For those of you who are somehow unaware, fan fiction (often changed into one word), is writing stories using established characters from another work of fiction. I don’t do that.
I could end this here, but I always feel the need to explain why I don’t. You could imagine that I’m uptight. I admit that my time in college included several courses on keeping a stick lodged firmly up your rectum, but I don’t think that is the reason.
While in courses at school, we were instructed almost exclusively on writing ‘literature’. That is, we were supposed to ‘elevate’ the subject matter. It is the highfalutin way of saying that the writing shouldn’t be so much about the subject, and more about the characters involved. That is a summary of course, but it has colored everything I’ve done since then.
When I was a wee lad, I had a lot of stories that were easily explained as ‘ELVES!’ or ‘SPACE SHIPS!’ or even ‘SUPER HEROES!’. I prided myself on writing stories for my friends using characters or situations they imagined (because unlike drawing pictures, this was the only way to get people to actually look at my work). These were definitely ‘genre’, that is, the world and plot were the most important aspects. Mighty heroes ignored their own story so they could rescue the McGuffin from Totally-Not-A-Trap tower.
Through my time in school, I didn’t get to write a lot of that because, well, it just isn’t proper.
I’m getting off track. Fanfiction is near-universally genre. It is the brainchild of every instance of someone going ‘what if Harry Potter did X’. Anytime we imagine those silly scenarios, someone has likely written it, and plastered it on the internet for someone else to consume. Fanfiction.net is one of the biggest repositories of fiction around. The readership of Fanfiction have untold power, moving authors to change the path of their stories, inspiring websites, arcs, art, and goofy musical episodes.
Amazon has even launched a website where fans can release and sell fanfiction in certain worlds. That’s right, you can get bonafide cash money for publishing your Gossip Girl fanfiction. If this blows your mind, it shouldn’t. Fanfiction is a huge deal, and even when it isn’t making someone money, it creates audiences. Famously, 50 Shades of Grey started out as a fanfiction for Twilight. Christian Grey stopped being a vampire, but nothing else much changed.
So why don’t I do it? Well, I’ve just never felt comfortable writing in the world of others. Even when I was young, I would write ‘similar’ characters. I was a kid, I had my ORIGINAL CHARACTER DO NOT STEAL phase where I made sonic characters and spider-man characters. But I never put them with Spider-man, or had them run alongside sonic. I couldn’t, felt opposed to it. I figure this has to be the worldbuilder in me. I had to put them in their own worlds, with their own rules, and their own characters. I didn’t want to just insert my OC, Original Character, into another ongoing story. Why not just set up my own villains and heroes?
Even now, I see worlds that I love, and I can’t bring myself to even try it. Even when it could be useful, or lucrative. Certain franchises are known for their ‘sanctioned fanfiction’, like the extended universe of Star Wars. Some of the greatest Star Wars stories had nothing to do with the movies, or even characters who appeared in the movies.
I hope to get over this affliction, soon maybe. I know there are a lot of worlds out there I love, and if I need anything I need practice.