FanFic: what is it and should authors do it?

I was a year into the writing world before I first heard the word fanfic. Another year passed before I understood it. And now, on my third year in the writing community, I'm taking a stab at it.

So… what is fanfic?

fanfic - short for 'fan fiction' is:

fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.

In other words, it's when a writer like me (or you) sits down and writes a story that involves Christian Grey, Harry Potter or that sexy asshole from Gossip Girls. The fanfic author's fictional characters interact in a new original story with the original author's characters.

But wait… isn't that like plagiarism? Or copyright infringement? Well... you aren't stealing someone's words, just the worlds that they have created. And stealing might be the wrong word. Borrowing is more appropriate.

So… is fanfic legal?

It's complicated. There are audiences on either side of that debate, and it isn't a clear cut issue or else lawsuits would be a lot more common. There is a legal basis called 'transformative use' that allows a person to take a copyrighted item and transform it into their own work, for purposes of criticism, humor (such as a parody) or commentary. Fan fiction really isn't that, but that is the legal argument most commonly used. Another argument is that fan fiction is a non-profit community. Literally, the golden rule of the fanfic community is "Thou shalt not try to make money from fanfic." Reader Jessica wants more of Edward Cullen so she writes a bunch of scenes between him and Bella and posts them online for other people to read for free.

But sometimes, fanfic does cross the line into profit centers. Take the fabulous EL James, whose Fifty Shades of Grey enterprise started out as Twilight fanfic. Or Anna Todd, whose One Direction fanfic earned her a mid-six figure print deal. Or Christina Lauren, whose Twilight fanfic turned into a substantial two-book deal (Beautiful Bastard). In fanfic-to-print deals like those, the publisher's edits changed the characters' names and story details enough to hide the original inspiration.

And you wrote fanfic?

I just did! My first ever piece. I was approached and wrote it as part of an event is running to celebrate the Fifty Shades movie release. I'm not gonna lie, I was a little nervous to dip my toe into this pond. There was so much I didn't know. Like the fact that fanfic is written in second person POV, where the main character is referred to as 'you'. This was my first time writing in that point-of-view. And.. to put the pressure higher, it was a scene with CHRISTIAN GREY. Yeah. That guy. The one with the tie and the helicopter and the hot ass sex scenes.

So… want to read it? You can see it here -->