This post was inspired by a variety of different things. From friends talking about it, from the blogging community sharing their points of view and from personal experiences with it. But I feel like it’s an important thing to think and talk about so here I am today.
I just want to say that this will be wholly my own opinions and are not intended to offend anyone. Let’s all respect each other’s thoughts!
Fanfiction is defined as: fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, film, book etc. (at least by Google). Let’s talk about it.
First of all, personally, I don’t go out looking for fanfiction to read. Not because I don’t like it, but because the things I like don’t generally have fanfiction written about them. But that’s not to say I’ve never read some. I’ve read Harry Potter and Twilight fanfiction and I will be one to admit I have read One Direction fanfiction even though I’m not a fan of One Direction. I guess it was an experience that I wanted to experiment with. Most readers could say that they have read some or are a little bit curious about the internet phenomena. I thought the same things. What’s it like? What’s it about? Even, would it be fun to write one?
Something that held me back, and I think a lot of other people, is stereotypes. There is a general belief that fanfiction involves terrible writing, overtly sexual encounters and shallow characters. And there is definitely some of that floating around. But I have stumbled across, and other readers/bloggers too, fanfiction that is genuinely well-done. From people who put passion into their writing or show a different side to the characters we know and I am in firm belief that this is a good thing. If a book or TV show or movie or band is enough to get someone to pick up the pen or get on their computer and start writing then I am in full support of that person’s endeavours and happy that they have found the motivation and inspiration to write (even possibly a little jealous..). Reading and writing is something that I passionately encourage and fanfiction is something that I have to say, has boomed this.
Then we step into the territory of published fanfictions which is where the opinions get clouded and more things come into question. Is it okay to publish a work that is based off another person’s work? Is fanfiction plagiarism at all? Should the original creator be compensated somehow? As with a lot of things regarding fanfiction, there is definitely a plagiarism spectrum. Some works are full blown nothing-changed-almost-the-original stories. Others are completely different and you wouldn’t have recognised they are fanfiction stories at all unless the author pointed it out.
I have read a few published books that were originally fanfictions. An obvious example of published fanfiction is a book I read recently called Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. Whilst the main characters names were changed, background couples were named ‘Rosalie and Emmett,’ and ‘Jasper and Alice’. However, on the flip side, the plot was completely different to Twilight. I found very few similarities, a part from it being a romance novel. I personally don’t really find this to be plagiarism. You can’t stop people from using names, especially if the plot was very different from the original. Another example is the Fifty Shades trilogy. Quite the opposite to Beautiful Bastard as it had a similar plot but different names. Personally, I found the most similarities in the first book but then book two and three went in a totally different direction. I found Ana to be quite similar to Bella but Christian to be quite dissimilar to Edward. E.L James admitted to be very inspired by Twilight but said that at its core it is quite different.
Books like these I think can be published, perhaps if the original creator is okay with it, as they are quite different to the original. The full blown copies shouldn’t in my opinion. But where is the line?
I think firstly, character names have to be changed, mostly as a sign of respect to the original creator. Also, the plot has to be marginally different, there can be similarities but majority rules in this case. However I can’t speak for every creator. Some may be more hostile to fanfictions of theirs being published. I think they should be asked first.
Conversely, if you are firmly against these books being published, I ask you: Does that mean books like The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer or A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas shouldn’t be published as they are based off already known works? Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.
I guess one of my main messages to day is ‘Everyone has the right to write.’ J (Made that up just then). If you want to write/read fanfiction, go for it! If you don’t want to write/read fanfiction, don’t go for it! No-one should judge you, and you shouldn’t feel judged!
Just because you don’t like something or don’t agree with something doesn’t mean that person or that work deserves to be disrespected. The bookish and writerish communities are so welcoming and kind and I think we are generally very accepting. Fanfiction is just another part of this community.
Phew, that was tough! Let me know down in the comments your thoughts about fanfiction, published fanfiction, thoughts on my thoughts on fanfiction or any experiences you’ve had with it. I’d be super interested!
Thank you all so much for reading and I’ll talk to you in my next post.
*Feature image found here: http://socalkellys.com/html/fanfic.htm