Fanfiction comprises writing of the stories, poems, screenplays, and fiction based on movies, books, video games, television series, and comics. Generally you won’t get paid for writing in this genre, but I’ve found when you’re a fan of something, its fun practice. Readers who also can’t get enough of a good thing tend to enjoy stories that also extend and otherwise expand the known world of their fandom.
Some authors might consider writing in the fanfiction genre is not valid because of two reasons; you can’t publish your work because the medium is already copyrighted, and the world and characters are already created for you. Fanfiction, however, holds a huge fanbase depending on the media the stories are based on.
A few authors have refused their work to be written about. Anne Rice is one such author who is adamant against anyone writing about her characters. In fact, so strong against this, she is willing to threaten legal action should you write stories based on her books. Jennifer Roberson is another author, and explains her reasons very well here.
Other authors encourage fanfiction, such as J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter fame. Her reasons conclude that writing fanfics promotes writing in young people, which is does if you follow any of the fanfiction sites out there.
I’ve written fanfiction based on video games I play, of the Elderscrolls genre. Morrowind and Oblivion are openended games, where you can be a human, orc, cat-like person, or elf. You also end up saving the world after a good 300+ hours of gameplay. (If you do all the quests in the game, that is) I even had a story plagiarized and the guy hoped to sell it to the company that makes the games- Bethesda here in Maryland. Thankfully, they do not buy fanfiction of any type, and a moderator on a message board found the culprit and had him banned.
My initial reaction was ‘Hey, someone thought I was good enough to plagerize!”, but soon followed was the thought of ‘Hey, someone stole my story!”. Being this was a 150,000 word fiction, and a lot of work on my part, I was a bit miffed, needless to say. This also allows me to understand an author’s want to not have their work copies/stolen or the copyright infringed upon. I respect their wishes of not writing stories, but personally had fanfic authors who asked to write about certain characters I created and I allowed for it too.
The stories simply fleshed out the game, according to my fans. Where a game provides lots of visual and sound, my stories added taste, touch, and more depth to the questlines. One reader suggested I make a few changes and publish the story due to so much was original work.
Although generally its impossible to write fanfiction and get published, there are a few exceptions. Dragonlance, Star Wars, and Star Trek publishes stories, generally those written by previously published authors. You should contact them for guidelines before submitting any work.
Some argue that fanfiction is a waste of time, due to its entertainment value as well as the stories are based on someone else’s idea. This is true for some, but I have discovered a number of very well written stories that marks a terrific sense of imagination and writing skill. Spider Bite by Mark Van Zanten is a fanfic written in R.A. Salvatore’s realm of the Drow. I think Mark captured the atmosphere of the world, as well as the culture, and expanded by writing with original characters.
Like J.K. Rowling says; it also promotes writing. I found my own fans helped encourage my writing, providing feedback, and providing some insight on my grammar skills which I have since improved upon since I started years ago. Writing fanfiction is also fun. I enjoy the challenge of adding more to the world created by Bethesda, and writing so that anyone can read the story even if they haven’t played the game.
If interested, my stories are under the name of Bhen. I wanted a gender neutral name, and posted nothing about myself that might bias readers on the stories.
In short, I find fanfiction entertaining and fascinating to discover authors that have as much skill as the original author. (In some cases, even more talent)