In Defense of Fan Fiction
I’ve written my share of fan fiction. Be it about Star Wars, Bionicle adventures, or Mega Man stories; trust me: I’ve written my fanfics. Thing is, that was years ago. I’ve hardly done anything remotely fan fictiony (be it an animation or a piece of writing) in years.
I guess I grew out of it; I wanted to make my own worlds and not lean on someone else’s work as a basis. I wanted my stories to be mine and independent. Of course, I still read the Star Wars Expanded Universe, where science fiction writers have their go at continuing or adding stories to the Star Wars ‘verse. Sure, it’s official fan fiction but it’s cool stories, yeah?
Arguably the best writer for the Expanded Universe is Timothy Zahn. His Heir To The Empire Trilogy is not only a fantastic piece of fiction, but it legitimately feels like a Star Wars story. It doesn’t seem like a random piece of science fiction with Star Wars elements but rather like another movie. It has the same feeling of adventure and space opera, and, best of all, the characters actually sound like the characters. They act like them and speak like them; Zahn wonderfully captures the essence of the main characters. He also introduces new characters as well as a new villain; his trilogy is a whole new story while staying true to the originals.
So yes, I’m using Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars novels as the epitome of fan fiction. Granted, they get approved and vetted by the bigwigs at LucasFilm, but at their heart they’re pretty much fan fiction. And dang good ones.
See, it’s easy to get fan fiction wrong. You could write a story that sounds like just another story with characters from some franchise tacked on. Taking nuanced characters and stereotyping them isn’t good writing. Changing the way the world works for the sake of your story, well, can be done right, but often winds up feeling unnecessary. Look, worlds need rules, so if you’re playing in someone else’s world, play by their rules lest you wind up making your own world. If your fan fiction hardly seems like it’s a part of the world, might as well make your own, yeah?
One of the main reasons I stopped writing fan fiction was ‘cuz, well, it wasn’t my own world. Anything I wrote would only be well received by people of the fandom. It wasn’t accesible and all that. More so, it felt lazy. I wasn’t making my own characters, I wasn’t doing my own world building. So I stopped.
Thing is, fan fiction (if done right) can be a challenge. You’re playing in someone else’s world; with someone else’s characters. Are you up to being able to capture both the world and the characters? TV writers do the same thing: they didn’t come up with the world but it’s their job to write the episodes. It’s a challenge, no doubt to fit your writing style and dialogue to another. For all the flak fan fiction gets, it can be a remarkable writing exercise. It’s also useful if you want to just get started writing something and don’t want to have to do all the research and all normally required. So yeah, if you’re lazy and just want to write, fan fiction is a valid outlet.
Why am I writing a post about fan fiction? Simple, I’m starting work on an Uncharted one. Yeah, I know; I’m a nerd who needs justification. I want to write an adventure story, so why not use one of my favorite video games? I’m doing historical research and really want the challenge of trying to capture the spirit of the story and characters.
So yeah. Fan fiction.
Writer’s Note: Apologies again for another shorter/lackluster post; I’m now in Morocco on a school trip. Yes. That is my excuse. Again. Now let me go get shawarma.