I like fanfiction.  It’s my not-so-secret vice.  There are two things I would like to discuss today, both to do with fanfiction.

Firstly, is fanfiction good for the author?  If, in the far future when I actually have something published, someone chooses to write fanfiction based on my work, I’d like to think I would be flattered.  It’s a sign that someone read my work, and liked the characters or world enough to want to play with them.  That’s got to be a good thing, right?

On the other hand, there is a lot of rubbish fanfiction out there.  Some, if not most, fanfiction authors are not so great at writing, and if reading their work is the first introduction someone has to mine, I can see why that would be a problem.  But then if I’m famous enough to have fanfiction written about me, I don’t think that would bother me.

Also, if they killed off my beloved characters in horrible ways, I think I’d be a little pissed.

Secondly, is writing fanfiction good for aspiring writers?  I think it is.  It gives people a chance to practice plot, pacing, keeping a consistent voice, and so on, without having to come up with all the little details of a world or characters.  All you have to do is change the situation slightly and see what happens (sounds so easy doesn’t it?).

It also allows people to practice one of the things that I find hardest about writing, which is seeing a project through to the end, without getting distracted by another cool idea, or bogged down and stuck in the plot.

On the other hand, it does take time away from your own creative exploits, so I think it’s probably better for those who love to write but don’t have anything they are currently working on of their own.

I do think, though, that serious aspiring writers should keep their fanfiction and “normal” fiction separate.  Like having an online persona that you use for work and one that you use for your social life.

What are your opinions of fanfiction?  Would you be flattered or upset if someone wrote one about your book?  Do you think it’s helpful or harmful for the aspiring writer?