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How I Came to Appreciate Fan Fiction

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I’ve been reading genre fiction (romance, mystery, SFF) for a very long time, but I didn’t become aware of fan fiction as a category of writing, much less its role in creating community, until I found internet blogs about fiction writing. Back when I was reading mystery blogs regularly, I ran across a ranting post on the illegitimacy of writing stories using other authors’ characters and worlds. Many commenters in the very long thread attempted to explain what attracted them, and to a person they argued (believably to me) that they were doing it for the love of the characters, not money or fame. But the original poster was obdurate. He refused to concede that there was anything legitimate, much less beneficial, about fan fiction.

I didn’t participate, because I could barely figure out what everyone was talking about. But I was initially sympathetic to the anti-fan-fiction argument, probably because I’ve never wanted to do anything that resembles it. Of course I’ve hated certain books’ endings, I’ve wished for sequels, and I’ve thought about the off-page lives of favorite characters. But I’ve never written to authors to ask them to keep writing about a particularly loved protagonist. And I’ve never wanted to write my own versions of books.  Not because I thought doing so would be wrong, but because it just never occurred to me.

Then I started reading m/m romance and discovered there was not only fan fiction about the Potterverse, Buffy, and Tolkien, but also slash. And I found that many authors whose published fiction I enjoyed had written fan fic earlier in their writing careers, and some continued to write in both worlds. I learned derogatory phrases like “filing off the serial numbers” and “pulled to publish,” but I also discovered that quite a few well-loved books might have begun their lives as Brokeback Mountain fanfics or Kirk/Spock fanfics. The relationship between fan and original fiction was so commonplace that even books that didn’t begin as fan fiction were sometimes thought to have originated there.

I decided that if I wanted to understand the genre I was reading, I needed to understand fan fiction. But I was stymied by my inherent inability to understand the motivation. As you may have gathered by now, I am a terrible storyteller. I do not have the gift. But recently, when I was idly perusing a chat board, I came across an example using some of my favorite m/m characters. The commenter was explaining the drive to rewrite Brokeback Mountain with a happy ending by using the fourth book of the Adrien English series:

Imagine that Adrien went on that boat with Paul Kane and Jake did nothing because he was so fearful of exposing himself. Even worse, that Adrien didn’t even bother to tell Jake what he was going to do because he’d given up on him. Imagine that Adrien died at Paul’s hands and Jake spent the rest of his life eaten up with regret — and still in the closet. Then you can understand why so many people turned to fanfic for relief …

And suddenly it clicked for me. When I was reading Death of a Pirate King, I knew that somehow Adrien would wind up with Jake. Because it’s a romance. But what if the fictional romance that really grabs you occurs in a non-romance, and they don’t wind up together? Or they don’t/can’t wind up together in the canonical version of the fictional world (Kirk and Spock again)? You can shrug your shoulders and move on to another book. Or, if you’re a writer, you can sit down and make it happen. And there are readers who will love you for it.

This path isn’t just about creating new romantic relationships or changing unhappy endings to happy ones. What if you think the most interesting character in the Harry Potter novels is Luna Lovegood and you want to read more about her? J.K. Rowling isn’t going to oblige, but someone else can, and Luna is a pretty interesting character on the page, so there’s a lot to work with there. She’s not your character, but you can develop her in ways that Rowling may or may not have thought of but hasn’t written down. Even if you adhere strictly to canon, there’s plenty of scope for your imagination, and there will always be someone who is interesting in reading it.

Before the internet, writers passed around their work by hand, mail, or other slow and small-scale methods. Once communities could develop online, though, the relationship between writers and readers became far more immediate and interactive. Beta readers are a key aspect of fan fiction writing, just as critique partners are commonplace for authors of original fiction. Prompts offer suggestions for new work, and the norm of issuing the story serially in the form of weekly or monthly installments has meant that it can be shaped by reader feedback as it is written.

Non-writing readers have always underestimated the extent to which books are the outcome of a collaborative process, and this underestimation is even greater for fan fiction. The community is frequently essential to the process. It provides support, feedback, editing, and encouragement. Big Name Authors in fan fiction can have hundreds or even thousands of readers, and these readers can be more vigilant than the BNA herself in defending the product and the author.

From my perspective, the emphasis on characterization and the interactive relationship of writers and readers are two of the distinguishing characteristics of fan fiction, which set it apart from other types of adaptions, interpretations, and retellings of earlier cultural products. Even in Alternate Universe fan fiction, characterizations can remain quite faithful to the canonical descriptions. Whether the changes authors introduce to these characters are sufficient to make the jump from derivative to transformative is not something we can usually predict in advance, but I think it’s important to have a conversation about what such a transformation entails and think about conditions in which authors might succeed or fall short.

As part of that conversation, we’ve scheduled the following posts:

(1) Has from The Bookpushers will talk about fan fiction, the importance of fandoms, and the thorny issues raised by commercialization.

(2) Four authors who have been active as readers and writers in fan fiction communities will participate in a roundtable post in which they talk about how they started writing, how they separate fan fiction from their original fiction, the role of fandoms and communities, and what they see as the most important issues for the genre.

(3) Jayne will have a special fanfic-related movie review on Friday.

(4) Jane will talk about plagiarism, copyright, and other legal aspects of the fan v. original fiction debate.

(5) Sarah Frantz and I will have a conversation about the special relationship of fan fiction and m/m romance.

And finally, we are very, very fortunate to have Rebecca Tushnet as a guest to answer questions about legal and ethical issues in writing and disseminating fan fiction. Professor Tushnet is professor of law at Georgetown University as well as a writer of fan fiction. She is a founding member of the Organization for Transformative Works, an organization designed to support fans and fan fiction, and which argues that fan works are legitimate and transformative forms of creative expression. She has agreed to take questions from Dear Author’s readers and answer as many as she can in a Q&A post. Please post your questions in the comments. We will send them on to her and then post her answers in the final article of the series.

Note: The answers provided by Professor Tushnet are not to be construed as legal advice.  If you have a question about a specific legal situation that pertains to you, please seek the advice of an intellectual property lawyer.  The answering of a question posted here does not constitute an attorney client relationship.  While we make every effort to present the most accurate information, we will not compensate you in any way should you suffer loss or damages based on information that is provided in this blog post or in the posts following.

