Friday, September 3, 2010

Fan Fiction - For or Against?

With any popular book or movie, the inevitable result will be spin offs, parodies, wannabes, and fan fiction. Just take a look at Twilight! Fans clamber for more. They lap up the unauthorised biographies, they collect the unauthorised merchandise and they fill the internet with their own stories based on someone else’s world.

Some authors encourage fan fiction. They believe it only helps to spread the word about their own work. They want to nurture their fans so they allow them to indulge in borrowed worlds.

However, some authors are against the whole idea. There is the question of copyright infringement. They believe there is a certain level of theft behind fan fiction. I found in this article the story of Marion Zimmer Bradley:

Most of us laboring in the genres of science fiction and fantasy... had a lesson in the dangers of permitting fan fiction a couple of decades back, courtesy of Marion Zimmer Bradley. MZB had been an author who not only allowed fan fiction based on her Darkover series, but actively encouraged it... even read and critiqued the stories of her fans. All was happiness and joy, until one day she encountered in one such fan story an idea similar to one she was using in her current Darkover novel-in-progress. MZB wrote to the fan, explained the situation, even offered a token payment and an acknowledgement in the book. The fan replied that she wanted full co-authorship of said book, and half the money, or she would sue. MZB scrapped the novel instead, rather than risk a lawsuit.

The article goes on to say there wouldn’t have been any grounds for the lawsuit since MZB had evidence that she came up with the idea on her own. But still it’s something to think about.

What are your thoughts on Fan Fiction? Are you for or against or don’t care either way? How do you think it might impact an author’s work?

* Photo: I'm the stormtrooper in the middle ;)

39 comments:

  1. Yikes! I knew MZB allowed fans to write in her world, but hadn't realized there were problems. I actually (in my usual naive way) never thought about it. The world belongs to the author. The fans are having fun visiting! I've never written fan fiction, but if it had been me, I'd have been thrilled to have had my name mentioned by the author :)

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  2. I guess it doesn't bother me either way. Technically, the Star Wars novels of the past two decades were paid fanfic. George certainly didn't write them. (Which is why they're good!)

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  3. Jemi, yep, I hadn't thought about it either until I read a number of articles recently. I've not written fan fiction myself either and I'd certainly be thrilled too. It's such a shame that MZB scrapped her WIP because of that bad experience.

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  4. Alex, I believe the Star Wars novels were authorised. I also think the fans had too much say in what happened in the later Star Wars films. He was trying to please too many people. He should have stuck to his original story. imo. ;)

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  5. Hmm, interesting question. I never thought about those risks. I guess it might be hard to control fan-fiction even if you wanted too though.

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  6. I used to write fan fiction when I was in high school but I haven't considered it since then. I think even if I wanted to, my stories keep me so busy I'm lost in another world.

    CD

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  7. I don't read fan-fiction but also don't see the big deal with someone writing a spin-off of a published story or "borrowing from that author's world," so long as they're not getting paid for it.

    Like Jemi said, they're only visiting. And that's because they love it so much. :)

    Sounds like a flattering compliment to me!

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  8. Melissa, I think it would be near impossible to control.

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  9. Clarissa, yeah, I know what you mean. I considered entering a fan fiction contest. I found though that I just couldn't get passionate enough to write in someone else's world.

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  10. Amanda, so you feel that the key is payment? It's not all right if they get paid?

    To be honest, I'm still undecided.

    It's certainly a compliment. Apparently J K Rowlings is somewhat easy about the fan fiction based on her novels. It spreads the love of her universe. It's a kind of promotional tool in a way.

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  11. I hadn't really thought about the problems of fan fiction. But I know one author (John Sandford) who refuses to hear even suggestions from readers for precisely that reason: he wants to avoid any issues surrounding intellectual property.

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  12. Nice to meet you Lynda!

    Returning your visit from Karen G's BBQ blog fest so I'm now your newest follower.

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  13. Saw you mentioned on Melissa Getting Published (Well done on the award) and thought I'd stop by to say hello. An interesting post, I've enjoyed visiting.

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  14. that's so interesting! i think people should be able to write what they want to... freedom of speech and all. but whether that stuff gets published is a whole different hat. i don't really read fanfic, because i keep thinking i'd get confused with the real storyline, should the author continue on with the series at a point in time. i guess the real mistake is for an author to read fanfic of their own work! i know i'd be scared of accidentally assimilating someone's idea.

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  15. I don't get it, really, but I wouldn't be against it! Whatever gets people writing can't be a bad thing, right?

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  16. I don't really understand fan fiction, yet.

    I'm here because you came into my blog from Karen's BBQ. I evidently found your other blog a few months ago because I'm a follower there and just posted a comment on it.

