Friday, March 18, 2016

Fan Fiction - Good or Bad?

My first novel, handwritten by yours truly when I was 13. I called it my own, but it was fan fiction.
In recent years a number of authors have become very successful writing fan fiction. As in, best-seller and movie-deal successful. This tends to irk those of us who are purists. After all, our work is original. We don't understand how the market could reward people who didn't even come up with their own ideas. But is fan fiction really that bad?

As much as I am loath to admit it, fan fiction is actually a good thing, and here's why:

1. Writing fan fiction inspires a lot of people to become writers, me included. The stories we read don't end when the book stops. We imagine different endings, or new scenes, and when we get really brave, we write them down. My first novel, written when I was 13, was Bonanza fan-fiction. Sure I changed names and a few minor details, but there were a lot of similarities between my novel and your average Bonanza episode. Writing that first novel, no matter how derivative it was, gave me the confidence to believe I could write.

2. Writing fan fiction makes learning to write easier. Two of the most difficult things in writing are world building and character development. In fan fiction, those things have already been established for you. Think of it as writing with training wheels on. Eventually you'll have to go out on your own, but not having to master every aspect of writing at once makes the process more enjoyable, and if something is fun, we're more likely to keep at it.

3. For serious writers, fan fiction will evolve into something more. There is one fan-fiction series I can't bear to read. The characters are so close to the ones in the original series, I can't help but think of the original series while I'm reading. This same author, however, has written other books, and they are some of my favorites. Same world, same concept, but now so far removed from the original they aren't recognizable as fan fiction in anyway.

In short, we've all got to start somewhere, and fan fiction isn't a bad place to begin.

Have you ever written fan fiction? What book or movie was your fan fiction based on?


Karin Beery said...

My first stories were Star Wars fan fiction :) I've been writing ever since.

Rondi Olson said...

Karin - Star Wars? You were definitely way cooler than me. :)