Sunita has been reading romances since she ran out of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse and Chalet School books and graduated to Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. Other old favorites include Mary Burchell, Betty Neels, Elsie Lee, and Edith Layton. Among current writers, she reads and rereads Anne Stuart, Tamara Allen, Jordan Castillo Price, Sarah Morgan, Marion Lennox, Josh Lanyon, and Susanna Kearsley.

68 Comments

  1. AlphaEN
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 04:14:44

    I loved your post! Indeed, the amount of work a good fanfic story requires is greatly underestimated. Not only the end result must be able to measure up to the original book/movie/show, it needs to be well written and to have an interesting plot to hold the reader’s attention. For many like myself – a fanfic writer – it is more than just a hobby; it’s an outlet and the opportunity to create something special with – and for – your favorite characters. Thank you for shining some light on the fanfiction world.

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  2. Black Velvet
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 04:24:09

    I loved this post. I’m looking forward to reading the upcoming posts. As a longtime reader of fanfic I’m glad that its finally getting some notice instead of being treated like thievery.

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  3. SonomaLass
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 04:43:12

    Thanks for taking up this conversation. While I’m not much of a reader, and not at all a writer, of fan fiction, I know a number of writers who have honed their craft this way. I know writers who have allowed, even encouraged, others to “play in their world.” With some publishers obviously willing to profit from publishing works that began as fan fiction, I think it behooves us to look at the relationship of fan fiction to both its source canon and to the idea of original fiction. Fascinating.

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  4. Merrian
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 06:29:27

    Loved this post and am looking forward to the exploration of fan fiction you are signposting the way for; also I would love to read that Luna Lovegood story!

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  5. dri
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 07:09:34

    Hallelujah.

    Fan fiction made me a better writer as well as a better reader. Some of the best writing I’ve ever read was in the Buffy and Smallville fandoms … and I have pretty high standards for readable fiction. :p

    I’ve always thought the best and truest function of fan fiction is to fill in all those gaps and lacunae between scenes and episodes of television shows, to tell the stories that happen off screen.

    Michael Chabon (a Pulitzer Prize winning author, you know) says in his collection of essays, Maps And Legends: “All fiction, from the Aeneid forward, is fan fiction… All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.”

    Make of that what you will. :p

    I can’t wait for Jayne’s film review … oooh, I hope it’s Velvet Goldmine!

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  6. Dani Alexander
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 07:22:53

    Let me just say that without fanfic (specifically queer as folk ff and harry potter slash), the m/m industry as we know it today- the acceptance of gay romances on a large scale by the hetero community/publishers-would not exist. It would still be pushed off into the corner, hidden away.

    While I’ve had a lot of trouble with DSP and I’ve been fairly outspoken about how they came about, I want to say categorically that I enjoy fan fiction and I think you can file off the serial numbers and create an original story that doesn’t need to announce its origins.

    I came into m/m romance long after I had been reading Original Slash. The only slash and fan fiction I wrote, or read, was for a video game, but slash led me to original slash (there is a rec community for ORIGINAL slash fiction (which is basically gay romance or m/m or f/f etc) here: http://the-slash-pile.livejournal.com.) I will be forever grateful to fan fiction slash writers for leading me back into reading and to writing.

    If anyone would like, I can point to a multitude of fan fiction in which you’d be hard pressed to recognize any of the characters, the settings, the plot line or anything else about the original.

    I used to read gay fiction constantly. Having been in the questioning phase of my trans/GQ identity, it was both heartening and a disappointment to read stories like Brokeback Mountain. Apparently, every author of queer fiction and queer TV, queer movies felt the need to kill off one of their main characters. Imagine questioning your sexuality and finding every story ending in death? Great right?

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that fanfiction gave way to the explosion of m/m we have right now. It made it mainstream. Without it, presses like Harlequin would not be creating offshoots like Carina where gay romance is more than welcome, it’s brought out the grabby hands. And, btw, for all my griping, DSP was one of the first to latch onto this trend. They deserve props for that.

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  7. Ros
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 07:22:53

    I have a question for Professor Tushnet.

    Have there been any test cases where fanfiction authors have been sued for breach of copyright (or other related issues)? In your opinion, is the legality of fanfiction ever likely to be tested in court?

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  8. Michelle W.
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 07:33:55

    Thank you!! I have been totally baffled by the last few posts about Fan Fic but after reading your post I now feel I understand what Fan Fiction is. I’m looking forward to upcoming posts and learning more!!

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  9. Karen Scott
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 07:37:31

    I’d just like to express my love for Dear Author at times like these.

    My question to the professor:

    How easy or hard would it be for published fan-fiction to have a similar referral and payment process to that of the music industry, where at present any artist who samples work by another artist gives a nod to the original creator, who is also remunerated for use of their work by the sampler?

    Did that even make sense?

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  10. Anne Jamison
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 08:27:41

    One of the things that inspired me to teach Twilight All-Human fan fiction initially was how different it was from traditional fan fiction. It ended up feeling more like a romance writing community and less like a fandom focused on a canon world. The most popular stories had only a tenuous relationship to the original–and often a critical one. The stories sometimes offered correctives–not only, as in traditional fic, a better ending or a different perspective on a scene, but a “better” or different character. For much of the Twilight fandom, “OOC” (out-of-character”) is not an insult but a genre marker.

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  11. ReadingPenguin
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 08:35:28

    Wonderful post. You can’t underestimate the power of writing and reading about characters that you love deeply. I look back on my days of reading and writing Harry Potter fan fiction very fondly, and I could easily see myself getting back into that habit if I entered another huge fandom.

    That being said, I don’t know how I feel about people publishing their fan fiction professionally. I’m all for using it as a learning experience or jumping off point. But I can’t see any honor in directly borrowing characters, settings, and ideas, changing the names, and profiting. Then again, there are only so many original character archetypes out there, and we are mostly just writing different versions of them over and over. I guess it’s a fine line.

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  12. ~L
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 08:41:09

    I’m going to be watching this thread/series with (very wary) interest. I’m not the OTW’s biggest fan, and yes, I’ve been reading and writing fanfic for well over a decade.

    OTW smacks a little too much of entitled justification, wanting their odd little habit to be perfectly acceptable, and a little too much entitlement–we have every right to do whatever we want with this! It’s Transformative! Nanananana! I agree with the concepts, I just tend to flinch back at how far they go at times in justification they have every right even if the creators of source material say no fanworks through legalities of transformative works.

