Friday, January 25, 2008

Fan Fiction : Waste of Time or Good Exercise?

With the second season of the US TV series 'Heroes' shown here in Asia and the name of the next James Bond movie announced - 'Quantum of Solace' - fan fiction will get another shot in the arm.
What is fan fiction? It's basically new writers writing a piece in the style of their favorite movie or TV show.
The debate has gone on for ages about the usefulness of such work. Some people spend as much as a year out of their lives writing a fan fiction story. You can find examples at for the TV series '24,' and at for James Bond. Those are just two of the most popular sources of inspiration for fan fiction writers, along with the hot TV series of the moment, such as 'Lost,' 'House,' and the aforementioned 'Heroes.'
Yet fiction like that is unlikely to be published, because the copyright to those shows and characters of course belong to the authors, most likely the major movie and TV companies in Hollywood. So you cannot approach a publisher and hope he will pay you to publish the thing you worked on for the past year.
The only positive use for a fan fiction is when you want to get a job writing for US television. Because ironically, the best way to prove you're a talented TV writer is to write one episode of a popular existing show, just to show that you can catch the spirit of that program.
Others have said writing a fan fiction can help train you for a real writing job, by teaching you how to master pace, structure, plot, dialogue, characterization, and the other necessary elements of good writing. But I'm just wondering: can't you really do that by creating your own original characters, set in their own world, rather than ripping off or imitating the creations of others?
Of course, I enjoy thinking about what kind of James Bond movie I could write, or what adventures I would like to put Jack Bauer or Sawyer and Kate through, but I just don't have the time to spend months on them. They are somebody else's babies, I have to take care of my own.


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