In Defense of Fan-Fiction

People write fan-fiction because they have developed an attachment to a world and/or the characters in it. They could be a continuation of where a series left off, particularly when no sense of closure was provided. It could be a drastic change to an unfavorable story line, whether the occurrence of an event, or to change established relationships within a story.

There are crossover stories, where characters from one universe join-up on an adventure with characters from another. Breaking of the Fourth Dimension is commonly depicted as a movie character meets the actor who played them.

And we must not forget all of the One Direction fiction that litters the internet. Not only is it on the obsessive side, but it is varying levels of creepy. Seriously, SHTAAAHP!!

Personally, when I write fan-fiction, I like to create characters and fit them into the established narrative. I was a bookish twelve year-old mourning the end of the X-Men animated series. I had few friends, and did not really fit in anywhere socially. For reasons I could not grasp, I was an outcast. I think that was why the X-Men Universe appealed to me so much.

I started out by creating a character that had a lot in common with me, only she had friends and cool powers. She even had a boyfriend and was planning a future. I could forget my boring and lonely life, for at least a little while, and be someone else.

Yes, very sad, I know.

My reasons for writing fan-fiction have grown more complex over the years. For Riddick, I wanted to explore the origins of his emotional ties to Caroline Fry and Jack/Kira. The X-Men movies bother me, so I want to “fix” them. Otherwise, I just want to tag along for the ride. 😉

Now for the legal complications regarding fan-fictions.

First and foremost, it is the Intellectual Property (IP) of another person. It was their blood, sweat, and tears that went into the creation of those worlds and characters that we so adore. It is like their children.

Some authors are okay with it, like J.K. Rowling, Orson Scott Card, and Stephanie Meyer. They view fan-fiction as a form of publicity – and even bad publicity can be good.

However, there is a majority of authors who would rather that people not re-interpret their work. Whether that entails changing the context of a character’s personality and motivations, to turning the world on its head with an alternate history. To them, it is akin to going through their home and rearranging their belongings. It makes them understandably cranky.

The legal-scape regarding Fair Use and Transformative works is still very much unmapped. As it stands, the only places that you can publish fan-works are to archive boards geared toward other fans. Even then, it is still quite possible for a Cease and Desist notice to be sent out and have anything pertaining to a specific property to be removed and banned from said archives.

Some fan-fiction works have been published by mainstream outlets, probably the most well-known of them being Fifty Shades of Grey. However, it had gone through such an extreme over-haul that an ‘outsider’ would not know that it had originated as a Twilight fan-fiction.

Even if there were no legal ramifications, there is still a negative stigma attached to fan-fictions. They are viewed as lazy, and “a bad exercise for aspiring writers,” (George R.R. Martin). In short, it is bad form, pure and simple.

Will that stop their creation and consumption? Not in the slightest.

As long as there are people who feel passionate about something, there will be fan-generated works. Otherwise, we may as well be a bunch of robots who have no feelings, no enjoyment, and no desire to connect with those who share those same things with us. Then there would be no purpose for creating books and movies, music and games in the first place.

We may as well be hallow.

But that begs the question of, as of a creator, how would I feel if it were my work that was being re-interpreted and altered? To be honest, I do not know. What I do know for sure, is that I would be pleased that my work inspired another person. That it made them feel confident to create and share their own work. That it made them feel less alone in this big, wide world.

Now that I’ve thought about it, no, I would not mind if fan-fiction were generated from my work. In fact, I would be very curious to read it. To see the perspective that others have of my work.

So what about you? What is your opinion regarding fan-fiction and fan-generated works? Sound off in the comments below!

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