I’m sure (and if I’m wrong about this, feel free to correct me) that a significant proportion of writers out there, have either written or, at the very least thought about writing, some kind of fan fiction.
Speaking purely for myself, (which is all I’m qualified to do) I’ve kicked the idea around a few times, even started a couple pieces that I never finished. Occasionally, I think about going back and doing some more. But as is so often the case with me, I find myself somewhat conflicted about it.
Leaving aside the various legal issues, which I don’t pretend to understand fully, my main source of conflict is whether or not fan fiction is good for me as a writer. As a reader, I have absolutely no issue with it. I’ve read dozens of books set in the Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who universes, among others; and thoroughly enjoyed a good many of them. Now I know what you’re thinking, that’s officially licensed, not what we would normally call fan fiction. To me, it’s still a writer working with characters and situations they didn’t originate. And I’d like to think that at least some of the authors that do these licensed works, have some degree of affection for the worlds they’re being asked to play with.
The main thing that attracted me to those books, and that keeps me coming back to the idea of writing fan fiction, is that I love these universes, these characters. And I know that there’s any number of stories that can take place in those worlds, if not with those specific characters. So why not write one?
Well, I have the nagging suspicion that it’s cheating, in some way. Realistically, I know it’s not. Even if you’re taking some pre-existing elements, you’re still telling your own story. In fact, sometimes I think it might even be freeing in a way; that having some of the foundation already done for you would allow you to focus more on the parts unique to your story. But I can’t help feeling that it’s taking the easy road.
But still, the idea keeps returning….