Thursday, 10 July 2014

Fan Fiction: Trash or Treasure?

I’ve always been a voracious reader. I read every single night, within reason. I take a book to work with me for when I get the train there and back and to occupy myself during my lunch hour. I find nothing more than relaxing after that day at work to unwind in the evening with a book. I try to dedicate a full day every week to just read straight through from page one to the end. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, of course, with variations on time and setting and situation, but when I was in my mid-teens, my reading changed a little.

I would continue to read novels at bedtime and during the weekends, but afternoons and evenings were dedicated to something else: fan fiction. There are very strong opinions towards fan fiction, both writing it and reading it, but it kept me going. Around the time I began delving into the beguiling world of Harry Potter fan fiction (Dramione all the way in case you were wondering) my mum started to get sick for the first time. That’s a difficult thing to deal with at fourteen while simultaneously trying to start your GCSEs. Sp I buried myself in the Harry potter world while I waited for the Half-Blood Prince and then the Deathly Hallows to be released. It was a real high of production at that time – no one knew what was going to happen.

I found some trash. There were so many stories were the authors used text speak or no punctuation or they were just really terrible. But there were some seriously good ones. Stories of fifty+ chapters, each about 3000/4000 words which were uploaded every week and were brilliantly written and absorbing. I particularly liked AU (Anothing Universe), non-cannon and set after the Deathly Hallows (which hadn’t been released yet so people were free to speculate on the outcome) where Voldie had won and Draco and Hermione were pushed together in increasingly awkward and dramatic situations. Admittedly, looking back, Draco’s character was never really Rowling’s Draco, but Hermione was always believable and I really liked that ship so I went with it! There were some stories I would check every single day waiting for an upload. And even now there are some I still remember fondly, particularly one that was never finished where Hermione just disappeared one day, leaving behind Draco and her little girl. I was hooked.

Then the final books came out and the fuss started to fizzle out a little in the world of Harry potter fan fiction, though it is still being written now which is brilliant, and I started to bury myself in novels again. Then I moved onto college and A-levels and my reading changed with the introduction of big, heavy texts that I had to read multiple times and I eventually forgot about fan fiction.

It wasn’t until my final year at university when my Tumblr usage and love of the Vampire Diaries was at its height where I heard about a fandom favourite Delena fan fiction, Bourbon in Your Eyes. I couldn’t imagine going back to fan fiction for anything other than my beloved Dramione, but the fandom would NOT stop talking about it. So one night, when I couldn’t sleep, I thought I’d just read one chapter and see what it was like. Heh. I read about 35 out of the 50 chapters. It was brilliant and I was hooked. Once again, AU and past the timeline of the series (I only read up to book four as I thought they were crap so I can’t comment on how it fits the timeline of the books) and at the time, a non-canon pairing.

I was reminded just how good these stories could be. How they encapsulated everything you love about an existing world, relationships and characters and make it their own. And really just how good some of the writing was. Then a few ago my sister became obsessed with TVD after seeing me fall apart due to the ending of season five and I recommended her read it too. She devoured in it one night.

Amy is also a regular reader of fan fiction. In fact, she reads it more often that regular fiction, though she tends to read fics based around Supernatural: often Baby Winchesters (this was totally unexpected), injured Sam, Destiel and Sam and Lucifer. She’ll read it on her iPod for hours. For her it satisfies the craving to read without investing in something super long and in her own words “means I don’t stay up all night reading”. But there are many mixed opinions on fan fiction:

Neil Gaiman has a lot of things to say about it.

Author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, George RR Martin, in a post about the legal side of it: “My characters are my children … I don’t want people making off with them, thank you. Even people who say they love my children. I’m sure that’s true, I don’t doubt the sincerity of the affection, but still… No one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me.”

Interview with a Vampire author Anne Rice errs on the legal side, and very severe, too: “I do not allow fan-fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan-fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes.”

And there’s a great post on Oh No They Didn’t! quoting lots of famous authors who feel strongly about it, and I think I actually agree with Stephenie Meyer the most...

Now I am not an author and I have never published anything that would warrant fan fiction, but I see it as an honour to that author, those characters and their world that fans feel so strongly about it that they need more of it. Obviously, that’s taking advantage of the fact that no one abuses that privilege and makes money from it or commercialises it in any way. What do you think?

Do you think it’s a compliment, or a crime? Have you read any fan fiction? Have you written any fan fiction? Trash or treasure?


  1. I was way into HP fan fiction when I was in secondary school, and I actually wrote a few Doctor Who fics myself! I've always considered it something extra, allowing fans to explore what the writers don't have time for, different possibilities or whatever. I agree that some are plain awful but there are a few gems out there in every fandom and I love that it allows people more time with characters they love and budding writers to stretch their muscles.

  2. I have to admit I've never really read fan fiction, there are just so many published books that I have sitting on my shelves waiting to be read that I don't have time to let myself become obsessed with something else LOL.

    I don't have a problem with fan fiction though and I think it's quite a compliment to authors that people love their world's and characters so much that they want to carry on reading and writing about them. I can see why it's a sensitive subject for some authors though - after all they were the ones that spent months or years creating their characters. I don't think fan fiction harms anyone though.

    What I REALLY dislike is the current trend of writing fan fiction, building a fan base using the free fan fiction sites and then deleting them, editing them to change the character's names and publishing them. As far as I'm concerned if you're writing fan fiction for free then that's fine but the second you try to make money off of it I'm going to lose all respect for you.

    Build a fan base writing fan fiction sure but make sure you write your own damn story with your own characters before you start charging people to read it!

  3. Hello I have come here to speak about how much I love fanfiction. \o/

    I love fanfiction. I should probably be ashamed to admit that I read more fanfiction than books, depending on my mood, but you know what? I'm not. I LOVE fanfiction and it gets me reading even when I don't feel like picking up an actual book. It's all the fun without the commitment, I suppose. I get to play in a sandbox of well known and beloved characters and I get to explore them in different interpretations. I love AUs and I love fanfiction and I've even written my fair share of thoroughly terrible fanfiction. I cringe just thinking about it. But at the end of the day fanfiction is what made me rediscover my joy for reading during my teenage years.

    And you know what? I even love the bad fanfiction. My co-blogger can attest to my terrible taste in fanfiction (we shall not speak of the terrible cracky and nightmare-inducing but yet fascinating things I have read) and I think the reason for that is TROPES. I love me a bunch of tropes that any sane person would judge me for, but the thing is, I can't get those in "actual" fiction. I have to get my fix somehow! And I just really enjoy that I don't have to let go of characters that I love enough to want to stick with them forever. I think that's what draws me to it the most, being able to read about the characters in the HP universe even though JKR finished ages ago. ♥

  4. I love fan fiction. I don't currently have a fandom so I'm not actively reading it now, but I've read a lot of it over the years. Some is bad, some is good.


Leave a message, I'd love to hear from you!