It’s been a long time since I’ve written here about fan fiction. I haven’t written any in a couple of years, and that probably plays into it. But I’m still reading it, and I’m still reading about how creators feel about having fan work derived from their work, and I’m still teaching writing on occasion.
Those creators who oppose fan fiction (or fan art of any medium) have a valid point. They worked long and hard to create their world, their characters, their storyline. Now, some fan just feels free to step into the world and start playing with the characters their own way. It can feel disrespectful and even insulting, like the original creator’s work wasn’t good enough for the fan.
But the fan, in exploring the world and the characters, is learning about setting and character development. When the fan fiction writer takes a character and twists him out of him behaviors, she’s learning about character development. When the fan fiction writer takes the setting and develops a space within it to play, she’s learning about setting development. She’s playing, “What if?” Ideally, the fan should take these explorations and eventually go off and develop her own world with her own characters and stories. Their early original works may be clearly inspired by the original creator’s work, but in time, as they explore with and twist their own world, they should eventually find their own way and their own truly original world.
Creating fan fiction is, in its own bizarre way, a means of learning writing skills and building the confidence to branch out on their own.