I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.

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Title: I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.
Creator: bookshop
Date(s): May 3, 2010
Medium: online
Topic: fanfic
External Links: I'm done explaining why fanfic is okay., page 1, Archived version, page 2, Archived version, page 3, Archived version, page 4, Archived version, page 5, Archived version, page 6, Archived version, page 7, Archived version, page 8, Archived version, page 9, Archived version, page 10, Archived version, page 11, Archived version, page 12, Archived version, page 13, Archived version, page 14, Archived version
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I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay. is a 2010 piece of meta posted to LiveJournal by bookshop.

The post was in direct response to Fan-Fiction and Moral Conundrums (Diana Gabaldon) but is phrased in such a way as to address any "author of the week" who might take an anti-fanfiction stance, and can be seen as emblematic of the environment at the time in which authors who had a vocal stance on fanfiction were more likely to be against in than in favour of it.

The post features a long list of professional and historical fiction, plays, films and other works of art which essentially qualify as "fanworks" (or more accurately, transformative works[note 1]), in a bid to prove that creators have been making transformative works since the beginning of time. bookshop makes the argument if these works are considered legitimate - and in the case of some of them, artistic masterpieces - then there is no basis for calling fanworks illegitimate or worthless.

On March 20, 2012, bookshop updated the post with new additions to the list and more details about the original listed works, many of these suggested by commenters on the original post. On December 2, 2012 she also created a rebloggable version of the post to be shared around on Tumblr. As of January 2022, it has more than 27,000 notes.

The Introduction

Dear Author of the Week, [note 2]

You think fanfic is a personal affront to the many hours you've spent carefully crafting your characters. You think fanfic is "immoral and illegal." You think fanfiction is just plagiarism. You think fanfiction is cheating. You think fanfic is for people who are too stupid/lazy/unimaginative to write stories of their own. You think there are exceptions for people who write published derivative works as part of a brand or franchise, because they're clearly only doing it because they have to. You're personally traumatized by the idea that someone else could look at your characters and decide that you did it wrong and they need to fix it/add original characters to your universe/send your characters to the moon/Japan/their hometown. You think all fanfic is basically porn. You're revolted by the very idea that fic writers think what they do is legitimate.

We get it.

Congratulations! You've just summarily dismissed as criminal, immoral, and unimaginative each of the following Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and works:

Some Additional Excerpts

And what about Shakespeare himself? Of all his body of known work, only 2 of his plays were not readily cobbled together or lifted directly from previously existing sources. It's a popular thing to call Shakespeare a plagiarist; what he was, more accurately, was a writer of excellent fanfic. All's Well That Ends Well was fanficced straight out of Boccacio's Decameron. Cymbeline was hodpodged together from the Decameron, Holinshed's Chronicles and Geoffrey of Monmouth, while The Merchant of Venice was a veritable mixed source gumbo.
As multiple commenters have pointed out, the Aeneid is a fanfic of the Iliad by the original Homerian fanboy Virgil, starring Aeneas as a Gary Stu who founds Rome. The Aeneid itself has been fanficced in Black Ships by Jo Graham and Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin, as well as David Gemmell's Troy trilogy, based on the Iliad and drawing from the Aeneid. gehayi adds, "This particular piece of fanfic was written over a period of ten years--from 29 to 19 B.C.E. It has been around for more than two thousand years. People have studied it, read it and considered it a work of genius for almost that entire length of time. Do NOT underestimate the staying power of fanfic." redex also throws in “Cassandra by Christa Wolf, a stream-of-consciousness Mary-Sue Cassandra!POV feminist retelling of the Iliad taking the Aeniad as canon.” And missdirector adds: Of course, we can't forget the extremely famous first published self-insert RPF fanfic, Dante's Divine Comedy ("And then I met Virgil and we became BEST FRIENDS...") :D
But, you say, fanfic operates totally outside of the consent of the original authors. The only way someone can profit from fanfiction is if they wait until the author or subject is dead! Oh, really? Have some examples of professional works written outside the consent of the original authors and/or subjects, while the subjects are still very much alive and/or the original author's works are still very much under copyright:

But, you insist, real authors and publishers would never give their blessing to fanfiction--the only way it could ever occur is without the author's permission!

Not true! Have some examples of fanfiction sanctioned by industry professionals and/or the original authors themselves--and in some cases, written by the original authors:

Sara Donati's use of Diana Gabaldon's characters in her book Into the Wilderness. Quotes Donati in this interview, "I said, "Well, I've got this injured boy over here and Nathaniel is looking for a doctor. Can I have Claire?" I was completely joking. And Diana said, "Sure. I'll send her over." So her characters show up briefly in my storyline."

