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Why you shouldn’t knock fanfic

Since 50 Shades of Grey came out, fanfic has entered the public awareness, and has attracted a lot of scorn.

If you are unaware, fanfic (or fan fiction) is a sub genre of writing where you write a story in another person’s established world.  This can be from a book, a movie, a tv show, a video game, whatever.  The point is that you did not create the world, you’re just playing in it.

Some authors are very supportive of fanfic.  Mercedes Lackey has published several volumes of other authors writing in her world of Valdemar.  In fact, my first attempts at fanfic (although I didn’t know that was what it was called back then) was when my penpal and I started writing stories taking place in that world.  Back in the dark ages we had to mail (snail mail, not e-mail, my dears) each other our chapters–and we took turns. I stumbled across that co-written, not even remotely done story, and it’s a wonderful bit of nostalgia for me.

My next attempt at fanfic was much less innocent.  As one might imagine, a HUGE chunk of fanfic is erotic.  Couple an adult libido with a “still not quite over it” crush on one Wesley Crusher (I KNOW, I KNOW) and, well….a five chapter erotic story.  Which I am horrified by today.

So what’s the point of fanfic?  Aren’t you supposed to create your own worlds?

50 Shades aside, fanfic isn’t something you’re ever going to publish.  So it’s fun.  It’s a great way to keep writing when you’re stuck, because we all have some world, be it Star Trek or Buffy or West Wing that we care deeply about.

A further benefit is that you get a good workout of your “voice” muscles.  If you are using pre-existing characters, you want to get their “voice” right.  There are some really great West Wing Twitter acounts out there, and if I didn’t know that those were fictional characters, I would believe they were written by the fictional people themselves.  In my case, more recently I’ve written other fanfic in the Trek universe, using the character of Q, who has an incredibly distinct pattern of speech–it was fun and challenging to get the tone right.

These fanfic breaks from your regular writing benefit you when you go back to your work.  You’ll find that your characters’ voices are becoming more distinct as well.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Also, there is some seriously awesome fanfic out there.  A friend of mine from my Literotica days wrote a Harry Potter/Stephen Colbert crossover fanfic that is freaking AWESOME–Harry Potter and the Eagle of Truthiness.

2 Responses

  1. Fanfic for the win, I say! I wrote a lot of Buffy, Angel and Firefly fanfic in my mid-twenties (and I’m still inordinately proud of quite a lot of it). And I still have a bunch of my favourite stories bookmarked, and re-read them from time to time!

    Funnily enough, my husband has just discovered the wonderful world of Brony fandom, and has immersed himself in MLP fanfic. I’ve never seen him read quite this much 🙂

    xx Dee

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