Fan Fiction

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

If another person asks me whether I have read Fifty Shade of Grey I will scream (I haven’t by the way) – though far worse are the well-meaning acquaintances who eagerly ask whether my current book is anything like it (because, of course, a historical mystery writer would be writing erotic fiction wouldn’t she?!)

My answer is always the same – no…no, I’m not particularly interested in reading about sadomasochistic sex and no, I’m not particularly interested in writing about it either. I’m also not all that interested in reading or writing fan fiction though most of the women I know who have read Fifty Shades of Grey are surprised when I tell them this is how the trilogy initially began – as a homage to Twilight’s Edward and Bella. 

I don’t know a great deal about fan fiction but it would I guess Fifty Shades of Grey is the most successful of its kind (even though, obviously, it has moved beyond this now and has it’s own characters etc.)  and seeing its success it got me thinking about why people write fan fiction and how the original writers/creators feel about this. 

Obviously the likes of Jane Austen aren’t with us to provide pithy bon-mots on the whole “Pride & Prejudice with Zombies” phenomenon but I am sure many authors have mixed feelings about their fans writing works derived from their own. It must be a strange feeling reading someone else’s take on the characters and worlds you have created, and I wonder how I would feel if this happened to me. To be honest I would just be amazed that any of my books had inspired fan fiction:) but, after that, my true feelings would probably be pretty mixed about the whole thing. Would I feel flattered? Dismayed? I’m not really sure (and it would depend, of course, on the nature of the fan fiction involved).

So what about you? As a reader have you ever been inspired to write fan fiction? As a writer, what would be your take on it? 

17 thoughts on “Fan Fiction

  1. If someone tried writing a story using my characters, I would be offended. If they used my characters for an erotic story, I would be incensed.

  2. LOL JSB! I’ll be listening to see if I can hear it in Arizona too.

    I’ve not seen fan fiction so much in relation to books, but a lot more based on TV shows.

    I can see where fans are compelled to write fic based on TV shows for two reasons–when a show has great characters and great story lines and they just want to continue the adventure. Or, when the show takes a bad turn and the show’s writers seem to have lost their mind, they want to “fix” it in the only way they know how–through their own fiction.

    I can see where the creator of the characters could be both offended (by a lot of what’s out there) but also impressed that their characters engage a fan that much (without getting into the argument of legalities).

    It would be a hard call to make unless it happened to me personally. From a distance, I’m thinking whatever sparks creativity in a person is good. But if someone did horrifying things with my characters, I’d no doubt change my mind pretty fast.

  3. I didn’t know fifty shades came from fanfic.(And before you ask, Jim–NO, I HAVEN’T READ THE BOOKS.) If these books were fanfic for Twilight, there were probably what is known as Slash on the site.

    I actually got the bug to write from my fanfic foray when I was a fan of the TNT TV show Witchblade. I liked an assassin character who only got minor time onscreen & I wanted him to have more stories. Every story I wrote was in a different fiction genre, so that’s how I explored my writing & got hooked.

    The best thing that ever happened to me was the show got cancelled & I directed all that energy into original work. Two of my stories were 45,000-55,000 words & I developed a following of readers. It was a lot of fun. I actually had another fanfic person ask if she could use one of my original characters for HER to write about. I was a little shocked & did not give her permission. I was appalled, actually.

  4. Fanfic is what got me writing. Although I stick to the realm of videogames. I played some games that had very little story, but great characters, and I wanted to explore these characters and their world a little closer. So I wrote fanfic. I’ve since branched out into original fiction, but I got the cliches and other newbie writer mistakes out of my system with the fanfic.

    Fifty Shades is what’s known collectively as “Rule 34”: If it exists, there is porn of it. All fandoms have that take on the franchise. Twilight, being a romance, of course has a huge amount of readers interested in every aspect of Rule 34.

    A good published fanfic author is Naomi Novik, with her Temeraire series. If you think about it, Temeraire is only Master and Commander fanfic, with dragons.

  5. There’s a trend out there for people to get their hands on story material – whether it belongs to someone else or not – and fiddle with it. The desire is to be the writer, the creator, the one who has conceived the material. Hells bells, spend twenty or thirty years of your own time and become your own writer. Maybe fanfic falls below the wire and isn’t a worry, but I think it’s a slippery slope. (If Jordan did some it can’t be all bad.) I do know this: if it’s your ox getting gored, you won’t like it. Ray Carver didn’t like it when Gordon Lish fiddled with his stories at Esquire. And J.D. Salinger went ballistic when Colting ripped off Catcher In the Rye. Don’t mean to sound querulous and stupid: I just believe strongly – do your own work.

