When I was younger, and not even that many years younger, I used to write fan fiction. Mostly, I stuck to Harry Potter, but I occasionally branched out into other fandoms. I was a regular visitor to some large fan fiction websites, and I read as much as I wrote.
Fan fiction is a great way for fans of a particular book, show, or anything really, to explore and create in a world they love. I’m a very strong believer in fan fiction being a great way for writers to develop their passions and improve their craft. As I mentioned in a blog post a while ago, I am not a fan of selling it, but that is a whole other discussion.
Fan fiction is mostly an online activity. If you go to Wattpad, you can find hundreds of thousands of fan fiction stories posted for free. There are million user websites devoted to nothing else. It is a massive market, even when the content is free. Perhaps, in some cases, because the content is free.
This is especially prevalent when the work in question takes a while to update. In the 5 or so months between a television series, or in the time between popular publications (Harry Potter and the three years between books six and seven, anyone?) Fans enjoy that they have something to read in between.
With the ever expanding digital world of publishing, especially when it comes to indie publishing, fan fiction has created its own world of possibilities, not only for fan publication, but also for authors.
One of my favourite types of fan fiction are the ‘missing scenes’. While some fan fiction writers enjoy alternate universe, and exploring pairings (or ‘ships’) I enjoy writing the scenes that are mentioned in the book, but not fully explored. This also includes scenes that are seen from one perspective, so you write it from another. One of my most popular fan fics, Retsis, was focused around the Philosopher’s Stone scene of the Mirror of Erised, only this time, told from Albus Dumbledore’s perspective. This short story explored elements we learn about in the seventh book, but would have certainly been on Albus’ mind at the time in book one.
When looking at super-fans of a book series, I see an opportunity for authors of the work. Knowing how much joy fans get from exploring these additional views of the books, whether in missing scenes, or scenes told from alternate perspectives that lend new insight into the series, I wonder why it’s not more popular for authors to write them themselves. A short story explaining the background of a well loved character, a conversation that is mentioned in retrospect, but never on screen.
There are some authors who do this already. Stephanie Mayer wrote some of ‘Midnight Sun’ which was Twilight told from Edward’s perspective. Veronica Roth has a number of short stories following the character of Four before Tris came along.
As digital publishing becomes easier and more accessible, I wonder if this will become more common place. Authors releasing collections of short stories exploring other elements of their worlds that don’t fit in the main book series. Authors writing prequels and ‘run alongside’ stories that probably wouldn’t have been published otherwise. Even if the main series is published traditionally, it might become a bolster to an author brand to have these released solely on the digital platforms, keeping the cost low, but maximising profit on a lucrative series.
With a cast of characters I absolutely adore, and would love to explore further, I know I plan to, first with a collection of short stories following characters other than George, and then… who knows?
So, what do you think? Do you think additional elements of books will become more popular? Or do you think that completed series should be left alone?