Originally published at timholtorf.tumblr.com.
There’s a huge debate that’s been raging for years. I’d say that debate has stretched back into decades, to be honest. But that debate involves writing and formulating a level of what is considered a book, or story, and what is not considered such.
Fanfiction, at it’s core, it taking the writing of a creation, original or a continued series, and either adding to it, giving it a What If spin, or completely changing aspects of the content. The author of such works is not connected to the original works save for the fact that he or she has derived a great deal of enjoyment from the original medium and wishes to add their own spin or their own stories to the original piece. They then place this writing into the public forum, all for free, where other people associated with the original fandom consume it, give comment and critique, and if they enjoy it, they’ll keep coming back for as long as the fanfiction author continues to write.
This does two things. First, it gives someone an outlet to utilize their creativity to add to a world that they have grown very fond of. It also helps to teach the fanfiction author something about writing. As they write, they get better. I remember when I was in radio, it was suggested to keep the first ever air check tape that we did, and compare it with newer tapes. An air check tape is a recording of each break an on air announcer does during the course of a shift. The same holds true with writing. As an author continues to write, his or her work can get better. There will be off days, but all in all they will remember the mistakes they made and try not to do them again.
Secondly, with their writing, it gives others who are equally fans of a world, new stories to read that take place in a universe that they’ve grown to love. This can in turn encourage others to also write, and share their work. From there, these newer authors might collaborate with an existing fanfiction author to create something even bigger.
Writing and reading, a co-dependent function. It gives readers something new, and their desire for more means that writers, of which there can be thousands, step up and fulfill that demand.
So there’s the first step of fanfiction. It fulfills a need. But what about comparing fanfiction to the old dead tree method. Actual publications that are released by publishing houses to the mass market. Tor, Penguin, Pocket Books, O’Reilly, and so on. And sold in brick and mortar houses, or online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indigo Chapters. Is fanfiction subpar or inferior when compared to books that are written by big name authors such as J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, or Peter David?
I don’t think so.
We’ve evolved in so many different ways, that it makes sense the way in which we consume the written word also changes. Already we’ve gone from paper books to digital books saved on devices like the Kindle, iPad or Nook. Thanks to digital devices and the ability to buy a book whenever or wherever we choose, prices of books have dropped considerably. And it would only make sense that fanfiction authors would become a part of this market.
But they don’t write to make money. Any writer can tell you, if they were wanting to write to make cash then they were in the wrong business. Writers write because they have something to say and something to write about. That can be any number of topics, even this open editorial that I’m writing at present. So this doesn’t make fanfiction any less important than published material. Even web serials can fall into this, written by authors who use the internet as a way to present their material to the public.
On one hand, it keeps stories alive. On the other, it makes sure that we can foster a new generation of writers. They may start writing about the worlds of different fandoms, but that will only help their own writing and stimulate their own imagination.
So don’t ever for a second let anyone tell you that what you write is a waste of time. Keep writing, keep working. Even if you don’t become a famous author, at least with your own fanfiction you give something to the world.