A question came to mind from a comment made. Fan fiction is an odd area because it’s really a bunch of people writing stories with an established person’s world and characters. It’s a safe area for the most part since money isn’t being made by the fan fiction writers for these stories. It is still strange to me when compared to other types of writing. I know I’ll anger fan fiction writers, but I’m trying not to say what they do sucks or is worthless. There are fan fiction authors that capture the characters and write good stories. That does take a lot of skill. Unfortunately, there are more that do it simply to get the ending or hookups they want. Read some Avatar: The Last Airbender and you’ll see some insane stuff. The same can be said for indie authors with many that churn out quick slop and others that put hard work into their self-published novels. Sadly, the terrible tends to get more attention than the talented in both fields.
Now, there was a comment made that was confused about a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I was curious about the difference between a fairy tale retelling and fan fiction, so I asked Ionia the Wise. She said “Fan fiction is based on characters and fairy tale retellings are based on story that does not hold exact copyright.” That’s when the term ‘Public Domain’ clicked in my head. For those that don’t know, Public Domain is the term for artistic creations that are free for the public to use. These are characters, stories, and worlds that have been around so long that they are no longer covered by copyrights or the families of the creator never renewed the copyright. Look at the comic book series ‘Fables’ and you’ll see how many fairy tales and old stories are Public Domain. Everything from Grimm to Arabian Nights to Jungle Book are fair game. I’ve heard that there are some disputes of Conan the Barbarian and Tarzan too, so you always have to make sure you are retelling a Public Domain story. This is why you can get so many Alice in Wonderland remakes and you still have hoops to jump through for The Hobbit.
Fan fiction tends to work differently in that it uses characters and worlds that are still under copyright. Even when it uses a Public Domain character, it tends to be a version of that character from a retelling. For example, fan fiction that involves Alice and Mad Hatter from the Tim Burton version. That isn’t really a retelling because there is no change to the characters from that specific movie. Again, this is fine and oddly flattering as long as the fan fiction author doesn’t try to make money off it. I think that’s the line for it and why fan fiction is so widespread. It’s a hobby for many and a way to flex their creative muscles. I will admit that I have trouble talking shop with a fan fic writer because the discussion of designing characters tends to be iffy. Seriously, I’ve had some rough conversations with people who have openly asked why I don’t simply take characters directly from Lord of the Rings and change their names. Yes, it has been suggested that I blatantly steal from preexisting works.
So, what’s your opinion on retellings of Public Domain stories and fan fiction?