Fan fiction

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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Today I want to talk about fan fiction. My latest story is fan fiction – it is set in another writer’s universe, specifically, Wen Spencer’s universe of Tinker and the other connected stories of hers. Visitors to my blog might be familiar with my novella Magic Senegalese, set in Spencer’s world. I have been posting it in installments as my WEP entries since the start of this year. Another story of mine, Five Days of Elf, also set in the same universe, is already on Wattpad.

Now a third story, set in the same universe, shimmers in my head, slowly taking shape. What does it say about me as a writer, if the only stories I want to write are based on someone else’s imagination?

I don’t involve the original writer’s characters – I use my own – but the setting, which plays a huge role in all the stories – hers and mine – doesn’t belong to me. Does it make me a plagiarist?

Personally, I think my stories are a tribute to the original writer. After all, they speak of my admiration for her and the world she has created.

I have been turning to Wen Spencer’s books as comfort read in the past few years, and they never failed me, but there is never enough of them, and I’ve read (and re-read) them all at least a couple of times. Some more than twice. They resonate inside me, and I want more stories set in her universe, but what is a writer to do, when no more stories are forthcoming? She creates her own. Right?

Many authors, especially in the speculative fiction genre, start with writing fan fiction, sharpen their skills on it, and then switch to their original writing. I did the opposite. I never wrote fan fiction prior to my first story set in Spencer’s world, Five Days of Elf. There are other writers I love, but I was never tempted to write fan fiction before. This whole situation bothers me. Should I continue writing these stories? Should I contact Spencer about it and ask for permission? Should I resist the temptation?

What do you think? Do you write fan fiction?

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16 Responses to Fan fiction

  1. cheriereich says:

    I started with fan fiction and then moved on to my own stories. I don’t think there is anything wrong with fan fiction as it’s an excellent way to expand upon a world you love. Of course, if you want to monetize something, then that’s where the trouble lies. But if your goal is to freely write such stories for yourself and to share with like fans of the author’s work, then I don’t see any problem with it.

  2. I’ve never written fan fiction for publication, but I’ve sure devoted a lot of head space to my own, private fan fiction stories. I was just a wee lass when I started weaving tales about a favorite superhero and my own original character. Later came a favorite sci-fi series–“improved” by inserting my original characters, then my additions to a popular fiction series. Lately, I write fan fic scenes as a warm-up exercise before working on my own original fiction. I’ve even found inspiration there, cannibalizing the best bits.
    Happy writing in August, Olga!

  3. I don’t write it but I believe the original writers are very flattered by fan fiction.

  4. Sorry but I don’t write it so can’t offer much advice. But Cheri’s suggestions sound like the right advice on this.

  5. Erika Beebe says:

    Hi Olga. That’s an interesting question. I am definitely not one to offer advice on this subject but have read a book of fiction on fan fiction by Rainbow Rowell. It was fantastic. From what she said, I don’t think you have to ask permission? I agree with Alex. The writers are probably very flattered and it draws lots of publicity to them. Happy IWSG day!

  6. I write fan fiction or used to (sadly I’m too busy right now) but I started out writing original fiction. Most of the ideas I get these days are for original fiction.

  7. Pat Garcia says:

    No, I don’t write fan fiction but from what I’ve read of yours, I would say you do a great job.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  8. Pat Garcia says:

    Hi,
    I’m going to repost again because it seems that the comments I am making on the wordpress blogs are not taking. To summarize, I said that I don’t write fan fiction but I truly enjoy the stories written by you.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  9. spunkonastick says:

    With fan fiction, there’s no pressure. It’s a great way to hone your skills and just write for the joy of it.

  10. I started off writing a Nancy Drew inspired mystery. I thought it was a fun way to get my feet wet and practice writing.

  11. emaginette says:

    I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I never will. I loved the world of Firefly and Serenity and would love to go back. So I say go for it. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  12. cleemckenzie says:

    I don’t have any experience with fan fiction. It rather puzzles me, so I keep reading about it to find out the fascination and the reason behind it. I read the comments here, and found them interesting. Now I have a better idea why people want to walk in another author’s footsteps.

  13. I’ve written fan fiction, mostly just to get the writing juices flowing. But using someone else’s world doesn’t make you a lazy author. Sometimes its hard to come up with a setting; but really, every time we write a sci-fi, or fantasy, or even scream horror, are we not “copying” the world building rules and accepted terminology? As long as you are giving the author of the world credit (and you are) and not changing any characters or parameters, I see nothing wrong with using their world for your setting.

  14. Loni Townsend says:

    I started out with fan fiction of a TV show. I have to say, it has helped spark ideas of creativity. Yeah, I think so long as you aren’t trying to monetize it, keep on writing fan fiction for the sheer joy of spending time in that world!

  15. Juneta says:

    I’ve done fan fiction but in a private Star Wars group. It was not public. It definitely helps I think and you learn things while doing it. I still write it for myself.

    Happy Belated IWSG.

  16. Lee Lowery says:

    I had a group of friends that collaborated on fan fiction in high school – obviously just kept among our members. Fan fiction can be tricky legally if it’s published. There are several court cases in the U.S. that ended badly for fan fic writers and/or publishers. But privately, anything that gets the creative juices going is good.

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