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Is Fan Fiction Wrong?

Updated on July 6, 2016
Talking (and note-taking) about fanfic at con-txt, a fan convention held every two years in Maryland.
Talking (and note-taking) about fanfic at con-txt, a fan convention held every two years in Maryland. | Source

Is Fan Fiction Wrong? Join the Debate

Fan fiction, once an "underground" fannish activity enjoyed by a relatively small group of people in the science fiction, media and music fan communities, is now virtually everywhere. Where in the past it was primarily only shared in fanzines and typewritten stories passed around at conventions or through mail order, today there are millions of stories readily available on-line in huge archives such as FanFiction.Net and thousands of personal webpages. It is written by people of all ages, all around the world, and about everything from "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" to The Beatles and even Barack Obama.

But is it a good thing? Is it simply a harmless hobby where fans can express their love for characters and famous people through original stories? Or is it inherently "wrong": bad for professional writers, bad for celebrities, bad for fan fiction readers and writers alike? Are there moral and ethical issues that make it wrong, and why it should be discouraged?

There are many different, sometimes heated opinions on the subject of fan fiction. Some professional authors including Anne Rice and George R.R. Martin actively oppose fan fiction and ask that it not be written about their works; others, such as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, encourage it and openly have stated they do not have a problem with fan fiction written in their "universes".

So what do you think? Here you will have the opportunity to read some of the arguments for and against fan fiction, and also sound off with your own opinion on this often controversial subject.

Later on you'll have the chance to debate in detail how you feel but if you have an opinion before reading the arguments pro and con, share your initial reaction to the subject here.

Quick Poll: Is Fan Fiction Wrong? - Share Your First Thoughts on Fan Fiction Here

Is Fan Fiction Wrong?

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A Brief Introduction

Fan fiction can be defined as any piece of writing inspired by the original work of another. It can be written about television series, movies, published novels, historical figures, celebrities, politicians…virtually anything and anyone.

In the FanHistory Wiki, fan fiction is defined as follows:

“Fan Fiction is, at its most basic, fiction written by fans. A more broad definition might include that in order to be classified as a ‘fan work,’ at least some elements must be of an identifiable ‘non-original’ nature; i.e., the mere influence of the vast history of oral and written tradition including recognizable themes does not, in and of itself, define a work as fan fiction. The influence must be identifiable, and for some people, attributable.” (Source)

The Fanlore Wiki defines fan fiction similarly:

“Fanfiction is a work of fiction written by fans for other fans, taking a source text or a famous person as a point of departure. It is most commonly produced within the context of a fannish community and can be shared online such as in archives or in print such as in zines. Writing fanfiction is an extremely widespread activity in media fandom; millions of stories have been written, and thousands more are written daily.” (Source)

Wikipedia begins their article on fan fiction as follows:

“Fan fiction (alternately referred to as fanfiction, fanfic, FF, or fic) is a broadly-defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters (or simply fictional characters) or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published.” (Source)

Modern media fan fiction is often said to have taken off and become popular with the cult science fiction series Star Trek, where fans wrote stories continuing the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and crew after the series’ early demise.

Yet other communities grew up separately and independently from Western media fandom; music fans in the 60s would tell each other stories about The Beatles and imagined interactions with the band, or casting themselves as the wives or girlfriends of the bandmembers; anime fandom in Japan and Asia developed their own fannish communities and tropes with fan-produced manga and other publications.

Fan fiction in the past was typically shared through amateur publications called “fanzines”, sold through the mail or at conventions and priced such that only the costs of publication were recovered to avoid issues of copyright or trademark infringement. “Circuit stories” were also passed around outside of fanzines, through circles of fans making and swapping typed copies of their stories in an underground, fannish community. With the internet, sharing became much easier through email lists, messageboard forums, websites and then large, multi-author archives. Search for “fan fiction” today on Google and you will see over 32 million results.

Fan fiction stories can come in all different styles, genres – and ratings. Many stories are “shipping” stories, about pairing characters together romantically, whether or not those characters “officially” became involved or not. People will write romances about Edward and Bella, Harry and Hermoine, even Starsky and Hutch.

So-called “slash” fiction is a very popular sub-genre of fanfiction, where apparently straight characters are instead portrayed as gay or bisexual and in relationships with each other. Shipping fan fiction can be sweet romances meant for any audience, or explicit erotica intended for mature readers only.

Of course, not all fan fiction is about romance. Some authors write “case fic” or stories plotted in a similar style to a television series episode, such as a murder investigation on “CSI” or a typical adventure for “The A-Team”.

Other authors will fill in “missing scenes”, tell character back-stories, or theorize what might have happened after the end of a published story or movie. “Alternative Universe” fan fiction looks at what could have happened if events occurred differently: if an important character didn’t die, if the Rebel Alliance didn’t defeat Darth Vader … there are no limits to the possibilities to be found in fan-fiction today. “Crossover” stories are also highly popular, bringing the characters from different series together to imagine how, for instance, Buffy the Vampire Slayer might react to meeting the characters from “True Blood”.

