I can only name one story which began as fan fiction and then grew into a phenomenon all its own. But a lot of people love writing and reading fan fiction.
Not all authors, however, feel the same way.
For example, 50 Shades of Grey started life as fan fiction for Twilight but grew into a new thing all its own. (Rule 34, anyone?) And an awful lot of fan fiction exists in the wild. The first piece of long fiction I ever wrote, matter of fact, was a “re-do” of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Allan Dean Foster. (I sort of forgot about that, but I was only in seventh grade.)
For a lot of people, though, the addiction’s pretty powerful. In fact, there used to an entire forum, an Internet bulletin board, dedicated to Anne Rice fan fiction. Some of the characters in her Interview with the Vampire series were used – against her wishes, by the bye – as primary characters in these ongoing RPGs and stories.
Ms. Rice had to have an attorney send a cease and desist to those idiots, who apparently ignored her web site’s instructions warning everyone not to use her creations in fan fiction. Eventually they fled to DeviantART.com, where they buried themselves amid the other writers.
So fans can get pretty rabid about their fandom choices. And sometimes they get stupid. Those morons on DeviantART didn’t believe Anne Rice meant what she said when she said not to use her property. Since they weren’t selling it, or in any way monetizing it, they didn’t think those things applied to them. They absolutely do.
This is akin to someone taking your property and doing whatever they want to it just because it’s there and they like it. If you own a piece of property on a corner, and someone likes it, it’s not okay for them to do whatever they want with the property. If you painted it yellow and they think it’ll look better purple, they’re not allowed to paint it. Period.
So they can develop their own property, and make it the same type of property, but they can’t use yours. Which leads me to a dilemma regarding something going on in my head over the last several weeks.
I’ve been dreaming about the universe and story of the video game Destiny. I don’t know why, other than the fact my son’s been playing a whole heckuvalot of it, and it’s just worked its way into my subconscious mind. I don’t dream in the universe or story, but dream about watching it. Maybe, if I could recall my dreams better, I’d find the dreams are actually dreams of me watching my son play. I dunno.
But it’s tempting to write something set there, using their character types (I wouldn’t use any of their named ones – which don’t appear in my dreams anyway), and see what happens. Or to try and springboard from that into another world of my own, similar but not exact, and see what comes. My wonderful first reader things maybe there’s a pull to writing something in that genre and my creative voice wants to try. Again, I can’t say for sure; I just don’t know.
What do you think of fan fiction? Is it flattery or harmful to creators, in your opinion?