Fanfiction What? – Guest post by Lindsay

I made a goal for myself this summer…to read some books. I even went to a library and took out nine books of a variety of genres and authors in the hopes to kick start this goal. It’s August 1st as I write this and I haven’t touched a single one of them. Yet, I have read over 1 749 260 words since July 1st. A MILLION AND A HALF WORDS! Which, based on an average 80k word book, is roughly 22 books. But I haven’t opened a physical book…or actually, I haven’t opened any published books. Allow me to introduce to you a written world often unknown, often disgraced…the world of fanfiction.

For those of you not in the know, Mirriam-Webster defines fanfiction as “stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet — called also fanfic”. So basically, a story created by someone who isn’t the original author. Sound familiar? Your thoughts might automatically jump to Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the most infamous examples of current media that started off as a Twilight Fanfiction. But many popular stories can be fit into this definition. Lion King? Simply a lion AU (alternate universe) version of Hamlet. While on the topic of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet? One of the most famous love stories of all time? Basically a fix-it fic of Arthur Brooke’s The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet which could be viewed as an AU of the legend of Tristan and Iseult and it just keeps going.

My first experience with fanfiction was asking my sister what she was reading on the computer when I was in grade 6 (after the fourth book came out). “A book about Harry Potter written by a fan,” she answered after several minutes of my persistent asking. WHAT? My brain was so confused – why would someone a) write a Harry Potter book that wasn’t J.K. Rowling and b) why would someone read a book written by someone who wasn’t J.K. Rowling? Fast forward four years to me in high school, lamenting to my friend that I really wanted Ron and Hermione to develop a romantic relationship in the series. “Why don’t you just read some fanfics? I know a couple you would love!” WHAT? Fanfiction? NOoooooooooo. But I gave it a go…and haven’t looked back since.

So why is the main social perspective of fanfiction viewed so poorly? What uses are there for this form of storytelling? The answer to the first question is one I cannot answer, but probably stems from the fact it is mostly written and read by marginalized people looking for representation. That is a whole other aspect that could be examined in another article (there are some awesome posts and threads about this on Tumblr and Twitter that are far more eloquent than anything I could write). The answer to the second question is far easier to express.

Writing fanfiction is a great tool for writers.

  • Want to work on characterization without having to world build? Write about original characters in a certain fandom world
  • Want to explore creating a functioning society but don’t want to character design? Write an AU for characters you know well
  • Struggling with dialogue? Struggling with descriptive passages? Practice with characters and worlds you already know well
  • Spelling and grammar a problem? Practice with fanfiction!

Reading fanfiction is fun and easy for readers.

  • TAGS – the best thing about fanfiction is how easy it is to search for the kind of story you want. Want angst with a happy ending? Hurt/comfort. Want sweet wholesome anxiety-free stories? Fluff. Want raw emotions expressed physically through vigorous lovemaking? Smut…well…just adjust the rating to R or E and you can pair that with any other tag to really hone down the type of story you want!
  • Short or long – based on the amount of time or energy you want to invest in a reading session, you can find short stories to novellas to novels to epic long series
  • Tropes galore – like reading a certain trope? People love writing them too so you can spend as long as you want exploring the same flavour of story again and again
  • Unsatisfied with the media you consumed or you simply want more of that world – Fanfiction will fix it or provide you with enough content to satisfy your needs

So yes, I’m obsessed with reading fanfiction and have even dabbled in writing it. There’s a fanfiction from your fandom, about your favourite characters waiting for you for whatever kind of story you are interested in reading. Go forth with an open mind and you can discover some literary gems. Explore fandoms you haven’t even seen the original media of (I’m so into Teen Wolf fanfic right now without ever having seen a single episode), read a genre you don’t normal expose yourself to, and have fun!

Resources

(some of these I hesitate to recommend but I’m trying to be impartial):


Lindsay is an all around geek who mostly spends time consuming fan-created content rather than the original piece of media.

She can be found pottering around TumblrTwitterInstagram, or her portfolio site.

Throwback Tuesday – The Last Horcrux (2014-02-05)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m frightfully busy at the moment and so you get to revisit one of my favourite short stories. Also some of the only Fan Fiction I’ve written. I don’t like writing Fan Fiction because I worry that I don’t get the voice of the characters or the feel of the world.

This story based off a comic. Here we go.

Click to read the rest of this hilarious comic

In the last days before the battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort decided that he must survive. To this end he created a last Horcrux, one that no one could ever find. Unlike his others, he used and ordinary grain of sand.

This last Horcrux was tossed into the deepest ocean. On its way into the deepest parts of the ocean, a deep water fish mistook it for food and chased it down. It swallowed the grain of sand and proceeded to swim into a magical tear between worlds.

The tear led into a lake. Being a deep water fish, the poor fish was completely blinded by the light in this little lake. It was quickly caught by a fisherman, who gutted it and brought it home. The fish’s guts however were left on the beach to decompose.

There the grain stayed for a few years until a jewellers apprentice came looking for sand to temper jewellery. The sand on this beach was perfect. He collected a large sack of sand including the grain which was a Horcrux.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY


Thanks for reading!

Éric

Ownership of Ideas

Congratulations!

You made something, a piece of art, movie, song, book, story, sculpture, etc. Legally you own what you made. It’s called copyright. What that means is that no one else is allowed to make money from your thing unless they pay you for that right (Unless you gave up your rights to a distributor or publisher). There are exceptions and loopholes but our laws say you own it.

1024px-Copyright_svg

Your thing becomes viral and super popular. People start writing fanfiction, drawing fanart, making filk, and dissecting every detail about your thing. That’s great. It gets others into it. Your fan community is now self fueling.

You licence out your thing to game makers, movie, television, music, etc. You’ve made it, yay!

You notice that a piece of fanfiction that you read about your thing has had the names changed and is selling ridiculously well. But still using your ideas…

You notice someone has made a Kickstarter to make a fanfilm and it’s in the millions. Using your thing as a basis…

You notice that someone has taken a small sample of your thing and turned it into an earworm that everyone has heard.

You notice that some dumbass has used part of your thing for Geeky Coffee names or logos and is doing ok business. But it’s still your thing…

There are two ways to react to people using your thing to make money, and the most natural one is anger. You get angry and hire a team of lawyers to make sure you get the money from licensing that you deserve or to get them to stop doing what they’re doing. I mean, in theory everything with your thing affects how your thing is seen. You don’t want to hurt or dilute the brand of your thing. How dare they!!!

Or there’s the super-chill way of dealing with it; that is to ignore what they’ve done and make the next thing. You’ve made lots of money, so who cares, right?

Both approaches are extremes and the answer is somewhere in between, I think. You see, I’m not sure where the line should be drawn between fair use and plagiarism (ref.: https://copyleaks.com/businesses/duplicate-content-checker-for-seo-agencies).

As a creator, I’m uncomfortable with the idea that someone else could play or change my stories for their own benefit. I’d hate to find out that my book’s characters have been stolen, twisted into a poor semblance of porn and resold to billions. BUT, I’ll be overjoyed when I look on Fanfiction.net or DeviantArt and find fan creations based off my work.

As a consumer, I want more stories, more books, more fanart! I want buttons, coffee, shirts, posters, and all the things!!! I want to tell everyone about the super awesome cup I got based off my favourite thing.

The ethics are obvious; Don’t steal! But does my use of a drawn picture of a Dalek and the name Davroast really count as stealing? I’m not saying it’s mine, I’m just showing my love.

I know that when I’m ready for mass production, I’ll have to change the names of most of my coffee.

 

I do not have the answers. What do you think?

Éric