  1. It is badly written. Fan fiction authors are writing these stories for free on the internet because they're such terrible authors, no one would pay them for their work! They don't bother proofreading their stories, they don't know basic grammar, they don't know how to construct a good story, realistic characters or thoughtful world building. More than that, they don't even care, and some even act as if their poorly written fan stories are true "gems" of literature. As such, fan fiction is a waste of time to read. People should be reading quality professionally published fiction instead.
  2. Authors should write their own stories. It's wrong to steal the characters and universes created by other authors, movie screenwriters, and television producers. Professional writers invested their good hard time into creating original work - so if a fan fiction author really wants to write, they should do the same. Otherwise it's simply cheating and being lazy. In some cases its even worse, as fan fiction authors have tried to profit off their writing by publishing their stories for profit. Just look at the case of "Lady Sybilla", who thought she could make money off of her "Twilight" fan fiction.
  3. It takes materials created for children and subverts it wrongly for adult audiences. It's wrong that fan fiction authors take books, tv series and movies created for children and young adults and write adult-oriented stories about them! Things like "Harry Potter", "Pokémon", "Star Wars" - these should all be off-limits to fan fiction authors, especially those writing slash and erotic stories. Young children could go searching for Harry Potter on the internet and end up reading graphic and sexually explicit stories that are X-rated! Fan fiction is just dirty smut written by bored housewives who should find some other way to express their fantasies.
  4. Fan fiction about celebrities is slanderous and an invasion of privacy. If a person is going to write fan fiction, then "real people" should absolutely be off-limits. The tabloids do enough damage to celebrities privacy and lives; people don't need to be inventing and publishing knowingly false stories about actors, musicians and sports figures. It could damage their reputations and lead people to believe false things about them. Especially if these stories involve writing these celebrities cheating on their real life spouses, or involved in homosexual relationships when they are straight in real life.
  5. It keeps women poor. Fan fiction is a fannish endeavor largely undertaken by women, giving away their work for "free" - that is, solely for praise and sharing within the community. This behavior is part of long-engrained societal history of devaluing the work of women. Women should stand up and start giving their creative work more value and realize that their creative efforts are worth monetary recompense.
  6. It can interfere with an author's ability to write their own stories. Say a professional author is working on a long series of novels, or a television series with a continuing storyline like "Lost" or "Babylon 5". A fan fiction author writes a story that ends up mirroring ideas or plotlines that the pro-author is planning on using later on in the series. If the pro-author is made aware of the fan story or it is published somewhere, the pro-author would have to change their plans for the "official" work, out of fear that the fan author might sue him for "stealing" from the fan story. It's a ridiculous situation and fans should respect the wishes of authors who ban fan fiction about their works, for these reasons.

The Case Against Fan Fiction

While lots of fans love fan fiction, plenty of other people don't. Fan fiction is not even universally accepted within fan communities, and there are many issues raised by those who do not like it. These are just some of the common arguments.

The Case In Support of Fan Fiction

As many reasons as there are to hate on fan fiction, there are reasons out there why proponents support it. These are some of the common arguments given in support of fan fiction.

  1. It is good "practice" for beginning writers who might turn professional someday. Many professional writers started out in fan fiction. It gave them an opportunity to work on developing their writing skills and to build an audience before breaking free and creating entirely original stories of their own. While there are a lot of bad fan fiction authors, there are also many who take their writing seriously and work diligently on improving their craft.
  2. It helps build communities. Fan fiction writers and consumers often form close communities and lasting friendships. Sharing stories about common favorite characters and fandoms helps bring people together who might not have ever otherwise met. Fan fiction communities are often women-centric and provide a "safe space" for women in fandom, which can otherwise be rather male-dominated and male-centric.
  3. It helps keep fandoms alive. Where would "Star Trek" be today, if not for the impetus of fans since the first series aired in the 1960s? Fan fiction helped keep "Star Trek" fandom vital and alive, drawing in new fans for decades until eventually the universe returned with movies, new television series, video games and more official product. Fan fiction is actually good, free advertising and should be embraced and encouraged as such.
  4. It helps subvert mainstream assumptions and gender biases. Mainstream media such as tv and film often do not provide positive portrayals of people of color, LGBT individuals, or women in general. Fan fiction authors can subvert the stereotypes that dominate today's media by re-writing shows storylines: making assumed-straight characters gay or bisexual; emphasizing the storylines of female characters; fleshing out the characterizations of non-white characters instead of focusing just on the white male lead characters. Fan fiction is a way of spreading social justice awareness and filling in the voids often left by commercial films, movies and novels.
  5. It is harmless fun that doesn't hurt anyone. Fan fiction is just that: fiction. It does not "steal" profits from copyright holder and individuals. It does not encourage "immoral" behavior but can in fact provide a safe outlet for subject matter often looked at poorly by modern society. It does not harm celebrities as fan fiction authors know what they are writing is pure fiction and generally take extreme care to label their stories as just that: "FICTION".
  6. It has been with us for centuries. It's nothing new. One could argue that Shakespeare wrote only fan fiction, taking known stories by others and re-writing them for his audiences. Vergil wrote the Aeneid as a Roman response to Homer's Odyssey, making it a form of fan-fiction as he explored the minor characters of the original story to tell of the founding of Rome. Sherlock Holmes "Pastiches" published professionally could be considered a form of fan fiction as well. Writers have always used the work of others as inspiration and a taking-off point for their own work, therefore modern fan fiction is no different than these historical and widely accepted writings.

YOUR TURN! How Do You Feel?

So what do you think: Is it wrong, or not? Do you support fan fiction authors or think they should stop "playing" in other writers' universes? You can leave your opinion here!

Is fan fiction wrong?

Yes! Fan fiction is wrong.

Yes! Fan fiction is wrong.

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    • Ella 5 months ago

      I think one thing everyone forgets is how hard it is to become an author and get published. Authors need Iron Wills and a REALLY original story to get published, and not everyone has that. For some people, Fanfiction is just a way of writing without the pressure of it being a job.

    • Melissa 2 years ago

      I know for me, Fanfiction writing has truly helped improive my writing, looking at works I did in middle school compared to now when I'm nearing the end of College I have to say I improved a lot. Fanfiction got me into writing, I became more serious. I now have taken several creative writing classes, bought dozens of writing books. I have at four chracter sheets made up for like eight stories, all that I'm slowly working on. Last year I even got three short scenes from some of my stories published in my school's literary magazine. If I hadn't started writing fanfiction I wouldn't be the writer I am now. I wouldn't be able to notice plot holes or different parts of a story because I wouldn't have studied the craft so heavily to be able to pick out the finer points of the plot or the characters. Fanfiction is not wrong.

    • Karleen Perigo 2 years ago

      I personally have found that while there are a lot of fan fiction writers should take more time to review what they have written (spelling, grammar, etc.) before posting it, people can give feedback which helps the writer develop. I do not think that fan fiction is a problem if it is just to develop as a writer. I can understand and a agree that it begins to cause problems when the writer tries to get paid for what they have written.

