Feature Article


Fan Fiction Revisited: The Writers and Readers Speak Out


by Melissa Minners

 

 

            Some time ago, I wrote an article about fan fiction and how this “what if” form of entertainment has expanded over the years with the popularity of the worldwide internet.  In The Expanding World of Fan Fiction, the art of fan fiction was described and the reasons for considering fan fiction a form of entertainment were explored.  In this follow-up article, I would like to give writers and readers of fan fiction a chance to have their say on the art.  To that end, I visited message boards, asking for fan fiction writers’ and readers’ input.  Here’s what they had to say:

 

To view answers to just one particular question, click on one of the following links:

 What Makes Fan Fiction Special To You?         How Did You Start Out?        What Sort of Fan Fiction Do You Write?      

Are You Story-Oriented or Character-Driven?        How Do You Get Into Writing Mode        Read Stories
 

 

 

 What Makes Fan Fiction Special To You?

 

“Fan Fiction is a great stepping stone to that area of writing. You build an audience. People read what you write, because they love the show, too and so on. Once you have people enjoying your work, they start to get interested in your original ideas. It's a brilliant concept.” – jpmessiah, G-POP.net Message Boards

“I love to read and write fanfic because it gives me a chance to destress from the day. For just and hour or two, I can step into a world of my own making, where my imagination can take me and my characters wherever i want. Hardly a night goes by without me either reading or writing fanfiction. I fire up something on one of my specially created music playlists and curl up in bed with my laptop.” – redladyreba,
BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“…the people you met here, the conversations you have, the friends you make, the laughs you have in the assortment of threads, the exchange of ideas and help.....I think that's what makes it special…knowing you have the encouragement of complete strangers to keep doing what you do, it's just so cool. We're all little celebrities in here. It's kinda like a self-esteem boost.” – ShadowofLures, Jedi Council Forums

“Fan fiction is special because it got my juices flowing in a way and got me to write. If it weren't for the very idea of fan fiction, I would have never realized that I had the imagination to be a published writer.” – Justine, G-POP.net Message Boards

“For me, it's the feedback; knowing that someone enjoys what I have written is a really good feeling for me. Also, it's kind of putting my mark on a universe that I enjoy, like Birds of Prey or Robotech for example.” – Pheonyx, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“My best guess is that I am not actually an "author" in the post-copyright-law world sense. Copyright law is intended to protect original creations, which I am not really interested in writing. What I am is a storyteller--which used to be a real art form, even a real job, back before people believed that a story's audience should be 100% passive. Books, wonderful as they are, took the interactive, performance element out of storytelling--which was once as much acting as authoring. Print, or the setting of a work in a fixed medium, is the basis of copyright law; it is also the gift that gave us Shakespeare 500 years after his death, and the curse that locked the reader out of the great stories of our culture. The confluence of films, television, and hypertext has given some of that interactivity and reader power back. This allows the storyteller role to exist again, albeit in a furtive and very low-status form.” – ophelia, Jedi Council Forums

“When you write something, and it's something you put your heart and soul into...that makes it special. Hey I know wrestling isn't everyones "bag", but after Kev and I collaborate and work up a chapter, and then I see that approximately each chapter gets near 100 hits. That makes it all worth while.” – DocMidnite, G-POP.net Message Boards

“It's an 'extension' of a show that I like. So that the show will live on, beyond the length of the 'run' on tv.” – NV Oracle, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“When I write fan fiction, its like learning the character you watch and love, can be so much more personal in a way. Weird, yes, but that's what it fills like to me. Plus its fun to make them do things out of the norm than what they're used to.” – ispeaknotruths, Jedi Council Forums

“For me, it extends the life of my favorite shows. It's also a chance to explore characters/relationships that -- in my opinion -- may have been neglected during the show's original run.” – SevenSlave, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“The same as writing in general - it allows a person to craft a plot and guide the lives of characters. Not unlike a deity, but nobody gets hurt. (Discussions of the act of creating a universe in one's mind thereby creating a parallel universe in reality aside...) I get to read entertaining stories by others, and I get to create my own, which are often things I'd like to read but don't see elsewhere.” Eleventh_Guard, Jedi Council Forums