That, my dear Ms. Author of the Week, is what is known as Crossover fanfic.

A 2018 Addendum

You know, honestly, when this post was made way back in 2010, and @seasquared and I were chatting and started brainstorming this list, we were both just so exasperated that we even needed to make it?

Like this was 2 years before 50 Shades blew open the floodgates on legitimizing fanfiction, but in 2010, we were just so baffled that this backwards, regressive conversation about fanfic still was being had, when there were uncountable examples of culturally sanctioned fanfiction everywhere.

And I was very much like, “this is a no-brainer, everything i’m writing here is so obvious, it’s SO OBVIOUS, it’s redundant and rhetorical, this list is pointless,” lol. I was so certain that most people, at least most people within fandom writing fanfic, already knew that these cultural works existed. And I was sure most fic writers already operated under the assumption that they had absolutely zero reason to be ashamed or defensive or cowed by the cultural contempt for fanfiction, because they knew that these equivalencies were out there, and they were too obvious to ignore.

but then i posted that list, and people were just blown away by it, and it went kinda viral, and seemed to change so many minds!! and what really got me was that within fandom, so many people were thanking me for it, because they honestly hadn’t realized that there was such a huge vast repository of culturally sanctioned fanfiction, and it made them feel validated in a way that I don’t think they had before.

And basically that was the day i learned that sometimes there’s a huge, tremendous value in stating what you think is blatantly obvious, because it’s not always obvious, at all, to everyone else.

And the whole thing kind of profoundly opened my eyes to how much fucking internalized shame there is in fandom, about fanfiction, for absolutely no goddamn reason. [1]

Some Fan Comments

I'm here via the link on Diana Gabaldon's intelligent, logical and well-researched treatise crazycakes rant about fanfiction and I have to say that your list of works is amazing and eye-opening. Even though I'm aware of the, uh, fluid nature of storytelling (as a lazy writer myself), it's absolutely fascinating to see how many stories and narratives borrow from each other out there. It's impossible to exist as a writer in an insular manner and it's equally impossible to stop yourself from being influenced by everything you read and see around you.

I think the best bit of your response to misguided authors is the statement that "it's not about you". These are clearly writers who have a hard time letting go of their story once it's published and out there in the wide world. Once someone else reads your story, it becomes theirs. The characters won't look anything like they do in your own head, neither will the setting and they probably won't agree that killing off a particular character was the best thing for the plot. And that's the absolute best thing about writing: it's shared.

Fanfic most definitely isn't about stealing; it's all about giving back.[2]
Whenever various authors of the week have taken to their podiums to RANT ABOUT FANFICTION, I've always taken at a sign that they are really, REALLY underinformed about literary history and theory. Not that one needs to be so to be a good writer, but I find it very telling that I have never, *ever* come across an actual expert in the field of literary studies who would make the arguments these Authors of the Week make. Perhaps because they're all aware of things like intertextuality, and authors like Joyce, Stoppard, and Carter; they're also aware of how recent the primacy of the ~author~ as Original Artiste is, and of many of the vagaries of copyright law.[3]

I don't even know what to say about this. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you. To me, fanfiction is just a tangible representation of love for something. And it's an outlet. So many people would never write if not for fanfiction. Mistful began on LJ writing Harry Potter fanfics, and now she is the published author of a hugely popular, wonderfully original trilogy. Had she not had fanfiction in which to hone her craft, we would all be deprived of her trilogy today. And me, I've been a fanfic author for many, many years. I was writing fanfics before I knew they were called fanfics. I still remember the joyful day I discovered fanfiction.net, and realised that there were other people out there who wrote stories like I did. And like Mistful, my fanfics have been the launching pad I needed to have the courage to write my own novels. And as an author-in-progress, I feel free to say I'm really looking forward to seeing people writing fanfics about my work. I can't wait to see what people do with my ideas and characters.

In short, fanfiction is an expression of love and should be left alone.[4]


  1. ^ bookshop makes this clear in a note at the bottom of the post which explains, "It is absolutely not my intention to make the claim that anything with the least resemblance to something else is fanfiction. All of the works in this post have been deliberately sourced from pre-existing sources, with the intention of changing those sources, or adding to / expanding them in some way."
  2. ^ This was a link to Diana Gabaldon's essay which has since been removed, however an archive of it exists here.


  1. ^ bookshop.tumblr (August 2, 2018)
  2. ^ LiveJournal comment by katiefoolery, May 4, 2010 (Accessed January 3, 2022).
  3. ^ LiveJournal comment by kitsune13, May 4, 2010 (Accessed January 3, 2022).
  4. ^ LiveJournal comment by schuldige_katze, May 4, 2010 (Accessed January 3, 2022).