  6. I have a good friend who writes Transformers fanfic for fun and I have delved into Star Trek fanfic more than once.

    By far, the biggest and, um, most interesting fanfic community has grown up around My Little Pony. The bronies are fanatics and have taken ponylove to new heights.

    As someone how has been in the collecting community for coming on two decades, Fanfic is pop culture’s highest honor. The good writers and companies understand this, keep an eye on it, and police the trademarks while letting the kids have fun (and yes, the fantasies usually involve erotica).

    These are your fans, the people who pay your bills. Torqueing them off is usually not a good choice – that pesky internet.

    Gah, if I ever got to that point, fanfic writers would be welcome in my world. Odds are they know the details better than I do.

    So, in general, as far as I am concerned, bring on the Bronies.


  7. Anonymous should have had my name on it. I couldn’t get the non-robot stuff right and inadvertently hit the pub button. I wrote the words and stand by them.

    Terry Caszatt

  8. I’ve heard that FSG is a cracking good read. Sorry:)

    The stack of FSG books in Costco has reached staggering heights. So I watch as a young woman sidles up to the book table. Nonchalantly looks up and down and around – carefully avoiding the object of her desire. She picks up a cookbook from a stack – strategically placed nearby. Thumbs the cookbook. Returns it to the stack.

    As she pushes her cart away – get ready now for the Big Move – she snatches a copy of FSG with her trailing hand. Stuffs the prize beneath a bag of Pampers. Saunters off, her two toddlers trailing behind her.

    The thing about this book and it’s staggering sales stats – the take-away – is to move on and not let it put you in a bind, so to speak. Ouch!

  9. Certainly a range of opinions and experiences here – I confess I’ve never really entered the world of fanfic and it sounds a pretty intriguing place – though I am hoping rule 34 isnt what is going on in fanfic for my little pony….but it probably is!

  10. BTW – does anyone know if Stepenie Meyer has commented on FSG? It would be interesting to know her take on it as Twilight fanfic.

  11. Closest I ever came to writing fanfic was laying in bed as a kid making up stories that put the 6-Million Dollar Man, Columbo, and Starsky & Hutch and of course myself into single episode action packed shows in my head.

    Otherwise, I’ve never really been into it because it’s usually obvious that it is not the original writer’s take and therefore not true to the feel of the character’s. And i can’t stand it when someone plagiarizes another person’s story then perverts it to something it was never intended.

  12. I confess that fanfic is also what got me started in writing. But yes, it was usually TV shows or movies where I wanted to see two characters together that the show never put together, or I felt like the writers missed an opportunity to explore something further, so I’d just write an extra scene, etc. Crossover like Basil mentioned are also very popular–combining two (or more) worlds and characters can be a lot of fun.
    As an author, I’m sure I would be flattered if someone wanted to use my characters in a fanfic, but yes, horrified if it was something untoward . . . and maybe moreso if it was just BAD writing (which far outweighs the good stuff in fanfic world).
    I don’t know if Stephenie Meyer has commented on FSG specifically, but I know that before Twilight reached it’s current height of popularity, she used to actually read and comment on some of the fanfics out there.

  13. I know I’m not helping tip the scales either way here, but I can’t make a decisive statement about fanfiction. I have written fanfiction (even the bad kind that makes real authors cringe, though not since high school) and yet, I can’t stand it. These days, I can’t even be bothered to read good writing if it happens to be fanfiction.
    As recently as six months ago, I developed and wrote a sprawling fanfic project that sprouted from the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I was out of practice writing and wanted to bring my skills back up to par to work on my book, so used this as sort of a warm-up.
    And yet, I don’t even like to hear about it. One of my co-workers just never runs out of fanfics and such to tell me about, some of which make absolutely no sense (i.e. Snape and Harry Potter getting married). 99% of the time, it seems, fanfiction is just a path to make things happen for the sake of having them happen. And honestly, I’ve got other things to think about.
    As it relates here, FSG is probably the spawn of a writer’s (or just an average Joe fan’s) basest ideas.
    Of course, I haven’t read it either. ๐Ÿ™‚

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