Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Welcome! Come on in, and sit down.

Welcome to My Worlds

I’ve got a lot to say.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Jespah 2012 Welcome
Jespah 2012

This blog is going to be about fan fiction, of the Star Trek kind, mostly Enterprise although I do branch out into the other series’ and the films’ universes on occasion. But my main focus is ENT.

If you don’t like fanfiction, you might want to turn back now. But if you aren’t sure, or if you think it’s just for those who can’t be creative, I urge you to consider a few things.

Adaptations

Fan fiction, in essence, is like an “adapted by” or “based on” credit in the movies or on television. Sure, it’s not 100%, absolutely, completely, utterly, blisteringly, breathtakingly original. But that “adapted by” credit? Let’s see where else it is, or where it should be, shall we?

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

How about West Side Story, for starters? And they didn’t even credit the original author! Instead, playwright Jerome Robbins and writers Ernest Lehman and Arthur Laurents are shown. Funny how William Shakespeare isn’t listed, eh? Well, I guess the Bard didn’t have a very good agent. Take a look here if you don’t believe me.

Or what about Ten Things I Hate About You? Oh, there’s another one with no credit for poor ole Will. Instead, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith get the nod. Check ‘em out here.

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Willie the Shake isn’t the only writer who gets short shrift with adaptations. What about Clueless? Amy Heckerling is the only writer with a credit. If I were Jane Austen, I’d be a little upset, seeing as its basis is Emma. Don’t believe me? Take a gander here.

There are countless vampire film and television adaptations, copies and suggestions – they don’t all mention Bram Stoker. Twilight certainly doesn’t mention the father of the vampire genre, although it does give credit to Melissa Rosenberg and Stephenie Meyer. Check it out.

At least Charles Dickens gets a “suggestion” credit for Scrooged, but the real billing is left for Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue. See the list of Scrooged writers.

Adaptations Outside of English

Of course English writers are not the only ones out there who are hit up for adaptations, suggestions and the like, and English language films aren’t the only adapters, but at least Shakespeare gets a mention in Ran, along with Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni and Masato Ide. Perhaps it’s the Eastern cultural imperative to respect one’s ancestors at work here.

Here’s a film based on a Spanish poem – El Cid. And, you may have guessed it, no credit for the original author, believed to be Per Abbad, but plenty of credit for Fredric M. Frank, Philip Yordan and Ben Barzman. Take a look at the list of El Cid writers.

The Point?

And then there’s The Wind Done Gone and other parallel novels, which use other books’ scenarios as their own. See Wikipedia for a list.

What’s the point of all of this research?

The bottom line is that fan fiction isn’t significantly different. It’s a cousin, if you will, to adapted screenplays, suggested stories and parallel novelizations. Plenty of perfectly wonderful and respected works of art, from the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to the book Grendel are all, truly, based on someone else’s universe.

Do you accept those other works? Do you eagerly stand in line for tickets to Wicked, or watch the Clueless TV program in reruns, or read Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea? Then, my friend, you are a consumer of art that is quite similar to fan fiction. Why embrace one and find fault with the other?

Come with me, and explore, what it means to be human – or Vulcan, or Denobulan or even an original species like Daranaean, or Calafan or Witannen or others – in a vast, unfamiliar place, where death can haunt every light-year or love and friendship might just be around the next bend in the corridor or a lift or transport ride away. Come and explore the outer, the other and the new and strange, but also the familiar and homelike part we all have in us.

Writing is not an activity solely the province of those who are paid any more than imagination solely belongs to those who create for a living. Come and see what I made, and where I am taking things and, frankly, where characters and planets and storylines and events are taking me.

I welcome and open my door to you, and am turning on the light, for you to see into my worlds.

14 thoughts on “Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction”

  1. Nice little explanation about why fan fiction is not a cheesy concept jespah. Your quite right, nothing really is original, but there will always be new stories out there to wow and impress people. A good blog, and it made me feel better about what I’m doing with my fan fic writing. So thank you.

    Ln X

    1. Naughty indeed. That is actually the view from a hotel we like to stay at on Cape Cod. The photo is from 2010 – maybe I’ll have Mr. J take some authorly-type photos to sprinkle around.

  2. Very perceptive, Jespah. Authors can make distinctions in legality, that their appropriations of Old Bill and The Wizard of Oz are of works that are in the public domain, but looked at from a creative point of view you are absolutely right – they are derivative works just like ours.

    I will accept a copyright owner putting restrictions on fan fiction since they have a legal claim to do so but when professional writers – and even worse the general public – try to pretend that there is some impermeable barrier between original and fan fiction? I abhor discrimination in any form and that is what this is, creative discrimination.

    Nice place you’ve got here!

    K

  3. Terrific post about fanficcing and its many merits jespah. It isn’t so much fanficcing as finding inspiration in wonderful worlds created by others.  And I’m more than happy to step through the door and see the light.

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