    I’ve been around fandom long enough I have specific authors I’ll follow, even if I don’t follow their current fandom.

    Do fanfic/fanworks necessarily hurt source material’s brand or rights? No. Don’t believe so. Comments of “You have me reading X! You have me watching X!” “My bank account is *bleeding* because you’ve gotten me interested in x, y, z & now I have the albums and am going to concert next week!” are comments I’ve seen in various forms, comments I’ve gotten on occasion. I’ve checked out movies, tv shows, music, books due to a fanfic before. And I have to admit, in a couple cases preferred the fanworks to the source by far.

    Some creators are more than willing to take the free (if at times rabid) advertising. And have fun with the wink-wink, nudge-nudge with fans, both the creators and the actors. Joss Whedon. Michael Shanks tossing out fic challenges at a con eons ago. Jim Beaver showing up at a con (Paleycon?) with a t-shirt that had “I ship John/Bobby” on it.

    Others say hell no. IMO the hell no should be respected, the end. No matter the legalities or the transformative justifications.

    Fandom–sometimes specific, sometimes massive effort from one end of the net to the other–will hold acutions for charities and disasters, even political causes (Cali’s prop 8 was one). One particular fandom has ran an auction for a wildlife preserve/rescue park for well over a decade now. Even with all the snark, shipwars, and at times rabid batshittery (yes, there is. but hey, go look at the romance boards on amazon, rabid batshittery is everywhere in spots not just fandom). Fandom has a lot of passion and generosity and a *lot* of rapid organization when a cause gets stirred up.

    The suggestion of licensing or sampling fanfic makes me *cringe*, fandom has been a playground anyone could participate in, even if only by hitting a coffee shop with wi-fi or a library. Monetizing any section of fandom will pull it out of reach even from just the lurkers who only want something to read, from the casual fan who reads once in a blue moon. There is a *lot* more to fandom and creation of fanfic than just the writing.

    Is it all sunshine and puppies and wonderfulness in fandom? Hell no. What are you smoking and can I have some?

    I like seeing discussions like this, at the same time I watch with a wary eye at the crossed wires and misconceptions. I love the fact that you’re highlighting past ficcers and having Ms. Tushnet even if I personally don’t quite agree w/ all of OTW.

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  13. Violetta Vane
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 09:01:38

    I’m really looking forward to this series!

    I owe a huge debt to fanfiction. Without it, I never would have become a writer.

    But in addition to the ethical and financial complexities of moving from fanfic to original, there are some major artistic and technical complexities. I wrote a very detailed post about those here, before the major explosions happened.

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  14. Carolyn Jewel
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 09:11:27

    I have a couple of questions for Professor Tushnet:

    I’ve been reading about the 50 Shades controversy and I’m confused. I’m not usually as muddy in my thoughts as I am with this so I apologize in advance for that. Jame’s fan fic, Masters of the Universe was transformed/rewritten/slightly edited or something, and became 50 Shades, successful eBook and now about to be traditionally published.

    I look at MoTU as a draft work. The fact that there may be an 89% similarity between MoTU and 50 Shades is, to me, a big “so what?” Same author, and, as no one seems to dispute, the same project.

    1. Should we be considering MoTu and 50 Shades as separate works for the purposes of determining the “originality” of 50 Shades. If so, why? And if so, what are the implications for an author who writes several drafts of a work before arriving at one that sells?

    2. Basically, where and how and even, should you, draw a line between using a previously published book as the inspiration for a story and calling a work Fan Fic? Is it Fan Fic only if the author says so? Or only if someone else says so? Why can’t a story that starts that way transform into something new?

    3. Is there a copyright issue with 50 Shades (and arising from what elements of the work?) I have read Twilight and 50 Shades and though I think there are archetypical similarities, is that enough for there to be a problem?

    4. Violetta mentions an ethical dilemma arising from the publication of FanFic. Can you talk about that dilemma in the context of a community ethic vs legalities?

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  15. Cindy
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 09:14:02

    I am looking forward to this series as well. I’ve dabbled in writing fan fiction and want to know more about the intricacies on all sides. Of course, my first fan fiction ended up having nothing really to do with anything in the fandom except for four characters from said fandom having minor roles. Oops.

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  16. Isobel Carr
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 09:34:10

    If anyone wants to see a THRIVING ff community, look at the Sword and Sorceress books that Marion Zimmer Bradley edited (and that have continued to be produced by her partner after her death). The books started out almost entirely as ff of her Darkover series, but grew to include an ever increasing amount of original short fiction. And if you look back at the authors of all that ff, you’ll see quite a few names that have gone on to become successful authors of their own original work.

    In the SFF community, most of the authors I know wrote ff at some point (I certainly did as a tween, because I was so caught up in those worlds that my fevered little brain couldn’t turn them off). A shining example of ff IMO is Steven Brust’s My Own Kind of Freedom (Firefly ff) which he posted for free here:

    http://dreamcafe.com/firefly.html

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  17. DS
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 09:35:46

    I was going to say that I never read fan fiction– it was mainly an off-shoot of media fandoms which of course was held in disdain by fandoms based on the printed word– but that wouldn’t be true.

    August Derleth and a host of others had lightly renamed Sherlock Holmes and sent him off after new deductions. Books were published that had new characters or set new adventures in familiar universes like Robert E. Howard’s various series. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon and Elder Gods made many appearances in stories he never wrote.

    The difference was that these books were published by ordinary presses under some guise of right. But I think nearly every author who wrote this type of fiction was also a fan of the author or series. I don’t know if fanfiction had been as easily available then (pre-internet) as now if I would have become involved.

    I do have to say I once ran into a couple of Heyer– Venetia and These Old Shades fanfics on the internet that make me shudder every time I think of them.

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  18. Sunita
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:03:45

    @Dani Alexander: DSP is well known for publishing reworked fanfic, but I’m not sure it was the first. Almost all the publishers do it. Sarah and I will definitely be talking about the pros and cons of this strategy for the m/m genre.

    @Karen Scott: Absolutely it made sense, thanks!

    @~L: I think the monetization horse has left the barn, so we can’t do much about that. But maybe we can find ways of minimizing the negative consequences.

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  19. Sunita
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:08:46

    @Violetta Vane: Thanks for the link, that’s a great post. I wish I had seen it when I was writing this up!

    @Ros: @Carolyn Jewel: Great questions, thanks!