    • Nicole Pellegrini 2 years ago from New Jersey

      @Anonymous - the thing is, many people only enjoy writing as a hobby. They aren't interested in becoming professional authors; they only want to share their ideas and imaginations with other fans of the characters and universes they love. They have no interest in creating original novels and stories for publication, and there's nothing wrong with that in my opinion! Just like many enjoy making models, doing costuming, reproducing paintings, fan fiction is a way to interact with other fans in a social way. Those who ARE interested in professional writing do usually end up moving beyond fan fiction into creating their own works. But I don't think there's any foul or harm in people who just want to have fun sharing stories with other fans, whatever their age, if they have no interest or need to make a professional career of it.

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      I don't understand fan fiction! Why would people want to copy others' intellectual property and make no conscious effort to invent their own, to me, it's a cop out. For young, beginning writers, say children and young teenagers, then yeah, I'm sure it has it's benefits, but for older people and more mature writers, I just wonder, why take the easy way out? Why not go out there and create something original, you never know where it might take you.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      The case against fan fictions1. God or Badly written doesn't matter, it does ruin the charm and or chemistry of the original work. 2. Getting inspired by somebody else is work is one thing, but creating a sequel or prequel based on it with the exact same characters can easily ruin the chemestry, and how lazy are authors "fan fiction" that is to use alternative names to characters, descriptions settings, universe and so on. Such practice can also in theroy and probably are in practice actually violation of tradmark laws. Mainstream studios/publisher should lobby the authorites to strenghten this law and sue anyone that create write the re own work. 3. Fan fictions don't know there target audice, real wans that respect the works will feel violated when coming a cross them. 3. Not sure what this have to do with fan fictions, but its still wrong to make up stories and rumors about other living human beings. 4. There no evidence that woman are poor because of fan fictions, but women that do write them are obviusly though tarnish the reputation of original work in eye of the society thus making it "poorer".5. Should probably be number 1 in the cases against fan fictions, government should understand this and make fan fictions flat out unlawful. pro fan arguments my view on them1. IF its such good practice then why are most of them combination of bad writing, bad story telling or characters acting out of character? And if you take your writing seriously then why are you playing around with characters as you see fit, that does tell me that you don't respect the original work much in that case.2. No they don't if more folks get interested in TV show or book because they saw fan fiction, folks are then "fans" for wrong reasons. Similar as saying your fan of football club because some one give you jersy, yet you newer followed there results. Serious fan should be able to get together without the need of creating fan fiction, its also similar to religion if there is truth god then there is no need to for false god. 3. That is actually pretty god argument why fan fictions should be banned, if it keeps trash like star Trek up and running while more worth while material fails to the wayside. 4. That is called censorship, another example why fan fictions ruin and tarnish reputation of the original work. 5. Fan fictions might not make money directly of the original work, but they tarnish reputation and thus make original authors lose money over them. Reputation are not built over a night, so authors, should have rights to sue anyone that make fan fictions. Fan fictions should be seen as one form of bullying, and bullying should be made unlawful since they are harmful for society and its indviduals.6. That is the good old natural fallacy, what has existed for long time doesn't make it right.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      After reading one the entire show was ruined! Now I can't watch it without thinking of that stupid fan fic, sadly there is probably much better ones out there that I am not going to read because of that one.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      fanfiction is a bane on our society, a bane on human culture at large, and a poisoner of potential genius. it should be eradicated wherever it's found.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I found a story using my real name and I am not even a celebrity! And don't wanna be one! I'm just a website owner, a one person business, a self-employed individual and I am now discussing this case with an attorney.

    • LissaKlar LM 6 years ago

      I actually think it is right for young, beginning writers. Why do people have to post it all over the place, though? People really are full of themselves aren't they? Older people - how dare you mess with someone's work of art. It's obnoxious.

    • zdaddyo 6 years ago

      I don't see a problem with writing fanfic to practice writing, but when you distribute it to a wider audience (like on the internet) then you are starting to poach from the original author. Create your own world. Write your own stories especially if the author doesn't like fanfic.

    No! It Is Not Wrong

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      • anonymous 2 years ago

        I, being a fanfiction writer, is against the though of it is wrong. Yes, there are some who write poorly, but it can act as a training. And the thing is, it seems like it isn't even some sort of training because us fans find it a thing for us to enjoy, I mean, spending your time writing a fictional, i repeat, fictional story about the person, group, etc. you admire brings us a lot of joy. It depends on the person's interest and persepective.

        And I repeat, this is fiction. Nothing but fiction. We should clear this thing up.

      • Niko Linni 2 years ago from Long Beach, California

        Personally I don't see the harm in fanfics. If the person doesn't get ego centric with it or tries to use it for ill will or make money off it what's the harm? However I will say that if an author has requested fics to not be made out of their characters or series that writers respect that.

        The hub itself was interesting. Liked that you tried to show arguments and viewpoints from both sides and even allowed commenters to voice their opinion outside of a poll.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        yes,fan fiction is wrong in some ways,and right in others. Fan fiction was created for fun. I love the lion king fanfiction ! But seriously some is good some is bad.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Some of it is awful, some is good: like all stuff in life. Authors always get inspiration from others, and this is harmless as there is no profit involved. Should we not be encouraging people to express creativity and be literate. There is way worse that a child can find on the internet as well... and anyway how does one propose stopping it...

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Also, to add, I am very much against "real-people" fanfiction. That is just wrong, and you simply don't do something like that. It's weird, and just straight out wrong. I write fanfiction for things like Harry Potter and Sherlock.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I think it's a pretty good writing exercise. Writing is a passion of mine, and I do write my own work. I find fanfiction very helpful when it comes to getting the creative juices flowing. Writing fanfiction allows me to practice new writing techniques and I often get incredibly helpful advice from readers!

      • StaceyWrites 4 years ago

        I don't think it's "wrong" per se, but when someone profits from it or the celeb written about has issues with it, then it's wrong. I've written fan fic, but I keep it to myself and would never publish it online.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I think Fanfiction is a way people of all ages and ethnicity show their love and appreciation for books and movies etc. They/We don't mean any offence its simply a way of expressing what we wished to have happened. e.g In Alex Rider a lot of people would have loved for character Jack Starbright to have survived or for Alex's school to find out about them, what fanfiction does is it offers them the opportunity to write your desired ending or event and share it with others who possibly wanted that ending as well. It also encourages young people into writing and slash fics helps with developing open mindedness in people when it comes to Homosexuality giving them the chance to make their own decisions on the topic than what their parents raised them with (raising them saying its wrong), it shows them things from different prospectives and prevents prejudice and bias-ness. FANFICTION IS NOT WRONG.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        i am a fanfic author and i am pro for it. but the real pelope fics i am 100% ageist .

