The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Fan fiction, according to Oxford Languages, is defined as “Fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.”
Upon hearing the phrase “Fan fiction,” most people picture the rabid, obsessive frenzy that the media loves to associate with anything that has to do with certain franchises and their followers.
A lot of the bad reputation surrounding fan fiction really boils down to a few things: some fan’s sense of entitlement toward the canonical characters and their choices, and the occasional legal battle over the idea of who owns the rights to what.
One example of this legal dilemma was a 2009 case where a federal judge ruled that an author’s interpretation of a now 76-year-old Holden Caufield from J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” derived too much from the original work to be publicized.
However, one could argue that writing fanfiction is a lot like studying painting under a master artist, taking voice lessons from a renowned opera singer or researching under award-winning chemists. There is no better teacher than the people who are already at the top of their game.
If not, I’m sure you’ve heard of one famed book series to spring from a popular young adult novel– E.L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” and its subsequent novels were based off of “Twilight.”
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy the subject matter of “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “Twilight,” James’ perspective on her books and their origins suggests that current media has a key role in inspiring the aspiring content creator.
“I just sat on my sofa and just read them and read them and read [the Twilight books],” James said in an interview with ABC. “I was inspired by [‘Twilight’ author] Stephenie Meyer … she just kind of flipped this switch in my head.”
While “Fifty Shades of Grey” is perhaps the most honest about its origins, one can argue that other popular franchises are also spin-offs in their own ways, though their authors may be reluctant to admit it.
Who’s to say that the newest Star Wars trilogy isn’t just Disney’s own fan fiction of George Lucas’ Star Wars movies? Or that all the Marvel movies, in their supernatural glory, aren’t just fan-generated movies based on Stan Lee’s original comics? What about book-to-movie adaptations, when the movie plot isn’t quite the same as it was in the book?
Perhaps the problem isn’t with fan fiction, and all its legal implications, but it is in the way that society has decided to brand the hobby as something that only love-struck, obsessive teenage girls do– when rich Hollywood executives and iconic writers have been doing the same thing for years.