“Now, Harry,” said Voldemort, “it is time to reveal the secret of my power!”
(Author’s Note : I don’t feel like writing what that is, so you can make up something)
From a Harry Potter fanfic
The first stories I ever wrote were fanfics, though this was back in the Middle East and it never occurred to me to put them up on the web. Later I moved to the States, discovered Star Trek and wrote a few stories set in the Trekiverse but featuring races and characters of my own – which made me realize that I might as well create my own universe to go along with them.
I kept reading fanfics, though, because there are some good ones out there. For instance, there’s a hilarious Harry Potter fic which begins when all the professors draw straws to decide who teaches the sex ed lesson (and Snape gets the shortest, much to his displeasure). On the other hand, I’ve been reading through some of Lee Goldberg’s posts on this topic and they’ve made me wonder a few things.
1. Authorial consent?
Some authors (e.g. Anne McCaffrey) have made it clear that they don’t want fanfiction based on their characters or their worlds. Some authors have made it clear that they have no problems with this. But for those authors who haven’t said anything (yet), can consent be assumed? Or should fanfic writers contact those authors for permission first?
I think that lot of writers would be reluctant to do so given that it’s not easy to get authors to respond to you if they’re extremely famous and/or busy. Plus, some characters or worlds aren’t owned by any one person, making it even more unlikely that the writers would get an answer.
What do you think, though? Should fanfic writers have to get the explicit consent of authors first?
2. What stories are permissible?
There’s a series of humorous Star Trek fics based on how many crew members from each series it would take to change a light bulb. There’s the equally amusing Very Secret Diaries. I’ve read fanfics that were so well-written and moving that they brought tears to my eyes.
I’ve also read – or backpedaled out of – stories that were utter rubbish. Or in worst case scenarios, illegal and/or creepy to boot (e.g. Real Person Fiction). I was a member of God Awful Fan Fiction before it closed down, and if you were too, one word: Celebrian. So there’s a lot of distinctly unpleasant fanfiction out there.
Should such stories be removed, or not written at all? The problem is that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure; fanfics, like fiction, can be subjective in value. I don’t buy the argument that RPF is an expression of one’s love and respect for a celebrity, but when it comes to a realistically depicted relationship between characters, this is more of a grey area for me.
What’s your take on this? Should certain types of stories (e.g. non-consensual, male pregnancy, etc) be off-limits?
3. Fanfic for your own work?
Finally, let’s turn it around. How would you feel if people wrote fics based on your work, or if there was a category for your work on www.fanfiction.net? Or, for that matter, on Adult Fanfiction and other such sites?
I’ve seen this question asked before, and many writers respond that they would be flattered, or at least would not mind. Though for some, this is copyright violation and not acceptable. Personally, I wouldn’t like this done with any of my major characters unless I could be sure the fanfic writer would keep them in character and wouldn’t do anything I wouldn’t do with them. Which is kind of a controlling requirement, so it might as well be a no.
How would you feel about fanfics for your work? Copyright violation, or an example of a fan showing their appreciation for your creation?
Thanks in advance for commenting!