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What is Fan Fiction? Definition and Examples
An Overview of the Harry Potter Books and Universe
- An Overview of the Harry Potter Books and Universe
For those few out there who still don't know who Harry Potter is, a brief overview of the Harry Potter Books and universe created by J.K. Rowling.
What is Fan Fiction?
Fan fiction has a pretty broad definition, as it is inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, games, and even real people. Fan fiction is simply made up of stories about characters and/or settings written by the fans of an original work, rather than the creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely authorized or commissioned by the original owner, creator, or publisher and almost never professionally published. This is why they usually include a disclaimer at the beginning that states that the creator of the work of fan fiction is not the owner of the characters used.
Fan fiction is both a part of the fictional universe it is based off of and outside of it. It is intended to be read by fellow fans but also understood that the settings and characters used are not part of the original author's work.
Novelist and journalist Lev Grossman best summarized what fan fiction is when he stated that:
"Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language."
So, why write fan fiction? It may seem like a strange hobby or genre to fall in love with but some fans just can't help but try to fill in gaps left in the original creator's work. When it all comes down to it, all fans want to do is continue to live in that world and expand it with fan fiction. Furthermore, they take the time to try and work out the kinks and gaps left behind as they share possible plot elements and character development with fellow fans that they believe may have been lacking in the original work.
Make Up Languages Invented for Literature and Film
- Made Up Languages Invented For Literature and Film
Sindarin, Klingon, and Esperanto are just a few examples of made up languages invented for literature and film. Learn more about these languages here.
Where Does Fan Fiction Come From?
It may be somewhat surprising to learn that fan fiction has been around a little longer than the internet, although the internet definitely gave it a boost in popularity. The infamous Brontë sisters wrote their own bits of fiction focused on Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, and his two sons, Arthur and Charles. Wellesley was a leading political and military figure in the late 19th century and became popular during the Napoleonic wars (1803-1815).
This early work of the young Brontë's is an example of real person fan fiction. Like its name suggests, this type of fan fiction works to embellish a real person's life, rather than a fictional character or setting. The children's stories made Wellesley a superhero type figure and set him on fantasy adventures.
It wasn't until around 1965 that the term "fan fiction" was used. During that time, original works of fiction by science fiction fans were published in science fiction fanzines. The majority focused on Star Trek, with the first fanzine Spockanalia (1967). These works of fan fiction were either sold at science fiction conventions or mailed to fans. The most interesting fact to note was that, during this time, women dominated the fan fiction arena centered around Star Trek, making up about 83% of the authors.
It wasn't until the invention of the World Wide Web that fan fiction really took off in the world. Some actually estimate that fan fiction takes up about a third of all content that can be found on the internet. With fan discussions, searchable fan fiction archives, electronic mailing lists, and infinite places to publish online, it is no surprise that fan fiction's popularity soared. In 1998, FanFiction.net was created for fans to upload their works for free for others to read and enjoy. By 2010, it had over 2.2 million users and stories in over 30 languages.
Today, the newest buzz in the publishing world comes from Amazon with its creation of Kindle Worlds, a place within the site where fans can now publish their own fan fiction and earn royalties. This new form of self publishing has sparked debate between those who consider fan fiction a form of stealing from original authors and those who see it as a form of fiction that is finally getting its long overdue recognition as a real form of expression.
Fan Fiction: Fifty Shades of Grey
Examples of Fan Fiction
From Justin Bieber to Star Wars, examples of fan fiction can be found for almost all genres of fiction, movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. One of the more recent popular examples of fan fiction comes in the form of the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. This erotic romance trilogy is based on Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. Originally entitled Master of the Universe, Fifty Shades of Grey first faced controversy for its overly sexual nature on fan fiction sites, forcing the author to move it to her own site prior to publication.
For more examples of fan fiction, check out some of the more popular websites for fans to publish their work. Three such sites include:
Fan Fiction Readers
Do you read fan fiction?
Where to Find Fan Fiction:
World's largest fanfiction archive and forum where fanfic writers and readers around the globe gather to share their passion.
DeviantArt has millions of users sharing artwork and fan fiction.
GoodReads is both a popular place to create reading lists and check out new books to read, and a place to publish your own fan fiction.
Where to Publish Fan Fiction
The same sites listed above are popular places for millions of users to publish fan fiction. Of course, there are many more that can be found all over the internet. FanFiction.net (listed above) continues to be one of the most popular places for fan fiction to be published and read. With Amazon's new program, Kindle Worlds, who knows what the future of publishing holds for fan fiction writers?
For those who have in interest in reading fan fiction or publishing works of there one, here are just a few places where you can achieve just that:
Writers of Fan Fiction
Do you write fan fiction?
Fan Fiction Websites
- Kindle Worlds
Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games.
- Internet Archive
Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library offering free universal access to books, movies & music, as well as 353 billion archived web pages.
Fresh-picked original and fan fiction
Asianfanfics is the fastest growing Asian Fanfiction site that features Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese and many other Asian fanfiction genres.
- Archive of Our Own
An Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
Join the Wattpad community to read, vote and chat with readers and writers for free.
What is Poetic License: Definition and Examples
- What is Poetic License: Definition and Examples
What is poetic license? Poetic license is a literary term that is actually much more easy to understand than you may realize. Here is a definition with examples to help.
Popular Fan Fiction and the Rights of Original Creators
With the popularity of fan fiction ever on the rise, questions concerning the legality of such works or just the moral right fans have to take another's creation and run with it have also come up. While fan fiction is, of course, legal, many are divided as to whether or not fan fiction actually does serve to honor a creator's work or take characters and story lines to places the author would never dream of.
Although there are some that do not believe fan fiction has authorization to use another's work, it is considered a derivative work under the United States copyright law. One example of conflict between an original creator and fan fiction was when Lucasfilms Ltd. sent out letters to fanzine publishers concerning the use of Star Wars characters in pornographic fan fiction. Lucasfilms Ltd. wished to assert their copyright of these characters to protect them and keep them family friendly. Lucasfilms Ltd. will only uphold fan fiction that falls within guidelines that were sent to many fan clubs.
Anne Rice is one of many authors who strongly oppose fan fiction. Her official website, AnneRice.com, features a message to her fans concerning fan fiction that reads:
"I do not allow fan fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes."
Her concern is that her characters would go in a direction that goes against where she would have taken them. For some fans, they applaud her passion for protecting her creations, others, however, feel she has no right to tell them what they can or cannot do when creating their own fiction, even if they are based on her imaginings.
On the other side of the fan fiction debate are authors like J.K. Rowling, who consider fan fiction to be flattering, rather than damaging. Do fans have a right to create pieces of fiction based on their favorite bits of entertainment created by others? Do the authors have the right to put a stop to such "blasphemy?" Please feel free to share your own opinions in the comment section below.
© 2013 LisaKoski