I recently saw someone online talking about how they’d written a Doctor Who fan fiction story.
Of course, they’re a “real” writer (or so they claim) and made a huge deal that fan fiction was absolutely beneath them. It didn’t matter that this writer is a fan of Doctor Who, has been for years and probably always will be. Fan fiction, according to them, is something dirty that no “real” writer should stoop to. So why did this person write such a piece then? The usual reasons:
Because it’s fun; more than that, it’s a great way to flex your writing muscles (so to speak) without having to stretch yourself by having to create a whole bunch of original characters. They’re already there on the screen and in other people’s books, fully brought to life by their creators and actors. All the writer has to do is give them something original to do and come up with words for them to say.
Although that isn’t to say it’s easy.
Not that this “real” writer admitted to that, because that would make it seem like it wasn’t beneath them at all. Instead they chalked it up as doing something special, a benevolent gift for the masses to read and to show those numbskulls behind DW what they were doing wrong. Oh, and they used it to promote their own writing by inserting in their own far lesser-known characters to turn it into some sort of crossover, in the vain hope that they could get a free ride from other people’s creations that would help them sell an extra couple of copies of their own.
It was cheap and nasty, but the truly sad fact was that they just couldn’t admit to anyone that they also wanted to have some fun. Because that’s what fan fiction is: fun.
It doesn’t matter what your particular favourite show is, at some point you’ve probably discussed it with friends and the subject arose about things you wish you’d seen in it. Maybe it’s a loose plotline that wasn’t fully explored, or a relationship between characters that could have been developed further. The point is, every fan has ideas about things they would have done if they were in charge.
Fan fiction allows us all that opportunity.
On Lost it may have been the 815 island being Fantasy Island and on Babylon 5 it may have been a follow-up to the appearance of the intergalactic Elvis Presley impersonators. On Doctor Who it may have been the Doctor lost in the TARDIS searching for the bathroom. Anything goes with fan fiction, including crossovers. You can have any character interact with anyone from any other franchise, regardless of how implausible it may be. Buffy vs. Darth Vader? Why not?
Then, of course, there’s Star Trek.
Like other shows, there’s a lot of Star Trek fan fiction. I’ve written some myself and I’m not ashamed of it in the least. I admire anyone who writes fan fiction in general, because anyone who does is clearly a fan of whatever they’re writing about. It may not be official canon, and it isn’t always good, but it’s from the heart. That’s dedication. So to anyone out there who writes fan fiction or is thinking of doing it, all I can say is that I’m wishing you the best of luck and enjoy it.
There are some who may deride fan fiction as pointless, but if you’re enjoying it then it counts. It counts if it becomes so popular it practically becomes required reading, but it also counts if only one person reads it. It counts because you’re doing something creative. If you want to tell a tale involving Q making a tribble appear on Picard’s head like a bad wig or Captain Kirk getting the big bang when he hooked up one night with an Andorian girl, go for it.
It’s your call, and there’s nothing wrong with writing it. Don’t ever let anyone bring you down and say that fan fiction is pointless, because it isn’t and lots of people do it.
Does anyone remember when Stephen King wrote an episode of The X-Files? It was filmed but it was essentially a piece of fan fiction, with King saying that he was pleased to be given a chance to play around in the Mulder & Scully sandbox for a while. He wrote a Sherlock Holmes short story too, The Doctor’s Case. It was a great little story and I highly recommend it.
Speaking of Sherlock Holmes and fan fiction, isn’t that really what the show Sherlock is? The current team behind Doctor Who, themselves being fans of Sherlock Holmes, created that series as a bold re-imagining that adapts the classic characters and stories. It looks great, wins awards all the time, has a huge fan base… and is technically fan fiction on a grand scale.
The only reason why people may not label these examples as such is because they set up an arbitrary line that makes them think the ter, implies something cheap or substandard. It doesn’t.
Fan fiction can be good. Very good. The term shouldn’t be a slur, because there are some amazing pieces of fan fiction out there from so many people – famous or otherwise.
And why not? Can’t anybody be a fan? From the biggest authors to the highest-paid celebrities, they’re as human and as prone to being a fan as the next person. A great example is the celebrity fans Star Trek has, from Bill Bailey to Ben Stiller and Karl Urban to Whoopi Goldberg. Sometimes they get to star in the shows or movies, sometimes they’ll name their kids after Star Trek characters, or they may even name production companies or characters in their own films in reference to the show.
That’s fandom. But would they dare to write fan fiction? Probably not, or if they do then nobody would dare call it that.
Wait… didn’t David A Goodman, writer and producer of Family Guy, come up with that Where No Fan Has Gone Before episode of Futurama? I know it was filmed, but deep down it’s another work of fan fiction and amusingly has an alien capturing the original Star Trek actors so he can force them to act out his own fan fiction piece. Goodman later went on to write for Star Trek: Enterprise, a job he says he partly got because of the Futurama episode.
Gee, it’s amazing where some knowledge of a show and a little writing can take you.
There’s nothing wrong with fan fiction, and it comes in many forms. It isn’t a lesser form of creativity, it’s a way of expressing knowledge and passion for something that other creators have shown you. It’s a form of praise to those original creators and an outlet for your own talents and ideas.
That doesn’t sound like a bad thing to be. But maybe if the term fan fiction still sounds cheap and nasty to some people then we should just call it something else: writing.