    @DS: I have heard about Heyer slash. Despite my love of m/m, I am afraid to look.

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  20. Dani Alexander
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:14:51

    @Sunita: Oh, LOL I think I probably attached my DSP comment to the wrong paragraph. I meant DSP was one of the first to cotton to the idea of slash being a big market and to snap up authors of slash fiction. (not the first, but certainly one of the first to realize the potential of m/m romance). Without DSP and a couple of others, I think the promising authors of ff may never have branched out into original.

    It’s too bad they haven’t upped the game though. Because they could also be the brand of m/m who broke gay romance out into the mainstream and put some of it on shelves next to Nora Roberts.

    Perhaps some of the upcoming articles can address the points of how ff (slash) gave way to the m/m romance explosion and how it is now dragging it down?

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  21. Heather
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:15:37

    I’m looking forward to reading these posts. I initially discovered fanfic when I heard that there were stories available online in which Mulder and Scully finally! hooked up. I checked them out and lost way too many hours reading story after story.

    I kind of forgot about fanfiction until the show Roswell appeared and I became a rabid fan and shipper. (Oh, those were the days.) I found reference to the Polar Novel by White Otter, a brilliant piece that turned the canon upside down and re-interpreted the subtext of an entire season. A quick challenge to write a Polar story launched my Roswell fanfic “career” — about 20 stories exploring all sorts of aspects of the show.

    Like many others, I agree that fanfic made me a better writer, particularly when it comes to making sure characters act in according with already established personalities.

    I never delved deep enough into the fanfiction world to learn about pulled to publish and all that. Since Roswell, I’ve only dabbled in reading Buffy and HP fics. I’m still waiting for the TV show/book/something that grabs me so hard and makes me want to read (or even write) more about that world and those characters.

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  22. Ros
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:23:28

    @Sunita: I have read Heyer slash. Mostly it’s These Old Shades and The Foundling. I have also written Heyer fic (not slash). It’s a tough fandom, though – she’s a hard act to follow.

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  23. Bethaboo
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:28:14

    Without the relative freedom of fanfiction, I never could have made the jump to writing fiction. I’d all but convinced myself it was impossible and that I could never do it. Fanfiction proved to me that I could, and while of course, there are crazies (as there are in any community, online or otherwise) I met a wonderfully supportive group of readers and writers who helped me hone my craft.

    Would I ever P2P? No. It’s something I briefly considered, but once I started re-reading through the specific story I realized it would require an entire rewrite, and if I was going to do that, I was going to write it the way I could now, not the way I had written it two years ago. It turned into a completely different novel. Now, it bears no resemblance to its original form.

    I understand what Carolyn is saying about drafts–to an extent, fanfiction can be those first handful of novels that authors need to write to get better and to learn their craft. But essentially, they are still drafts because with fanfiction, you don’t have to build your characters from the ground up. Even in the most AU of fics, you are still borrowing the flavor of the original characters, and you are relying on the readers to “recognize” them, so you don’t necessarily have to character-build from the ground up.

    Maybe this is what bothers me about MotU/50 Shades. She built her foundation on Stephanie Meyers’. Also, a lot of her behavior regarding fandom offends me deeply, and though it may sound petty, it bothers me a lot that she used a fandom she has admitted to not caring about at all to springboard into national success. She used her fans, she used Stephanie Meyer, she used everyone around her to become what she is now, and yet she is trying to deny the very origins of her success. That bothers me and I won’t apologize for it. The story itself is not my cup of tea, and I am genuinely surprised that something with as many inherent flaws and grammatical issues has been bought by a trad publisher, but I’m hoping that at least they will require a firm edit of the material before publishing.

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  24. Sirius
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:31:07

    Great post Sunita. I discovered fanfiction when I was waiting for the fifth book of Harry Potter to come out and everybody was desperately speculating what was going to happen next. And of course I happily read many many speculations of what would happen next and thats how it all began for me – then I ventured into what would happen to characters in the future stories, AU stories, etc, etc. Slash came next – I think for me part of the initial attraction of mm stories in Potterverse were because there simply not enough eligible and most importantly well developed female characters for beloved (or hated HAHA) adult characters, add to it my love of “from enemies to lovers” and I could not get enough of Sirius and Snape fanfictions :). I think you are also right that part of the attraction of the fanfiction for me in Potterverse (I have read other fandoms, but Potterverse is the only one I was closely involved in discussions) is because I personally was never sure as to whether even Harry will survive the books and was even less sure whether adults characters I adored would get their happy ending (and JK Rowling proved me right on that – sob :(). So of course I was eager for them to get their happy ending at least in fanfiction.

    Great post and looking forward to conversations :)

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  25. Grace Draven
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:44:10

    I’m really looking forward to this series of posts. I started out writing fan fiction (Harry Potter, LotR, Labyrinth, Stargate Atlantis) and still write it when I can carve out the time. Without it, I would have never ventured into writing and publishing original fiction or made contact and friends with some truly exceptional writers.

    Fandom can be batshit crazy at times, but it can also be a tight-knit, supportive community. It’s passionate about its stories, which I think inspires writers to remain passionate about their love of storytelling.

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  26. connie333
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:13:44

    Oh yay! I’m really looking forward to this series of posts. I’m an unashamed fanfic writer and reader, and while fanfiction is often derided, I’ve had a lot of fun with it. It’s also brilliant for getting feedback on your writing – often very well thought out and insightful – from people who don’t necessarily have to be nice to you. That’s a lot harder to come by when writing original fiction, and while fandom can be bitchy and cliquey and occasionally nuts, it’s also often supportive, encouraging and there’s some really amazing writers out there whose work I devour greedily.
    The “50 Shades of Gray” fanfic or not? debate did remind me of a much, much smaller kerfuffle a couple of years ago that can be found here:

    http://wiki.fandomwank.com/index.php/Russet_Noon

    “LadySybilla decided to write a tribute novel to Twilight titled Russet Noon, a sequel to Breaking Dawn with a Team Jacob angle. There was an official website, a press release was sent out by her publisher, a YouTube reading was posted, the whole shebang. Except, you know, that whole “getting permission from Twilight’s copyright holders” dealie. However, this seemingly troublesome little detail didn’t bug LadySybilla in the least since Stephenie Meyer didn’t draw her characters, so therefore, she doesn’t own them! Good thing there was some legal advice on the internet readily available for her to misinterpret put to good use. ”
    It goes on for ages but is pretty much a guide to how not to publish fanfiction.