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I like making up fan fiction of my own but I don't publish them on the net, nor do I write them down, nor do I read the work of others :p The reason I'm not into published fan fiction is because most of it (I'm not saying all) are written so different from the canon material with the characters becoming so OOC, with romance being such a big deal (that's just me though). But there's nothing wrong with it at all, it's just not everyone's cup of tea. It's true, it is an outlet for fan's imaginations and passions and it's a nice feeling whenever you make your favorite characters do the things you want them to do that they might never do in the canon. It isn't ripping off the original authors; it is labeled as "fan fiction" for that purpose, otherwise it was made for profit, doesn't give due credit, and is just plain "plagiarism". But of course, writers must be encouraged to not just stick to writing fan fiction but to come up with their own original ideas.

      • Andrea RM 4 years ago

        Don't see anything wrong with it, as long as it's not done for profit.

      • lionmom100 4 years ago

        I basically believe that Fan Fiction is not wrong, as long as the proper credit is given to the professional author and it is not done for profit. Is some or even most of it cr*p - probably. But even so, it offers a creative outlet for fans and a springboard for aspiring authors to hone their skills and go on to build their own universes.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Most of the common arguments against fanfiction on this page are wrong. There is fanfiction that is well-written. Granted, 'My Immortal'esque examples of complete faliure at writing will show up, but there are also works that are actually interesting. Writing fanfiction isn't stealing if you credit the author- and most fanfiction makes it obvious that it's fanfiction. How is it wrong if you're not getting any credit for the ideas created by the original author, or earning money from it? (If you are, you're writing a bad fanfiction, but, again, not all fanfiction is like that.) As for the next point, I've read fanfics that didn't include anything inappropriate at all- no adult content, no X-rated scenes, no nothing! Fanfiction about celebrities does seem wrong to me, I'll admit, so on this point, I'll agree- insult the celebrity fanfics all you want. However, 'fanfiction keeps women poor' is where I start to disagree. People can choose to write fanfiction. Nobody is forcing them to write for free. Let them decide if they enjoy writing fan works more than 'real' fiction. Lastly, I've never heard of any problems coming from an author 'stealing' a fanfiction author's idea by coming up with the same one. Also, writing fanfiction about what might happen seems like a more detailed kind of theorizing, and I've seen websites- well, parts of websites- devoted to 'hey, let's try to guess what's going to happen!' Some of the theories were right. None of them caused any problems. If someone decides to go into more detail, that shouldn't change. Fanfiction is not a problem, it is a medium with some poorly written or inappropriate works in it- but there are 'real' books that are completely atrocious, and yet get published. Fanfiction isn't hurting anybody- there's no reason to get rid of it. Besides, some writers are brilliant at plots, but cannot come up with proper characters, or settings. They aren't skilled enough for 'real' fiction that will get published, but fanfiction is where they can show off what they can do with a bit of;dr version:Yes, some fanfiction is awful, but there's nothing wrong with the genre, it's just individual writers that can't write. There's also some good stuff. That's the same as a lot of other things that aren't inherently wrong, like 'real', published literature. If you don't like it, don't read it- nobody's forcing you to, and you can always stop the moment you notice it's garbage. Let the writers have their fun.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        It also gives people a chance to express feelings.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        It gives people like me a chance to put dreams down on paper! Especially about The Beatles

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Fanfiction is a good thing- a great thing. It brings enjoyment to its writers and readers. It allows a chance to explore things that could have happened in canon, but didn't, or things that would never happen in canon. It IS good writing practice, it is fun, and it brings together many communities. If you want to write, writing fanfiction is a great and healthy way to do so. I recommend writing and reading fanfiction to everybody. I truly believe fanfiction is a wonderful thing, and even after reading opposing arguments, I can't see anything wrong with it.

      • Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

        I think most fan fiction is poorly written and not worth my time, but on general principal, I don't see anything wrong with it. In fact, imitation is a form of flattery, so it's really an honor to be the author being used as the source of inspiration.

      • TeacherSerenia 4 years ago

        I love reading fan fictuin. If one does not like the outcome of a their favouet TV series when it it finally comes to an end - fans can write fan fiction and write the ending they wish they had seen. Take the TV series JAG for example. Wheile the TV series was running, everyone wanted Harm and Mac to get together and at the series finale they tossed a coin to determine their fate. This left an ending totally open ended begging for fan fiction to write an ending. Now there are stories out there where Mac and Harm are not together but with other partners much more suited to their temperaments. The important thing to remember - is that it is FICTION!! Made up - just like the original fiction was made up. And some fan fiction authors are very good at what they write. I would not continue to read it if they weren't good.

      • Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

        ... Where would Sherlock Holmes be, but for fan-fiction? Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) hated his character and tried killing him off... But readers loved Sherlock and forced Doyle to bring him back! How many Sherlock Holmes stories have been written since then... by authors/scriptwriters ASIDE Doyle? Hundreds, thousands, millions! Is this fan-fiction? After all, it's fiction that takes Sherlock Homes & John Watson (Doyle's characters) and gives them new adventures, adventures written by authors ASIDE Doyle. The real issue (for me) about fan fiction is the quality - is it true to the original characters (I like Holmes to stay a genius, fan-fict that makes him into an idiot is not my thing) and is it 'a great read/watch'? If so, I'm for it!

      • boa11kfh 5 years ago

        As a writer and reader of fanfiction, I don't think it is wrong. Yes, I have found a lot of 'monstrosities' which are badly written, give the story a bad image, or have sexual scenes in them. However, a lot of fanfiction that I read is really good and simply explores minor characters in more detail.This one: example, is not mine, but is very well-written, detailed, proofread, and has a brilliant storyline. It's about Finnick - a character from Hunger Games. I've also read a lot of brilliant Marauder era fanfics on

      • Missmerfaery444 5 years ago

        I don't see anything wrong with it at all. There is some great fanfic out there amongst the dross and for a lot of writers lacking confidence it can be really helpful and inspiring to get good feedback from readers. People aren't making profit for this, just sharing their own ideas on something they love. I've written a couple of fanfics but also write my own novels, and if mine ever took off enough to generate fanfic being written about them, quite frankly I'd be honoured and delighted!