“It's a mix between being quite the effective vessel for some ego stroking, as well as extending the shelf life of many a cancelled (and even current) show.” – darkphoenix, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“You know, I don't claim to be a great writer. Not when so many of my friends are actually Creative Writing majors and want to do this sort of thing for a living. There's nothing especially magical about the whole experience for me. It's just something I do, and I couldn't really stop doing it, but it's no mind-blowing experience, either. It just kind of is. And I like it that way.” – Commander-DWH, Jedi Council Forums

“It's a way to relax and let imagination flow...” - jaguarin, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“Fan Fiction allows you to use your imagination.  It allows you to expand upon your favorite shows/movies/stories and turn them around in your head.  You use the “what if” to create scenarios that have not been visited by the script writers/authors and see how things might have turned out had things been done your way.  Plus, I love the fact that I can make characters be my voice.  Things I might never say or do come out in my fan fiction characters.  The internet has made fan fiction even more special to me.  Over the years, I would write fan fics and just show them to a select few people, but now, with the internet, I can show them to people all over the world.  The feedback I get, whether good or bad, helps me to improve upon my writing skills and, of course, helps build my confidence as a writer.” – MUZBNUTS, BirdsofPreyOnline.com, FanFiction.Net

It allows me to be creative, and touch my darker self.” – Dritz Darkstorm, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

  

How Did You Start Out?

 

“The strange answer is that I'm not completely sure. I've just always done it. The morning after I saw "A New Hope" back in 1978 (yes, yes, wrong year--it was the Christmas special release) I grabbed a pen and a notepad off my dad's desk and started scrawling. I had to ask how to spell both "Star" and "Wars," so it wasn't much of a story, really. More a graphic novel with random letters on it. My parents thought this was a little strange, but assumed I'd grow out of it.  I like to think I grew out of the random letters part.  All I can say for sure is that I get an "I have to" feeling about certain things, and I need to write about them. If those things were anything other than material copyrighted by others, I might be able to get paid for it. Unfortunately, the "I have to" feeling seems to be attached almost solely to other people's creations. I've never been sure why.” – Ophelia, Jedi Council Forums

"Really for S & G's mainly. Just to see if I could write a story.” – Dritz Darkstorm, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“I was an original fan fiction writer before many people talked about it and before it was part of an online boom. I am sure people did it, but without the Internet, it was hard to get other people to see your work. I would write stories from the V and Hunter universe and even combined the two together. Fan Fiction allows you to write about what you love; what you know, so that the characters are easy to describe and all you have to do is worry about the actions; make sure you write in a way that truly represents what the character would do and so on. Then, as you get used to that, you can branch out and create new characters of your own.” – jpmessiah, G-POP.net Message Boards

“I've always liked reading from a young age. I used to get in trouble for reading in class when I was supposed to be doing school work. I didn't know that you can continue on from a world created in movies or shows until I found my first book-based-on-the-movie. It was an X-files book from the book fair. I was like in the fifth grade then, it was my fave show at the time so I bought it and it blew me away. I was seeing something totally different from what I seen on the show, personal thoughts and whatnot from the characters view. After that, based-on-the-movie/show/comics became a large part of my personal library. Cuz they're basically all fan fictions written by real writers.” – ispeaknotruths, Jedi Council Forums

“…I've been addicted for fifteen years now... I guess i got hooked on writing back in high school after we received an assignment from our English teach. Next thing I know, I'm writing stories to some of my favorite cartoons (and yes i STILL watch cartoons). Now as I admitted to earlier, the Net was just getting off the ground so it was about six years after that assignment before I even know what fanfic was...and that was what I had been writing!” – redladyreba, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“It's funny because the trilogy I have been working on for most of the time from ages 15-now (23) started out as fan fic only to become something else.” – Justine, G-POP.net Message Boards

