I’ve wanted to do a post on fanfic forever, so here we go. It’s the first of many, I’m sure.
When I first heard Amazon was going to publish fanfiction, I thought it was April Fool’s Day. At it’s core, fanfiction is fiction that fans write without the intention of making money. Profiting from fanfic would violate copyright. I always use a disclaimer in my fanfic, saying something along the lines “XYZ does not belong to me, and no profit is made from this work.” So Amazon paying fanfic writers? Big deal!
I’m not going to get into the fine print of the contract a writer would sign with Amazon/Warner Bros., because other people that get the nitty gritty of legal stuff have already done that. Just Google it and you’ll get a ton of results. It’s not really a good deal for the writer, but that’s another post.
I happened to check out the Kindle Worlds books on Amazon, and I was impressed by the branding (they all have the same style of cover), and the positive reviews. I also recognized the names of some of the authors — turns out Amazon commissioned already published authors to get the ball rolling. Amazon’s behind it, and in a big way, because I’m sure they’ve considered how publishing fanfic is going to make them even more dollars.
Legal and financial stuff aside, why I am even talking about Kindle Worlds? Because I am a passionate supporter of fanfic*, and I’m happy to see it get some legitimization. Right now, when someone asks me what my hobbies are, I blush a bit and say “writing fanfic.” I usually get a raised eyebrow in return, or “what’s fanfic?”
I think fanfic has a bad rap as either being unedited, out of character/inconsistent with the original work, full of Mary Sues and Gary Stus, or a thin excuse to write porn. Hell, fanfic can be ALL of those. And some of it definitely is.
But there’s also a lot of amazing stuff out there. Some writers take their fanfic very seriously, and have gotten their start there, including:
- Marissa Meyer, author of the The Lunar Chronicles, started with writing Sailor Moon fanfic
- Cassandra Clare, author of the The Mortal Instruments series, started with Harry Potter fanfic. Slash fic, yo.
- E.L. James, author of the Fifty Shades of Grey series … well, everyone knows that’s an Alternate Universe Twilight fanfic
Fandoms are a wonderful place. They give people somewhere to talk about their favorite telly shows, books, movies, comics, and everything else. If something exists, chances are there’s a fandom for it. I’ve met some great people online because of writing fanfic, which is one of the other great things about fandoms. Oftentimes those people stay friends, even when you move on to another fandom.
Another reason fanfic is great, in my opinion, is because it gives people a start in writing. For the most part, if someone comments on a fic, they do it in a polite, supportive manner. (Even if it’s bad.) Which can be really good for someone just starting out. Immediate feedback is also gratifying, because unlike with traditional publishing, there’s not a long wait to see other people reading your work and hearing what they think about it. I love when I get an email that I’ve gotten a comment on something I wrote. A tiny little comment can improve a bad day, or make a good one even better.
Playing in someone else’s sandbox can be just as hard as writing original fiction. For example, if you try to take Draco Malfoy and make him a nice boy that’s BFFs with Harry, well, readers are going to say, “That’s OOC!” (out of character). But if a fanfic author can make me believe in that relationship by creating a credible, authentic set of circumstances leading up to it, then I’m all in.
One more reason (can you tell I have a never ending list?) I like fanfic is because it’s a great way to experiment with new writing styles. I’ve tried writing in present tense, second person point of view, not using dialogue, using only dialogue, crunching a complete story into 100 or 200 words. That list goes on and on, too. I like to think all the experimentation and seeing what works and what doesn’t work makes me a better writer.
TL;DR version? Fanfic rocks.
*I don’t mean to leave out fan art, vids, fanmixes, or any other type of fan created works. Fanfic is just what I personally know the most about.