porn is your thing then go for it. However, most of these fan fiction stories is all about everyone having sex with everyone else. A friend of mine back in high school read nothing but fanfics about Sherlock Holmes and Watson going at it like rabbits. There are literally thousands of stories out there about those two. I have nothing against gay men (love for everyone!) but, really? And it’s not even just Holmes and Watson, I’m sure people have written about Harry Potter and Voldemort going at it too. At this point I don’t know which is worse – the fact that there are so many stories out there about that, or the fact that people actually read it.
When not writing about sex, a lot of these fan fiction authors are out there to “fix” the real author’s ending. Now, I have read many books with endings that I’ve absolutely hated (and I will rant about these at a later time) but I’ve never wanted to go out and rewrite the ending. I will complain to whoever will listen to me about how awful that ending was, and yes, I do sometimes imagine what the “better” ending would be. However, I accept the fact that the author is the God of his or her world and can make up any ending he or she wants. Like I said before, I don’t always like it but I’ve accepted it. (One can always hope that the sequel will make up for that ending.)
Writing a book is a lot like making a baby or playing God. An author sometimes spends at least a year creating a novel, pouring their heart and soul into it. Then to have someone come along and say “You got it all wrong – this is how it’s supposed to be!” with their fan fiction. Can you imagine how much that would hurt? Granted, bad reviews are probably just as hurtful, but at least with reviews we don’t make the hero and the villain fall into bed together because that’s how the story “should” be.
On the other hand, I do have to admit that there are some people out there who are excellent authors and can create fantastic stories with fan fiction. Their plots aren’t full of butt sex, but actually have some depth to them. Sometimes they even create new characters to bring into the story. These people are the reason why I only hate fan fiction 99% of the time. But they are few and far between, their stories lost in the midst of all the other fan fiction.
My question to those writers is, why? Why do you even write fan fiction if you’re that talented? Why not create your own world, with your own characters, and use them for this excellent plot? I’ve never gotten an answer to any of these questions and I honestly can’t fathom what the answer actually is.
I’ve often wondered if the published authors go and read their fan fiction and how they feel about it. Usually in their FAQs, authors state that they can’t read it for legal reasons, but apparently other authors, like Stephenie Meyer, love it. She even put links to some fanfics on her website. Other authors like Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey and Raymond Feist are all against fan fiction and have repeatedly asked that any fanfics related to their novels be removed from the sites.
The reason some authors say they can’t/won’t read it is because we can actually lose our copyright on our material if we are not vigilant about enforcing it.
Someone as high profile as SMeyer won’t run into the same kind of trouble as someone who is “small fry” in the publishing biz when trying to enforce their copyright. Someone did an excellent post about this–I think it might have been Robin McKinley?–some time ago detailing a legal case which the author lost when they tried defending their copyright because they knew about fan fiction and did not try to stop it. Jim Butcher has some info about this on his site, too, I believe.
Anyway. Most of my writing started out as fan fiction and grew into something greater. You won’t find any of my stuff online anymore (not the least of which being because a lot of it was terrible). I have mixed feelings about it. Unfortunately, if I discovered H&W fanfic, I’d have to ask the site hosting it to take it down–at least until such time as the legal liability connected with it was resolved.
? Jess: I never knew that authors could actually lose their copyrights over fanfic, that is very harsh, I’ll search for the article/post it sounds really interesting, though it must be absoloutely devastating for an author.
Casey: I have peety much the same stane as you on fanfics, though I can see how people would love to get into a story. In a few episodes of the TV show, Supernatural, they make references to fanfiction and in particular ‘wincest’ – stories entirely devoted to the getting together of the two main characters…..who are BROTHERS. Kinda not feeling it, this is also part of what makes me hate fanfic, this stuff that authors/creators etc would probably absoloutely cringe at if they read it. lol. :)
P.s – I love reading your literary rants! (espcially as I seem to agree with most of em and realise I’m not alone)
I have a teenager that writes fanfic for her favorite band. she pairs two band members. Teenage girls love slash fanfic. It is a way to daydream out loud I guess. With the Internet they can now share it. She has hundreds of followers for her stories and they aren’t even written well! Crazy. I can see why an author wouldn’t want their characters involved
@Jess – I had no idea that authors have actually lost their cases! Jeez, that’s awful. I will go check out that info on Butcher’s page.
But I have to ask, when you wrote fanfics, what was the appeal?
@Melissa – I have to say eeeeewwwww, though I’m not surprised at all. Fanfics have every pairing imaginable and then some.
Thank you!! I’m so glad you enjoy them =)
@Sharon – Yeah, band fanfics are also really big. I wonder if the band members ever read the stuff/how they feel about people creating stories about them.
@Casey – I distinctly recall one author mentioning they lost a case because they were aware of fanfic and didn’t request the posters to take it down. Someone else managed to publish their fanfic based on that author’s world or something like that. I really need to find the details now, because it’s bothering me that I don’t recall who it was.
The fanfic I wrote was just because I hated to see the world that I loved so much come to an end (RPGs ending, book series ending, TV shows… you get the idea). I wanted to write more about it so it wouldn’t completely die away in my head. Also explore what I thought were some fun ideas that could be set in the same worlds.