I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Meta
Title: I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.
Creator: bookshop
Date(s): May 3, 2010
Medium: online
Fandom:
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
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

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 also a general response to the constant complaints of some authors about the scourge of fanfiction.

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[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 February 2018, it has more than 24,700 notes.

The Introduction

Dear Author of the Week, [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. [3]

References

  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 exsists here.
  3. ^ bookshop.tumblr (August 2, 2018)