Is It Okay to Write Fan Fiction?


In case you haven’t seen it, that’s the sneak peek teaser trailer for Breaking Dawn part 2 above. Why would I post that? Because I’m thinking about Twilight fan-fiction, of course. (Ha! Of course?) It’s all the rage. And so is a lot of other fan fiction. As long as there’s a fan willing to write it, it’s out there.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, fan fiction is just what it sounds like. Imitation fiction written by fans. Perhaps it’s a continuation of the story where the author left off. Perhaps it’s the story re-written with different outcomes. Whatever, it’s written by fans and not normally published in print form. Most often it’s usually posted online.

Time for another in the “Is it okay to _____?” series. And readers, don’t think today’s question is just for writers. It’s not. I want your opinion, too, even if you don’t write. Because you do read–and that’s what keeps writers in business.

Today’s question comes to my mind because of the buzz that’s been created around Fifty Shades of Grey.

If you haven’t heard of this novel, here’s a brief rundown of it’s author.

E.L. James: mother of two who lives in London, began with Twilight fan-fiction and turned it into a semi-erotic (NC-17, so they say) trilogy that apparently sold like wild-fire as an e-book, and now has been contracted for both e-book distribution and print copies– all 3 books. FYI- she did tweak the plot & change the names of her characters.

We aren’t going to discuss the issue of whether or not erotic fiction should be written or read by anybody– that’s for another time. And don’t get me started about my concern that this is a story & plot based on major best-sellers that were marketed for youth– and James’ books are clearly not for youth.

And no, I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or the other books in the series. But I keep hearing about these books everywhere. Online. On the news. On the radio. Yep, someone has done some seriously fantastic marketing or something.

But back to fan fiction. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Readers– do you want more of the stories you love, even if they aren’t from the original author?

Writers– ever tried your hand at fan fiction? And how would you feel if a fan wrote something based on your story?

Share with me: Is it okay to write fan fiction? (Also with this, do you read fan fiction?)


Filed under Is It Okay To ____?, Writing

11 responses to “Is It Okay to Write Fan Fiction?

  1. Jessica R. Patch

    I’ve never written it or read it. How would I feel if someone picked up where I left off on a book or wrote about my characters? I suppose it depends on if theirs sold better than mine! LOL

    I’ll have to think about this one. I’m not sure how I’d really feel.

  2. I have to admit….I’ve read fan fiction before. Mainly in the form of Mr. Darcy. After I finished Pride and Prejudice, I went on a fan fiction binge and read like, three books not written by Jane Austen, yet about the characters I loved so much.

  3. Lindsay Harrel

    At first glance and first thought, I don’t like the idea. I’m not sure I’d want someone taking my ideas and changing them up so blatantly. And as a reader, I wouldn’t want more of my favorite characters from a DIFFERENT author. Then they’re not really the same characters. It’s just…weird.

    • Lindsay- I definitely think there’s a weird factor in there, too. I read Scarlett (which was published–can’t remember the author right now), which was someone else’s continuation of Gone With the Wind, and even at 12 years old, I remember thinking, “yeah, these aren’t the same characters.”

  4. I read a few pages of the original fanfic (this isn’t my genre of choice, but I wanted to see if this book became popular on its own merits).

    The writing is AWFUL.

    That leads me to believe that the popularity is based largely on the author building their fan base that was already created by another author. So, no, what this author did isn’t right.

    Fanfic in itself? I think there is nothing wrong with it when it is done for the entertainment of yourself and other fans. When you profit off of it, then it definitely gets sketchy. How close to the original story is it? Do you recognize the author who inspired your story? Is yours a clever reinterpretation or pretty much the same exact story?

    There is a lot to consider – but in the case of 50SoG, I have to say what she did was bad form.

  5. Heather

    I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with it, as long as it’s marketed/represented accurately, but I am not a big fan of reading it.

    • Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it necessarily, as long as the fan is being respectful of the author. I’ve not read any, either. It’s not my thing. Although, I’ll admit that the only time I felt like writing any was at the end of Catching Fire (Hunger Games). I hated that ending so much that I really wanted to re-write it. 🙂

  6. Lyndsey

    I’m about to out myself here, and I never thought I would…

    I’ve read and written fanfiction (but mostly read). Really well-written fanfiction is difficult to find, but can be enjoyable to read, especially if you’re looking for the “what happens next” or “what happened before.” The older I’ve gotten, the less I read fan fiction, but my general “rule” is that I’ll only read it if it’s respectful of the author, characters, and tone of the original text. There are some authors, like JK Rowling, who are very supportive of fanfiction writers, and others (Anne McCaffrey and Anne Rice come to mind) who have specifically stated that they do not want fan fiction written about their work, and I think that should be respected.

    As a writer, it’s an interesting exercise to take a character you didn’t create and compose something that is true to that character–to faithfully represent a world and style that is not yours, and may be very different from what you usually write. I’d never want to profit from fan fiction, though–there are tons of Pride & Prejudice “sequels” (or, as you mentioned, the GWTW sequels–did you know that there’s another one, called Rhett Butler’s People?) on the market, but that just seems wrong to me.

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