… Is that some people who look down their nose at them. We’ve all been there. ‘When are you gonna get a real job?’, ‘You’re not a real writer’, etc. Whoever told you to this is full of sh*t. I’m sorry, but since when is using someone else’s idea as a base/platform for your own creativity bad/wrong? Are you trying to tell me you never played with Barbie’s or G. I. Joes or Hot Wheels?
‘But those are just toys! It’s different!’ Is it now? How would you feel if your mom/dad/guardian told you to ‘go play’ but took all your toys away? Or, when you bad and they did take them – how sad did that make you? What did you end up doing without them? Sitting there feeling sorry for yourself and/or crying/bargaining saying you’d ‘do anything’ to get them back.
And now let me ask you: do you still have those toys you once thought were so precious? Do you still play with them when you get home from work? No, because you outgrew them, right? You don’t need them anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you always out grow it. You can still write it for fun, because it’s fun. It’s for you and makes you happy. I write fanfiction too, it’s all good.
But, shooting a writer down because they ‘write fanfiction’ is not cool or helpful. You know what you do each time you say that to someone? You chip away at their dreams. Yes, you do. Especially when they’re 12-14 year olds. ‘Oh, it’s not perfect grammar, there’s spelling mistakes, blah, blah, blah’, of course there is! Newsflash: they’re kids. They’re learning. They’re teaching themselves basics with characters they know. They’re taking the familiar and making it their own. Making it less daunting.
Look at the famous writers you (maybe) were taught or at least read in school: Robert Munch, Barbara Park (Junie B. Jones), Dav Pilky (Captain Underpants), Stephen King even Dr. Suess – notice what all these big authors have in common?
They all have a lot of books. Some of them even had whole dedicated sections in the library. Any child who is aspiring to become a writer is guarantee thinking ‘I could never do that.’ When you are just learning what a noun is, and the different parts of a sentence – of course you look at that giant library as Mount Everest.
It doesn’t help that ‘writer’ is never addressed as something you can grow up to be, (but that’s a whole other article) kids are literally stunted in pursuing a writing career at the same time they’re just learning what writing even is.
Is it really a wonder why some dip their toes into the profession using characters that are already established/developed/loved?
Fanfiction should not be scoffed at – there are some amazing works and writers that wouldn’t exist if they didn’t write fanfiction. So don’t you dare tell me fanfiction is somehow ‘polluting’ the writing genre.
Here’s just a few examples of famous works that are fanfiction:
- The Lion King – Retelling of Hamlet
- Romeo and Juliet – yep, even Shakespeare himself wrote fanfiction. He based it off of an Arthur Brooke poem, The Tragic History of Romeo and Juliet
- Dante’s Inferno – Bible fic
- The Three Musketeers – based on another book, Mémoires de Monsieur d’Artagnan
- Lord of the Flies – some may argue this is more a parody than fic, but either way, it was based on The Coral Island
These are just 5 examples of famous works out of what I’m sure is hundreds, but look at how beloved the above works are. Not all fics are bad (like, say… Fifty Shades of Grey [which is a Twilight fic, FYI]) and they’re not all gonna be gold, either. Give kids the same encouragement to write fic that you’d give them if they wanted to be a doctor, or lawyer.
Do you really want to be responsible for telling the next Shakespeare they shouldn’t write?