The Problem With Fanfiction Writers


… Is that some people 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 fanfiction writers aren’t real writers is full of shit.

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 were 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.

Same thing with writing fanfiction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people always out grow it – you can still write it for fun while you work on your own stories – but sometimes, people do. And that’s perfectly fine!

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 hell, 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, whether or not the road to hell is really paved with adverbs, the different parts of a sentence – of course you look at that giant library as Mount Everest!

It also 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 – think of it more like learning to ride a bike. A lot of writer’s use fanfiction when they start out, just like a kid will use training wheels when first learning – and as time goes on, and they get the hang of things, they may start to steer away from fanfic, and head deeper into their own stuff. (Or, write their own stuff and continue to write fanfic on the side)

Would you sneer at a child who was using training wheels? Tell them that they’re ‘not actually riding a bike‘? No? Then for the love of God, hold your tongue when talking to a fanfic writer! It’s not helpful, and just makes you look like an ass.

There are also some amazing works and writers that wouldn’t exist if they didn’t start out in/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 (if not thousands), but look at how beloved the above works are. Not all fanfics are bad (like, say… Fifty Shades of Grey [which is a Twilight fanfic, FYI]) and they’re not all gonna be gold, either.

But regardless of how great or not great their stories are, you should give writer kids the same encouragement you would if they wanted to become a doctor, or some other ‘normal’ job.

Do you really want to be responsible for telling the next Shakespeare they shouldn’t write?

Check out more articles about writing here!

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