I used to love to read novels based on shows that I liked on television when I was younger. I had some X-Files books and some Angel ones and even a few others that included Law & Order. There was always a difference in writing quality between the authors who wrote them and therefore I had to be careful in buying them. Usually I would flip through some of the book and read an online review. I didn’t want to buy a book without characters I liked in it or that just had a bad concept to begin with.
More lately I have decided to bring that back by reading some of the Doctor Who novels by the BBC and some of the Supernatural novels. From what I hear the Supernatural ones are really hit or miss so I’ve only got one on my kindle thus far.
Back when I was a kid I didn’t really make the connection between what these writers were doing with these books and my own desire to write fan fiction. As frowned upon as it once was in the industry (and probably still is) fan fiction is only separated from these kind of books by being not-for-profit.
People love to rag on authors for writing fan fiction and in many large writing circles mentioning that you like or write fan fiction will get you mocked. But what’s the difference between the guy who writes a Star Trek novel and the guy who writes a series of Star Trek fan fiction? Some people put a lot into their fics—they do series research and know the universe extremely well and they’re characterization is sometimes more believable than the source work. What makes that author any less valid? Not having their own characters? Not owning what they’re writing about? Not having gone through professional editors (a lot of fan fiction still goes through beta-readers)?
There was a time after my love affair with fan fiction ended that I was very against the idea of it and I sprouted the same rhetoric that a lot of aspiring authors do about the evils of fan fiction. As I grew older I learned my lesson. I don’t want to be one of those writers. You know the stuck up ones who are mad that the times have passed them by and they missed out on having fun while they were doing what they supposedly love.
If there’s one thing that Fifty Shades of Grey taught us is that fan fiction is relevant. It reiterated the point that fan fiction is helping create new writers (my roots are in Zelda fan fiction to be perfectly honest). And it showed, once again, how much people are willing to accept something that was thought to be taboo, fan fiction has a lot more where ‘too taboo’ came from.
While not a fan of the book and not really sure why it’s caused this frenzy that it has, I think it’s for the best that the world learn now that writing is just writing. Judge it on it’s true merits. Not who’s making money or who’s got a book on the shelf.