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  27. Christine M.
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:17:20

    Reading everyone’s comments, I have the feeling I’ll see some people I used to know when I was writing in the LOTR and the HP fandoms.

    All of my favourite stories from my days in fandoms are backed up 3, 4 times on various drives and CDs. Some of my favourite writers from back then had incredible, breathtaking storytelling habililties. Totally out there. I still shiver just thinking about those stories, and I haven’t read them in *years*.

    I think of fanfic and fandoms very fondly. I made dear friends on boards, yahoo groups and LJ coms, met half a dozen through the years (considering most of them live in Europe and I’m in Canada, it’s a nice number) and I’m still very close to them, ten years later. And some of my fellow writers from the fandoms have persevered and turned into brilliant published writers of original fiction.

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  28. CK
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:19:35

    Great post. I’m also looking forward to this series. I love fanfiction and all its possibilities as a reader and one time writer. I’ve read some truly awesome ff in the Potterverse. As for batshit crazy wankfests in fandom, well that’s par of course but it’s true for the internet. I’ve met some of best friends in fandom and they are awesomely supportive and batshit crazy but that’s why we’re friends.

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  29. Tessa Dare
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:47:36

    Writing and reading Jane Austen fanfiction is how I started writing historical romance.

    I particularly enjoyed writing “missing scenes” — filling in the blanks Jane Austen (or, uh, various filmmakers) left. I wrote a whole series of vignettes where Elizabeth Bennet (fond of walking!) was just tromping around the environs of Netherfield, Rosings, Pemberley, musing and watching birds and butterflies. Guess what I learned – scenes of someone walking and musing are boring! My scenes with Lizzy and Darcy kissing were soooo much more popular! Romance Writer’s Lesson #1, right there. :D There’s a good reason some scenes are “missing.”

    The Austen fandom is an interesting case — since all the books are in the public domain, there aren’t the same issues of copyright that you find with more contemporary fandoms. This is why I have trouble following the “fanfic is always unethical, regardless of copyright” argument. To me, there’s no great ethical distinction between the fanfic stories I wrote/enjoyed and Bridget Jones’ Diary, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or Clueless. Several popular (and very talented) JA fanfic writers did pull their stories and get publishing contracts for them. If PD James can publish Death at Pemberley…. why shouldn’t they publish their stories, just because they first appeared online?

    Fanfiction can be a wonderful laboratory for a new writer. I don’t know where else I would have found the opportunity to learn, or the courage to share my writing with strangers. But that’s not why I spent time writing and reading fanfic. Mostly, it was a way to connect with other people who loved those books and characters as much as I did. Writing and sharing fanfic was just one part of a long, extended conversation about what those books meant, and meant to us.

    Some fictional characters, worlds, and stories have just grown beyond their original creator, to the point where they exist in the public’s collective imagination. If you somehow wiped every physical and electronic copy of JK Rowling’s books from the earth, Harry Potter would continue to be a cultural reference point for an entire generation. It’s natural for people to tell stories, draw pictures, write songs, etc. that reference their shared culture. It’s what humans do. I can understand why it might be infringement to profit from it during the copyright term, but I don’t understand why an author would fight that phenomenon in general — to me, that’s like the Holy Grail of fiction writing.

    Then again, it’s not like I can say how it feels from experience, so… :)

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  30. ~L
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:49:53

    @Sunita: as far as reworked fanfic being pubbed. Yeah that definitely has. I mind that far less with a complete rewrite/rework of RPF/RPS AUs because often there is not too much more than a recognizable face/name/siblings/accent. Surface features not character core. No rewrite just Find&Replace names and pub as is? I’ve seen and that bugs me.

    Media-based fanfic I have more problems with. The impact from media-based P2P is already there. Some places more than others. Certainly in the Twilight fandom at least as far as scrutiny right now with ELJames. For all I couldn’t care less about sparkling vampires, which only got that far in glancing at Meyers books before handing them to daughter and saying “well if you really want to…here ya go, why I don’t get, the vampires sparkle but here ya go”.

    James screwed the Twilight fandom by using them, is further screwing them (even if no more than unwanted-to-negative attention) with this. And if/when Meyers finally speaks out after she has her lawyers all in order, there is possibility (remote, yes, but possible) that she puts a foot down, sends her lawyers after archives and communities with C&D letters and grind the fandom to a halt.

    Shoot even the impact of former slash fandom writers going pro. And the point & sneer of “They used to write fanfic!” even if their pro-pubbed work has no connection to their fanfic other than the fact it’s the same author.

    Would definitely love to see the impact of that lessened. Fanfic writing is an entire different kettle of fish than orig-writing, but the lessons learned in fanfic can certainly do wonders for original writing if you apply them. RPG type back-and-forth headhopping might fly with fanfic, especially when it was obviously written mostly that way, doesn’t with pro and I’ve seen that. Too quick to make the jump and not slow down to shift gears doesn’t help impressions of fanfic.

    It’s the idea of pay to play archives/licensing that bothers me–a lot. And that is what I’ve seen brought up before and in conjunction with licensing/sampling type monetization. Something like that makes me shudder. It’s as much controlling the negative effects of the horses that have already got out of the barn as keeping the horses remaining in the barn where they’re at I think.

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  31. P. Kirby
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:54:46

    Like a lot of writers, I first got my feet wet with fan fiction (Buffyverse, there, I admitted it). Eventually, the constraints of canon moved me to develop my own worlds and characters, but fan fic provided an established framework–training wheels, really–to find my voice and practice the basic mechanics of fiction writing.

    As a reader, I spend a lot of time reading Highlander fan fics, especially those that focused on my favorite secondary character, Methos.

    Then I stumbled onto the controversy, specifically one author who loathed fan fiction in a manner that frankly, struck me as a tad….uh, deranged. I can see some of the problematic legal ramifications, especially if fan ficcers are actively trying to make money from their work. But even now, as a published author, I see most fan fiction as a normal function of fandom. I mean, technically, people have been writing (or telling, or singing) fan fiction as long as there has been fiction.

    These days, I don’t have the time to write original fiction *and* fan fiction. Even though the protagonist in my current WIP was originally inspired by a character in a movie, it just didn’t make sense to spend time writing within the constraints of canon, when I could just as easily make up my own. The character and his surrounding milieu quickly evolved well beyond their origins. My rules; my world.

