Lab Report: Should I Submit my Fan Fiction?
For as long as there has been fiction, there has technically been fan fiction. FromDante’sDivine Comedy toXXXbloodyrists666XXX’sMy Immortal, Fan Fiction or Fan Fic is sometimes nearly as popular as the original pieces of work they derive themselves from. To clarify, fan fiction is any piece of fiction written by a fan that features, or is loosely based off of pre-existing movies, literature, TV series, etc. You’d be surprised over how many respected pieces of literature are technically fan fiction, such as Milton’sParadise Lost/Found,Margaret Atwood’sThe Penelopiad, or Virgil’sAenid.These days, however, fan fiction has such a bad reputation and is generally looked down upon in some circles of the literary world.
So where is the line? Is it only good fan fiction if it’s based off some great literary novel written before the 1900s? Can’tBuffy the VampireSlayerfan fiction be considered a great piece of literature that gets studied for decades or even centuries after the author’s death? Should you even bother to submit thatGame of Thronesfic where Nedd Starkdoesn’t die? In this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of submitting your fan fiction.
Starting this, I had to figure out who actually publishes fan fiction. Obviously, there are online websites such as fanfiction.net or ArchiveofOurOwn.orgwhere you can find a plethora of fandoms, couplings, or alternate universes involving the characters you know and love so much. Combined, those two websites alone over a hundred million stories published for fans to read. But from a more professional standpoint, I was surprised to see that there are more traditional publishers looking for fan fiction to publish. Jennifer Bergstrom, vice-president and publisher of Galley Books, a Simon &Schuster house, told the Washington Post, Fan fiction has absolutely become part of the fiber of what we publish. This is changing at a time when traditional publishing needs it most. With the success of books likeAfterby Anna Todd (a novel based of off UK boy band One Direction) published by Simon & Schuster, orFifty Shades of Greyby EL James (aTwilightfan fiction) published by Penguin-Random House, there is definitely a growing base for publishing novels that were originally written as fan fiction and then twisted into more original stories.
Amazon has also made it easier for fan fiction writers to make profit off of their stories without violating certain copyrights. Called Kindle World, Amazon has procured the licensing rights to 48 different literary worlds such as the work of Kurt Vonnegut,Gossip Girl,Wayward Pines,Veronica Mars-The TV Series, andG.I.https://writeessayfast.com Joe to name a few. Through these licensing agreements, writers can create stories in pre-existing worlds with pre-existing characters while throwing in their own original creations. Both the licensed and the fan fiction writer will receive royalties off the sales of the novel or short story, allowing both parties to be happy.
Data and Observation
While I personally read a lot of fan fiction in my spare time (never-going-to-be-canon pairings have to get love somehow, right?), I’m a little on the fence over whether there’s a place for it in traditional publishing. The part I love most about writing and publishing is the originality of the stories people create. Haven’t you ever come across a good book and go, wow, someone wrote this! This came out of a person’s imagination! But one thing I realized while doing some research on this topicisthat retellings are technically fan fiction. And that’s when things got confusing because I really enjoy story retellings but I’m not a fan of published fan fiction. There are such great retellings out there too! LikeRomeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North (a Romeo and Juliet retelling),Wicked by Gregory Maguire (a The Wonderful Wizard of Ozretelling),The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (a A Thousand and One Nights retelling), or the greatest of them all,Ella Enchantedby Gail Carson Levine (aCinderella retelling).
There’s also the original creators opinion on the matter. For example, George R. R. Martin, author of the critically acclaimed A Songof Ice and Fireseriestold The Sydney Morning Herald at an Australian Media Conference, I recognise that it’s an act of love … I would rather they make up their own characters and their own stories and not just borrow my world. He considers writing fan fiction, a lazy way to go. Surprisingly,he’s not the only one.Diana Gambon calls it illegal and immoral. Anne Rice has been known to hunt down fan fiction of her work online and have it taken down. Stephenie Meyer calls it a waste of time.However, authors like JK Rowling, author of the belovedHarry Potter books, andRainbow Rowell, author of many stand-alone novels such asFangirlwhich is a homage toall fangirls and fan fiction writers out there, do not have a real problem with their fans writing fan fiction. For JK, her only wish is that the writers keep a PG-rating on their work.
When I first came up with the idea for this article, I felt like I had a solid grasp on my opinion. I was firmly against the publication of fan fiction. Now, a few weeks since that initial conception, I’m not quite sure. As it turns out, fan fiction is a fairly broad term and it’s been around for so long that I’m surprised it isn’t mainstream already. When you really get down to it, the bible is probably the biggest source of fan fiction and fan art, especially during the Renaissance Era. Stories about angels and other divine creatures have become their own subgenre of books (still looking at you John Milton). Look how respected those book are.
I finally decided to ask myself the question, would I be happy with fan fiction of my work? If I am to be completely honest, I would be honored that someone took the time out of their day to write fan fiction about my stories. But, at the same time, I believe that if a person can write good fan fiction and limit themselves to that kind of storytelling, they are letting all that untapped potential go to waste. And if they can write good fan fiction, what’s stopping them from writing the next best selling novel? It’s only if that persondecides to publish their fan fiction, which is based off of my work, that would make me upset. How many people will buy the fan fiction instead of the real story? That’s interfering with my livelihood, so I can understand why so many published authors are against fan fiction.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to listen to a single word I’ve said in this article. I think that as long as you treat the original storywith respect, there shouldn’t be a problem with you writing fan fiction. And having respect includes not trying to profit off of work that isn’t entirely your own. There are times however that I do think you can get away with it. Perhaps there are certain fan fics, meant to stay immortalized on the internet for the enjoyment of others. Sometimes, an author’s joy comes from just knowing that their work has made people happy. I know I appreciate the work of every fan fiction writer, the often unsung heroes of the writing world. Many times, I’ve turned to some of my favorite fan fiction stories to help cheer me up after a long, stressful day. And I’m sure many people feel the same way. So to all the fan fiction writers out there, whether or not you turn to traditional publishing, know that at least I appreciate your work.
Note: it should be mentioned that in the process of creating this article, at least 20 minutes were spent dramatically readingMy Immortalby Tara Gilesbie aka XXXbloodyrists666XXX to my managing editor Dahazee and her friend Frank, who had never heard ofMy Immortaluntil last Thursday. If you have not read or heard of it before, I definitely suggest taking a peek at the worst fan fiction ever written.
Celeste Paed is a junior fiction writing major at Columbia College Chicago with a minor in Business. She has only two states of being: crying and procrastinating. When not working on her writing, you can often find her in bed binge-watching TV, working at a candy store, or wondering what color she should dye her hair next.
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