      • otherdeb 5 years ago

        First, a disclaimer: I am a published sf/fantasy short story writer, and a fan writer.There are good arguments on both sides of this issue.I don't think fan fiction is wrong when it is not done for profit. In fact, I know several authors who participate in fanfic for other fandoms than the ones they write in, and are accepted members of the community. I also know authors who have no problems with fanfic, because they are flattered that people like their characters/stories/worlds so much that they want to play in them.I also know authors who don't like fan fiction, and even a few authors who say that as long as they do not have it shoved in their face, they have no problem with it, but if it is put where they have to deal with it, they will. A couple of years ago, there was a big to-do when one fan writer did something so unthinkable that other fan writers thought action should be taken. This woman got a story of hers an ISBN number through her poetry publishing house, then listed the book on all the major ebook retailers. Fans contacted the retailers protesting, but were told that only the creator of the original world she used could demand that the book be taken down (this was done, in fact). While the original creator has still been tolerant of others, most of the fan writers I know totally backed him on this one.As a hobby, as a tribute, as a way of improving one's skills, as a way of learning to create, I have no quibbles with fan fiction. As a "for profit" enterprise, I am categorically opposed.Oh, and while some stories are horrendous (and some legally published works are pretty horrendous, too, for that matter), there are some remarkably good writers sharing their fan works with others.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I don't necessarily think it's wrong, but there are some gray areas that could develop, which wouldn't be very good. As a screenwriter, and writer in general there are always other writers with similar ideas. I don't agree with trying to profit from any original work from the creator. One of the issues I have with the arguments of those against fanfiction where they say people should write their own stories. Seriously? This suggests that everyone that writes fanfiction doesn't write anything else. This is an absurd statement. I've been writing numerous originals for years and occasionally I'll come across an idea for a TV show or movie I like. As writers it's not laziness, it's sometimes just a way to get writing juices flowing. Do I post fanfic on the internet? Not very often, but before I do I confirm with the site to see if they allow fanfic and also research to see if the studio or stations accept, tolerate, encourage or discourage fanficiton. If they discourage it, I'm not going to post it. Any of the other choices I'll post it.The one argument I can see is that if a creator is working on a similar idea or plot and a fanfic writer beats him to it, the fanfic writer could try and say that it was stolen. I can't speak for all, and but here's how I would/do combat the issue: I post a separate page just after the title page or sometimes even under my name on the title page a disclaimer that the work is of the original creator/author and it is intended for entertainment purposes only. I also add in the description of a TV show fan fiction that I write that any similar story lines and plot developments of the series and purely coincidental, and would not need any credit in this case, because: I didn't create the show, I just expanded on it. Of course I'd be ecstatic if they used my plot and wanted to credit me or compensate me :), but I post that in this instance it's not necessary nor required. I might wonder if they actually were coincidental. The real issue would arrise if one continued to post fan fic and the plot and storylines were extremely similar week to week, then that becomes less of a fan fiction element but more of a "hey, are really that out of ideas, if so bring me on board" element. But I would think that it would be quite rare that a creator would be fishing fan fic scripts of his/her own show for plot ideas. Though stranger things have happened.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        All the "most of it is bad" argument is shot down by the intelligent observation that "90% of EVERYTHING is cr*p", which is true. The other 10% varies from just alright to stuff which is good enough to merit commercial publication, if it were not "fan fic". If you can't tell the difference, you shouldn't be reading any of it to begin with. And to the extent that the original authors do not object, or that copyright does not apply, there has always been and will always BE fan fic. So get over it. If you don't like it, STAY AWAY FROM IT. Problem solved.

      • JoshK47 5 years ago

        FanFiction can be a fun exercise - there is a LOT of bad out there, but there's quite a bit of good out there, as well. Plus, it is a great aide in learning how to stick to a character's voice, by properly writing a character that's not your own and keeping them "in character."

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Fanfiction the site and the practice are not wrong. Its the people on it that give it its negative reputation. Its a place where people who fantasize about their favorite movies books tv shows etc can write it down and publish without getting into legal trouble. I have been doing this very thing, writing dozens even hundreds of stories about my favorite books and movies such as Twilight Harry Potter Hush Hush Vampire Academy Vampire Diaries H20: Just Add Water Fallen Thirst etc. Everyone always said I was a excellent writer (a characteristic that I have yet to deem suitable to describe me) and I never wanted to let my friend read them because one friend would copy my words and write her own version. I have been writing since 4th grade; I'm now in 9th. I love my fans and glad to see people like reading my stories. It makes me feel like my stories aren't pointless. Yes it can be troublesome but only when those on the site take their freedom to write too far. I am not one of them and I enjoy my freedom to write on :-)~BittenTumblGirl ;-)

      • KarenTBTEN 5 years ago

        If it's done for noncommercial purposes, I don't see any problem. In elementary and middle school classrooms, children routinely "extend" the stories -- they are learning to read and write from what is, in essence, fan fiction. It engages them. It doesn't become wrong just because a person turns eighteen.

      • scoobygang 5 years ago

        I don't believe fan fiction is wrong if done "right." I think the best fan fiction stays true to the original characters and storylines in a way that supplements the original work (like continuing a story, providing a "back story" or playing out scenes that were not initially in the story, but implied). Even crossovers can be very good if they strive to meld the universes together in a way that makes sense without having the characters do things "out of character." Examples could be the Buffy universe merging with Supernatural or having The Hardy Boys team up with Charlie's Angels. So much of fan fiction just isn't that good, because it basically takes the characters and puts them in situations and relationships that don't make sense for the original storylines. "Slash" fan fiction and "shipper" stories are usually just an attempt of the writer to fulfill their own erotic fantasies and can be very off putting for someone who is a true fan of the stories they are trying to emulate. They are usually written in a way that the character's names are the same, but little else remains intact as the interactions and storylines go off in a direction that makes the characters and story unrecognizable. Think of it this way. If you were reading a really good story, would you want your heroine to suddenly change her entire personality, actions, morals, and beliefs right in the middle of the story for no apparent reason? It just wouldn't make sense, but that is what some fan fiction writers do when they create a story that does not respect the story or characters they are writing about. I love to read a good story about one of my favorite shows that takes me on a new adventure, but when the writing veers off from the original storyline and characters, it can be very disappointing, and sometimes even disturbing.