    Now I'm here. This is an excellent site. Lots of good information. I'll be back.
    Ann

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  17. i wrote fanfiction in highschool. It was what finally made me realize i wanted to be a writer. I don't think there's any issue with it, as long as the author isn't reading any of it, like MZB, to avoid the above situation

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  18. you've never looked more attractive than in that pic, Lyds :))))0

    Fans can't go crazy sometimes. I generally don't like overly obsessed fans. And I know that most music, film and writing stars don't like them either when they go too far and cross certain limits between respect and mania. I would personally feel awful and probably depressed if I had a super popular book and fans started writing stories and spin offs based on my work. I would feel violated.

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  19. And I just read today an article about Martin's GAME OF THRONES, the famous fantasy saga. We know how many fans he has and how they always want to influence his writing and how they keep pressuring him to publish a new part of the saga, so the writer of the article tried to defend him in the text entitled MARTIN ISN'T YOUR BITCH :)) What a great and suggestive tittle :)

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  20. I'm neither "fer or again'" fan fic. Stopped by from KarenG's bbq. Great blog you've got here. I'm following on all your social networks now. Have a great weekend! GumboWriter

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  21. Interesting question, Lynda. To be honest it doesn't really bother me either ways. But I am sure few authors will be encouraging it. Its good publicity for them.

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  22. Over here from the BBQ . . .

    It doesn't effect/affect my fiction, since I don't write genre fiction, but, no matter how we feel about it, I guess people will always jump on a bandwagon and join the parade!

    Nice blog - am following now.

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  23. Guess i never thought about it. But I'm nt a "fan" of fan fiction in the least- but there is a market out for them too- they do get published. I think parodies are kindof ok, but otherwise I don't know how I'd really feel about it.

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  24. I stopped by for some BBQ yummies. And I apologize for not visiting sooner. Great post - really original! :-)

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  25. Lynda, visiting from Karen's. Nice blog concept. I'll be back!

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  26. Alison, that's actually a wise move not to read fan fiction for that reason. It's not something we can really control, so it's best to avoid it altogether. :)

    Matthew, nice to meet you too :)

    Petty, thanks and welcome.

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  27. Aspiring, We get so many ideas from different place. It would only be natural to unconsciously pick up ideas from the fanfic, so yeah. Avoid it altoegter.

    Talli, it certainly spreads the word about the worlds they are excited enough about to write their fan fiction.

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  28. Ann, welcome! My other blog was the first blog I ever started when I wasn't sure which area to pursue. It's still a big passion in my life so I'm continuing to maintain the site. :)

    Sarah, that's a great way of realising you wanted to be a writer. And yes, you're right about the fact the author shouldn't read the fan fic

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  29. Dez, you're my number one fan...lol.

    Martin from Game of Thrones is heavily and severely against fan fiction. He has written many articles on his blog about the issue. His concern is all the legal issues potentially involved with it all.

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  30. Angie, Welcome! Hope you have a great weekend too! It's the first spring weekend here and it's pouring. lol.

    Rachna, it's definitely good publicity. I think that's why J K Rowlings encourages it.

    Kathryn, and parades are so much fun! ;) Welcome, it's nice to meet you :)

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  31. Summer, I've read a few parodies and often they are quite amusing. There's a market because the fans love the stories so much they want more however it comes.

    Shannon, welcome! What a great BBQ we are all having :)

    Colette, welcome and thanks

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  32. Hi Lynda - I hadn't thought about it. I can see how if fans wrote something based on your work, it might help increase popularity of your novels. I guess it does boil down to the fan frenzy. At my end of the sprectrum, I see it as adoration. But I'm not swimming in a mutitude of fans either. =D

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  33. I hadn't heard of fan fiction until a couple of years ago. As a writer, I like creating stories from the scrap piles of ideas floating around in my head. I enjoy so many stories but never wanted to write a follow up to someone else's story. Frankly, I find it a little weird.

    I joined your blog after reading your excellent post on passive verbs. Good stuff. Okay, I'm heading back out to the BBQ.

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  34. RaShelle, hehe, I guess it only really affects a relatively small number of writers. I think it would be great to have that problem ;)

    Shellie, welcome! Oh, I'm glad you liked the passive verb post :)

    I think fan fiction stems from fans wanting more of the worlds they love. The fans aren't necessarily 'writers' but it will often lead them into the love of writing.

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  35. Wow, I hadn't even thought of this for my own work. Hmmmmmm....I don't know what to think. I just have fan fiction going on in my head. (like what if Luke Skywalker had kids? Or what if Darth Vader didn't have to die?) But I'd never totally write it out on paper and put it on the internet. But I guess other people really do.

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  36. Aubrie, yes, it's cool to wonder what if... but there's the big question of where do I want to spend all my time. I'd rather write my own stories.

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  37. Lynda,
    This information is new to me. I realize it happens but didn't realize the extent. Nice to learn something new!

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  38. Hi Terri, yep, it's amazing the popularity of fan fiction.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.