I'll admit that before the whole Fifty Shades furore, I hadn’t given the subject of fan fiction much thought. I’d really only seen it mentioned once, on Melissa Marr's website, where she stipulated some limits as to how her characters could be used, which seemed fair enough.
Naively I imagined that EL James’ offering was one of a few stories on a Twilight fan fiction site. And then I read this article and my head nearly exploded. I had no idea that this was so vast, in so many permutations. The subject is fascinating and the mind just boggles at the amount of blends you can have.
And I think I agree with the writer that we are in a position where we might actually implode on ourselves if this is to be the future. (Can you see the mess? Explosions and implosions. Nasty.)
Granted, it is virtually impossible nowadays to tell a completely unique story, one that hasn’t been touched upon elsewhere in the depths of time, but it does feel- from my humble writing stance- that to start off with someone else’s set of characters and backdrop- and a pre-established readership along with their knowledge -, might be... well, just a little bit cheaty.
It’s fine if fan fiction as hobby-writing on websites for like minded readers is what you want to do, which I believe is how FSOG came about. However, if now fan fiction is looking to go mainstream, having been created specifically for publication, to be judged on its own merits and supposedly in its own rights, then surely that is somewhat unfair? Get your own ideas the aspiring author in me is thinking. That’s what I'm trying so hard to do; the plotting, the storyworld, the threads, the characters studies. And while I see that in the case of AU fan fiction- ooh look, I can use terms now!- that the stories can have completely different plot lines, the basic fundaments rely on the reader already bringing established knowledge- established by someone else and their hard work- to the table.
If there is now to be an onslaught of writers trying to emulate E L James’ apparently serendipitous fame and fortune, from an entry point of fan fiction, it seems to me to be taking a short cut, which I can’t see benefiting the publishing world in the long run. As I constantly do with my kids, I feel the need to shout DO THE WORK! And that means all of it. Not just half of it.
Am I just being high-handed and gripey?