Discussion: Fan Fiction

I have been known to indulge in reading fanfiction on occasion. I totally get why people like it. When I’ve read a great book and I’m tempted to buy another copy, it’s not because I want to read the book again, but I want the experience of reading the book for the first time again. Fanfiction answers that want, the desire for something new, the need to expand on the characters/story you’ve already enjoyed. Or just play with the characters like they’re your personal love puppets.

That came out wrong.

Anyway, I was wondering, as published authors, what is your take on fanfiction? What would you think if an online community started a fanfiction site for your work? I can see myself being slightly annoyed, but at the same, sort of flattered that someone enjoyed my work enough that they wanted to make the story last longer. Maybe it would feel like a sign that I'd finally "arrived" as an author.

Of course, my opinion might be colored by the fic itself. I could understand, maybe even enjoy a fan’s consummation of the vaguely inappropriate banter between my heroine, Jane, and the vampire Dick Cheney. But at the same time, I would not like to read Hard M slash between my male lead and Jane’s best friend.

What say you, Leaguers?


Gareth said…
To be honest I think its dependent upon the author. Part of the problem is to do with intellectual copyright which leads to legal matters with which the subject can get into seriously dodgy territory.

For example, if you write a book and a fan picks up and runs with the characters you might be flattered, however if they were to write a story featuring your characters fighting a dragon and that later appeared within one of your tales. They then decide that they're going to sue you for copyright infringement demanding enough to float a small country. It would keep you locked up in legal battles for quite some time even though you could prove that you created the characters you'd have to launch a counter suit about thier infringement which in turn would cut heavily into your own writing time.

The only winner out of the whole thing is the lawyers and as we know where theres money theres blooksuckers.
Jaye Wells said…
I've never read it, but I can certainly understand the appeal to fans. However, I wouldn't read fan fiction of my own work because of the legal issues Gareth touched on.
Kait Nolan said…
Well, I'm kind of on the fence on this one. On the one hand, I'd be like "OMG, they like me!" perhaps more accurately "OMG they've HEARD OF ME?". But like you said, it would depend on the fic itself. I was a huge fan of L.J. Smith when she was originally published back in the 90s, and during her decade away, I read a lot of fan fic that was a continuation on the Nightworld theme. But if someone took some of my characters and twisted them around to be some kind of bizarro, disgusting perversion of what they were intended (and some fan fic is), I would have a problem with that.
-Kelly Meding said…
Nice topic, Molly.

If asked, I'll admit I came out of a fanfiction background. I was bound and determined to be a screenwriter, until I went to college and discovered the vast world of the Internet. And the Internet introduced me to this new concept called fanfiction. I didn't know what it was, but I was fascinated to discover people wrote stories about characters from a TV show I loved. I started reading and becoming very active in that fandom. A few months later, I struck upon an idea for a story with those characters and started writing.

The instant feedback I got from posting it online was amazing. And addictive. I wrote in that fandom for several years, and I thank it for drawing me back into prose writing. Around the same time I started with fanfic, I started writing an original novel. Then another. A zine editor "published" a novel-length fanfic, and even though my payment was three free copies, seeing my name on that pretty cover sealed it for me. I wanted to publish a real novel.

It's been almost eight years since that zine novel, but here I am. As far as potential fans liking my work enough to write fanfic, I wouldn't interfere. I wouldn't read it, for obvious reasons, but I'd let those fans do their thing (unless they pulled something moronic, like this latest "Russet Noon" debacle). I got so much from my time in fandom, I'd feel like a hypocrite for denouncing fic based on my work.

Although I have to admit, I get fanfic based on TV shows and movies (our motto used to be "when once a week isn't enough"), but not for books. Dunno why. But my brain is very strange at times. :)
Anonymous said…
The first story I wrote (besides short stories) when I was a kid was fanfic (didn't know that's what it was called at the time). So I definitely think it has appeal, but legal issues are definitely something to consider.
Kat said…
I get what you mean, Kelly. I got hooked on fanfiction almost ten years ago, and then started writing it heavily. My plan was to use my writing there as a way to work on some of the areas in my writing that I wasn't sure I was great at (descriptions, dialogue, etc.). But it does get addictive because you get almost immediate feedback. Within the community I was not only popular, I won multiple awards. I got asked for an autograph once.

But I still haven't fully finished my own work. Like I said: addictive.

I still occasionally read fanfiction, but will not allow myself to write it until I get my first novel published.

