Have you read P. D. James’s “Death Comes to Pemberley” or Laurie R. King’s “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice”? Maybe you’ve watched the popular TV series “Once Upon a Time.” If so, you know Fan Fiction.
These stories use characters and settings from existing works to create new, original stories. This hybrid form of writing, once criticized as “poaching,” is now seen as having the potential to build writing skills far beyond traditional practices.
Here are some of the benefits Fan Fiction can offer:
Generates enthusiasm for writing
When we read a book or watch a movie we love, we never want to leave our favorite characters. Fan Fiction lets us continue the story and direct it wherever we want it to go. Beginning to write with our imaginations already alight removes the roadblock of the blank page and makes writing exciting.
Broadens our concept of how writing is done
Writing traditionally meant a single person writing alone. This practice is giving way to a larger concept of creating collaboratively. Characters from one person’s imagination can interact with those imagined by another person. Dialog exchanged between two (or more) characters can flow like real speech. Real people can enter fictional worlds.
Fan Fiction sites inspired by popular books and films make up a whole new genre of writing and attract huge numbers of new writers. HarryPotterFanfiction.com boasts “over 80,000 new stories.” “Star Trek,” “Twilight,” and “Pride and Prejudice” sites also attract thousands.
Describing how teens collaborate on a story they are writing together at an online Fan Fiction site, Dr. Angela Thomas explains that the “processes of reviewing each other’s individual work, recognizing each other’s strengths and then using each other’s strengths has given them the opportunity to produce writing that truly excites them and motivates them to write further.”
Helps young writers develop skill and confidence
Dr. Thomas suggests that feedback, “praise and supportive critique” from other young writers posting their work on Fan Fiction sites may be especially helpful for beginning writers. “More experienced writers help emerging writers. The role-playing offers less experienced writers a safe framework for learning how to contribute meaningfully and in character to a storyline (sometimes one sentence at a time).”
Fan Fiction is evolving into a whole new genre. It is opening new possibilities in building writing skills and digital literacy. As with any interaction on the Web, parents need to help kids find online communities that make them feel safe and welcome. Browse a few sites and read reviews and guidelines to find sites that screen material for appropriate content.
When you come by The Literacy and Language Center, let us know about the Fan Fiction you’re planning to write. We’re looking forward to seeing what you can imagine!