Fan Fiction: Hurtful Or Helpful?
August 25, 2013

Fan Fiction: Hurtful Or Helpful?

In a world filled with excitingly popular books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight (don’t kill me, it’s popular and you know it! p.s. personally I don’t like it either.) and with access to the Internet, reader’s speculations and fantasies run wild. Some stories and rumors are fun, insightful or interesting, while others make people flinch or wonder at the gall of some people. But do fan’s stories help expand the world of the book in a harmless way, or does it hurt the author by trying to change the world that is their brainchild?

Before the Internet, fan fiction was more of a personal thing, where fan created stories for their own entertainment, along with a friend or two. But with the turn of the century, people took to the web and ideas of all kinds, good and bad, spread faster than anyone could have imagined. Elaborations, details and never-solved endings of famous and popular books emerged, creating worlds and fandoms of their own—to the point that several authors have made it so that their published books are barred from being used for fan fiction purposes. It is their own creation after all, and I see where people taking it into their own hands to shape it would be violating their right of original content. I can image some may scream in their heads “OMG THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENS.”

On the other hand, other authors are greatly humored by it and enjoy the enthusiasm their fans show. Fan fiction is seen more like an expression of opinion of the books, or exploring possibilities that the author does not address. The books and stories are sold to the public, and authors inherently have no control over how people will react. Some take it in good humor, while others don’t appreciate the methods that are employed. Either way, the reality is that the fan fiction will never replace what the author has to say about how the story goes, or if it goes on after the book or series at all.

The trouble comes when either the author of the fan fiction, or those who read it count, it as credible as the original. Even if the writing style is immaculate and the story engaging, that’s like painting a perfect replica of the Mona Lisa — but in pastels, and then trying to sell it to the Louvre. It may be pretty and interesting, but nowhere near the original mastery of Da Vinci. So far, I haven’t really seen this turn out to be much of a problem, thanks to copyrights that encourage fans to state that characters and ideas are not their own.

Perspective also influences if the fan fiction has positive or negative outcomes. If a person writes ideas that are speculations and curiosities, with no intent to ‘steal’ the world from the author, there is a lot of entertainment and discussions that fuel the love of the book. However, if the secondary writer has the idea that they own the work, and can manipulate characterizes, there becomes a problem of legitimacy and proper respect of the original author. (My biggest pet peeve is when someone changes the entire already published story line. It just doesn’t work. It defeats the purpose of liking the book in the first place. I say they should go write their own fun story if they have to change it that much).

I like fan fiction as much as the next person, with my own tastes and preferences, of course. In the end, it is up to people to actually write fan fictions and read them at their own discretion. If there is an awful piece that you just cannot believe someone would think they could write about your most-favorite-book-in-the-world, know that that doesn’t really happen in the author’s creation of the story.

Image Credit: Sergiy Telesh / Shutterstock

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