So, EL James is apparently publishing a novel from Christian Grey’s perspective, if you weren’t aware. I never read the series, to be honest, and I don’t have any particular feelings about this development as a result. It did make me think about something else, though: fanfiction.
Google defines fanfiction as,
“fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.”
Generally, I say that this can also be when you write original characters in the setting/world of a particular [insert medium here].
When EL James first published the books, there was a big controversy about the legitimacy of fanfiction as a creative pursuit and whether someone should be able to be paid for writing it. After all, Fifty Shades of Grey is fanfiction of Twilight with changed names. Is this fair to Stephenie Meyer? On some levels, yes—they have different audiences, and one audience doesn’t take away from the other, but James’s work also acts as publicity for Meyer’s work.
Before you say ‘no,’ though, ‘it isn’t fair,’ let’s talk.
Some people I know personally say that fanfiction is not a legitimate creative pursuit (my words) because it isn’t original. I say bull. Is there anything original under the sun? Jane Eyre might have been fanfiction of Jane Austen (though this article finds it unlikely) and Dracula was supposedly a fictional recreation of Vlad Tepes (discussed and compared here). Shakespeare used and reused historical events (such as for Macbeth) and Greek mythology (such as for A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
Besides, why should it have to be original at all? Is it not enough to applaud that a person is practicing a skill useful in countless fields? Is it not enough to acknowledge that most fanfiction never leaves the internet, and that most fanfiction notes that not all of its content is created by the fan? Is it not a callback to the idea that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?
“But fanfiction is bastardization of the source material!” You might say. “A fan couldn’t possibly get the characters or the world right!”
Once a creator releases a creative piece into the world, there’s some loss of possession, I think, some loss of control. By putting your work out there, you are allowing others to interpret it. Sometimes, interpretation doesn’t match intention. I think that’s some of the beauty of reading, though—no two people ever read exactly the same book. I would agree that some fanfiction takes characters very far out of the realm of what I interpret as feasible, but I think that much fanfiction is about the interpretation of the characters that a fan very dearly loves (or despises).
When I publish (because I refuse to think I’ll die without), I would love to read someone’s fanfiction of my work. I would love to see what possibilities a fan might come up with, using the world and/or characters I have created. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know someone has enjoyed your work so much that it has inspired that person to create something?
Don’t we all wish to inspire creativity in some form?
Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part. I don’t know. Generally, I support fanfiction because I think it’s wonderful practice as a stepping stone to “original” (and I use that word loosely) work, or just a fun past time. I don’t know about being for something that is as close as Fifty Shades of Grey was to Twilight but then I’m not an expert. I’m just a blogger, thinking, so feel free to disagree with me, and let me know why. This is something I would love to discuss!
How do you feel about Grey being a thing?
What are your thoughts on fanfiction?