    But if I had the time, I can think of at least a few fandoms where I’d dabble a bit.

    Until recently, I wasn’t aware of the trend toward “file off the serial numbers” published fan fiction. Frankly, the practice strikes me as at least a little disingenuous, so I’ll be particularly interested in the exploration of that particular aspect of fan fiction.

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  32. jan
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:54:47

    I missed your email amidst a flood of a couple thousand emails this past week. I have something written that you may want to add to this. Let me know.

    ReplyReply

  33. Sheryl Nantus
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:09:03

    I’m way old-school when it comes to fanfiction – I started writing X-Files fanfiction under Sheryl Martin way, WAY back when we were still using alt.tv.x-files.creative to post our works…

    *laughs*

    I iz dere on fanlog as well!

    http://fanlore.org/wiki/Working_Stiffs_(X-Files_website)

    I can say without a doubt that fanfiction helped me hone my writing craft to the point that I now write and sell original works; not to mention having a husband I found through my fanfiction fan mail and who supports me beyond belief.

    I’m looking forward to this series and can’t wait to hear what everyone has to think/say/comment!

    (btw, I still have a ton of stories, like 200+, on ff.net under Sheryl Martin. Because I can.)

    ;)

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  34. Jane
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:12:00

    I’d like to ask Professor Tushnet whether she believes that the financial profit earned off the P2P books will impact any legal decisions. It seemed in the Harry Potter Lexicon case that the court really never analyzed the issue of whether the derivative work diminished the market of the original work.

    Second, does she see the courts placing any kind of emphasis on one particular element in determining whether a derivative work is sufficiently transformative to overcome copyright protection.

    Third, it seems to me that the works that are closest to the original canon are the most infringing whereas the works that are farthest from the OC are the least infringing; however in fan fiction, isn’t there criticism leveled at works from being too far from the OC.

    Fourth, fan fiction community has its own ethics and one of them is to not profit from publication. Are there any repercussions for violating the fan fiction ethos?

    Fifth, Does the publication and huge success of 50 Shades likely mean more published authors will become less tolerant of fan fiction? How does she view 50 Shades impact on the ff community?

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  35. Isobel Carr
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:23:04

    @Bethaboo: Yes, this is the core of my issues with what transpired as well.

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  36. Isobel Carr
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:35:07

    @Tessa Dare: The major difference is that JA fan fic (and really ff of any public domain novel/characters) not only acknowledges the source from which it pulls its power, it CELEBRATES its origins. The origin, those specific characters, or setting, is the whole damn point. Whether or not the author succeeds is predicated upon how closely they can adhere to the original in terms of characterization and language. No one is pretending that they invented Darcy or Pemberley. When taken further afield (Bridget Jones; Clueless), the author is demonstrating their skill at transforming a classic and showing that the story is timeless, but the echoes that reach back to the original are still profoundly important. In denying the origin and dismissing the importance of the echo, James is doing something that is totally different IMO than what fan fic authors do.

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  37. Sunita
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:35:32

    @jan I sent you an email. Short answer: yes please!

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  38. De
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:38:15

    @Grace Draven:
    Fandom can be batshit crazy at times, but it can also be a tight-knit, supportive community.

    I phrase it as ‘fandom is loving and supportive, when we’re not busy eating our own young’.

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  39. Ros
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:41:12

    @Jane: OC is normally used as an abbreviation for ‘original character’, so it’s probably less confusing just to stick with ‘canon’ for the source material.

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  40. Tessa Dare
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 12:53:07

    @Isobel Carr: Sorry, I thought this was a general discussion, as opposed to the 50 Shades thread. I didn’t mean to say anything specifically about 50 Shades and wouldn’t try to. I haven’t read it or Twilight, and I’ve never participated in that particular fandom, so I can’t say anything remotely informed about it.

    But I don’t think the JA fandom is particularly unique in its treatment of the source material. As in any fandom, there are some writers who stick close to accepted canon and those who stray quite far afield.

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  41. Sunita
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:02:36

    @Tessa Dare: It is definitely a general thread.

    I find the Austen fanfic example really interesting. I agree that it celebrates the original author, but I’m not sure that makes it so very different from many other fandoms. As you say, there are And the fact that we’re dealing with public domain work and authors who are happy to cite their antecedents means we don’t have to talk about infringement and legal consequences but focus on the other aspects.

    Is there as much community participation in the Austen fandom as there is in others? Because I’m still trying (as an outsider) to think about how we should take account of those contributions. Some observers basically say that it’s no different from any other critique process, but I don’t agree with that, based on my limited observation. But I could be entirely wrong.

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  42. Rosy
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:05:01

    I used to write fanfiction – some of the best stories I’ve ever read were fanfiction, too!

    It’s cool that it’s starting to be recognized as a legitimate form of entertainment. I’m very tired of people who look down on it.

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  43. Maili
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:07:26

    I’m glad I stole a break to read this thread as I really enjoyed reading all responses. Thank you.

    I have a question or two for Prof. Tushnet:

    Considering the fact that the fan fiction community is an international community and that not all original works are OEL (Original English Language), can one argue that fan works are legitimate and transformative forms of creative expression on *international* platform?

    Basically, how does it all work? I mean, “fair use” doesn’t quite exist outside the U.S. and that moral rights don’t quite exist in the U.S. as well?

    For example, I have seen quite a few English fanfic writers/artists and readers saying that they prefer to devote themselves to the fandom of various Japanese comics/animated TV series/films because, according to them, there’s no law in Japan and the US against them creating and selling their fanfic and fanart works of non-English works, or that laws are different in Japan, which makes them feel somehow safer. Here’s the latest example, taken from the other DA thread: “I’ve never been comfortable doing fan works for Western media anyway. The laws and expectations are different than with Japanese fandoms.

    That mentality is quite common among English fan creators and members of Japanese/non-English fandoms. Most fan creators – from what I see so far – can’t read Japanese, so where do they get their information about Japan’s copyright laws and its current stance on fan creations? (Please don’t say Wikipedia because that would make me just cry. :D) How could one find reliable information if one is that concerned?

    If a, say, French fan creator wants to write a fan story based on a Hong Kong action film, which country’s legal system should the French fan creator adhere to? Or is this where the “Internet is countryless” policy comes into play?

    Like I say, how does it all work on the international scope?

