Sunday, April 21, 2013


Star Trek devotees started the fanficiton
craze with the magazine above 
I must confess to a recent obsession with fanfiction--not of the fantasy sort, but more along the lines of Jane Austen novels. The variations and the scope within even the seemingly limited world of Jane Austen have me amazed at every turn. This minor obsession has led me to wonder about writing fanfiction myself. In today's blog post, then, I'd like to explore some of the pros and cons of writing fanfiction, whether for fantasy or other stories.

Before I begin, though, let me mention that my first full-length story (ahem, first forty-page scribbled notebook story!) was a fanfiction of Nancy Rue's Josiah Hutchinson stories. I used to love the characters and conflicts of Josiah's life in Salem and, naturally, I wanted in on the action. Since completing that story, I've dabbled into fanfiction only once in a two-page story about Eragon that I began but very quickly abandoned. Now, however, I find myself rather tempted by the thought of exploring Jane Austen through fanfiction!

Which leads me to wonder...should I or shouldn't I? To help me decide, I'll be exploring the pros and cons of fanfiction in today's post.


  • Head start on the story: One of the greatest benefits of fanfiction is that the story contains already developed characters and a "storyworld"--or setting--that gives you a head start in your writing. You don't need to worry about what the characters look, act, or talk like; all you need to worry about is the plot.
  • Motivation: If you already love the stories and the world, then writing fanfiction may give you the right motivation to carry your story through to the end. You might not be motivated enough to write your own story, but a fanfiction of Lord of the Rings? Bring it on!
  • Fan base: A definite benefit of writing a story in a genre that has a fan base is that you have an instant audience for your story. A niche market for a particular type of fanfiction can provide your first readers and critiquers, who will eagerly devour and help improve your story.


  • Copyright issues: This is the main issue in writing fanfiction. Because of copyright issues, your work must remain private and non-commercial unless you write a fanfiction of an older story without copyright restrictions (such as Jane Austen's works). Thus, be aware that even if you write a stunning fanfiction, you might never be able to publish your work.
  • Lack of originality and freedom: When you write fanfiction, you don't have very much room to change characters or to develop the story in your own directions. You may feel a bit confined, particularly to the author's original writing style. While I of course realize that you want to respect the original author's works, I would recommend that you don't confine yourself to do exactly as the original author did. Otherwise, you risk being predictable. Instead, explore and push the limits, even in your fanfiction.
  • Perceived image: A risk of writing fanfiction is that you may end up looking like you're piggy-backing off of someone else's work. Readers may wonder whether your writing would stand up on its own, without the framework of someone else's story. Be prepared for questions and doubts, both of your own making and of your readers' making.
  • Restricted imagination: Personally, I believe making up your own characters and setting is a unique opportunity for your imagination to grow and develop. If you never branch out on your own, you may end up restricting your imagination (not to mention your confidence for future writing!). Make sure, therefore, to keep fanfiction in balance with works that come from your own imagination.

That brings us to the end of our pro-and-con evaluation. So, will I end up writing some Jane Austen fanfiction? I'm thinking, for now, I'll focus on writing my own stories. Perhaps someday, though, Austen's characters and stories will re-awaken to life under my pen!

What about everyone else? Have any of you written fanfiction? What are some pros or cons you've experienced?

Warning: One does not simply write fanfiction...without going a little bit insane.


  1. I really like how you explore both sides of the (ahem) story, and not just telling people to go and write fan fiction. Funny thing, I really like those Josiah Hutchinson stories, too! Hope your writing goes well!
    Note: It would be a good post on how to conquer writer's block....

    1. Thank you, Hannah! Yes, I know you like those stories... :) And thanks for the suggestion!


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