Fan-fiction has made a place for itself on the Internet, and few people would be willing to argue otherwise. Websites like FanFiction.net offer a space where fans of any TV show, movie, or book can write and upload their own stories based on their favorite characters. With some stories gaining hundreds of thousands of views, we have to ask: What do the authors think about this?
Some of them are definitely aware of fan-fiction. Authors like Cassandra Clare have a strong presence on Twitter and Tumblr, and there’s no doubt that she’s come across a few fics. This idea is strengthened by the fact that she was once a fan-fiction writer herself.
Other writers specifically endorse fan-fiction, like MTV’s Teen Wolf creator Jeff Davis, who was involved with a contest a few months ago that MTV held in which the author of the winning story got to fly out to California to meet him and visit the show’s writing room.
Not everyone is so approving. Anne Rice and George R.R. Martin are just two of the many examples. These authors consider fan-fiction infringement, and they don’t approve of fans taking their characters, settings, or ideas and using them to create their own stories. While this is completely understandable, we can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the often blatant disregard for and disapproval of fan-fiction.
Authors should be grateful for both the fan-fictions and the writers. After all, this is their fan base – and not just any fan base, but often the most invested and most passionate. These are the people that buy the merchandise, reread the book dozens of times, and dress up like their favorite characters at conventions. These are the people that many authors write for – the ones who understand their works and will be forever faithful for their contributions. They’re so invested in the story that they simply never want it to end. The easy solution is, of course, to create new stories out of the existing canon.
Fans share their stories with each other in hopes of gaining feedback and an appreciation for what they’re doing. As fans connect across the world through the Internet, their passion for the fandom will grow. It not only encourages re-watches or re-reads, but also a passion for others who share the same interests as they do.
And what about that fateful day when an author possibly recognizes a story that a fan has written about his or her characters?
This gets fans excited when they acknowledge their works, and it connects the author with his or her fan base. One of the reasons why pop singer Lady Gaga’s fans are so dedicated is because she often goes out of her way to talk to and encourage them. An author or creator of a TV show could do the same just as easily, and the fans would soak up the attention.
But the number one reason why any author should be proud to see their characters cropping up in fan-fiction is that it means they’ve inspired others to write – and isn’t that sort of the point? Maybe being an inspiration to others was never part of the game plan, but it’s an awfully nice side-effect. It encourages others to write and practice the craft, and maybe one day they’ll become an author in their own right.
Considering all of this, we have to ask: Is fan-fiction really such a terrible thing to endorse?