When you hear ‘Fanfiction’ you think of poorly written erotica that would fail any GCSE examination. However, it is a strong and exciting new mode of writing fiction that shouldn’t be so easily cast aside.
Writing a fanfiction proves a certain level of love or respect for the world the author has created. While authors like Anne Rice had once taken an almost cruel view of fanfiction, S.E Hinton openly writes it. Neil Gaiman himself used a metaphor of playing in someone else’s sandbox. People should learn to share it, as long as the other writers return to their own sandboxes.
The fact is, it allows fans to expand the world with their own imagined canon (headcanon). This can answer questions the author never even considered and takes readers on adventures that they themselves had wished to see but never did in canon. It also allows fan writers to change outcomes of certain actions in the story.
These all allow the writers to enjoy the characters like dolls. The characters still belong to the author (or production company), however the fans get to play with them how they like.
(and Legitimate Studies)
Have you ever heard of Jane Eyre? Probably. But have you ever heard of Wide Sargasso Sea, a fan written prequel? One might call the latter a fanfiction, or derivative. The author of the WSS, Jean Rhys, had noticed lots of flaws in Jane Eyre due to racism and fear of the people Rhys identified with. Bronte had created essentially a horror monster from a mentally ill, white Creole woman who had suffered abuse at the hands of her husband.
What this example did was create a backstory and revealed a less bigoted underlining. You can never read Jane Eyre the same way again.
There are plenty of examples of this, such as ‘Romeo must Die’, ‘My own Private Idaho’, ‘Daniel Deronda’ and ‘The Matrix’. Though they might say there’s no such thing as a new story, these use religious books and or Shakespeare. Because these original books are uncopyrighted (classics, I suppose) they are fair game for anything.
You are even taught to write ‘derivative fiction’ in school and university.
BUILD ME UP, BUTTERCUP
From the perspective of a true fanfiction writer, one who would use ‘Archive of Our Own’ or ‘Fanfiction.net’, this is a great exercise into writing. You can get immediate feedback on your writing style and whether it’s a ‘Wrap’ or ‘Rap’. You don’t want to eat the wrong thing, do you?
It also allows you to learn different voices for the characters. Ron says ‘Bloody hell’ a lot, showing his working class background compared to the well-spoken Draco. It’s an important aspect of writing.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY?
You can write a whole novel-length fanfiction and be really proud of it when you’re stuck with the legally questionable decision, “Do I change the names and publish legitimately?” The answer is a firm, “No.” While it… worked for 50 Shades, you will be essentially profiting from another author’s creation. What you should do is take your favourite scene in the fanfiction and try and imagine a way of twisting it. Create new characters and put them in your own world. Once you’ve written your new book the fact that it was once a fanfiction is no longer a legal nightmare (or a moral one). In fact, your readers will thank you for it. Who wants to read the same story again and again?
What’s your view of fanfiction? Do you think it can become a legitimate and respectable writing practice?
Image via: Kaboom Pics