“Writing a story loosely based on the tale of Joan of Arc. When I was 10.” – Eleventh_Guard, Jedi Council Forums

“My first fan fiction was actually an assignment for a creative writing class that I took my senior year of high school; it was a Christmas story that took place in the Southern Cross portion of the Robotech animated show. We had to write a Christmas story; I chose the setting... got an A on the project if I remember right.” – Pheonyx, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“I probably started years ago in High School. A very good English Composition teacher I had allowed us to write stories as our assignments. Though I would never admit it back then, I loved to write. It just wasn't "cool" to let your friends know you were enjoying the homework assignments!” – DocMidnite, G-POP.net Message Boards

“I wrote before I went to school and had my first 'novel' finished with 6. Then I began writing fanfic, even before I knew there existed a term for that kind of writing. I'm not easily satisfied with my own world-building, so fanfic is attractive to me because it has all that readymade.  I read my first fanfics in fanzines, and when I saw I was not alone in this I just wrote on. I did much more original writing before I came here, though. I'm afraid those comments you get are pretty addictive.” – MsLanna, Jedi Council Forums

“I can't really say that I can point to anything and say that I got started because of something, like a school project or anything. For me, it's been what I call a 'mental exercise', and an escape from the 'soap opera' my life had been up to relatively recently, as well as something to relieve the boredom from a job that has not always been challenging enough.” – NV Oracle, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“When I first found TFN, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I felt like I was a little kid again and stumbled into a whole new world.  The first fanfic i ever read was jainasolo's Lady of the Knights...I guess I read fanfic to see Star Wars through other people's eyes….I was inspired, and thought "Wouldn't that be cool?"…only this school-year have I actually started writing it…a few months later, after my editors / friends-who-don't-mind-reading-my-stuff said they wanted more after just the first seven chapters, i thought "I wonder what TFN would think?"...turns out the few who do like it say the cliff-hangers ('cliffies') are antagonizing; they always want more. and in that way it's kept me going as a writer.” – ShadowofLures,  Jedi Council Forums

“I've been writing since high school. I took a break for a LOOOOOOOONG time (Work, life ... all that stuff just kept getting in the way.) I only got back into it a few years ago.  My first FF was actually for "I Dream of Jeannie". It began as a protest of sorts against a TV-movie called "I Still Dream of Jeannie" (The script left a LOT to be desired ... let's leave it at that.)  I thought, "I could write a better movie than THIS!" -- so I went ahead and did it. – SevenSlave, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“I discovered the world of fanfic when I was in 8th or 9th grade, but I've been making up stories as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid, I used to make up all kinds of stories about the Power Rangers (in their original incarnation, thanks), and my first OC was the Turquoise Ranger.  It sounds ridiculous, and it kind of was- it was the possibly overactive imagination of a nine year old kid. But my imagination hasn't died down in the last twelve years, so there are still more stories to be told. And so I tell them. I read fanfic because I always like hearing new stories about my favourite characters, and some of them are incredibly well-written.” – Commander-DWH, Jedi Council Forums

“I was a rabid fanfic reader for a long time before I decided to go for it myself. I've always been somewhat of a writer, and this was just another outlet for it.” – darkphoenix, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“It all began with ‘V: The Series’.  I had always loved to write and I had decided that certain episodes could be rewritten and made much better.  I wrote a couple of those, and then moved on to ‘Hunter’, yet another favorite television show.  In later years, after purchasing my computer and reading several different fanfics, I decided my writing was on par, or at times, better than what I was reading.  I tried my hand at a Star Wars fanfic, but never released it.  I was too shy at the time.  Then, Birds of Prey aired and I fell in love with the show.  I decided to write a fan fiction that would take place between episodes and posted it at BirdsofPreyOnline.com.  I got a tremendous amount of feedback and encouragement to write more.  It all took off from there and now I have fan fiction posted at BirdsofPreyOnline.com and FanFiction.Net.” - MUZBNUTS, BirdsofPreyOnline.com, FanFiction.Net

  

What Sort of Fan Fiction Do You Write?

