Fanfiction: Pros and Cons

Fanfiction (noun): fictional stories based on a popular book, movie, television show, etc.

In the past ten years, as internet use has become close to universal, there has been an explosion in the writing and awareness of Fanfiction. Websites like host hundreds of thousands of stories based on the characters and situations in popular media. Some of these are well though out pieces that stay true to both character motivations and author intentions, but others may only have the character names in common. The authors of these pieces are just as different, but many proclaim to have one thing in common: they dream of becoming a published author.

Some people can’t see any positive in allowing fanfiction to continue—some of the strongest opposition points out that it is pure plagiarism. In a way, they’re right—fanfiction utilizes someone else’s characters, rules, villains, places, situations, and ideas, twisting and manipulating them to a different author’s whims. Certainly certain authors have very specific goals and purposes for writing their stories—they wish a scene had gone a different way, for example, and rewrite it, or they want to show the story from the point of view of a different character—but others type out the original book and change very little. While those authors rarely claim their work to be unique, even calling it a variation is somewhat outlandish. Yet even those who write well and devote time, energy, and love to creating a wonderful piece of fiction may be wasting their time.

Fanfiction is, generally, unpublishable. Since the work is not really the author’s creation, they don’t have the right to reproduce it for monetary gain. I’m not claiming that no fanfiction ever gets published—just look at the Star Trek and Buffy series, and even the newest addition to the Godfather series—but these are rare exception that have been licensed by the creators to create. If you have a serious desire to become a published author, get out of fanfiction! Use it as something to practice with, a way to sharpen your storytelling skills, and then put it behind you. Let your favorite characters teach you about plot development, and then leave them to the author who created them. Somewhere along the way, discover your own voice and style, your own characters and stories, and spend your time building them.

Who knows? Maybe, if you do, a young, aspiring author will be writing fanfiction about your characters one day.

5 thoughts on “Fanfiction: Pros and Cons

  1. Sera Phyn

    I've often wondered where fanfiction came from, but I have a feeling that it's been around for centuries in various forms. It's only now that we have a place where we can show our secret stories to the world.

  2. Epona

    Nicely said. it make you wonder how fanfiction came about in the first place? but i agree wholeheartedly that FF is helpful to a point but becomes a hindrance soon after

  3. Marcy

    I really look forward to your new entries, and as always, this was spot on!!!

    I happen to be pro fanfiction simply because of the fact that if kids are being inspired to read and/or write, I can't see it as anything other than a positive thing.

    I wrote (almost exclusively) from minor character POVs, finding that it was a great tool to use in character development. It also helps show the strong or lackluster character development in the original aughor's story when you sit down and try to pen the motives behind their actions. (Luckily I've only been inspired enough by one series to write any type of fic about, and Stephenie Meyer's character development is her strongest quality!!)

    And as strange as this sounds, I've found that one of the best things I can do as a writer of original ficton is to “fanfic” my own story: write different scenes from minor character points of view, type up emails that one character sends to another (though not about anything particulary plot pertinent), and even little scenes that are unimportant to the storyline, yet could be essential to my own understanding of my character's motivations!

    It's laughable right now that my file labeled “Extra Stuff That Will Never Make the Book” on my computer very nearly has a higher word count than the story in progress, but the words that are included in the story are all the better for it!

    And as for someone writing fanfiction about the characters that live in my head, well, to quote my favorite author: “A girl can dream.”

  4. eddyismymonster

    Very interesting article. The way I see it. fanfiction used to be good, as in real fanfiction. But now especially on it is really scary. I think sometimes people write their own story, a good one ven, and just use the names. Why not write you own story?
    And for the aspiring writers comment, sure it's useful, but most fanfiction isn't that good. Plus the problem with ff is that you can't really get into the character's head. Some other authors characters don't talk in your head as much usualy. So while fanfiction can be good for most people it's a waste of time.

  5. RosesThorn

    I used to write some fanfiction but vowed to never make the characters do something they didn't do in the books (I only broke that rule once). I just told my impression of things that occured (for example, most of us know Twilight here – one is a fanfiction of Royce King's death, another is Edward's change, one is Alice's vision of Bella cliff-diving – all are partially inaccurate).

    Anyway, I haven't written fanfics in a while. My own inventions are taking over.

    Are fanfictions good? Not really. Are they bad? Not really. It depends. They're good if people are inspired by it to write about it if it means that writer will aspire to better things, but they're just ridiculous if they have no sense anymore. (For example, the scariest fanfiction I ever saw (it was actually on was Bill Nye the science guy shooting Barney the dinasaur down with a machine gun. No joke, I swear on my life.). But are they bad? They're not really doing anyone any harm. If someone makes a useless fanfiction (like the Bill Nye/Barney one) then it will just sit there as proof that this person needs to be institutionalized. If it's good, then it's just sharpening writing skills or, on a different note, limiting the writer's imagination to follow another author's ideas (in other words, they live by the other author's writings without ever really inventing their own).

    Fanfiction: Good or bad? It really depends.


    I actually saw an eleventh and twelfth book to a ten-book series (Roswell). I looked and saw that the writer was different. This is one of those rare examples of published fanfiction. I also never read those two books either. Better to leave the first ten untainted by another's impressions, eh?


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