Is there anyplace online for Catholic Fan Fiction Writers?

Most of the online forums and such that I've seen for Catholic Writers are for those who are looking to be published and who want to write original fiction.

Fan fiction is a totally different animal, in that one is expressing the love of a favorite story or TV series or what have you, and seeking to make it better than it was, as a way to take some ownership of the story. Granted, our fiction doesn't belong to us, and most of us realize that the people who created our fandom own our stories, but it's a sacrifice we give up out of love of the story.

But since our stuff is created by other people, we have to struggle against things that are already set in motion - I'm a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan, for example, and my characters are already Buddhist!

What I'm wondering is if there's a community to help our writers out so that we know what to do to honor God and, at the same time, honor our fandoms. Does anybody know of one?

Or do I need to start one?

[quote="tabsie3210, post:1, topic:181284"]
Most of the online forums and such that I've seen for Catholic Writers are for those who are looking to be published and who want to write original fiction.

Fan fiction is a totally different animal, in that one is expressing the love of a favorite story or TV series or what have you, and seeking to make it better than it was, as a way to take some ownership of the story. Granted, our fiction doesn't belong to us, and most of us realize that the people who created our fandom own our stories, but it's a sacrifice we give up out of love of the story.

But since our stuff is created by other people, we have to struggle against things that are already set in motion - I'm a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan, for example, and my characters are already Buddhist!

What I'm wondering is if there's a community to help our writers out so that we know what to do to honor God and, at the same time, honor our fandoms. Does anybody know of one?

Or do I need to start one?

[/quote]

Hi, Tabitha!

Fan fiction is a tough thing for me as a hopeful fiction writer to understand.

I know it's fun to write stories based on characters created by another author. However, some fan fiction writers I know (I'm surrounded by many as I hang around a lot of science-fiction/fantasy lovers) don't "play it straight" with the characters.

As a result, the character's behavior can be severely distorted, which does no good to others who like to see the character behave as the author and owner of the character has portrayed them in official works.

It's also a legal problem. While we can always write what we want, publishing it (including for free on websites) for mass consumption (even for free) has earned the wrath of a few author's attorneys, either with simple "cease and desist" orders, or outright lawsuits.

As you said, the problem with fan fiction is that you, the reader, do **not **own the story or its characters. So there's an ethical issue when you use things that are not your own.

And as I noted before, since you don't own the story, your contribution, however witty or honest, may steer readers away from the original author's work--and that, then, becomes a form of stealing.

Even if you're not making a dime, your work could be keeping the author from making a living because someone reading your derivative work may choose not to buy the author's book--depriving the author of the fruits of what they worked very hard to create and publish. :(

With that said, I'm betting that Catholic Answers forums isn't the venue you want to use for a fan fiction community, particularly given its Christian focus. You could form a forum group, but again, that's a matter of taste and decorum.

Perhaps Fanfiction.net would be a better venue.

Or, write your own unique story and characters! It might even pay.

And, Lord knows we need more Catholic original fiction writers that can get people like Dan Brown out of the fiction business. :)

What I would do is click on the groups link near the top of the webpage, and then look through the group pages and see if there is one already. If there isn’t one, than go ahead and create the group yourself. I ended up creating two groups and it was much easier than I originally thought. Good luck.

First -

Thank you to whomever moved this to Popular Media - I had originally intended this to go in the Water Cooler section (Back Fence), but was at work during lunch break, so I totally missed which tab I was in (I use Internet Explorer, was looking at multiple pages, long story). :D Sorry about the placement mixup.

Now then:

Hi Spencerian! I'm going to break up my response to you into two different posts. This one is about the legal aspect of fan fiction.

Fan fiction is a tough thing for me as a hopeful fiction writer to understand.

I know it's fun to write stories based on characters created by another author. However, some fan fiction writers I know (I'm surrounded by many as I hang around a lot of science-fiction/fantasy lovers) don't "play it straight" with the characters.

As a result, the character's behavior can be severely distorted, which does no good to others who like to see the character behave as the author and owner of the character has portrayed them in official works.

