Well, here's something it's not: the last refuge of incompetent writers.
Fan Fiction does indeed take the characters and universes created by others. But it takes them to new and sometimes wonderful places.
The fact is, anybody who ever wrote a story about Robin Hood, or King Arthur, or what happened after Prince Charming married Sleeping Beauty, was writing Fan Fiction.
Fan Fiction on the Internet is no different, really, than all the books in your bookstore about Robin Hood, etc. Or Star Trek. The only differences are:
They write because these shows have become part of culture as surely as Robin Hood or Jesse James or Nancy Drew, and because they (we) love them and want to know the answer to the world's oldest question: And then what happened?
Often Fan Fiction authors write because they don't like what happened to a character on the show, or because the show got cancelled. Often they want the characters to grow and develop beyond what the show's creator decided, to be a real person with a wife or lover that lasts longer than one episode (how many times was Little Joe engaged, for crying out loud?). They want the things that happened to resonate longer than one week. They want to explore the peripheral characters, the ones who never had many lines or any development. They want to know what happened next. They want to tell the story...
Fan Fiction has some writers who are wonderful. Just because they didn't make up their own characters to write about doesn't mean they aren't talented. Or that they don't love the people or the show they write... in fact, it means they do.
Fan Fiction: give it a chance. You might just love it.
The FanFic Directory has listings for practically every fandom on the Web. All genres, all sub-categories, from G to NC-17 ratings. Check it out.
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