Thoughts on Fanfiction?

I’ve volunteered to do a talk about Fanfiction at the UK Meet. I don’t think anyone can be in any doubt that I love fanfiction and write it myself. Sometimes you just want Captain America and Loki to have adorable evil babies together, so much so that you have to make it happen. And if I want a comfort read where I can pretty much tell beforehand that I will like the characters, and the story will obey no rules of romance, but will be either comforting, or whimsical crack, or make me cry, or all three together, I go to fanfic.

What I didn’t know was how much controversy there was about it in the m/m genre, both its plain existence and the existence of original fiction which was initially written as fanfic. It seems to me that an author’s story is their own. Offering it for free first doesn’t take away their ability to alter it so that they can legally offer it for a price later. The existence of 50 Shades of Grey and other books bears me out here, I think. But I look at the mass of indignant comments here

and think “OK, I’m missing something. I don’t understand where this outrage is coming from. I just don’t get it.”

Given that that’s the case, perhaps I’m not the right person to have volunteered to talk about fanfic at the UK Meet. As I clearly have a blind spot here, can I put it out to you – what are the points that you think ought to be covered in a talk about fanfic? What questions ought I to think about answering?

To me, the energy, inventiveness and sheer right-outside-the-box-ness of fanfic is a well of invention that I think benefits m/m fiction immensely. I understand that one cannot use someone else’s copyright protected characters or invented universes and legally profit from them – that these things have to be altered or replaced in a way that makes them the author’s own – but if that’s done sufficiently well, what is the problem?

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Rj Scott
Rj Scott
12 years ago

Agreed… as an ex fanficcer I agree with everything you said there. I wrote AU and as such the ony thing that really inspired my stories was the look of the guys and maybe some of their mannerisms…

And where is this Loki/CA you talk of?


12 years ago

I haven’t read any commercially published fanfic-turned-original-fic. But I think there’s a point to be made that characters can represent archetypes. If you write some fanfic about specific existing characters, then yes you are using someone else’s background material, worldbuilding, etc – your story doesn’t work without the weight of their work behind it. But to move on and adapt the story in such a way that it is now your worldbuilding, and your background material, and the characters simply represent the same archetypes as the characters in the original, then I don’t see the issue. Those archetypes will have existied for centuries, possibly even millenia!

12 years ago

There are only 27 stories that can be told and they can have infinite variables, but in the end we’ve all been writing fanfiction for a long time now.

Dante wrote Roman Histories/Bible crossovers. Jane Austen wrote crackfic. Speaking of Austen, where would Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fall on the original/fanfic scale? Why is it that when men do it we call it Metafiction and when women do it we call it Fanfiction? I could go on, but you get the gist…

Becky Black
12 years ago

I’m interested in whether others agree with me about 50 Shades having crossed a line because the fic it started out as was based on a book. Now that it’s been converted and sold it is now sitting on bookstore shelves directly competing with the books that inspired it. That’s not the case for a conversion of a fanfic about a TV show or movie. So to me there is something fundamentally different there that I’m not comfortable with, but I don’t know if that’s just me.

Melissa V
Melissa V
12 years ago

It is my opinion that everything is inspired by something that came before it. Whether it’s a character’s physical attributes or personality or certain points in a plot.

So, 50 Shades or “The Book” was originally a Twilight fanfic. Well, isn’t Twilight basically a romanticized and modernized fanfic of Bram Stoker’s Dracula? (Ok, that may be a stretch but hopefully you get my gist.)

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