THE BARRIER between readers and writers are getting thin and with the advent of fan fiction, readers can finally relive their wildest dream—to have their own perspective on the author’s world.

By definition, fan fiction is a fictional account written by a fan of a book (or any other medium) to explore themes and ideas that will not or cannot be explored via the originating medium. Since its introduction in mainstream media, it has become a melting pot of different perspectives among writers and readers. Readers could enter the intangible world of literature and paint a world on their own while writers get in touch with their readers and receive feedback from them.

The grassroots of fan fiction

Fan fiction is believed to have begun in the 1960’s when fans of Star Trek released their own fan magazines, which pursued the open-ended conclusion of the film. However, Ralph Semino Galan, a literature professor and a consultant in the Creative Writing section of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, claims that fan fiction really dates back from the Shakespearean era.

“Shakespeare was one of the best fan fictionist because he borrowed already existing plots from other writers. He was able to borrow some pages, reinvent it, and make it totally his own so that his version of the same plot is much better. Hence, it is the one that is remembered,” Galan said.

More literary pieces involving fan fiction flourished until the late 1980s and continued to cultivate until the second millennium. Notable literary works that had fan fiction were Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Alan Dean Foster’s Star Wars, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter installment.

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On the deteriorating quality of literature

However, writers, critics, students, and even readers begin to show doubts over the growing number of readers who are engaging in fan fiction.

“It’s about the deteriorating level of the imagination because if you just base your writing on the plot of an already existing body of literature, then you’re not creating something really new,” Galan said.

In connection with this, Galan also warned that in a sense, writing fan fiction is just like playing a piano.

“It serves as a finger exercise. I don’t have anything against it, but after publishing it and saying that it’s the best you can do, there must be something not so great about it,” said Galan, adding that practicing writers should try to invent their own plot.

Galan added that as human beings, we have our own unique lives and that can be the subject for writing.

“No two people would have exactly the same experience. By that virtue alone, then you are able to do something new,” he said.

However, senior Literature student Louis del Rosario also said that fan fiction is a dream come true for fans.

“In a way, they get to exercise their control on the story,” Del Rosario said.

On the other hand, John Andrew del Prado, a recent graduate of Literature and a practicing writer disagrees.

“One way of entering the realm of literature is through fan fiction. It’s also a way of attracting readers and at the same time, for writers to write.”

Fan fiction can also be a training ground for honing the skills of practicing writers. This way, writers adopt the styles of their favorite writers.

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“But at the same time, you need to have your own voice in writing,” Del Prado said.

On copyright issues

According to the UK Copyright Law which was last amended in 2009, “a work should be regarded as original, and exhibit a degree of labor, skill, or judgement.”

Under the qualification of its restricted acts are “copying the work; renting, lending, and issuing copies of the work to the public; and adapting the work.” And lastly, the author of a work “has the right to be identified as the author,” and “has the right to object to derogatory treatment.” But with the advent of the Internet, partaking in fan fiction has been more convenient, which only amplifies the growing number of writers who are composing new versions of well-known literary works.

However, Del Prado defended that fan fiction is okay as long as those are no malicious intentions.

“The reason for writing fan fiction is because you liked the story, not necessarily that you want to sell your literary work,” he said.

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