Fanning the flames of Fan Fiction

I’ve never really understood fan fiction.

I’ve known a couple of people who were really into it and who had written vast stories by building on a fictional world that they loved.  If I understand them correctly, a large part of the appeal is to keep a story alive after the author has finished it, to be able to stay a bit longer in that world which they enjoyed so much.Woman_Reading

I understand the desire; believe me, I do.  I’m the escapist type of reader – I want to be taken away from my day-to-day live to a place where the people are different and the rules are different, and life is just… different.  I have felt the deep sense of loss when a story, or a book, or worst of all a series finishes, and I’m dropped rudely back into my own world.  I have felt the anguish when a character I loved dies and I’m sitting there with only a stack of pages to console me.

I understand the desire for the world or the character to continue so that I could spend a little bit longer with them.  But what I can’t get on board with is the solution that fan fiction represents.  Quite the opposite – I find it rather disturbing, particularly the idea of using the same main characters; I can’t shake the macabre image of taking the original characters, scooping out their insides, and tying strings to their hollowed out corpses to use them as puppets.  Sure, they may appear to move around, but the mind that originally animated them is gone.

IndianPuppetsThe same discomfort, to a lesser extent, also follows to the idea of writing in someone else’s world.  Even suppose you have a new main character, and the originals are only sidelines or cameos, I get the uneasy feeling like you couldn’t quite trust them.  After all, you’re an impostor in their world, who knows what they’re really thinking?  Or you end up in a sort of creepy stalker role; you’ve been watching the most intimate details of their lives, and you feel as though you consider them friends, but from their point of view you’ve just pushed in and started acting all chummy even though they’ve never met you before.

Most likely, this is all a symptom of my extreme willingness to suspend disbelief and sink deeply into a fictional world.  It’s just too real for me to imagine that it’s nothing more than a story.


© Gloria Hanlon 2016 All Rights Reserved

Photos from Wikimedia Commons – Chinese Fan, Woman Reading and Indian Puppets