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Fan Fiction
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I've been spending some time reviewing all the short stories I've written in the past. Many of them were written when I helped to run The Book And Candle Pub, a reading and writing forum on Delphi. (This was before the World Wide Web quite became what it is today. Companies like AOL, Prodigy and smaller ones like NVN, GEnie, and Delphi Internet Services hosted online communities, including user generated ones like The Pub.)

I was part of two distinct communities on Delphi back in the day: The Pub and The Horror Discussion Group. Both of them had a lot of wannabe writers in their communities, as well as some folks who just wrote for fun and had no aspirations. I guess I was one of the "wannabe's".

I could go on and on about those two communities and their members. In fact, some day I'll post a story (if I can find it) about The Pub and the characters within. But what I was thinking of blogging about was the issue of fan fiction.

See, The Pub started life on Prodigy as a Stephen King fan forum. So almost naturally we at one point decided to have a story contest centered on King and his massive work, The Stand. The challenge was to write a story set in the world of that novel. If I recall correctly, there were something between 6 and 10 entries. I wrote one myself.

The Stand was always one of my favorite works. The scenario it presented fascinated me. I have, as a result, read several "end of the world" type novels. Stuff like Lucifer's Hammer and The Postman are just two of the many I've read.

When I would think about the post-Stand world, I'd usually imagine how it would be in MY town. How it would be if I survived the disease. King imagines plenty of communities and how they are affected, but it wasn't my community. So my entry for this contest centered on a young woman wandering the streets of my town, meeting up with a young "redneck" man, realizing that he is going to Vegas, while she is drawn to Boulder, and ditching him as soon as possible. Then she finds a soul-mate of sorts, and prepares with him to make the journey to find the "old woman". But the redneck has something to say about it.

I found the story in the process of looking at old short fiction recently, read it, and thought, this isn't too bad! Just out of curiosity, I googled "The Stand Fan Fiction" and as you might expect, there is quite a lot of it out there. I read one or two, but was really unimpressed with the level of writing, not to mention the level of storytelling.

One of the other results returned by Google was an article about the harm done by writing fan fiction to the original author's work. After reading the two examples I found, I could sort of see the point. They didn't add anything to the story. They didn't imagine too much, just used the same King characters and made up more about their actions in and around the events of the novel. Here's the link to the article: Fan-Fiction ... or The Art of Stealing Fiction.

But I thought our stories were pretty interesting. We mostly imagined events occurring outside the scope of the novel. Oh, a couple of the stories used the exact same characters, but they approached them from a different angle. I only found two. I think I probably saved all of them somewhere or other, since I sort of acted as the forum archivist. (I have text files of conference/chats with authors like Dave Feintuch, Bill Pomidor, and Jack Chalker, and their answers to notes posted in the forums also...)

What do you think of fan fiction? Is it harmful? I'm not talking about publishing it for financial gain, just the act of writing it. Thanks!

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