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Fanfiction: A Writer's Remix

An exploration of the "low art" of fanfiction as it applies to the recreation and remixing of text.

Tricia Dupew

on 18 February 2011

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Transcript of Fanfiction: A Writer's Remix

A Writer's Remix The Originals The Sites FanFiction.net -fanfic mecca(u) Twilighted -Twilight only(m) harrypotterfanfiction.com -Harry Potter only(m) WizardTales -fantasy genres(m) lotrfanfiction.com -Lord of the Rings only(m) anime-fanfiction.com -various anime fandoms(m) The Authors Usually make and expect no money range in age from "13" on up (13 marks the legal age for membership on websites without parental consent) often spend as much time writing fanfiction as they do on school or work do not claim authorship of characters or setting (identify strongly with the authors themselves and often revere them) unashamedly crave and often demand feedback The Stories Must contain a disclaimer and a credit to the original author exist at all skill levels from novice to masterpiece range in length from 100 words (a "drabble") to novel-length Contain various mixes of fandom and "original" material The Categories The General Series Piece The fanfiction author duplicates (with varying degrees of success) the characters, settings, and general storyline of the original, but places characters in situations different than in the original. The outcome in these situations is often predictable - good wins over evil, the hero gets the girl, etc. These may include:

Predictive Stories - Taking place in series fandoms like Harry Potter or Twilight, the author attempts to write part or all of a story that has not yet been published

Prequels - Again taking place most often in series fandoms, prequels are attempts by the fanfiction author to write a story that could act as an earlier part of the original series

These stories are very, very rarely able to be sold for profit

Note: Series pieces are usually multi-chaptered, sometimes running all the way to full novel-length. The Remake The fanfiction author rewrites an old story, usually making only changes that are meant to modernize or make the story appealing to a new audience.

Remakes are often done with stories old enough to be in the public domain (Gnomeo and Juliet, anyone? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?)
In the world of modern fanfiction, remakes are often considered to be plagiarism and not worth the reader's time

Note: This is one of the few forms of fanfiction in which the authors may be (and probably are) in it for the money. The Retake The fanfiction author creates stories that take place after - sometimes years after - the events of the completed story or series. Referred to in the fanfiction world as "after the end" stories, these differ from general series fanfiction in that the author is working with characters who may have changed, and generally has more freedom to create while still not varying from the original "canon".

These stories, like remakes, are only able to be written for profit with the permission of the original author/publisher or if they have gone out of copyright

Young adult fiction such as Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Twilight, and the like are the best fandoms for retakes The Saga The fanfiction author extends the scope of the stories from the original characters and settings to include ancestors and predecessors as well as descendants.

Though they do exist, novel-length fanfictions in this subgenre are rare because there is not generally enough information from the original source to satisfy the more casual fanfiction author

The most common ventures in to the area of saga are one-shots (short stories) or novella-length stories

These stories are almost never able to be sold for profit, with the notable exceptions of the Star Trek and Star Wars, the copyright holders of which are rumored to sell the rights to just about anyone And their places in the realm of repetition The General Series Piece The Remake The Retake The Saga The Reasons Fanfiction authors list a lot of different reasons for what they do, but generally, they can be summarized into three overlapping groups:

Obsession with and reverence for their chosen fandoms and authors

The hope of training through peer criticism and practice

The hope of profit from their work in the form of publication in the few fandoms that allow it, or in the form of an online presence that creates revenue via advertisements Original Author Responses Most popular authors either directly approve of fanfiction (within certain parameters) or more or less ignore it unless it becomes either or a direct or indirect threat to their own perceived rights as author.

There are many authors who publically disapprove of fanfiction and have asked the more highly populated websites not to allow fanfiction which is based upon their work to be published (Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, Orson Scott Card are three examples). Some of them disallow it because it personally offends them, others because they can't be sure of the legality and threat to their livelihood.

Other authors encourage fanfiction (J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Gene Rodenberry) for various reasons, though many of them place restrictions on what they would like to see - and all prohibit the fanfiction author from attempting to profit (A sampling) In Summary A few things to remember:

Fanfiction, according to most interpretations of US Copyright Law, is illegal - it is not considered transformative in nature, and it is not considered fair use

What seems like the majority of authors either specifically allow or turn a blind eye to fanfiction - as long as it doesn't infringe upon their copyrights

Fanfiction seems to follow the rules of iteration in the same manner as other types of fiction The Fics
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