Here’s a fun fact about me. A little series called Animorphs is the reason I discovered fanfiction. Thanks to Animorphs, I also met my best friend, Crystal. In fact, recently I saw the very book that I had read before writing a fanfiction that Crystal had first read way back in the day. That fanfiction is no longer there, but the point is, Crystal is one of the coolest people I know, and has been an unfaltering fan and honest critic of my work for fifteen years.
Actually, the point is, that I wrote fanfiction. A lot of fanfiction. I’m not going to display any of it here, because my writing skills have improved dramatically since those days, but it’s nothing that a simple Google search won’t find. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed either, if that makes sense.
Even in those days, there were fanfictions that were so well written, I would often reply with the comment of, “Why did you waste this idea on fanfiction.” Because back then, I thought ideas were like fruit. If you didn’t use them soon, they would spoil, and if you used them the wrong way, they became wasted. It was tragic to me that such a well written story could be set in someone else’s universe, with the full knowledge that the writer would never be recognized or paid for their work.
I mean, years later, I learned that the names of murder victims in Forever Knight were actually the names of well known fanfiction writers. So there’s always the chance of a polite nod from your fandom. Even the Ghostbuster’s video game for Nintendo Wii had a subtle nod towards the fanfilm: Return of the Ghostbusters. And for people who write for pleasure, fanfiction is far from a waste of time.
After all, you have a full story, with fleshed out characters and an original plot. Even if it’s set in another universe, unless you were completely ripping it off, the story is yours, right? And, depending on the response you get, you may also have a built in fanbase that you can now take with you from the fandom (especially if it’s so obscure that it has more of a cult following) into the new territory of your original work.
The most current, if not the most famous example of a fanfiction writer striking it rich, would be E.L. James. She wrote a Twilight fanficiton, which I have not read, changed a few characters around and some circumstances and pow: Fifty Shades of Grey was an overnight success. People criticized her, but I know that I wasn’t the only member of the fanfiction writing community who thought, “I can do this with my own fanfiction!”
I can certainly say of many members of the Highlander forums, who write stories of book quality and length, that with out too much of a stretch of the imagination, they could stand to break into the literary scene with their own transformed works. And that is exactly what I am doing with my Harry Potter/Highlander crossover.
The story is set in someone else’s universe, admittedly. But with some re-imagining and some tweaking, I have begun to realize a world in which this story could stand on it’s own.