 

“My first fanfic was kind of a drawn out mystery/tragedy, but angsty one shot introspectives are really my specialty. Everything has always been Birds of Prey oriented.” – darkphoenix, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“I actually hadn't written in years until one night on BOPonline a fellow pro wrestling fan and myself were posting barbs at each other using wrestling references. In a PM he sent me the entrance and start to a wrestling fic using our screen names as the main characters. Well, I added a paragraph or two to it and sent it back. This went on until we had formed a nice little chapter. The next thing we know is we were posting it in the fan fic section of BOPonline. "Bad Moon Rising" is now up to 52 chapters. I have enjoyed doing this with Drayvenscrow so much that I have a second story in the wings dealing with the characters of Birds Of Prey.  I think I could write basically any type of fan fic as long as I had a good working knowledge and understanding of the characters.” – DocMidnite, G-POP.net Message Boards

“Knights of the Old Republic. I dropped off the face of the fanfic world when I went to college, I guess I was too busy to be really inspired. But then I had a whirlwind love affair with KOTOR and started writing about a year and a half ago. And nobody's been able to shut me up since.  I tend towards the more humourous side of things, and though I'm trying to write serious stuff, my tone is still a little on the snarky side.” – Commander-DWH, Jedi Council Forums

“I've written for Birds Of Prey, IDoJ [I Dream of Jeannie], and He-Man.” – SevenSlave, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“…my clear intention was to create a Buffy fiction, with a new character, one I had created on my own. With characters as distinct as the ones on Buffy, it was not hard for me to find each individual voice. The problem was, it came out too good. There was an unfortunate little that could come of what I was doing. Besides, the more I had written, the more the story had created a different mythology for itself than the one Buffy had given it, and soon, new characters began to develop--suddenly I was writing something totally different set in a world that was not quite Buffy's. That's when I decided to pull back and change the story, pulling out all of the original stuff I had created and discarding all mentions of anything Sunnydale related.” – Justine, G-POP.net Message Boards

“I like doing action, adventure fiction, but then there has to be romance.” – DarthNightfire, Jedi Council Forums

“That depends on the show, but if you mean whether 'slash' fic or 'standard', I'm more of a 'standard' fiction kind of writer.” – NV Oracle, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“I started with the world of V and decided to put myself into the story, but as a cop, partnering with Rick Hunter and Dee Dee McCall from the Hunter series. I just thought it would be cool to read an interaction between Rick Hunter and Ham Tyler. And that was the only reason why. LOL. Then, I moved past the V arc and it really was just about Hunter. Being fan fic, I got a little crazy and created real storylines that I felt was missing from the show. But I was a kid and they really weren't good. Somehow, I got to be Paul Abdul's bodyguard and I married her. Then, I got involved undercover as a wrestler and stopped a steroid ring, but became mortal enemies with the Four Horsemen, led by Ric Flair. Strange how even during those days I appreciated the NWA more than the WWF. And while there, I met Woman, who is Nancy Sullivan and married to Chris Benoit. And in the story, she was bad, and I helped her change her ways and married her. Eventually, I got drugged, got hooked on drugs and got released from the force, only to be brought back for an experimental group, which was really 21 Jumpstreet. There I met Hoffs and married her. That was my final marriage. I don't even remember divorcing the other characters. I wrote Big Love before they even thought of it.  But then I branched out and created a gang called The Renegades who were vigilantes. I love those characters and I would actually use them later in a real book I wrote, but scrapped , because it was not realistic or mature enough. But the experiences kept me moving in a direction to write real stories, including a book about my time at a Carvel Ice Cream Shop.” – jpmessiah, G-POP.net Message Boards

