Rose B. Fischer: Fangirls Just Wanna Have Fun (Discussing the Lighter Side of Fanfiction)

Sometime last year, I was interested in how fanfiction and fanfic writers are percieved in the WordPress community.  I came across the following comment on an author’s blog.

“Fanfiction is the literary equivalent to running around with a toy lightsaber pretending to be Luke Skywalker.”

I didn’t engage with the commenter because I thought it would just start a fight.  I can’t remember the blog where I saw the statement, so I can’t provide a link.  I did have a productive discussion with original poster in the comments section, so I wish I could remember. The comment has stayed on my mind for a long time now, and I think this is a perfect place to address it.

I’m not sure what the commenter means by this.  I would either interpret it as “Fanfic authors aren’t real writers.” or “All fanfiction is juvenile wish fulfillment/author insertion with no cultural or literary value.” I disagree with both of those viewpoints, but let’s put that aside for the time being.

Suppose that all fanfiction authors were less skilled or committed to the craft of writing than people who write original fiction. So what? Why does that matter? Skill level doesn’t make or break a writer. People become more skilled in creative pursuits as they practice.  Meanwhile, they are doing something that makes them happy.  There’s no objective way to measure another person’s talent, commitment or “chops” as an artist.  It’s not fair to make statements like this.

Suppose all fanfiction was the literary equivalent to a child’s imaginative play.  Again, so what? The games and imaginary adventures that I had as a child were rich and complex. They brought hours of enjoyment to my siblings and I, created bonds that have lasted into adulthood, and they helped shape me into the writer that I became.  I’m not ashamed of them. I’ve even used some of them as the basis for adult fiction.  (And now that it’s come up, I think I may blog about that in the future. Thank you, Natacha.)

There is no harm done when a writer creates a story–any story–for pure recreation and enjoyment.  What difference does it make if the story is not the Great American Novel?  It’s supposed to be fun!


Rose B. Fischer is speculative fiction author and creative entrepreneur. Her current project is The Foxes of Synn, a low-tech science fantasy serial. Click here for more information. She is a survivor of domestic violence who lives with multiple disabilities. In the early 2000s, she became homeless after leaving her abusive spouse. She later entered a transitional housing program while attending college. These experiences inspired her to begin writing non-fiction, and have had lasting impacts on her approach to fiction writing. She publishes science fiction, science fantasy, horror, and biographical essays. On her website, she writes about the intersection of storytelling, social responsibility, art, and pop culture in the internet age. She also offers custom designs and templates for indie authors, musicians, and other muse-herders. Her website, rosebfischer.com, features a growing collection of free and pay to use stock art, as well as tutorials and many other features for writers, artists, readers, and viewers.

14 thoughts on “Rose B. Fischer: Fangirls Just Wanna Have Fun (Discussing the Lighter Side of Fanfiction)

  1. It is an odd comment, and perhaps written by someone who doesn’t understand the writing process. Because, to me, whether we writers pen an original story or create a new adventure for our favourite characters in literature, we are having fun. We are letting our imagination carry us away, being at one with our inner child, or writing for the pure joy of it – there are so many reasons. Give me a lightsaber any day of the week and I’ll run with it 😉

    1. Yup–you know, any time I write spaceflight scenes I’m Captain Kirk or John Sheridan in my head, no matter whether I’m fanficcing or not. Who cares? My characters aren’t Captain Kirk–unless I’m writing ST fanfic, obviously.

      1. I’ve never written a spaceflight scene, but I’m totally with you on that. I would totally channel Kirk…makes complete and utter sense to me. And, oh what fun! 😀

  2. Fanfiction will always be stigmatized by someone. I wrote am article myself addressing that. My currently posted and WIP are both fanfictions. I spend just as much time and effort writing them as I would an original work. Published stories have to go through many, many filters whereas fanfiction is only as good as the author makes it. There are no gatekeepers, but that doesn’t mean everyone who enters in is poorly dressed.

  3. I’m generally not a fan of fanfiction, but that’s just personal taste. For some, it’s a great way to start writing, and sometimes it can lead into writing your own dream projects. I look at fanfiction the same way I look at mods for computer games. They’re fans of the original product who want to add something to it in their own way. Some “mods” are terrible sure, but good “mods” can add genuine depth to the original product. That and if I was ever given the opportunity to write a novelization of one of my favourite comic characters, I would probably jump on the opportunity.

    1. Everything I write is my “dream project” when it comes to fiction, whether it’s a fanfiction or otherwise. I don’t see the point in bothering to write fiction without that level of care and commitment.

  4. I wrote a lot of ST fanfiction when I was a teenager, but I don’t now. I don’t mean that condescendingly, I mean that wistfully. I’m not sure I even could write fanfiction anymore, and I don’t think the reasons are entirely good. I feel like it’s been a long time since I loved a created world so completely and enthusiastically as I did then. Now that I’m trying to write my own SF, I look at the passion I had when I was writing fanfiction as something to aspire to.

      1. At first thought, I attribute it to “growing up” and getting older, but maybe there’s more to it. I was a shy, geeky teenager and didn’t share my fandom with too many people, maybe 1-2 close friends. At the beginning I didn’t even know there was a word for fanfiction or that it was a thing. I thought it was called plagiarism and that I could get in trouble for writing about someone else’s characters! So I kept it private. But there was something about keeping it personal and private that allowed me a lot of freedom to explore and also freedom to feel a range of raw emotions that were taboo in the real world, where I felt pressure to put on a happy face.

        Nowadays I am hoping to publish something and have other people read it, and there’s a very different internal dynamic with that goal. For better and worse, I don’t feel as free to write, and say, and feel, what is in my heart, at least not raw. Everything has to be processed first before it hits the screen. It’s a challenge, balancing that processing and raw emotion.

        1. I generally think of a first draft as the place where everything is/should be raw like that. Nobody is going to see that anyway. It’s interesting that the idea of an audience feels like a limitation to you. I will have to ponder.

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