      • anonymous 6 years ago


      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Well, I figured since my name is mentioned here as someone who tried to profit off my Twilight fan fiction, I may as well express my opinion. My name is Lady Sybilla, and I'm the author of Russet Noon: A Team Jacob Sequel to Breaking Dawn.I truly believe copyright laws are just as outdated and unreasonable as slavery laws. They should be changed or abolished to allow a worldwide community of artists to share their work with one another, collaborate, and, therefore, create much better works than if they didn't share.Take Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn for instance. A major disaster of a book in the sense that it had one of our beloved characters, Jacob Black, imprint on a newborn baby girl. Another huge problem with Breaking Dawn was the anticlimactic ending. They spend half the book preparing for a battle that never happens.The only reason I'm looking forward to seeing the second Breaking Dawn movie is out of curiosity to see what Mr. Condon will be doing to fix the disaster that Stephenie Meyer created by making such awesome villains as the Volturi retreat without a fight.I mean, seriously, come on!!! She wrote four super-thick books and then she decided that the obligatory epic battle that was meant to be the grand finale of the saga was not going to happen after all.Everyone was geared up, lined up and ready to fight, only to have Bella's shield ruin everything. I mean, at least in Harry Potter the villains penetrate the shield and go in for the obligatory showdown in Hogwarts. Hello??? Storytelling 101, anyone??? I mean, seriously, what was Stephenie Meyer thinking? But, let's just forget about the fact that she completely ripped off Anne Rice, Spider Man, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, and other well known works to create the Twilight Saga. Let's give her the benefit of a doubt and justify her because she changed a few details in the story, changed the characters' names and then went ahead and published it for profit.My argument is that if a tree falls in the woods, and no one hears it or sees it happen, then, as far as everyone is concerned, it didn't happen.If the fans hadn't made her a millionaire, Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight Saga would be that tree that fell in the woods while no one was there to witness it. It would be non-existent as far as we're all concerned.We, the fans of the world, made the Twilight Saga the success that it is today. Same goes for everything else that has made it to the top. The fans are the ones that make it all happen. I have a lot more respect for Cassandra Claire than I do for Stephenie Meyer. Cassandra Claire started out as a fan fiction writer and today she's a bestselling author.We, the fans of the world, own a part of whatever works we make famous. The money those bestselling authors make comes from us. We pay for the books, we read them, and the work becomes ours just as much as the author's. Just like there are a lot of tribute bands making money off the gigs they play, we fan fiction writers should be entitled to write tribute books, publish them and make money off them.We can't steal the characters. Let's take my book, Russet Noon, for instance. Do you guys honestly think that I can steal Stephenie Meyer's characters? Stealing means taking something away from someone against their will. Last time I checked, Stephenie Meyer is still laughing all the way to the bank, collecting the hard-earned dollars of her fans.She'd still be sitting pretty on her fortune if I made money off of selling Russet Noon. I never stole anything from her, because, if I had, that would mean that she can't make money off her characters anymore. I simply wrote a tribute book that I published as a protest to the disaster of an ending that she gave Breaking Dawn. So, what I'm trying to say is that fan fiction writers can't steal characters. They're simply taking characters from a story they made popular and then re-creating them based on their own interpretation of the story.How is that stealing?? The author/filmmaker/musician is still the legal owner of the characters/stories/material they created. They're still going to make money off their work. The fan fiction writer is not taking the characters away from their creators and keeping them from ever profiting from their stories ever again. Legalizing the publication of fan fiction would change our artistic community for the better, because it would promote a spirit of brotherhood and sharing in such a way that everyone benefits from the work they helped make successful in the first place.Laws are flawed because they're written by humans. I have a dream. I believe that one day, all artists will share their work with one another, and the masterpieces that will result from these collaborations will be far superior to the original work.Just like pro-slavery laws were abolished, copyright laws need to be rewritten to keep up with contemporary times. It is all about the collaboration, the brotherhood of man, the Aquarian Age.

      • M_Leigh_Hood 6 years ago

        Fan fiction doesn't create any new problems, and it helps writers practice and enjoy themselves in a safe community of other developing writers.

      • resabi 6 years ago

        I think fan fic is perfectly valid as long as the wishes of the originating author are respected (if an author doesn't want his/her universe used, that should be adhered to). Fan fiction is a sign that someone is invested and immersed in an author's created world -- and that is a compliment, imo. Again, respect is key.

      Fan Fiction Archives on the Internet

      If you're curious about fan fiction, here are just a few of the archives, large and small, out there in different fandoms. It is only a small sampling of what's out there.

      My Concluding Thoughts on Fan Fiction

      As an active member of media and music fandom, I used to write fan fiction. Quite a bit of it, in fact, for about ten years, although I stopped writing fan fiction about two years ago for several reasons. For one, I just didn’t have a fandom that I was feeling that passionate about to inspire any more stories. Without a strong fannish interest and an active community of other writers and readers with which to share ideas, it just stopped being interesting to me.

      For another very potent reason, I discovered how I could make money writing non-fiction content for the web. Money can be quite a motivating factor to me, I’ll happily confess, so I had less interest in “wasting time” writing for free versus using that time to try to make at least some pocket change. An hour or two in the morning I used to spend on fan-fiction became time to write articles that didn’t need to be published under a fannish pseudonym.

      I also feel that the world of fan fiction is changing, and not always in a positive direction. When I first became involved in fandom, people were still actively writing more for fanzines than on-line fiction archives. A great deal of care went into writing longer, more involved stories. These weren’t always great stories, but there did seem to be at least some effort put in to creating a work of some lasting value.

