Fan Fiction
Writers and readers typically categorize fan fiction as the worst category. But why? The primary reason is that respected works get trashed by a fan story. For example, if a person wrote a Star Wars story about Luke Skywalker’s twin brother. This is a perfectly valid storyline, but the Star Wars creators and fans would be super upset by such an outrageous slap to their treasured character. There is even a term for such deviations, “non-canon,” meaning the Star Wars creators would not consider a twin brother storyline to be part of the approved existing story.
There are authorized (legitimate) Star Wars comic books, novels, and TV/streaming shows that stray far away from the original story. I bet one of them might explore a twin story. This is true, but the creators of Star Wars do their best to keep alternate plots close to the original story.
The allure of writing fan fiction is powerful because the big story is well established, it has a huge fan base, and it is fun to write in this well-loved world. A fan writer can easily take the main story in a new direction. “James Skywalker knew he had a gift at an early age…”
Franchise owners put great effort into crushing fan fiction. This includes massive legal teams that search the ends of the internet to extinguish every creative effort. Of course, there are fan fiction sites, but they even have strict submission rules. Here is a submission guideline for one site:
The overall theme of the above site is not to mess too much with the existing work, including not changing the main character’s backstories, adding big concepts, tarnishing core concepts, or killing a main character. They also do not like intimate relationships, mixing different parts of the franchise (like Star Trek Deep Space Nine with Star Trek The Next Generation), wacky dreams, or introducing something from another franchise like Captain Kirk using a Star Wars light saber.
Would I ever consider writing in this space? I enjoy the freedom of playing in an existing big story and have spent time thinking about a Star Trek story. Of course, I can never publish my thoughts because of copyrights and trademarks. Plus, my writing style is not a simple “sit down and start typing.” I begin with a detailed outline, thinking about it for a long time, spending over 150 hundred hours writing and over 500 hours editing. Only then do I have enough confidence to pass my precious words to a beta reader (my mother), an editor, and a copy editor. That is too much effort for a project that will sit inside my computer. But could I sell my story to the franchise?
The Star Trek owners have ultra-strict approval rules for new content, and my story violates them all. Working in this space means the franchise owner gets most of the profit. To make matters worse, big franchise owners only work with particular authors, and it would take a miracle for them to even look at my words. What about a fan site like the one above? My concept invents huge backstories, so the site would not accept it. It seems my idea will never get a single keystroke. It’s your loss, Star Trek fans.
Yet, writing for fun is just that. Who cares if nobody reads a writer’s words? Fan fiction readers are just that: enjoyers of fan fiction. Fans write because they like to be part of something big. They write knowing they will never make any money or receive praise. This is probably the ultimate form of devotion. And if a reader does not like such works, they certainly will never go to a fan fiction site. So, no harm.
How would I feel about a fan fiction story based on one of my books? After getting over the shock and joy that somebody took the time to write something based on my words, anger would set in. “Hey, think up your own ideas and stay away from mine!” I think many writers feel the same way. Yet, there is good news. I have a great imagination, which, if let loose, would do more damage than Captain Kirk could have ever done.

You’re the best -Bill
April 24, 2019 Updated March 23, 2024
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