The Sunday Salon: The Practice of Fanfiction

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Title: The Sunday Salon: The Practice of Fanfiction
Commentator: Clare McBride
Date(s): March 18, 2012
Medium: The Literary Omnivore
Fandom: Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight
External Links: The Sunday Salon: The Practice of Fanfiction
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The Sunday Salon: The Practice of Fanfiction discusses Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and how it relates to the debate about whether those who write fan fiction do it for the pleasure of it or for the desire to "go pro."

In the article, the author quotes and links to Boldly Writing, Diana Gabaldon’s rant against fanfiction[1], Aja Romano’s I'm done explaining why fanfiction is okay[2], and the debate at Dear Author.


You may have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first installment of an erotica trilogy that began life as the alternate universe Twilight fanfic Master of the Universe. For fans, it’s a story that’s both delightful in the sheer amount of drama involved and a bit troubling in how visible it’s making a piece of fanfiction, considering the possible legal repercussions. For non-fans, it’s a story of a fan turning pro. But there was one particular non-fan’s reaction that intrigued me. Over the last week, Jason Boog, the editor of GalleyCat, has covered the story for both GalleyCat and NPR. Both pretty much ask the same question—“Will the success of Fifty Shades of Grey inspire more fan fiction writers to convert their work into straight fiction?” (In fact, the NPR piece assumes that “James’ success will undoubtedly spawn a wave of repurposed fan-fiction erotica in the coming months”.)

Fanfic writers going pro is nothing new—it’s been happening since the beginning of the twentieth century. But this idea that fanfiction can be “converted” and “repurposed” into “straight fiction” (…somewhere in heaven, Diane Marchant is laughing her head off) makes my skin crawl, because it’s just the latest iteration of a common belief among non-fans—the idea that fanfiction is practice for original fiction...

... Fanfiction is not about kids practicing for the big leagues by using someone else’s intellectual property. Fanfiction is about a fan’s response to a text. That response can be as blissfully simple as sending the Firefly crew out on the adventures cancellation kept them from having or as wonderfully complex as giving Susan Pevensie a way back to God after The Last Battle. Yeah, the quality and content can be variable, but Sturgeon’s Law, which came out of science fiction fandom, states that ninety percent of everything is crap. It’s the ten percent that’s worth fighting for. That ten percent can’t be “repurposed” or “converted” into original fiction, because that direct interaction with the text is the point! And the idea that the fics that have made me cry, made me question, and made me see the world differently can be divorced from the source material with no change at all in their quality or impact disgusts me.


  1. ^ kate_nepveu. Diana Gabaldon & fanfic followup, 10 May 2010, WebCite. (Accessed 08 April 2012)
  2. ^ bookshop. I'm done explaining why fanfic is okay. 03 May 2010, WebCite. (Accessed 08 April 2012)