Sunday, October 26, 2014

What Is Fan Fiction?

I'll admit I knew nothing about fan fiction until this past week.  My understanding of what fan fiction is; is that the person writing the story is a fan of  the  person they are writing about.  It can be a favorite author, a band, a singer, a favorite book, television series, or anything.  Although, most definitions say fan fiction concerns the writings of an author, specifically, rewriting the story. 

Definition : Fanfiction is when someone takes either the story or characters (or both) of a certain piece of work, whether it be a novel, tv show, movie, etc, and create their own story based on it. Sometimes people will take characters from one movie and put them in another, which is called a cross-over.
Harry Styles

How I became interested in this topic is because a young woman, a fan of Harry Styles and the One Direction band wrote stories about them.  She wrote fan fiction about Mr. Styles using his name and the other band members drawing a huge crowd to her site.  This woman has received a six figure contract with Simon and Schuster for a book titled After. 
One Direction
Of course, the publisher had the author change the names of the characters in the book, but everyone knows who they are originally.  The typos have been removed from the book and the sex scenes expanded. 

Here is the premise of the book:  The synopsis is just as vague and dirty as one could imagine. According to the After Table of Contents on, the story follows thusly: "Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend. She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans."

Harry Styles is, of course, the Harry in question. Other members of One Direction make appearances in the story as well.

At this point, there hasn't been a comment made by Harry Styles or One Direction.  I forgot to mention that the book is going to be turned into a movie.  Many of Harry Styles and One Directions are very upset by this depiction of him and the band even though it's fiction.  Some fans have turned away from the group because of this book assuming the story is factual.

Fifty Shades of Gray was written as fan fiction for the Twilight series and made it huge. 

More information can be found on the links below.

These authors of fan fiction might need to read the copy right law of 1976 because they could get into serious trouble.  The rights belong to the author to make any changes to her work she/he wants to. Some authors have encouraged fan fiction writers because most of them never get published. 

While many authors and television show writers such as J.K. Rowling and Joss Whedon have supported fan fiction, in that they have even hosted contests for fan fiction, these same writers have also later brought copyright lawsuits against writers of fan fiction. Returning to the Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling initially was supportive of fan fiction writers, in particular, the Starkid Productions’ A Very Potter Musical franchise. However, Rowling was also surprised by the amount of sexually explicit fan fiction written about her characters. She took action against specific writers of “smut” while remaining silent against other derivative works such as James Potter, a series concentrating on the future generations of the Potter universe. An author has a right to protect her work but what does it mean when an author chooses to prosecute a particular type of writing while allowing and encouraging others? Unfortunately for writers of fan fiction, it is unclear and the power remains with the author of the originating work.   

Do you see anything to be concerned about with fan fiction, or do you think it's okay?

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week, and I'll see you next Sunday.

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
@ Eirelander Publishing


james Joness said...

Some stars don't like fan fiction. A fan of Prince made a tribute website, but he didn't like it and took legal action to bring the site down....

Sandy said...

Thank you, James. I think everyone should be able to decide for themselves if they want the attention.

Kari Rogers Miller said...

Sandy,Don't know what happened to my comments...I did respond. I will check back later to see if it appears after refresh.
Very interesting topic though.

Melissa Keir said...

I used to write for a fan newspaper. It was sarcastic and funny. Everyone was supportive because it never ruined the fun by keeping the show light.

Nothing was made up. It was reports on what happened on the show, from the dresses, to the hookups. I can imagine that some people would have been upset but we never made any money on the newspaper nor were we paid for writing. It just honed my skills much like when I was a book reviewer.

That being said...writing a fiction story about a real person or characters from someone else's work is tricky. I can write about Santa Claus or Peter Pan (both characters) but not Taylor Swift or Bob the Builder...such things might change the image???

If you haven't seen any porn movies in a while, they are all remakes of current stories...Leave it to Beaver, Bob the Builder hits harder!

See how the waters are muddied??

D'Ann said...

I am writing a book because I have a huge crush on a rock star. Is it fanfic? NO, because I took nothing from his real life...just the idea of this man.

Sandy said...

Kari, I'm glad you enjoyed the topic.