    Sorry that it’s such a messy post, but I hope you get what I’m trying to ask. Thank you.

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  44. B
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:15:09

    I think the biggest worry for writers whose works are being played with, particularly BNA who are writing unfinished series, is that a fanfic writer will sue them if the canon story resembles a fanfic story at all. It seems far fetched, and is silly, but it has (allegedly) happened. http://fanlore.org/wiki/Marion_Zimmer_Bradley_Fanfiction_Controversy

    I think that fanfic is wonderful, and should be encouraged, particularly as a learning tool for new writers. But there is fear there, whether or not it’s legitimate.

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  45. Rosy
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:27:39

    Something I think is kind of interesting, and mostly related:

    Andrew Hussie, the creator of Homestuck (an epic webcomic) will often take ideas from fans. He also makes money off of his webcomic. If a fanfic writer could sue a series creator for “stealing their idea” (the plot of their fanfic for an episode of the real show, or whatever), could a fan sue Andrew Hussie for using their ideas?

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  46. Tessa Dare
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:34:45

    @Sunita: Exactly, thank you – that was my point. If one wants to look at fanfic and separate ethics from legalities, the JA fandom is a good case study. Because there are no legalities in play.

    Re: community participation. I really can’t compare it, because although I’ve read limited amounts of fanfic in other fandoms, I’ve never been an active participant. Even within JA fanfic, there’s wide, wide variation (or there was, when I was actively writing it). Some writers had beta readers, some didn’t. Some boards required a beta process, some didn’t.

    I’m not sure if this is what you’re getting at, but I would reject the idea that the mere existence of critique/beta/editorial process makes a story an effectively co-written product. Yikes, I don’t think any author wants to go there. Even when an author solicits feedback, she is ultimately the one who decides whether and/or how to use it. It’s nice for an author to publicly acknowledge those who’ve helped her, but if they’re given co-creator status…. what a tangle that would be.

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  47. CK
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:45:55

    @De: I phrase it as ‘fandom is loving and supportive, when we’re not busy eating our own young’.

    That’s an awesome way to put it. I might have to put that on a pillow ;)

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  48. Isobel Carr
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:58:34

    @Tessa Dare: Sorry, but since FSoG is what has kicked this whole thing off, I just can’t not see it as looming large over the discussion.

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  49. Sunita
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 14:18:06

    @Tessa Dare: [sorry about the messed up sentence above, I cut and pasted very badly there.] Oh, very good points! I suppose I was thinking less of official co-authorship (or co-ownership of copyright) than I was of a more systematic way of recognizing community contributions. In my field our acknowledgments often distinguish among different levels of feedback, for example. Some e-publishers list the editor on the rights page, along with the cover artist, and I’ve seen beta readers described as doing work comparable to that of editors. If the reader community does play a major role, there might be less resentment and conflict if the publishing author is explicit in acknowledging that role. But it would be complicated to work out systematically in practice.

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  50. Tessa Dare
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 14:40:21

    @Sunita:

    there might be less resentment and conflict if the publishing author is explicit in acknowledging that role.

    It’s a nice thought, but I’m pretty sure resentment and conflict will never be weeded out of fanfic, the Internet, publishing, or life in general. :)

    Not to be flip. But when a group of people engage in an activity for fun, and suddenly money enters the picture, things are bound to get awkward. It could be fanfic, music, sports, blogging, or cupcakes–wouldn’t matter. I’m pretty sure the JA fandom had its rumblings and shiftings when some authors got publishing contracts and pulled their stories. I wasn’t very active by that time, but I noticed some boards shut down and others sprung up.

    Money changes things. It just does, no matter how we wish it didn’t. Ironically, I can’t think of any theme Jane Austen’s books address more frequently.

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  51. Jane
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 15:12:21

    @Isobel Carr: You would be wrong, at least here at Dear Author. We have been planning this series since late last year. It’s simply not something we could have thrown together in a week. The serendipitous timing of the sale of FSoG to Vintage merely made it a convenient starting point.

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  52. De
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 15:19:51

    @CK:

    *snicker* That’d be funny.

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  53. Sunita
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 15:32:24

    @Maili: This is a great question. The internationalization of the fandoms means that authors are potentially working across copyright regimes. Copyright infringement is case-by-case in the US already, so how much more complicated is it to figure out cross-nationally?

    When the DSP book was being discussed last month, there was a question of whether the use of song lyrics without attribution (or presumably a license) comprised infringement. I could only find one line of the song in the book when I looked through it, although the line was quite distinctive and was repeated half a dozen times as part of the narrator’s thoughts and words (i.e., not presented as a song lyric).

    I don’t know if that usage would be enough to require permission in the US. But a Guardian article made the point that in the UK, one line of a song was enough for the publisher to seek permission:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/01/blake-morrison-lyrics-copyright

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  54. Sunita
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 15:33:29

    @Rosy: Great question, I wonder about that too.

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  55. Isobel Carr
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 17:21:11

    @Jane: Then I’ll say that for ME it looms large over the conversation being had at the moment. I simply don’t see how fan fiction can be talked about at the moment without brining up DSP or FSoG as very current and topical developments in that world.

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  56. Hell Cat
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 17:25:24

    The fact that is fan fiction communities build readerships. Look at Cassandra Clare, aka Cassie Claire in HP fandom. She had a website built for her own fan fiction after the fanfiction.net debacle, that turned into an amazing archive (of which some of my stuff still stands), and transformed into a dedicated printed readership. Me? I’m not a fan of her, but I can see usefulness of having a known circle that will transition. And she’s not alone. Naomi Novik wrote some of the most celebrated fan fiction in quite a few genres. Other lesser known authors have gained e-publisher book deals due to the fan fiction community. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have people willing to help you better a craft. And then some well-known writers have founded some amazing websites that celebrate the fan community (dreamwidth.org, for example).

    I wrote some pretty non-canon fan fiction, like Seamus and Pansy from HP after the war . And some were rather possible examples, like Luna and Neville around Christmastime at Hogwarts. I wrote around the time Book 5 came out because I wanted the characters to be more than a one-note. I stopped when I didn’t finish Book 6, but the HP fandom was great for a community feeling. I gained some useful advice from authorly friends, some well-known in the community. Along with various other more media based fandoms (90s popslash, Buffy, Stargate).