I do understand the legal issues though, and had always worried about it when I was writing. Even worry about it now: the stuff I am working on now I dreamed up during that period of reading/writing fanfic. I never used it there and don't recall ever reading anything - then or now - close to it, but who is to say that someone may say that I did and sue me?
-Kelly Meding said…
Kat - It's funny, I was in a smallish fandom, but I was never one of the popular writers, even though I knew I wrote well. I didn't write the popular stories, which was mostly in the realm of h/c (hurt/comfort, for you laypeople). I preferred mysteries and action, which were more in line with the series itself.

Part of the reason I really drifted away from fandom (besides the focus on original stuff) was because of the growing lack of feedback at the end. I wanted to be recognized for my work, and it wasn't happening there anymore.

Gosh, I feel like I'm attending a meeting of Former Fanficcers Anonymous. "My name is Kelly, and I wrote fanfic..." *g*
Anonymous said…
I've read a little fanfic, and even dabbled in it a bit. Most of it was pretty bad, so I stopped reading and writing it.

I'm not sure what I'd think if I was lucky enough to be published and someone wrote fanfic based on my characters, because too often they change the charaters to match their own sensibilities (or kinky fantasies).
Nonny said…
Although I'm e-published and thus unlikely to have fans invested enough to write fan-fiction, should I ever get to that point...

Honestly, I'd be flattered.

The main concern that I've seen about fan-fiction stems back to the Marion Zimmer Bradley case in the early 90s. She had been collecting and editing fan-fiction stories in her Darkover universe and publishing them for years. What happened: She read a fan author's Darkover novel that involved the same concepts as the legit novel she was working on. MZB liked a couple ideas that she used and asked if she could incorporate them, offering $500 and a dedication for use of the idea. The fan author wanted complete co-author credit, despite that she would be doing none of the writing. It went to court. MZB ended up settling, of which the exact details are not known because of a non-disclosure agreement. The novel she wrote never saw print, which (aside from her) pissed a lot of her readers off because it was a sequel to her most popular Darkover novel.

After that, authors have been terrified that if they were to read fan-fiction based on their work, someone could sue and wreck their career. Unless you're commenting on fanfiction, it's a lot harder to prove that an author read it on the Internet.

I wouldn't mind the matter at all, but the hard part for me would be not commenting.
Nicole Peeler said…
I'm still at the stage where I get palpitations thinking my book is going to be a book. As in, I'll probably need some sort of diaper apparatus (and not a sexy one, but a real one) when I see my first ARC.

So I'm so far away from the stage where I think in terms of people not only READING my book, but liking it enough to want to write in my world.

That's going to be a two-diaper day.
And I will need to hold off on the prune activia.
Anonymous said…
Would it be feasible to have an "official" fanfic site for most authors, where they could read what some people are writing, because in the ToS of the site, there's appropriate legalese about giving up any claim you might have if those ideas appear in a later author novel, etc, etc?

I like the idea of it, and perhaps I would write it at some point (although I think I'd have to be careful not to make it a metafiction), but the legal ramifications really are evil. As best I can tell, most of the fan writers in what I'm exposed to most do the disclaimer at the beginning of their fiction. Why not make that official?
alanajoli said…
I wrote fanfic before there was such a thing as fanfic. My first long piece of writing was a "script" for a TMNT cartoon episode. After that, I wrote 3/4 of a Star Wars novel. This was all really good for my writing apprenticeship, I think--especially since I do shared-world writing, which means I have to know how to play nice in other people's worlds. The difference for me was that this was preInternet. I shared my writing with my friends (all of whom had analogs in the story), and that was it. Maybe three people ever read what I'd written. Fanfiction changes the scope, and while I think it's great to let people play in a writer's world (see above re: apprenticeship), I also think it can get a little gray when the fanfic gets taken too seriously. It is just *play* and *practice.* (Unless you're Steven Brust and get contracted to write a Firefly novel and then have your contract terminated before it gets released. That becomes fanfiction of a different sort. *g*)
-Kelly Meding said…

Turtle power!

allyg said…
I write fanfiction, and I'd probably be really flattered if people wrote it about anything I published. However, I probably wouldn't read it etc. until after I'd truly finished writing the series, for legal reasons... Or I wouldn't comment, at the very least! And you can refuse to let fanfiction.net host any fics based on your stuff- Anne Rice has, for one.

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