What You Need to Know About Fan Fiction
One of the many interesting things about the internet is that anyone, anywhere can write whatever they want to write and put it up on the internet for the rest of us to see, whether we want to see it or not. Many writers are writing their stories for no payment and putting them up on the internet so that we can read them for free. Fan fiction is one of the forms that these stories take. Fan fiction is, as its name implies, fiction written by fans, which is written for the enjoyment of other fans. There have been fan fiction stories written for TV shows, movies, books, comics, and anything else that has characters that can be re-used by writers to make a new story.
Fan Fiction, Novels, writing
The very nature of fan fiction pushes copyright laws to the limit because fan fiction is essentially a story using characters that were created by someone else, almost always without any permission. The people who created these characters usually don’t mind this, as fan fiction can help drive sales, but mainly because shutting up the fan fiction writers takes time, money, and can bring about the loss of fans, which causes a loss of revenue.
Those people who want to write fan fiction need to keep themselves from getting sued by the characters’ owners, and most fan fiction writers have to do two things that keep them from getting sued. The first thing that these people have to do is put a disclaimer at the beginning of their story. A large number of fanfic writers put one on each chapter if their story is released in separate chapters. Disclaimers have to state that the person writing the story does not own certain characters, and who owns them. A Typical Disclaimer for, say an X-Files fanfic would be “I don’t own Mulder and Scully, Chris Carter and Ten Thirteen Productions owns them,” or something to that effect. Some fan fiction writers make the disclaimer as funny as possible, but the general idea is always kept.
The second thing that any fan fiction writer should do is to never profit financially from their story. Even with the disclaimer, a fanfic writer is inviting a lawsuit if they profit from the owner’s characters, even if it is just a few cents. You can use the fanfic to drive traffic to your related website, as a page, but you cannot profit from the story itself.
Most people put their stories on a website dedicated to fan fiction stories, such as fanfiction.net. Sites like this can also offer some protection for the fan fiction writer, as the sheer number of stories can help keep lawsuits from happening against a certain writer, but the whole site could be shut down, or one piece of fan fiction taken off. However, anyone who writes fan fiction, disclaimer, and non-profit or not, is still seriously pushing copyright laws when they write fan fiction and put it out for the world to see.
There are several types of fan fiction. You have all of the normal story types: romance, comedy, drama, etc. But you also have story types such as smut (any relationship story that is nothing but sex, sometimes having something to do with a gay theme), songfic (as the name implies, a story built around a song), and various fan-based terms (fans of the X-Files or X-Philes have MSR or Mulder-Scully Romance). The vast majority of fan fiction stories are based on a sexual relationship, and only in the fan fiction world can you put a straight character into a gay situation and have the character like it. But don’t let that deter you from reading or writing fan fiction. There are still many stories that are so good that they could have actually been written by the people who created the character. I have always had a sneaking suspicion that some of these stories may have actually been written by the creators and that others could have been money-making stories for the writers, if only they could have created their own characters.
There is even some fan fiction that I call official fan fiction, or the stories that were actually made into official novels. One great-and well-known example of this is the Star Trek novels, but many other series have had these novels (Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Millennium, and the 6 X-Files novels, just to name a few). This is the ultimate goal of a few fan fiction writers who have written the long, really good stories, only these writers need to be established as serious writers first, or at least know someone. The author of the X-Files novel Skin, Ben Mezrich, Was a television producer and had written a few other books before writing that book.
Writing and reading fan fiction can be a great way to spend some time on the internet, and a great way to make some friends with similar interests.