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Originality and Authenticity in the World of Published Fan-Fiction - Discussion

From Wikipedia - Fan-fiction is fictional writing written in an amateur capacity as fans, unauthorized by, but based on an existing work of fiction. The author uses copyrighted characters, settings, or other intellectual properties from the original creator(s) as a basis for their writing.

I never wrote Twilight fics. Instead, I wrote K-Pop fan-fiction over ten years ago. I wrote about the group called SHINee. I wrote everything from smut to fluff. It was so much fun to connect with others who loved to write and loved this amazing K-Pop group. I even came in second in a SHINee fanfic contest, which was awesome! 

At this time, I already knew I loved writing and wanted to get something published one day, but I never thought my fanfics would have a chance. Today it seems more and more fan-fiction is not only getting published but becoming popular! 

The newest hyped book is The Love Hypothesis, which was a Rylo fanfic (Kylo Ren and Rey from Star Wars). Everyone I’ve ever seen is in love with this book. The first I ever remember hearing about was, of course, 50 Shades of Grey, a Twilight fan-fiction. 

There have been so many over the years... Cassandra Clare, who writes the ever popular Mortal Instruments, started out writing Harry Potter fics and a lot of her work ended up word for word in her mortal instruments series. 

Fan-fiction gives fans a way not only to express themselves with characters they love but also to keep the story alive. I don’t know about you, but how many times have you finished a series and wished there was more? Well, you can always check out fan-fiction, to keep the story going. 

It’s an amazing thing! 

But published fan-fiction, it’s a weird grey area to me. I know some authors - like Anne Rice- dislike any fan-fiction at all (she has backpedaled and said it’s fine). Which I think it sad, if no money is being made, what’s the big deal? It just proves how much an author’s work is loved that we, as fans, want to keep it alive. 

But where I think the grey area comes into play... stories like 50 Shades, After, and even The Love Hypothesis getting published. 

Yes, we know things get changed, names, places, other little things, so it makes the story different, but does it still make it right? After is based on Harry Styles from One Direction. A real person. Which always bugs me because in every book I’ve read, I see something like this passage:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. - The Book Designer

That’s not very true for After, is it? Harry Styles is a real person, and it’s a fan-fiction about him and the rest of One Direction pops up too. 

In my mind, it’s like taking my SHINee fanfics, changing the names and then getting it published. Even now, it’s based on actual people. It just doesn’t sit right with me personally. 

Not to mention the creativity part. When you sit down to write a story, you have a lot you have to do. Create the plot, characters, get to know those characters, set the right flow, leave no plot holes, come up with side plots, have a good ending or set up the next book... and so on.

If you’re basing your characters off real people... does that not take away from the process? And when a book like this blows up... are we saying it’s fine with us if authors don’t fully create their characters anymore? 

Moving away from After and basing characters off of real people... 

I am a character driven reader. I fall hard for characters; they are the main reason I read. Plots are important! As much as I love characters, A Court of Frost and Starlight was kinda boring because there really wasn’t a plot.

But if you give me a well-rounded character that feels so real I can picture them out there existing in real life *swoon* 

So when someone... copies something from their fan-fiction work and puts it into their new stories... it feels less authentic to the character and really takes me out of a story.

Though Mortal Instruments and the Draco Trilogy do not share a plot, some fans believe that Clary and Jace are based on Claire’s fanon versions of Ginny and Draco. Additionally, one passage from Draco Veritas, which tells the story of Draco’s pet falcon, appears word-for-word in City of Bones; the only differences are minor punctuation changes and the amendment of “Draco” to “the boy” (now referring to Jace). -

Cassandra Clare is the mega-popular author of the Mortal Instruments - With spin-off series that are still going on today. 

I found out about Cassandra Clare in 2015-2016, and it ruined her work for me. I can’t read anything she writes anymore because it left me wondering if she’s ever published something original? Or is everything just based on the fan-fiction she wrote? 

I guess that’s what this is all really boiling down to for me... originality and authenticity. 

In my personal opinion (and if you don’t agree with me, that’s cool! All are welcome here! Even if we don’t agree, it takes all kinds to make the world go around), getting fan-fiction published just doesn’t feel original or authentic. 

Or with Cassandra Clare, taking word for word from her fanfic to give another character his backstory just doesn’t feel authentic. 

I actually wanted to read the Love Hypothesis until I found out about its fan-fiction days. Yes, I know they change things to the story, but that’s when the inauthenticity thing comes into play for me. 

So, I guess what this all means is; I LOVE fan-fiction. I’m just not the biggest fan of it getting published. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think fan-fiction writers don’t deserve to get published. If a fan-fiction writer comes up with a totally original idea and plot, then yes! Publish that! But don’t change a few names, minor plot stuff, and so forth and ask me to pay for it when I could’ve gotten the original online for free. 

Now, the part where I want to hear from you! I did a pole on Twitter about how you felt about fan-fiction being published and it was 50/50. So please let me know below. 

I’ll say it again, I don’t care if we disagree, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. This is a safe space. Just keep everything civil in the comments and it’s all good. 

One last time, this is just my opinion. Read what you want! You love 50 Shades! Great! You enjoyed The Love Hypothesis? I’m so glad to hear it! You still binge the new Cassie Clare book? More power to you! Read what makes you happy, my friend. 

****** RIP Anne Rice******

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