Do you read or write FanFiction? Do you care about it? If so, then there’s an article that might interest you at Wired.com.
Wikipedia defines FanFiction as “… a broadly defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator.”
Again according to Wikipedia, FanFiction.net is the largest FanFiction site, hosting some millions of stories. I post stories there myself based on characters created in Doctor Who, Castle, Firefly, and others.
The Wired article makes the case that FanFiction has generally been looked down upon by the writing community, but that this may be changing. They note that a new publisher, Big Bang Press, having successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, will be publishing original works by FanFiction authors. Just as interesting as the article are the comments.
Normally I shy away from the comments section of Internet articles. They all too often have the intellectual and emotional maturity of eight-year-old miscreants on speed. Not these comments, which are well written and thought-provoking. They make some excellent points.
The key point is this: the world is full of derivative works of art. (If you want to impress your friends, talk about intertextuality, my new word for the day. You can look it up at Wikipedia.) Would you turn up your nose at AMC’s The Walking Dead because it’s based on a series of comic books? (Sorry, graphic novels.) Then there’s Robert Jordan, author of the beloved Wheel of Time series, who wrote a number of books based on Conan, created by Robert E. Howard. By Crom! And the list goes on.
Let’s be honest. Part of the reason FanFiction has its reputation is because of the quality of the writing. But come on. Lots of FanFic authors are kids. How often have you heard adults wringing their hands at how seldom kids read these days, and blame it on the Internet and (gasp!) Social Media (the source of all evil). But at places like FanFiction.net, you’ll find lots of kids, university students, and young adults who not only read, they write. They deserve to be cheered on, regardless of whether or not their prose is a match for Alice Munro.
Which isn’t to say you won’t find some great FanFiction stories out there. If you are skeptical, just check out “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” by Eliezer Yudkowsky. You’d be hard pressed to find any commercially published work that was funnier or more thought-provoking. I’ve seen some FanFics that were painful to read, and some that were a joy. You can explore what-ifs, alternate universes, and the further adventures of your favourite characters. And all for free. Really, what’s not to like?
Writing FanFiction is fun, you see, and FanFics can be fun to read. Once you find some authors you like and start to follow them regularly, you’ll find the experience more and more rewarding.
Feeling spontaneous? Here’s some spontaneous FanFiction for you.
“Wash, we seem to be getting a might close to that sun,” Mal said.
Wash held the flight controls tightly and grimaced. “Afraid we’re going to get a whole lot closer, Cap’n. We’re caught in its gravity well. Got a plan though,” he said.
“Please tell me it doesn’t involve turning my boat into a molten puddle.”
“Can’t promise anything, but I think I can slingshot us ‘round the sun if I increase the speed,” Wash said.
“Sorry, did you say you wanted to fly us into the sun faster? That’s your plan?”
“Here we go,” Wash said, and keyed in the course and speed.
Mal picked up the intercom. “Um, this is the Captain. Those of you who like your meat extra crispy are in for a treat. Hang on to something.”
Some time later, he wasn’t sure how long, Mal picked himself up off the floor in confusion. Then it came to him. The sun. Slingshotting. Glancing out the forward window, they seemed to be in orbit around a planet that he didn’t recognize.
Mal shook Wash by the shoulder. “Wash! I need to you come ‘round, figure out where we are.”
But as Wash struggled to regain his sensibilities, Serenity received a voice transmission.
“This is Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise. Please identify yourself.”
Mal and Wash looked at each other.
“Oh, crap,” said Wash.
Oh, didn’t I say? You can write FanFiction crossovers as well. Feel free to take the above as a writing prompt and finish the story.
The image is from http://keep-calm-and.tumblr.com