The Storyteller’s Inkpot has been hopping with the energy of new bloggers. I have been composting ideas for a post and will go with my cool one this morning. When I returned from residency, exhausted and stimulated with ideas, I picked up the July 18th issue of Time magazine, mostly to read the article on Fan Fiction: How Harry Potter Will Live Forever. Likely you already know about the alternate universe of fan fiction and after reading the article I realized I did, too. But I had no idea how widespread this phenomena had become. Thousands of internet postings of stories not only extending the lives of favorite literary characters like Harry, but video game, movie and TV characters, too. It’s not great writing by any stretch. But it’s full of passion for these characters. Wouldn’t we all like to write a story that readers can’t let go of?
Recently I presented at the Pacific Northwest Library Conference and during our presentation on “How to Turn on Reluctant Readers,” a fellow author mentioned that his son would not write a word until he and his internet gaming friends began a magazine blog featuring articles on their favorite game characters. His reluctant writer son had become an avid writer with an audience. It reminded me of the time I led a writing workshop and a student read a story that was a retelling of a TV show he’d watched the night before.
The book Your Creative Brain (recommended by Andy Cochran in this blog) suggests that one way to solve a problem in your life is to pick a favorite character and write about how they would solve it. Maybe I’ll try it with Coach’s smart and amazing wife on Friday Night Lights or perhaps my beloved Anne of Green Gables. A form of fan fiction, wouldn’t you say? Like retellings of fairy tales and modern takes on Jane Austen novels.
What do you all think? Is fan fiction a rip-off of a writer’s creativity or the ultimate compliment?
I adore Tami Taylor…I would love to read some Friday Night Lights fan fiction from you, Claire!
A writer doesn't have control over how the reader–or innumerable fans–will react to her work. Seems Fan Fiction is a slippery slope for a writer. Makes you wonder how all those writers feel when their work is commercialized and obsessed over. My bet's that all the fandom would leave a writer frozen/paralyzed or under a whole lot of pressure to produce again and again. And who wants any of that mess to enter the writing life? Well, maybe some writers do…
Seems like Fan Fic is a opportunity for people to enjoy writing as part of their everyday lives. The more of those the better, I think. If people start trying to make money off of it, then I would guess that basic intellectual property laws would apply, assuming that a writer has the resources to pursue it. Shakespeare is in the public domain by now. Is Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres high quality fan fic?
Opportunity, in this case, is a shade shy of profiting from someone else's work. Even if intellectual property laws allow a writer to transform another writer's work, I'm not sure I feel all warm and fuzzy about what these permissions do to the artistic process. I cringe when sea monsters and vampires are coupled with Sense and Sensibility. Though I agree, Cheryl, that when a person writes Fan Fic she brings the joys of writing to her own life and perhaps to a generation who would otherwise never know the basics of a classic story. As Phyllis always says: "No writing is ever wasted."
p.s. Here's an article in SLJ that's worth a read or two. http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6673573.html
A terrific article, Mellisa. Thanks for taking my post so seriously. Fanfiction is a big deal right now and this article really goes into all the pros and cons for writing and teaching. "Not only do authors legally own their creations, but they also own the rights to any derivative works. Since Little Women and Pride and Prejudice aren’t under copyright—they’re in the public domain—it’s fine for Brooks and Grahame-Smith to romp around in Alcott’s and Austen’s sandboxes and make a decent buck doing it."