Missing the Point of Fan Fiction

Writing fan fiction is kind of  wild ride. I mean, at its core, fan fiction is a violation of someone else’s copyright. (It’s not, really. It’s Fair Use unless you sell it in a non-sanctioned environment.) It’s taking someone else’s brainchild, their setting, their characters, and writing your own story with one, the other, or both. It’s a largely unoriginal writing adventure that we all have fun doing.

Back when I was writing Yu-Gi-Oh fan fiction, I was amazed by the number of writers I ran into who’d never read the manga nor seen the anime. A friend had written a story, and they loved it so much, they decided to write their own fanfic of their friend’s fanfic. (I never really figured that out, but it did explain how the fan fiction went so dramatically OOC for a while.) Or the writer who plagiarized someone else’s story, complained about the unfairness of it all when she was caught on it, and then became a demon unleashed when someone plagiarized one of her own stories.

Now, I’m reading Critical Role fan fiction, and I’ve found a whole new level of, “Um…what?” I’m starting to see disclaimers on fanfics that allow for the reading and sharing of the writer’s story, but demand you get permission if you want to write a fanfic of their fanfic. I have yet to see a case where the original writer has made clear they approached anyone in the Critical Role cast for permission to write their story, and in one case saw the disclaimer following a note threatening anyone who might show their publicly posted story to members of the cast.

It’s enough to make a girl’s head spin.

I get wanting to protect your intellectual property. I have some thoughts in mind for how I’d like to open New Glory to fan fiction when it’s ready for such things. (Currently, I don’t allow New Glory fanfic of any kind because it’s still very much under development and there just isn’t enough released for anyone to really play with what’s happening there. But someday, it will be ready.) And I know if I caught a fanfic writer putting a ban on someone else fanficcing their fanfic, I’d have a few less than ladylike words for them. It completely flies in the face of the spirit of fan fiction.

I guess what I’m really saying here is that if you write fan fiction, but think you have any business preventing someone else from writing fan fiction, maybe you shouldn’t be writing fan fiction.

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