I would like to jump into the debate about fan fiction on a bit of a positive note. During my reading of fan fiction I’ve come across some really great writing. I can tell that these are the people who put their hearts and souls into writing. They are the ones who want to either become published authors or have a goal of showing their art to others. They are intelligent and show the best that fan fiction has to offer. There is always a debate as to the art of publishing fan fiction is something a person should do since there is an element of “content” that they are using. Some published authors don’t mind these people writing about the characters they created, others do. However, this is a good start to a writer’s life if they choose to write.
These people have their views on what works for the characters they expand on. They have terminology which took me a while to figure out, and although some of it is a writer’s terminology, there is a lot more to it. They are knowledgable about more than just the shows or movies they have seen. One such writer has been kind and generous enough to point out that some people have written fan fiction for many years. She even shared her own story. To say that research doesn’t go into some of this is a lie. She not only proves it, but shows that knowledge about anything can help others. (Which I have to admit I was very pleased to learn she likes Quantum Leap as much as I do.) Writing is not a hard thing to do when there is a foundation to work with. This is not about writing for a living, but rather writing for the joy of it.
Another fan fiction writer I have had the chance to ask for advice from has shown how real life situations and a bit of imagination can work for the new writer as well. (Please be aware that this is very different from anything I would normally read, but they have also been beyond helpful in allowing me to see more aspects to fan fiction and what some of the terms these writers use— their writing is not for everyone, and it is unique.)
Many fan fiction writers who take their writing and characters seriously know that their readers also take the fiction seriously, and are as passionate about the subjects (as the case is) as the writers are. Many are willing to show how much time they put in and offer a human touch when needed. Many writers such as the authors of Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World have talked about the hard road fan fiction writers have, and they don’t often make money for their efforts.
To these people, the ones who are dedicated with their writing, it is a stepping stone to a more “professional” level — the art of publishing an original manuscript. This doesn’t mean that what they have done now is not original, but it is based directly upon a show or movie. (I haven’t seen too many based on books, but I’ve not finished digging) With some critiques under their belts, they are sure to improve, and they are certain to be published one day soon. Fan fiction does require an open mind and knowledge that goes beyond simple writing about something that you love.
I don’t think that for many of these writers making money writing fan fiction is the reason that they publish, but it is an opportunity to do some writing based upon the subjects that they love. Money or writing for a living is not things that they think need to happen, but it is a means to share a creative spark and show other fans their passion for the thing that made them want to be creative in the first place.