Fanfic: The Nekkid Truth
|News Media Commentary|
|Title:||Fanfic: The Nekkid Truth|
|Date(s):||03 September 2000 or before|
|External Links:||Fanfic: The Naked Truth (Wayback)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
It’s a big world out there, people. And by “big,” I mean full of fanfic. Every genre has fanfic, whether it’s sci-fi, fantasy, horror, or superheroes, or any other one I just missed. You will, inevitably, run across fanfic as you as you surf the web typing in search words for shows and characters you like. It’s out there, and it’s all over the place. With this feature, I aim to help you understand that it’s nothing to be afraid of.Well, most of it.
Basically, fanfic is another way for fans to get involved with the objects of their fandom. The first thing you need to understand is that there is massive fandom organization around nearly every genre anything – if you can’t find it, you are not looking hard enough. Just like attending conventions, fanfic is a unique form of interaction among fans.Fanfic has blossomed with the Internet, just like all of fandom. But it did not invent fanfic, it just facilitated it. Years before everyone had fast computers and surfed the net, fanfic was distributed by hand. You could go to any con and find a rack of staple-bound, Xeroxed manuscripts. My first such experience was in 1992, where a Star Trek/Dr. Who crossover caught my eye.  It cost me 10 bucks, and it sucked.
So why do people do it? They don’t get paid. You can’t make money off writing fanfic, because you don’t have a license to use those characters (but I’ll get to that). The currency of fanfic really is just feedback from other fans and page views. The nature of anarchy on the net and in fandom has something to do with it; if the shows won’t do what the fans want, they’ll do it themselves. The bottom line is, in theory, that fanfic writers just write for fun. Some fanfic writers are budding professional writers and use it as practice. But at the same time, other writers have no desire or intention to write as a living. And fans can’t show their fanfic work to people in the business at all: the people responsible for the shows avoid it like the plague. If anything, say, a Xena screenwriter does even remotely resembles a plot a fanfic author told him about, that’s grounds for that fanfic author to (attempt to) sue for plagiarism. That's a common fear, anyway.
My take on the whole thing is this. Fanfic, by and large, is not meant to compete, it’s meant to promote. Fans are expressing their affection for the shows in question through their writing. Every fanfic writer knows the deal, most slap copyright notices on every piece they write, telling readers who actually owns the stuff. Will it draw viewers or readers away from the original? That's a valid concern, to an extent: Star Trek fans aren't going to stop watching Voyager just because there's so much Trekfic out on the web; but then again, some of them might not bother to watch it in syndication, or they might not bother to get a professionally-written novel, both of which mean less money for the people who make Star Trek possible.
But don’t take this to mean that all fanfic is like reading Penthouse Forum. There’s a lot more of it out there that just deals with stories set in the show’s universe, using those characters. Episodes the fans would like to see, interactions between characters that never happened, or couldn’t happen. When Lois & Clark: The Adventures of Superman was cancelled after three seasons, its fanfic organization got together and wrote an ENTIRE FOURTH SEASON online. Some writers pick a certain point in a show or character’s history, and diverge from there. One fanfic group I found decided X-Men comics weren’t up to snuff after a certain point – so each writer in the group took one of the X-books, and wrote an entire script monthly, doing it how they wanted it.
- Probably The Doctor and the Enterprise.