At one of our critique sessions for the Cat Vacuuming Society, fan fiction came up. If you don’t know what it is, fan fiction are stories written by fans for an existing form, like a TV show. Yeah, you get the obvious problem with it, and one of the reasons it gets bashed. But I also read them at a time when it was a badge of honor, because several science fiction writers started out writing it, like A.C. Crispin.
And I do have a disclaimer. I edited a fanzine, a long time ago in a galaxy far away. I also wrote a few stories, and my novel Miasma is descended from one. When I broke up with my cowriter, I needed a new story now, so I grabbed this old idea from fan fiction. But you’d never be able to tell what fandom it came from.
So what’s the draw?
There’s a couple things. One is that the fans want continuing adventures. With my fandom, the show was syndicated in the 1970s, and then went off the air. We did not see the show on TV again until the 2000s when it was released on DVD. So continuing adventures was our connection to show, because we didn’t have the show itself.
The second is that there’s a social part to it. It’s not just writing continuing stories — it’s sharing them with other people who will appreciate having the story about characters they like.
The social part is also the curse. A.C. Crispin notes:
Fanzine writing can have its own problems for aspiring writers. It can be seductive, and so much fun that the author never does move on and write in his/her own universe, despite earlier avowals that that’s what they wanted.
Our fandom had one writer who was pretty decent. She also expressed a desire to be a professional writer, which was cool. Then she got addicted to the social part. She liked getting the praise, and dashed off one story after another. She ended up never going professional.
The social part can also bring out the worst in people. There were two women who poisoned a lot of it for me. They acted like they were the ultimate experts on the show, traveling to do research, and yet, they completely ignored what the show was about. It was an action show with monsters and aliens. The ladies kept trying to turn it into a romance novel.
The other fans embraced them as experts, giving them power to run over anyone who disagreed. Essentially, it became about them, when it should have been about the show. I eventually walked away from it.
So I have mixed feelings on whether fan fiction is good or bad. What’s your take?
Linda Adams – Soldier, Storyteller
Starting November 5, I will doing a month-long session on Forward Motion on “Basic Training of Military Culture.” The lesson plan for the course is posted here. You’ll get to ask a vet questions!