“I write Before the Saga [Star Wars].” – ShadowofLures, Jedi Council Forums

“…I mostly write fanfic based on BoP and Disney's Gargoyles, but I read anything- from Movies to comics.” – redladyreba, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“Canon, OC centered stories. Or humour.  I like to think of my fics as add-ons for the already existing canon rather than substitutes…not only SW but also 'Vampire Hunter D'.” – MsLanna, Jedi Council Forums

“Only BOP [Birds of Prey]” – jaguarin, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“Almost everything. Drabbles, vignettes, short stories, novel-length works, genfic, het, slash (other archives), canon-compatible stories, AUs, all ratings, almost all genres. There isn't much I won't try at least once. I tend to stay away from crossovers and time-travel fics, but occasionally do songfics (such as The Jedi Man, which is partially a crossover, since it's based on a story in poem form outside of Star Wars), and some of my stories are influenced by other stories but not enough to be a crossover (example: Champions of the Canon on FFN, a Mary Sue parody, borrows a little from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) I love crack pairings, too. My usual choices are male/female vignettes, genfic vignettes, and long genfic.” – Eleventh_Guard, Jedi Council Forums

“My stories are considered dark suspense. I to this date have only written BoP based stories, but I have considered a BoP/24 crossover.” – Dritz Darkstorm, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“I like writing the freaks and mythic stories. Anything were characters can have special powers or do things that are beyond the norm. I like writing Star Wars, X-men, Charmed or Buffy/Angel series and X-files type stories.” – ispeaknotruths, Jedi Council Forums

“I write I guess you'd call "standard fiction", not so-called "slash" fiction, which just pairs up two characters romantically, often very graphically... not my taste, personally; as for genre, I tend to write modern action/espionage or science fiction.” – Pheonyx, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“All the fanfics I've posted are either in the Star Wars or X-Files universes. I've played around with Matrix fic, but never posted any.  I guess my usual genre would be action/adventure, with a generous amount of mush. Add mystery to that list for the X-Files fandom.” – Ophelia, Jedi Council Forums

“Lately, it’s been all Birds of Prey, but I have been known to dabble in such areas as Hunter, V, and Star Wars.  My stories tend to be very angtsy – full of raw emotion.” - MUZBNUTS, BirdsofPreyOnline.com, FanFiction.Net 

 
 

Are You Story-Oriented or Character-Driven?

 

“My fan fic writing was always extremely character oriented. Some days I had to force myself to remember that there was a plot to further.” – Justine, G-POP.net Message Boards

“Characters, definitely. I can have a story where almost no plot happens, or at the very least it crawls along at the pace of a snail stuck in its own slime, but the characters are interesting and engaging. And I adore my characters, both canon and original. They're fun to watch interacting.” – Commander-DWH, Jedi Council Forums

“…they're usually character driven simply because it's hard to have a complex plot in an introspective piece.” – darkphoenix, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“IMO you need both!” – DocMidnite, G-POP.net Message Boards

“I suppose I'm story-oriented; i don't write my fics thinking, "So, what am I going to do to Obi-Wan today?" – ShadowofLures, Jedi Council Forums

“I do a little bit of both. It really depends on what best suits the piece.” – SevenSlave, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“Story oriented, but working on being more character drive. I come up with a basic plot, drop the characters in, and let them partly run things with more subplots to keep the story going the right way.” Eleventh_Guard, Jedi Council Forums

“My stories tend to be more character driven, only because I don't think I'm good enough at the story part, or the action part of the story, although I am working on that, but I try to make my stories as balanced as they can be, with both action, and character in them.” – NV Oracle, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“I'm a little of both though I tend to move towards the character driven side of writing. It's the characters that drive the story when there isn't action and its interesting and fun to write interactions between two totally different characters. And plus, you can have your characters say something that you wish you could say in real life.” – ispeaknotruths, Jedi Council Forums