      Today, it feels much more “disposable” to me. Writers are in a rush to publish new stories as fast as possible, writing shorter scenes and snippets, spending far less time crafting longer or even novel-length works. It’s all about getting that first “episode reaction” or “shipping story” up on-line before anyone else does, not about taking the time to do it right.

      There’s also a sense of cynicism and pushing boundaries just for the sake of being controversial that doesn’t interest me, as well as a lot of meta and navel-gazing over using fan fiction as a tool for social justice instead of as an enjoyable little hobby. When it stops being fun, then what is the point of it? For me, there isn’t any fun left.

      Overall I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it as a past-time. I’ve made great friendships through fan fiction communities and forums. I’ve gotten through rough times in my life reading and writing stories about my favorite characters as an outlet for my feelings. I’ve learned a lot about writing that I now put to use in my professional work writing content for the web. I don’t think a fan fiction author has to have dreams or goals of becoming a published, pro-author, either – there’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying an activity as a hobby.

      But I do think some people can become too obsessed and focused on fan-fiction, just like with any other hobby. It can become almost an addiction or way of procrastinating that can have detrimental affects on a student’s studies or an adult’s employment or family time. And some people don’t understand how to keep boundaries between their fan-fiction activities and their “real life” – showing stories to published authors when they’ve stated they can’t read fan-fiction for legal reasons, or even giving sexually explicit fan fiction about an actor or musician to that featured individual.

      So at the end of the day, I think fan fiction can be good, and it can be bad, but it’s not inherently wrong in any way whatsoever. Fan fiction is what an author and fan community makes of it, and hopefully authors will continue to “police” their communities to make sure that professional creators and amateur fan writers can co-exist in reasonable peace.

      © 2011 Nicole Pellegrini

      Your Final Thoughts

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        • profile image

          BarbaraCasey 4 years ago

          I'd never thought about (or read) fan fiction, so don't have an opinion yet. You've got me thinking, though. I really like your balanced approach to the subject. When is it theft... and when is it creativity. Cool lens.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Okay that is actually against the rules on the site. How does this person know you? So you can just report it. This person probably doesn't know you so then it isn't against the site rules at all. If they do know you then its different. They have no idea if the name is in use.

        • TeacherSerenia profile image

          TeacherSerenia 4 years ago

          @anonymous: I found a story that has the real name of one of my cousins. My cousin is not taking the author to court to demand compensation. In fact, she thinks its rather cool. How many people are there in the real world with your exact same name. Out of 7 billion people there must be several. Do you take them to court and sue them? No you don't. So why sue a writer? They have no way of knowing if the names they use are taken or not - but the chances are high that there are name doppelgangers out there.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I found a story using my real name and I am not even a celebrity! And don't wanna be one! I am portrayed as a pedophile, a homosexual and I very much dislike and hate those kind of people myself! I'm just a website owner, a one person business, a self-employed individual and I am now discussing this case with a attorney. I'm going to use all resources to stop this slander and to claim damages against the

        • petelovestoread profile image

          petelovestoread 4 years ago

          creativity should be supported/encouraged in any form it takes.

        • Sher Ritchie profile image

          Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

          There's a special genre of literature that involves taking a famous novel (eg "Great Expectations", "Gone with the Wind") and rewriting it from the perspective from a different character. Eg "Great Expectations" was rewritten from the perspective of the convict, and published professionally! No one said that was 'derivative' (etc), it was heralded as great literature (!!). Someone else wrote a whole novel about Gulliver's Wife ("Gulliver's Travels") narrated by her china doll - this work was also published professionally and heralded as literature. What's the difference between this and fan fiction? To me, there's hardly any difference, EXCEPT "Great Expectations" & "Gulliver's Travels" are out-of-copyright, considered literary classics and their authors are long deceased. Perhaps that's the real 'difference' between them an fan-fict; the authors of the novels (above) simply chose to make fan fiction about 'recognised classics' rather than popular culture!

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          Li-Li-ThePinkBookworm 5 years ago

          Great idea for a lens. I really think that fan fiction is a good thing, as long as no one tries to make money with it. I love to write nonfiction and fiction of my own, but fan fiction gives me the opportunity to let my imagination expand without having to focus on making up characters, settings, etc.

        • Missmerfaery444 profile image

          Missmerfaery444 5 years ago

          This was a truly great debate topic! I personally love reading fanfiction and have written a couple of my own. I don't do many as I don't have the time. Sure there is some awful stuff out there but there are also some absolute gems, and the communities can be great. To be, it's just another form of fandom and if I was the author or film or TV show getting the fanfic attention I'd be delighted. To me, writing is about inspiring and engaging the audience and if you've written something that generates fanfic, then you've done just that. And if some of those fanfic writers you inspired then go on to have careers of their own (with their own original works, of course!) then even better, IMO!

        • profile image

          ElleryAnne 5 years ago

          I think of fan fiction - whether reading or writing - as a hobby, just as playing in a sport is a hobby. Would you tell a woman that she shouldn't play tennis unless she's playing it professionally, or else she's contributing to keeping women poor? Would you say that if she plays badly, she shouldn't play at all? I enjoy reading fan fiction, and when I come across any that's poorly written, I can skip it. No harm done to me or to the author, or to the rest of society. I do have some reservations about real-person fan fiction, only because I worry that someday the children of the celebs involved will come across it when they're too young to understand what it is.

        • profile image

          ElleryAnne 5 years ago

          @mythphile: Very well put!