I'll agree to that. My personal preference is for fan fic authors who respect the original creation and treat the characters with dignity, yet manage to put their own spin on the characters. That's what makes fan fiction fun, and also why I love Star Trek novels. Although following the formula of the characters, Star Trek novelists (and good fan ficcers) can put a different spin on the characters and make you fall in love with them.

It's also a legal problem. While we can always write what we want, publishing it (including for free on websites) for mass consumption (even for free) has earned the wrath of a few author's attorneys, either with simple "cease and desist" orders, or outright lawsuits.

As you said, the problem with fan fiction is that you, the reader, do not own the story or its characters. So there's an ethical issue when you use things that are not your own.

And as I noted before, since you don't own the story, your contribution, however witty or honest, may steer readers away from the original author's work--and that, then, becomes a form of stealing.

While I understand where you're coming from, I'll have to slightly disagree with you. Quite frankly, and I speak from my own experience as both a reader and a writer of fan fiction - fan fiction is bad. The odds of it taking away from an established author's livelihood is unlikely. It's unpublished stuff that's rough around the edges, has large plot holes, or has a lot of potential, but misses the mark by a mile. It's still fun to read, and some of my favorite stories are really pretty awful, but I wouldn't take any fan fiction over the original story in 99% of all cases, and in the 1% of cases where I would, the original story was usually pretty pathetic.

Moreover, most fan fic authors are already die-hard members of the fandom, meaning that they love the characters and the stories from the original source, and therefore are usually paying good money, out of love, to keep the original creation in circulation. Think of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. Most fan ficcers there are fans who have picked up every novel, side book, trivia book, seen every movie, etc. The ficcers are, therefore, an active part of getting people into the fandom. Rowling and others have, in their way, free advertising, because people into the fandom will bring in their friends, and their friends will want to know what was going on in the original stories, and that leads to better sales. The same is true for most stuff produced by George Lucas - he sees fan fiction as a gateway to sales of his movies.

Finally, in a lot of cases, the only way to get to a fandom is through the fan fiction. Gundam Wing came out in Japan in 1995. I discovered it in 1998 and fell in love with the entire series, but it wasn't released in the US yet. I discovered it through fan fiction, which was great, and which made me curious about the original series. So I bought fan subs (fan-recorded and subtitled copies of the Japanese cartoons) and watched them, and then I purchased the VHS tapes the moment they were availble in the US - and then I bought the entire series on DVD. As did most of my friends in the Gundam Wing fandom.

Now, having said that, I do agree that a LOT of fan fic authors seem to think that they own the characters, the stories, even their own creations within the fan fics. Which is bogus. Any author of any integrity knows that she doesn't own her own fan fics - the original authors own them. That's why I do not write fan fiction based on novels of any stripe. The vast majority of my own fan fiction comes from Japanese anime that hasn't come to the US yet, or that has arrived but hadn't when I started. Series or works like Star Trek belong to the actors, the creators, the animators, the script writers, the editors, the directors, etc etc ad nausium.

Large corporations and groups that own a story and a series of characters are more inclined to want to encourage fan fiction and fandoms to thrive, because that increases their livelihood. Foreign corporations don't mind or encourage fan fiction because (particular in Asia) the feelings about copyright aren't as stringent as they are here in America, and because that's the best way to get people to demand that a new show or cartoon be brought to the US, where they will make more money. Singluar authors are less likely to encourage it. The best thing to do would be to find out the group or author's policy on fan fiction and abide by that.

Hi again, Spencerian!

This second post is about these comments you made:

Or, write your own unique story and characters! It might even pay.

And, Lord knows we need more Catholic original fiction writers that can get people like Dan Brown out of the fiction business.

:(

I've tried writing original fiction. In 2007 I joined NaNoWriMo, which is the National Novel Writing Month competition. The objective is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. It's supposed to be a rough draft, with no editing, just writing it down.

I wrote one chapter, re-read it, and broke down into a hysterical sobbing fit before deleting the whole thing and removing myself from the competition.

I hate writing.