Melissa, thank you for comments. I think some new laws may be needed. I don't think it's over by a long shot.

D'Ann, there is nothing wrong with using the image, or idea of the man. I think the problem stems from using his name. It's a weird world we live in these days.

Carol Ericson said...

Hmm, maybe I missed something in your brief synopsis, Sandy, but I didn't read anything "dirty" about it. If Stephanie Meyer hasn't sued E.L. James over Fifty Shades, the law must be pretty loose. As I heard it, James was a member of a fanfiction site and posted the whole Fifty Shades story there without even changing the names. I guess it just remains to be seen if these fanfic writers can sustain their careers with original ideas, characters, and stories. Haven't we all watched a movie, gotten disappointed with the ending, and said, "If I could rewrite that ending...." LOL I know I have.

Sandy said...

Hi Carol,
Yes, I've been disappointed with books and movies, but I think you kind of miss the point. There is a copyright law that is supposed to protect authors. Also, I think there must be something to protect actors, singers and bands out there. I haven't read the book, After, so I don't how dirty it is. The little blurb I put up was what was being used on the fanfic site. I think there's a huge difference in using a person as a character with a different name than using the actual name of someone.

Carol Ericson said...

Sandy, I understand that, but based upon the fanfiction that's getting picked up by publishers and movie companies - ie 50 Shades - there must be a lot of loopholes in that copyright law. I'm just reiterating how fanfiction must've grown - the desire to "fix" endings.

Sandy said...

Carol, what it depends on is the author if they want to enforce the copyright law. Rowlings didn't care until they made her Harry Potter characters sexual. The authors can't pick and choose, or else what is the good of the copyright law.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy,
I'll try this again. I started writing because of fan fiction. I used to watch the TV show called Law and Order Criminal Intent. The main character was Robert Goren. He played a tortured soul, and the show was about to get cancelled before Robert Goren had his happily ever after. I started to write his HEA ending and ended up writing 5 books. The TV show actually encouraged fans to write stories about them. I think an author should feel honored that they created such a good character that evoke fans to write about them. This shows fans remember their characters because they get into the psyche of the people watching/reading about them. This is what writing is all about. Making characters fans love/hate. It’s a compliment to the writer. I would not be writing today if I didn’t find fan fiction.

Sandy said...

Hi Diane,

Vincent D'Onofrio the actor who played Robert Goren worked very hard to develop his character. He worked with a renown psychiatrist to help him develop the character.

The actor, Vincent D'Onofrio, has played in many movies, and when he played characters who had lived he felt shame because there was no way he could know their feelings or their real lives. You can do a Google search on either Robert Goren or Vincent D'Onofrio.

Diane Kratz said...

Hi Sandy,
As a fan of the show Law and Order Criminal Intent, of course I know who Vincent D’Onofrio is. He is a method actor.
“In the dramatic arts, method acting is a group of techniques actors use to create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances.” As you can see, I’ve encluded a couple of links in case you wanted to look them up.
I’m sure this is what he was referring to, and that’s you paraphrased. He did many interviews about his method acting techniques. It’s kind of like writing in Deep POV, only it’s acting.
René Balcer, was a ten-year veteran of the original Law & Order series, developed Law & Order: Criminal Intent. The show itself got almost all their episodes from real life crimes. In the style of the original Law & Order, episodes are often "ripped from the headlines" or loosely based on a real crime that received media attention. Only the writers put their own twists on it. This is what made their shows their own. I guess you could say, the show itself, was fan fiction.
I’m not saying that anyone should profit from another author’s work. Their copyrights should protect them. In my books, my character isn’t name Robert Goren. His name is Johnny Gaston. He isn’t a detective, he’s a FBI profiler, and he is married in my first book and was never married on the show. He is my inspiration for my character.
This is no different than a writer putting a photo of a star in front of them and pretends he is the hero of their story.
Fan Fiction means people write it for other fans. I can’t imagine any publisher worth their money would ever buying someone work, who copied an already published character in someone book.
I’ve never read any of the books you mentioned on your blog. But from what you described, it sounds like the characters are not the same.
Fan fiction was what got me interested in writing. It’s a great tool for creativity, that’s all I’m saying.