I’ve stated in the past that I would never write fan fiction before sitting down and writing fan fiction, but I want to clarify something. My own reticence about doing it doesn’t mean that I hate it. On the contrary, I think fan fiction is one of the best products of the Internet.
In a time when pop culture looms large, fan fiction allows people to really dive into the characters who are such a big part of their lives. A lot of fan fiction is erotica or relationship porn because exploring that aspect of life with beloved characters is something that helps people understand that side of their own lives.
It also teaches writers how to write—rather than making big, rookie mistakes on your own characters and plots, which you would be super invested in, you can use someone else’s and really learn. You get a lot of feedback for it too, and most of it is positive and constructive. It’s the educational aspect that is responsible for the quality complaints Internet denizens have, but honestly, Leonardo Da Vinci’s first drawings and sculptures probably looked like hammered shit. They’re getting better.
And then there’s the political aspect of it. The main reasons trolls hate fan fiction so much is that it’s the domain of young women. Even though it’s the twenty-first century, girls don’t get a lot of encouragement to do what they want to do, and fan fiction boards are friendly places telling them that they can. Anything that helps young women and tells them that they’re good is healthy and important.
I’m writing Highlander fan fiction because the Highlander was my favorite movie when I was a teenager. I love the characters, I love the world, and I love all the little rules, and I have questions that I feel like I should ask (even if I don’t answer them because part of the world-building of the franchise is that these questions have no answers). I wanted to write dialogue like this: “So you keep saying you can’t die, but that guy over there with his head missing is very dead. You, sir, are a big, fat liar.”
Basically I’m a fan of fan fiction, and if you’re writing some, or you have kids who are writing some, you have me behind you, with pom-poms.