    One benefit no one really talks about is the fact you better get a thick skin if you’re writing fan fiction. You have some of the rudest, bizarre, cut-throat reviews on a daily basis. I still get reviews for work I wrote 6-7 years ago. I’m not a writer of published fiction, but it did inspire my love of fiction enough to -want- to be an editor for authors. I gained that experience in writing characters I didn’t own but noticed things that would be ignored because there was no plot purpose.

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  57. Grace Draven
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 17:37:49

    @De: LOL! Well said.

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  58. Sandra
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 19:26:43

    @Isobel Carr: But didn’t Brust’s story start out at Josh Whedon’s request as a possible script? That, to me, makes it licensed material, not ff. FF would be Mal Reynolds meets Vlad Taltos.

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  59. Teresa
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 21:12:56

    I’m looking forward to seeing the future posts about ff.

    I first started reading ff for 2 main reasons:
    1) To bridge the gap between tv seasons or movie sequels or books
    2) To enjoy romance (shipper) stories

    The wait between tv seasons can seem interminable and ff is a great way to keep the characters alive and interesting. Shipper stories allowed me to enjoy all the things that a creator/writer won’t do with their characters. There is a short hand involved in ff. Readers already know the characters – how they look, behave, think – there’s a short hand involved that ff authors get to benefit from. Once you remove this short hand by changing the characters name and origins, the work needs to stand on its own.

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  60. Courtney Milan
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 23:29:09

    I don’t have a question for Rebecca, but I do hope that she comes by when the Q&A is posted and participates in the comments.

    The discussion is often the best part of the posts.

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  61. Sunshineyness
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 23:35:46

    Am I alone in NOT being irritated by authors that do not like fanfiction? This has cropped up with a lot of my favorite writers and I can’t for the life of me understand supposed fans of these authors being up in arms because they were asked not to generate fanfic. Aren’t you supposed to be their fans afterall? What’s so awful about abiding their wishes?

    When Robin McKinley and Ann Rice asked their fans to not do such work I was a little bummed b/c I was young and an amateur writer and this was the avenue I chose to express my fannish wants and creativity. BUT I was totally cool with it regardless. (Though I would hear a LOT of grumblings that these authors were vane not wanting anyone else to touch their work or just plain mean) I didn’t even mind that McKinley and Rice took the step extra and strong armed fanfiction.net to disallow their fiction on their site. (The full list from fanfiction.net: Anne Rice, Archie comics, Dennis L. McKiernan, Irene Radford, J.R. Ward, Laurell K. Hamilton, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, P.N. Elrod, Raymond Feist, Robin Hobb, Robin McKinley, Terry Goodkind) And what a lot of these writers have in common? A lot of them are older and probably remember the scare back in the day of having a fan sue you if they felt their fanfic was “stolen” by you. A lot of people forget that years ago the worst thing that could happen to your career was someone whispering around the community that you- an established respectable author- ripped off an unsolicited story sent to you by a fan. So I don’t blame them in the least. I’m also never surprised when it’s an author that might have spent some time in the academic community where similar plagiarism scares exist.

    After all, it’s their own works and at the end of the day they get to decide if such a stuff is tolerated or not. If an author/creator is cool with it? Great! If they’re not? More’s the pity but darnet respect it and don’t start acting like the author is a horrible person to their fans. Anytime an author comes out against fanfic I can’t help but NOT get made about it and respect their wishes. After all, it’s their playgrounds they can choose if others can play in them or not.

    In fact, this pull to publish is a horrifyingly new murk that I don’t think most of the big authors are at all sure what to say about it or if they should be saying something about it and a lot of them probably are so confuzzled that it’s a “thing” and weather or not they even should be offended. In fact judging by comments certain authors have made they probably wouldn’t care about refurbed fanfic as long as their creations aren’t directly involved.

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  62. Cindy
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 23:51:53

    Like Bethaboo, the story I referenced earlier I have long wanted to rewrite into something original…but now it’s a completely different story in my mind with different characters and situations (for the most part), so I’m just going to start from scratch. And speaking of the crazy reviews, for my LOTR Fanfic which had very little to do with LOTR except a few of the characters used minorly, my first review accused me of being a Legolas fangirl. I couldn’t stand Legolas, lol, and he was being used very minorly. I still don’t know where that came from.

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  63. Sunita
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 00:39:39

    @Sunshineyness: No, I don’t think you’re alone at all. Many fan fiction writers are sensitive to the concerns of the authors in whose sandbox they want to play, so to speak. It’s one of the topics we’re discussing in the Author Q&A.

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  64. KT Grant
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 06:24:09

    Fan fiction was where I embraced more types of genres to read. Where as I started reading only historical romance, I then started reading alternate universes because of Fan Fiction net back in the late 1990′s. Because of Labyrinth fan fiction I became interested in vampires, shape shifting romance and the such. Some fan fiction on Literotica.com opened my mind to more sexual works and I do believe helped me with my writing today.

    I wonder now that Fifty Shades has exploded, what does that mean for the fan fiction community in general? I have the feeling that most people in the fan fiction community are not pleased about Fifty Shades success because fan fiction is more of an underground movement and is supposed to stay there.

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  65. Silvialaura
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 06:59:10

    @B:

    It wasn’t exactly like that. A different story is told here: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written/msg/80c1db3e5e35c1f9?dmode=source&output=gplain&pli=1
    If nothing else Jean’s tale has been consistent through time.

    Silvialaura

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  66. Jess
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 14:21:29

    A question for Rebecca Tushnet: What is the status of the fanfiction that Fifty Shades is based on? For instance, would James have solid ground to stand on if angry fanficcers decided to make it even more obvious that people can get the PDF fanfic version for free?

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  67. AM Gray
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 00:13:18

    I write fanfic as mrstrentreznor as well as my own stuff. I see no difference between the two styles as a writer. Sometimes it’s fun to write with someone else’s characters. Or to ‘correct’ what you perceive as character flaws or bad decisions. Stories in the AH/AU world are basically original stories, that usually bear very little comparison to the original works they are based on. But it is the fact that they are based on them that makes them fanfic.
    I wrote a slash story recently and was completely floored when one reader told me that my story had changed their mind about gays. If I have made just one person more accepting of others, that is a legacy that I will be happy to embrace.

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  68. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Sometimes I can’t think of a linkity title and then I am very sad
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 08:07:33

    [...] Sunita (Dear Author) about how she’s come to appreciate fan fiction. [...]

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