Fanfiction. I have been pondering over it. Is it something good? Or is it painful painful stuff that the original authors would tear their hair out over, wondering how on earth anyone interpreted their characters this way?
On the negative side: It is super-depressing to read when someone writes something that kills all the nice characters off or kills them figuratively, exchanging them for some sex addict/psycho feminist/other such exaggeration of character. I am thinking here of Harry Potter and Jane Austen fanfiction, the only two types I've really read much of. For example, I once read the first chapter of a Harry Potter-based fanfic in which Ron Weasley was secretly in love with Harry. How depressing and pathetic is that? Or once there was a Pride and Prejudice fanfic I read that killed Jane Bennet off two weeks after her marriage (leukaemia, apparently). What a waste of time. It is also annoying when people copy out huge chunks of the author's own writing when they cover the same events. Apart from probably being illegal, it is very uncreative and immediately stands out as a different style of writing from your own. ALSO (and let this be known), I am SICK of "modern retellings" of Pride and Prejudice, starring "Will Darcy" and "Liz Bennet", set in some American town or college.
Also, if one actually wants to be a writer in one's own right, I have a sneaking suspicion that spending all one's time on writing stories based on other people's characters is perhaps not the best way to go about getting your own stories published.
However, on the positive side: Fanfiction can, on occasion, be really good, and really fun to read. Let's face it, when my favourite author died almost 200 years ago and only wrote six novels... I crave more! This doesn't mean when I visit a site like Fanfiction, I expect to find works of genius that sound like Jane Austen has been resurrected. However, I do hope that someone out there who is an intelligent Jane Austen fan has had fun creating a sideline story with an original idea. I especially like it when they obviously have their own highly developed style yet somehow the characters seem like they should be, with very little effort.
Fanfiction is also very fun to write. You can do it to gratify your own whims about what you think happened to the characters. This doesn't mean you have a moral right to misuse the characters to push your own agendas or write trashy smutfics. It does mean you can follow where your creative instinct takes you without constantly thinking "is this publishable?" It is also very good practice. A lot of the hard work of thinking up a plot is taken away and you can concentrate on developing a plot and writing it well. I had never written a longish story that finished before I had a go at fanfiction. My first was absolutely terrible; they got better gradually as I went. As I've written a few more, I've realised I prefer fanfics that have only an obscure connection with the original story. Maybe they have one character in common, the character who sparked the idea, and this character may be seen only a small amount. This is seen as a bad thing by many fanfiction fans, I understand, but I quite like it.
Sooo, in conclusion (!): Fanfiction is horrible. Fanfiction is great. I could say anything I liked about it and it would probably be true. It is annoying sometimes, yes, but I think it's worth having.
Photo: in the park near my house, on Sundays they have miniature trains that old men run around these tracks and children ride on. They're pretty cool.