“My stories tend to be a decent blend of being driven by story and character; I do like to do character development in my stories, but it really has to be in the context of the story or else it just seems tacked on for no apparent reason. One chapter of one of my stories might be heavy on plot points, but then the next chapter might bring a new insight into one or more characters, sometimes it's a mixture of both.” – Pheonyx, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“If you'd asked me that a while ago I'd have said character-driven, but I think that's not exactly true. The thing is, I can live without established characters, settings, and plots. The last thing I posted was barely recognizeable as Star Wars.  What I can't live without is the myth itself. There just seem to be universes, myths, storylines, whatever you want to call them, that I become fascinated with and have to explore. This is really why I call myself a storyteller rather than an author. It's the interactive element of passing a common myth back and forth that draws me.” – ophelia, Jedi Council Forums

“Usually…story oriented.” – jaguarin, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“My stories are mostly character-driven.  That’s not to say they don’t have a plot, but the stories tend to be about how the characters react to situations and each other in the midst of the plot.  I just love getting into the characters’ heads!” - MUZBNUTS, BirdsofPreyOnline.com, FanFiction.Net

“A little of both.” – Dritz Darkstorm, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

 
 

 How Do You Get Into Writing Mode

 

“Actually, I pretty much don't. I grew up watching my mother write novels (all unpublished), and so it seems perfectly normal to me to get up in the morning and head straight for the computer, then start banging out material that is never going to sit on any bookstore shelves. I don't have to feel any certain way to do it--although I occasionally trick myself by telling myself that I only have to write three paragraphs, which sounds so harmless, but which is actually just the amount I have to write before I can continue without undue agony. "Three paragraphs" usually ends up being 2-4 pages.” – Ophelia, Jedi Council Forums

"I usually scribble some ideas in a notebook. You know the basic stuff. Storyline, characters, etc... I find it easier to write it out by pen first, that way if a section I write doesn't quite fit I can outline it and perhaps use it somewhere else. A lot of ideas come to me when I am on the treadmill exercising. I find my head is clearer, and I can just think about the story. Here again it's important to keep a notebook nearby!” – DocMidnite, G-POP.net Message Boards

“Boredom does it. I write to entertain myself.” – Dritz Darkstorm, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“When I get bored, I tend to write but I've discovered that when I'm working or doing high activity is when the best stories come out. Even though I can't just drop everything to write it down, I can give myself a basic outline how I would like to write a chapter or storyline.” – ispeaknotruths, Jedi Council Forums

“I write when the mood hits me most of the time; a story will pop into my head and I will start writing. I'm not extremely disciplined when it comes to consistently writing something every day.” – Pheonyx, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“Well, usually it strikes on my way home in the train. I have to jot down notes that I turn into sensible stuff the next day.” – MsLanna, Jedi Council Forums

“I normally try to write a little bit each day, but lately, I've been reduced to writing when an idea strikes, or when my mind is working on a story.” – NV Oracle, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“To 'get started' you have to think in Star Warsian, and somehow either use the cannon characters (from the movies or books) or make up a completely 'original' story. (nothing's really original though, since we all "play in GL's (George Lucas') sandbox".” – ShadowofLures, Jedi Council Forums

“I get into writing mode by going back and rereading some of my old stuff for a bit of inspiration. It's also a good motivator to try and outdo yourself.” – darkphoenix, BirdsofPreyOnline.com

“At night I can really write. When I think back when I was a little kid, thats what I base it on. Or when I'm watching movies.” – DarthNightfire, Jedi Council Forums

“My writing usually starts with a vague idea.  I begin writing a few sentences and let the characters take over.  They pretty much tend to take over in detail where my vague ideas end.  However, my muse seems to come out very late at night.  When most people are sleeping, my creative juices are flowing and all that can be heard in the apartment is the click-clacking of computer keys as my latest chapter spills out.” -  MUZBNUTS, BirdsofPreyOnline.com, FanFiction.Net

 

To read fan fiction stories by these authors or others, visit the following websites:

FanFiction.Net 

BirdsofPreyOnline.com

 Jedi Council Forums



For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at talonkarrde@g-pop-net.