How to Write Fan Fiction
by Paul Nattress
Discuss this in our forum what do you think of fan fiction?
For a good definition of fan fiction, Wikipedia is a good place to start. Fan fiction “is a broadly-defined term for fiction about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creators.” It can also be known as fanfiction or fanfic.
Good writing exercise
Writing fan fiction can be a good writing exercise. You have a place to start and the characters are predefined. You can practice writing dialogue, scenes, descriptions without having to flesh out characters or setting. You can continue a plot or a theme from the original material and compare your writing with the original.
Check out Kathryn Lively’s article Is Fan Fiction a Good Writing Practice? for her thoughts on the subject.
Popular fan fiction subjects
You’ll find that most of the well known settings and characters from books and movies have their own fan fiction.
Harry Potter fan fiction
J.K. Rowling apparently loves fan fiction and her Harry Potter books have their own fan fiction site at www.harrypotterfanfiction.com. You can read fan fiction and submit stories. They have competitions for writers on the site too. Their stories are categorised by format such as novels and short stories and by genre such as humour, mystery and adventure.
The MuggleNet Fan Fiction site is another site dealing with Harry Potter fan fiction.
Star Trek fan fiction
Star Trek has a massive following and it’s no surprise that there’s a wealth of fan fiction out there. Trek Fan Fiction is a site that categorises the stories by the different series of Star Trek (The Next Generation, Voyager etc.) and then by author. If you like one author’s particular style, you can follow a series of stories by them.
World of Warcraft
It’s not just books and TV shows that are popular with fan fiction writers. World of Warcraft has a selection of fan written stories on WowWiki - WowWiki Fan Fiction. They also have guidelines for posting fan fiction.
More fan fiction
The above are just a few examples of which universes and subjects have fan fiction sites dedicated to them. Other popular subjects are Xena, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Do a Google search for these and check out the site. Just search for the show or book and add “fan fiction” on the end such as “buffy fan fiction”.
More sites dedicated to fan fiction for individual subjects can be found on fan fiction directory sites. One to start with is www.fanfiction-directory.com.
Guidelines for writing fan fiction
Fan fiction sites will often have a list of guidelines to follow. These will typically include guidelines on staying within the lore or history of the source material. Guides such as Star Wars fan fiction site TheForce.net ask that you state which era or storyline your story is based in, along with other guidelines such as rating the content of your story is a similar way to movies.
What do authors think of fan fiction?
Some authors encourage it. Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon encouraged fans to read Buffy fan fiction when the show was off the air. Other authors such as Robin Hobb (as mentioned in this Reason Magazine article The Fan Fiction Phenomena) oppose fan fiction. Hobb (in this rant which is presented here with a rebuttal In Defence of Fanfiction) says “Fan fiction is like any other form of identity theft.” A strong opinion indeed.
Legal issues with fan fiction
Since fan fiction is based on others’ work, there is always the issue of copyright and trademark infringement and other legal and licencing issues. Wikipedia has a page on legal issues with fan fiction although it may be best to check with a legal or copyright expert before publishing any fan fiction, whether on the Internet or elsewhere.
What do you think of fan fiction?
Do you think fan fiction is good for practicing writing or do you agree with writers such as Robin Hobbs and think it’s “a good way to avoid learning how to be a writer”? Discuss this in our forum what do you think of fan fiction?
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We want your opinion on fan fiction - what do you think of fan fiction?
On the web:
A good starting point is the Wikipedia article on fan fiction at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction.
Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse. “Grouped by subject matter, twelve essays cover topics such as genre intersection, sexual relationships between characters, character construction through narrative and the role of the beta reader in online communities. The work also discusses the terminology employed by fan fiction writers and comments on the effects of technological advancements on fan communities.”
The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context by Sheenagh Pugh. “I’ve discussed all manner of fandoms, including Austen, Hornblower, Blakes 7, Discworld, The Bill, Lord of the Rings, Sherlock Holmes and others too numerous to mention. Gen, het, slash, metafic, fan poetry, serial stories, drabbles. If you want to read about the workings of the Live Kennedy Universe, J K Rowling’s attitude to fan fiction or the effect of the Trousers of Time on character death in Discworld fic, it’s here. As are parallels between the way profic and fanfic writers use drabbles, play intertextual games and discuss male vulnerability.”
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