No doubt fans are a driving force behind any story franchise. After all, the term “fan” is derived from “fanatic” and many people are fanatically devoted to their favorite characters. This devotion takes on many shapes and forms. Everything from collecting merchandise, to cosplay, to writing fan fiction.
As our technology grows and our access to it becomes easier, the ways fans express their enthusiasm becomes more sophisticated (take a look at this one called “Darth Maul: Apprentice”). Amateur film makers now pay homage to their favorite films in the most exciting ways. Fan fic is no longer the domain of writers alone.
For years now many fans have created short films based on the Star Trek and Star Wars universe. And who wouldn’t want to take a ready made world and play with the characters in ways the original creators never thought possible? After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery, is it not?
Well, as a writer of a world that’s rich in characters people love, it’s a double edged sword. On the one hand, I appreciate the universe Wendi and I have created is so well liked. But on the other, would we want people creating fan-fic from it? The short answer is, thank you, but no.
The same could be said of the more well known franchises. Creators are very protective of their world’s integrity. We know exactly what would happen there and what any of our characters would do in any given situation. Unsanctioned stories, no matter how well done, could tarnish that brand.
Recently, Paramount issued some guidelines for fan films of their Star Trek universe. There’s been some upset among fans that this was perhaps a wrong move. As a business person, I see it as the studio doing what they can to protect their material, but at the same time, remain open to fans expressing their admiration and love of the story.
I suppose fan-fic is going to happen no matter what. In the writing world, there are hundreds of unofficial forums that allow writers to create new characters or use cannon based characters to make new stories. Some authors encourage their fans to do this. Their one caveat is, as the original author, they’ll never read the fan-fic. Why? Well, the best way I can explain it is through an example.
How many times as a fiction writer have you written a scene or created a certain character and then seen something similar crop up in the mainstream? Have you ever watched a film or TV show and said, “Hey! I just wrote that same thing! Are they watching me?”
Chances are, no.
But what if a well known author was rumored to read the fan-fic about their world and then have similar ideas show up in one of their books? How can anyone prove it wasn’t lifted off a fan board?
See how things can get sticky?
The bottom line is this: Creativity is good, but be responsible and respectful. Realize you are borrowing someone else’s ideas and hard work. Those who first came up with the concept have every right to put restrictions on it or deny any use of it at all. It’s a privilege, not an entitlement.
What say you, Packmates? Where do you stand on fan fiction? Do you write it? Do you read it? Leave a response in the comments. Let’s discuss!