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March 20, 2006


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This is so, so excellent, and precisely the reason I worked so hard to bait you into writing it. :) My advice is to seek an outlet for publication... First stop: find a way to link it to Whedonesque.com

Your second-favorite fanfic author

That bitch is whack. If she's that insecure in her own writing, then she needs to put down the word processor and find her way to vanity pubbing.

All her stupid rant did was ensure that *I* would never read anything she writes. Gah.

Laura McEwan

Right on. Right on, sister.


She makes the statement that coloring books don't produce great artists--well, I make no claim to be great, but coloring Barbie's hair on a regular basis sparked my interest in drawing on my own. And now I make a living at it.

I think fanfiction is very like a coloring book in that way. If nothing else, it introduces you to the tools you need to make your own, and gets you in the habit of using those tools.


As a writer or fanfic, I completely agree with you. I have never really understood certain authours' objections to fanfic writers. I know that, if I were ever to get some of my original work published, I would be honoured to see fanfic writers taking up and adding to my universe. The only time I might object would be if they took the characters and completely erased all semblance to my characters and then tried to pass them off as belonging to my universe. Anyway, kudos for writing this. I hope Ms. Hobbs reads your article and starts to understand the reality of fanfic.



I absolutely agree, on all counts. I've never understood why some authors are so opposed to fanfic. For my part, if I'm ever fortunate enough to get any of my original work published, I honestly can't imagine anything more flattering than finding out that someone liked my story and my characters enough to want to spend their time writing about them. I'd be thrilled!

And I just wanted to add a little recent example of my own, showing how fanfic can indeed benefit the author. As a teenager, I read a lot of books by one particular author - one who is, as I understand, very opposed to fanfic. I still have all her older novels, but at this point, I rather thought I'd grown out of them, and hadn't bothered buying any of the newer ones. Last year I happened to come across a rare fanfic from my favourite of her books, which I read and enjoyed. "Well, hey," I thought, "I haven't read those books in years. Maybe I could re-read them." So I did. And I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed them, even if I have grown out of them a bit. And that in turn got me thinking that hey, maybe I should buy those later novels after all, so that I can find out what happened in that world I enjoyed so much. Off I went to Amazon. Bought several of the novels I was missing, and I'm planning to fill in the remaining gaps as I can afford to. Money into the author's pocket - a small sum, maybe, but still money - and all because I read a fanfic that the author in question would most likely have condemned.


This topic is of great interest to me - not just a fanfic author, but as the author of an original series that now gets fanfic of its own. I encourage fanfic - even when the portrayal of my character is shallower than I myself portray her, or downright wrong. Which is most of the time. :=) Not only do I encourage it - I post the fanfics on the same section of the website that I post my chapters (http://www.yuricon.org/snb for anyone who cares) because I am *firmly* in the camp that fan interest ought to be encouraged and sought - not destroyed.

I am also of the belief that fanfic writers are doing the enxact same thing as bards did in those golden (coughchoke) bygone years, when they would wax poetic about famous heroes and heroines that everyone knew - but did they know about the time they visited *this* town and met the great-great-great grand uncle of the current mayor/duke/king/whathaveyou?

I wrote an essay on it a zillion years ago...I don't know if it's even still there on my site, but the URL, for interested parties was http://www.worldshaking.net/revo/




My immediate reaction to learning that Robin Hobb sparked this essay is to wonder how someone who has been as involved in the writing community for as long as she claims to have been on her website can have gotten this far in life WITHOUT ever reading anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley or her Friends of Darkover people. Or knowing about the dozens of authors whose professional careers MZB jumpstarted by giving their short fanfics (Darkover related) and/or original short stories homes (and blessings, by the act of hosting them) in her anthologies. I would be tempted to chuck Hobb's books out the door, after finding out she's written something as downright mean-spirited and personally insecure as a rant against fanfiction, but the fact of the matter is that I rather like her intertwined series of trios (Fitz/Ship/Golden Fool). And I resent the notion that such mean-spiritedness could be so catching as to inspire such a negative reaction on my part. So I believe I'll just keep the books I already have and won't buy anything else of hers from now on, since she certainly doesn't deserve to profit from her own meanness, either . . .

Veronica Rich

When Shakespeare was writing four hundred years ago, he borrowed LIBERALLY from those who had come before him, just as Chaucer (one of his influences) had. He retold stories his own way. Hundreds of screenwriters since have adapted (and are still doing so) his basic plots and characters to their own ends, renaming characters, changing the settings - sometimes not even giving him credit as the primary source material! *GASP*

Fanfic is truly a labor of love. Fanfic is about the only fan-creation activity that you CAN'T get paid for. Fan artists can charge for their work based on someone else's already-existing character or series. Someone who writes a song about a show or its characters can charge for their work. But a fanfic writer cannot. The only reason for it to exist is as an homage to the original source material, a recognition of what made the original brilliant.

This reminds me of Paramount getting on that kick for a while where it was charging around knocking down "Star Trek" websites not officially licensed, and bitching about fanfic on the Web somehow hurting its image or cutting into its profits. HELLO??? The original series was canceled in its third year - it would have fallen into a dusty crack of television history if not for the fans organizing conventions, pushing for reruns and new movies and - yes - writing fanzines. In essence, that division of Paramount would not have *existed* to bitch at the fans, if not for those fans and their fic and such. (God knows that particular cow mooed YEARS longer than it should have, simply because fans kept consuming anything "Trek.")

Any author or screenwriter who is offended by fanfic really doesn't understand psychology very well at all - which makes me wonder how they managed to write the brilliance they produced in the first place.


Wonderful post. I wrote fan fic and published zines for 15 years and learned a lot about writing by doing so. By having the main characters and setting already created, I could concentrate on creating "guest" characters, working out plots, varying settings, and bringing stories to conclusions.

And I can add many names to your list of fan fic writers turned pro (including Susan Matthews and Melanie Rawn), at least one (Jean Lorrah) of whom continued to write fan fic after going pro (a thin but wonderful Alien Nation zine). And at least one former fan fic writer now writes tie-in novels for many shows, including Stargate (Ashley McConnell).

Robin Hobb also writes under the name Megan Lindholm, btw. Her real name is Margaret Ogden.


Addenda. I suppose I should add that I've read one of her books, one she wrote under the name Megan Lindholm. It was excellent and co-authored with Steven Brust. The book is The Gypsy and is an urban fantasy. Now, one might say that the quality of the writing came from Brust, but I've read that it was a full collaboration and I can't imagine someone of his stature writing with someone who couldn't carry her weight or who had no talent.

She's also not a nobody. She has many books in print, under both her pen names. She's been profiled in Locus. I've even encountered her online on a writers message board. She was posting under the Megan Lindholm name. So she's someone I've liked and admired, which makes her anti-fan fic rant that much sadder. It's also very disappointing.


Bravo. As another professional author who (after years of publishing) turned to fanfic for fun, I applaud your rebuttal to Ms. Hobb (who I do, in fact, know, though only as a friend of a friend). It's attitudes like Ms. Hobb's that have made me -- when deciding stick my toe in the fanfic waters -- decide to use a penname keep absolute anonymity. Honestly, I think most of my fanfic novels could stack up against what I've published, in terms of quality; I'm proud of it. But popular misconceptions about fanfic among other writers (including some of my friends) keeps me silent about my moonlighting. The URL included is to an LJ post I made some years back (before the Hobb mess, or the various anti-fanfic rants on Lee Goldberg's blog, either). It might interest you. ("Vocations, Occupations and Hobbies, or, Why I write fanfic [from a professional author]") So it's less a response-to than a general defense-of.

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