Don't get me wrong - I adore fiction, and I love to write it, but I hate my writing. I am so awful that it's painful. I'm a terrible writer. My characters are all right I suppose, but I have no idea how to write anything.

The ONLY thing I'm good at writing are research papers and fan fiction.

Fan fics are supposed to be bad. They're funny and dumb and silly and cute and for your personal enjoyment.

Real original fiction, now, that's heart-breaking to me because I'm so terrible at it. I'm worse than terrible - I'm horrible.

The idea of trying to actually publish something is so distressing - I could just imagine the stack of rejection letters - that I won't even try. I'm nowhere near brave enough. I'm bad. I suck like a sucking chest wound bad.

At least with fan fiction, I get the fun of writing with a group of people who know that they're awful and aren't too judgmental, and it takes the sting out of how awful I am. Every time I try to write original fiction, I end up in tears.

One thing that makes me miserable is that I'd LOVE to write and to be able to draw my own comic books. I would do anything to have good writing and drawing talent. And when I see how awful I am, I start to cry.

So I feel better staying away from anything serious and sticking strictly to fan fiction. If YOU read my stuff, my original stuff, you'd see what I mean.

With fan fiction, the story line is already set, as are the character personalities, and everybody knows the characters, so you don't have to struggle with all that awkward stuff to introduce them, and I guess that's the part that kills me the most.

I hate my original stuff, though. I'm a bad writer.

Tabitha,

Thanks! Your points are well taken. You’re just doing what most good fan-ficcers do, by playing in the playground but not trying to say you own that playground. :slight_smile:

Yep, the Lucasfilm example (with their fan films, especially) is a good example of how fan fiction works well. (As an aside, enjoy the 2007 Star Wars Fan Film winner, “Pitching Lucas”–starring my best friend playing “George Lucas.”)

Don’t stop trying to write original fiction. You never know when the urge might strike you.

Good luck!

I’m very firm in my belief that if an author or copyright holder wanted to claim my work as his or her own, I’d have to surrender it in good faith and out of love of the fandom. But it’s very important to follow the owner’s rules about what’s acceptable and what isn’t. As you pointed out, Lucasfilm is open to fan fiction. Someone like Ann Rice, however, is NOT, and I won’t read fan fiction put out about novels unless the novelist is okay with it. And even then, I’m really more interested in something that’s television based - the majority of novels are excellent in their own right, whereas television is usually open-ended and broad in its appeal, meaning that it doesn’t always have a lot of strong characterization or firm plots (some have plot holes big enough to drive through), and thus could be “improved” upon, but the potential in the story makes it something you want to be a part of, and therefore spend the money on. Rightfully so. I don’t download movies, I buy or rent them legitimately.

Hey, I do write catholic friendly short fiction (Is there such term?:D). I am wondering whether you know websites/forums where I could posts it so that people could read & comment it? Even better if any of you could help me to edit it as English isn’t my first language.
It’s very short, about 300-1000 words each.

God bless & Happy New Year. :slight_smile:

I’ll have to heavily disagree on that one. It’s not like the fan fiction writer’s making any money off it either and if such a person’s bright, he/she would draw a line. Furthermore, there are ways in which one can be derivative in an original way (as in to the point that even lawsuits won’t reach you) and sell. If such a work becomes more popular or at least just as popular, it won’t be a called deprivation of the author’s fruits. It would be called competition.

However, I agree that such writers need to act within the author’s set boundaries (OOC is more bad than good from what I’ve read). That said though, it kills any chance a fan fiction writer has of doing anything that author hasn’t done already so the odds of it being better than the original are pretty slim.

Is your fiction fan-fic or original? For fan-fic, go to fanfiction.net. For original work, go to www.fictionpress.com.

In both places, you can try to get a beta-reader (who will assist in editing) as well as, once you’ve posted a finished piece, readers may review what you’ve written.

And if anyone here is posting on the above-mentioned sites, provide your user name (and which site it applies to) and maybe even a link to a story/poem. (You can also start a forum on those sites that could be specific to Catholic writers in general or in a particular genre/fandom.)

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