Fanfiction: Friend or Foe

I have something to admit to all of you.  I write Fanfic.  I got into the world of Fanfic back when I was 16, and used it as a testing ground for my writing.  Yes, what I wrote is still out there, no, I’m not going to post a link here.  If you are really interested in reading it, send me an email J

But talking about fanfic brings me to a realization.  Fanfic seems to have gotten a bad reputation when compared to the “original work authors” out there.  With so many different ideas on what Fanfic is good or bad for, I thought I would open it up to discussion.

My thought on the subject is that fanfic is a great way to get your feet wet in the writing world.  The world is already created, and the characters are ones that you know well, so you don’t need to worry about creating a Mary Sue.  As a fanficcer, it’s possible to get almost instant feedback from readers in the form of reviews, and forces you to get better as a writer.  It gives an opportunity to try out different styles, and to really connect with the audience of readers as well, thanking them “in person” at the beginning or end of each new chapter that is written.

There are some fanfic authors who are treated as Rockstars in the fic world. They have review counts that, were it an original work, would put them on the top of the Best Seller List at your local bookstore for the next six months.  They gain fan following, and really work to keep in contact with their readers, answering reviews and questions on top of their other writing and life. It’s often only a matter of time before such wonderful authors take the lessons they have learned from fic, and the support from the writing community and use it as the needed push to begin writing their own original work.

I know that some authors hate it and don’t wish to allow fiction based on their works.  Author A sees their book or story as their property and don’t want to see other people playing around in it. I can understand that. Author B, on the other hand, allows it, knows it exists, but refuses to read it, simply so they can say all of their ideas in their stories are original.

Author C, a beginning author, looks down on the Fanficcers as someone who doesn’t have the talent to make it on their own and relies on the creation of someone else in order to be creative.

And then there’s the Fanficcer, who doesn’t really give a whit what the other author thinks just as long as they are able to have fun writing.

I think the Fanficcer has the right idea of the writing, and it should serve as a reminder to the rest of us why we are really writing: because if we didn’t, we’d go insane.

I will say this though.  I will consider myself having made it as a writer when I can go to Fanfiction.net and see fics based on my work.

What are your thoughts on fanfiction?

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About Megan Hammer

An author just beginning to try to get her foot in the door, Megan hopes that blogging about her love will help her own writing skills, as well as let her see what other people like to read, and connect with them. While her favorites books are mainly in the Fantasy Genre, she is always looking for recommendations for something new to read. Have something to say to her? She is always happy to get e-mail at: inkblabber@gmail.com View all posts by Megan Hammer

6 responses to “Fanfiction: Friend or Foe

  • Liz O.

    You know how I feel about it. I’ve seen fanfiction authors who started writing in the genres they loved as pre-teens and teens grow from Mary-Sue-bad-grammar-shallow-plot storytellers into amazing authors with beautiful original creations to share with the world. And all due to the encouragement and love of writing that they recieved in taking those first brave steps to publish their fanfiction online.

    Fanficion is a gateway drug, It starts so simply- with a little fantasy about Duncan McLeod or Legolas or Buffy Summers, and go on, baby, write it down. Come on! Write it.. Just one… You know you wanna. ;) And then you get your first review, and then your second. And then, you can’t stop, because the characters are in your head and the stories are soaring all over the place begging to be written down.

    Next thing you know, someone who’s never written anything in their lives is writing short stories, tales, entire epic adventures! And really, how can that be a bad thing?

    The other thing about fanfiction is the instant gratification. You post it, and it’s out there, and sure there are bad reviewers and someone’s always going to hate it, but someone else is going to like it, and at times when your self esteem is suffering nothing makes your day like a “OMG. AWSUM! WANT MORE!” on your review page.

    As much as I enjoy writing it, I also love to read a good fanfic, especially in genres where there will be no more from the original creators: My favorites? Highlander, LOTR, Firefly and The Sentinel. Firefly and Sentinel are alive and well in Fanfiction, and that, in my opinion, is worth writing for.

  • Azuaron

    I mostly agree with you. You do say, “…so you don’t need to worry about creating a Mary Sue,” which I don’t agree with, especially since the trope namer for Mary Sue originated in a 1974 Star Trek fanfic (A Trekkie’s Tale). Fanficcer’s have, I would say, more of a tendency to write themselves Mary Sue-ish into their stories.

    That being said, I think writing fanfic is a great way to start writing (I know that’s how I started writing, with definite Marty Stu’s as well).

    But, that being said, I’ve maintained the attitude of Author C, even when I was writing fanfic, if with less harshness. It was always just a way to hone my skills before abandoning it for “serious” projects (“serious” will remain in quotes until I actually publish something ;-) ).

    Talented writers (and people who want to become talented writers) must stop writing fanfiction if they really want to develop their skills, if they want to make an income writing, and/or if they want to leave a lasting mark on the literary world. Because the fact of the matter is, when you write fanfic (unless it’s, say, Bram Stoker’s Dracula fanfic, or anything else of suitable age) you don’t own what you’ve written. The original author does (or whomever s/he sold it to). And that’s really a sad position to be in if you’ve written something that’s actually good.

    • Megan Hammer

      Good point on the Mary Sue/Marty Stu, Az. And I agree that the Ficcer does eventually need to branch out into their own works. But as a “gateway drug” into writing, it’s a good place to start. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Liz O.

    Oh, I think you’re wrong, Az.
    I think that an author never has to stop writing fanfiction. I think you can continue to write fanfiction and enjoy it thoroughly while writing, and even publishing, your original work. :) I know several authors who do and have-done- That’s part of the joy of the anonymity of fanfiction publishing.

    • Azuaron

      Well, I suppose “stop” isn’t quite what I meant; I meant more that they had to move on from writing exclusively fanfiction and write original work. But I suppose I don’t understand the want to do that; I find writing original stories far more satisfying, and I have a very developed sense of ownership over what I write that clashes significantly with writing something I don’t legally own.

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