Thursday, August 04, 2016

My Feelings on Fan Fiction

© by Gerald So | | 9:30 A.M.

This week's 7 Criminal Minds question: What do you think about fan fiction? Have you ever written any yourself?

Fan fiction was long considered infringement on a creator's copyright because fans would write about characters without the creator's approval. I'm against that sense of fan fiction. I'm also against fan fiction in general because it puts off a writer's time working with his or her own characters, the most fulfilling part of writing.

Fan fiction should be distinguished from licensed tie-in or continuation novels, such as the post-Ian Fleming James Bond novels, Lee Goldberg's Diagnosis Murder and Adrian Monk novels, or Ace Atkins's Spenser novels, rightfully approved by the creator or the creator's estate. I approve of and have enjoyed many of these, but continuation authors are often overlooked in the shadows of the franchises for which they write. Developing and shopping your own franchise brings you the most credit.

Have I written fan fiction myself? In 1999 or 2000, before I was aware of copyright infringement, I frequented a message board for the short-lived 1998 TV show Vengeance Unlimited, which starred Michael Madsen as enigmatic do-gooder Mr. Chapel, who nonetheless may have been psychotic. Members of the board and I began to write a fan story one passage at a time. Another member of the board was a fellow Spenser fan, and she brought Spenser into the story. I contributed some passages with Spenser. Sometime after the show was canceled, the board shut down, and I posted the complete story to my website.

Lucky for me, I learned about copyright infringement and took the story down before any lawyers had to tell me.

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