Long before stories were recorded on paper they were told through word of mouth. As the story was shared, it also changed. Storytellers could make any changes to the story that they saw fit without being punished. This same concept holds true with fan fiction. Fan fiction is a story written by a fan of a book, movie, comic, or television show depicting a mixture of characters, plotlines and settings that appear in the original work. Like folklore, fan fiction follows a basic storyline with concrete elements while reflecting the beliefs of the person telling the story (Schaffner 616). While the two share many similarities such as strong educational implications, the difference between fan fiction and its ancient predecessor lies in the medium that is used to transmit it and the emergence of new legal systems that are harsh on using the ideas of other people to further your own. Even though it may violate the United States copyright law, fan fiction is a great tool to teach young people to love writing.
As stated above, fan fiction is essentially a story that is based on elements of an existing work. The extent that the borrowed works are used can vary from the story taking place in the same fictional universe as the original story to an entire scene that is told from another character’s point of view. Because there are no guidelines to writing fan fiction, there are often stories that lack plot, grammar, or structure, but even though the quality of writing may not be the best in all cases, fan written stories will alway be aligned with what fans want to read (Schaffner 617). In fan fiction, writers can fill plot holes, explore the world the way another character would see it, change things they did not like from the source material and envision what happened before or after a canon scene (Moore 16). Canon refers to what officially takes place in the original work, which readers or viewers may disagree with and drive them to imagine what could have been and sometimes writing a story that was better than the first.
The main gripe that critics of fan fiction have is that using characters, settings and plots created by other people makes writing less creative. In reality, borrowing story elements can make writing less stressful and the effort that would have been used to create original characters can be used to fine tune other literary fundamentals (Burns and Webber 28-29). While many find it easy to develop a love of reading, writing takes much more work to enjoy. Fan fiction is a stepping stone that young writers can use to develop their love of writing (Moore 16).
While some fan fiction authors never move on from writing fan fiction, others expand to writing stories that include their own plots and characters. Bestselling author E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fan fiction. Meg Cabot began writing Star Wars fan fiction when she was eleven and Cassandra Clare was a popular Harry Potter fan writer (Alter). Some other...