        • mythphile profile image

          Ellen Brundige 5 years ago from California

          This is an excellent hub and deserves more than the brief comment I'm giving it. Fanfiction is a unique intersection of folk literature (running the gamut from folk art to excellent literature, although the latter is rare and hard to find) and a unit of exchange and bonding in a community. i love the fact that words are gifts and ways to relate to one another -- we've come a long way from writing by flashlight under the covers in spiralbound notebooks that no or ever sees! (downside: now people see kids' Mary Sues before they've learned to write. ) I think that function of social exchange explains a lot of the reason for it being fanfiction, instead of original: the familiar matrix allows people to give something they know friends will like, and it's a common language. Of course, the other (and first) reason I loved fanfiction was love of the worlds and characters themselves. There's always nooks and crannies and ideas and perspectives that the source didn't explore adequately (a story can't do everything), and whether or no, if we loved it, we don't want it to be over!None of which addresses the ethics of fanfiction, only the value of it. As for ethics, I believe it IS transformative, it IS a basic impulse and literary tradition in every culture, only treated as separate and problematic in the last 100 years due to new ideas about copyright and ownership of work. On the one hand, there is something in respecting that artists' creative work is often a piece of their souls, a virtual child, and one should therefore respect the wishes of those who feel discomfort at having their work played with. On the other, legally, I think fanfiction IS permissible, adding value and new perspectives and transforming the original (or at least it can, although in practice the skills of fanfic writers don't entirely achieve their potential). So I treat "what the authors want" as a matter of social etiquette, much like those topics where different religions have different rules that we shouldn't legislate but (when it won't infringe on someone else's rights) respect, rather than a legal issue (copyright). Of course, many times we don't know, but I've generally been drawn to fandoms where I DO know the creators are comfortable with fanworks. It gets a little dodgy with Tolkien, where he would probably mind, but he's dead, his works have become shared mythology with a life of their own, and the movies (at least the second and third) were AU fanfiction anyway. ("Gee, what would happen if we put elves at Helm's Deep?" eg)

        • goldenrulecomics profile image

          goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

          The only problem I've ever had with fan fiction is that much of it is far too badly written. Lots of it isn't to my taste, but that's not important.

        • profile image

          JoshK47 5 years ago

          I used to be an avid fan fiction writer - my person rule was always stick to what could possibly be canon, and, of course, never add in Mary Sues/Marty Sams or try to make money off of my work.Very good work on this lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

        • profile image

          agent009 5 years ago

          I don't think it's wrong, people have ideas and reinterpret movies and books all the time. So long as you're not profiting off it, it's fine.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          @anonymous: "people need to stop wasting everyone's time whinging on about it. fanfiction is a creative and fun activity that brings people together and is ultimately a force for good in this world." Very well put, my friend, totally agree

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          i had to laugh at 'it keeps women poor' ....actually the whole argument against fanfiction is generally laughable. i don't agree with copyright law anyway, but in this case it's not an infringement of property rights. the 'harry potter' that jane doe writes about in fanfiction is not exactly the same 'harry potter' jk rowling write. fanfiction is all essentially parody. and nobody is making money off of it, anyway. saying that fanfiction is wrong is like saying that fantasizing is wrong. and if you say that you're bloody out of your mind. the only reasonable argument that has been put forth is in regards to fiction that is based on real people. and i don't think such ficiton is wrong, per-se. i just think that it should be heavily protected against the actual person ever finding it. it's not wrong until that person has to be subjected to it. most responsible RPF writers do this, so it's all quite fine. and do you know what the best part about this whole thing is? nobody will ever put a stop to fanfiction. you can't do it, and nobody really gives that much of a shit because it doesn't harm anybody. people need to stop wasting everyone's time whinging on about it. fanfiction is a creative and fun activity that brings people together and is ultimately a force for good in this world.

        • LissaKlar LM profile image

          LissaKlar LM 6 years ago

          Great debate! Made me really think. I'm still convinced it should only be a hobby for young people, beginning writers. I mean harry potter series are really children's books. Blessed.

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          @M_Leigh_Hood: I absolutely agree 100%. Of course, nothing beats creating one's original story, but what I advocate is a society where artists stop worrying so much about copyright laws and just allow themselves to enjoy the reaction of their fans, whether it be in the form of devotion, review articles, or fan fiction. Authors should share and collaborate with their fans, and recognize that their work would be nothing if it weren't for the money the fans spend on buying it. If I were a bestselling author, I'd love to see what other twists and turns my readers can come up with as far as the storyline that I originally created. I'd also love to see my characters written from a different perspective. I think authors should feel honored that people love their characters and stories so much that they want to write fan fiction about them. So what if it's horrid?? Let artists express themselves. If you think it's horrid, don't read it, but let others who want to read it have a chance to do so. We're supposed to live in a free world. Why must we suppress creative expression?

        • sockii profile image

          Nicole Pellegrini 6 years ago from New Jersey

          @M_Leigh_Hood: "The better the fanfic, the more reviews it gets, though." Oh, I only wish that was always the case. There is some truly dreadful and horrid fanfic out there that somehow gets massive numbers of reviews (like, tens of thousands) just by pushing fandom's id buttons or being that ~special~...just look up "My Immortal" + "Harry Potter" in google and prepare to be horrified! Or "Wide Awake" + Twilight, and you'll never think of unicorns in the same way ever again.

        • profile image

          M_Leigh_Hood 6 years ago

          I agree that there can be problems and dangers in the world of fanfic, but that's the same in any hobby area, as the author here has written. As to quality, the fact that fan fic is so wide-spread on the internet means that there's just more of it, and it's free to do, so lots of new writers get into it. The better the fanfic, the more reviews it gets, though. This is just a way for new writers to get feedback from people who are not immediate family or friends. I love fanfic. I think it is exceptionally useful and over-all positive.

        • profile image

          resabi 6 years ago

          It may not be fan fiction, exactly, but my family has had a long-standing tradition of trying to recast Gone With The Wind with modern characters and we also chew over ideas for sequels. I have no idea why this started, but we still do it.

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          Nicole Pellegrini 6 years ago from New Jersey

          @joanhall: That's awesome! I love hearing stories like that! Your son sounds very creative :DI remember when I was 5-6 years old, I was very into the Beatles thanks to my mom's lp collection and seeing their movies. I used to tell myself "stories" about going on adventures with the band, and to me it was more interesting than playing with Barbie dolls and the like. It would take until I was around 22-24 years old before I found out about actual "fanfic" and people sharing such stories with each other in print. It seems like a very natural mode of creativity that many of us do without even calling it "fan fiction".

        • joanhall profile image

          Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

          My son started creating fan fiction when he was about 4 years old. He would revise the bedtime stories I told him, helping the Three Bears protect their property from vandalism and such like.