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Monday, November 5, 2012

Shawn’s view on Fanfiction

A couple of months ago I did a few hypothetical proposals of what a run of Wonder Woman and Phoenix comics would look like if I took fingers to the keyboard for Marvel or DC.

Now I could just take the time to write those stories as fanfiction.

But that would be stupid.

Here’s the deal: I will never write a piece of fanfiction.

Why? I don’t own those properties. Time Warner, Disney or one of the subsidiaries of a big six corporation isn’t paying me to write stories featuring those characters.

And if a story doesn’t put dollars in my pocket then it doesn’t make sense for me to put my fingers to the keyboard to write it.

Fanfiction is just stupid. It’s just unauthorized stories about commercial properties owned by a corporate parent or another author. Work that can’t be submitted to a publisher. Stories that will sit on a hard drive, some blog, on some fanpage, and never generate a dime of revenue for me.

As a free-lance writer with multiple publishing credits and close to 20 years of writing experience, one of the main reasons I write stories is to get published. Because getting published is the only way a writer makes money.

And my time is valuable. It takes me a year or so to write the first draft of a novel like The Temptation of John Haynes. Six to eight months to write the first draft of a screenplay like All About Marilyn. A month to write a non-fiction book like Stop Simpin. I don’t have time to waste writing stories   I can’t sell.
As a free-lance writer, if no one is reading my work I’m not getting paid. Period.

And if I want to get paid, I need to write my own stories. Stories I own 100% of the rights to. Stories I can sell to readers and collect royalties on the sales. Stories I can turn into properties that I can sell and license to other businesses. Properties that I can possibly reap 100% of the profits from. That’s how a writer builds wealth in the publishing game.

If someone wants me to write books, eBooks or screenplays for their commercial properties they’re going to have to write me a check. 50 percent in advance and the rest a few months later when the project is completed. Those are my terms. And they do not change.

So Unless Scholastic is offering me money I’m not writing a Harry Potter story. Unless Paramount is offering me money I’m not writing that Star Trek story. Unless Time Warner is offering me money I’m not writing that Wonder Woman story. Unless Disney is offering me money I’m not writing that Phoenix story or that Gargoyles story. I’m not spending days out of my life writing stories that I won’t make a dime on.

While I understand the passion of many a fan, writing fanfiction to me is a waste of time. Sure you feel good writing the imagined further adventures of your favorite comic book, sci-fi, or fantasy characters, but it’s a waste of your valuable time to write stories about characters you don’t own and can’t get paid for.

And time is something you can’t get back. I wasted a good part of my childhood writing Mayor Fox stories not knowing Richard Scarry’s estate owned the rights to him. If I had to go back in time I’d be trying to learn a jump shot on the basketball court or learning how to talk to girls.

Instead of writing about other people’s properties I’d suggest that all those fanfiction writers start writing stories featuring their own characters. The best way to develop your skills as a writer is writing original stories featuring your own original characters. When you get ready to submit work to a publisher or self-publish it, you’ll have spent time building a portfolio of work that will help take your writing career to the next level.


  1. Question what is stopping you from taking those fanfiction stories of Wonder Woman, Phoenix & The Richard Scary one and rewriting them to fit your characters?
    It has been done before by the big boys. Icon/Superman/Shazam all the same guy with different takes on how they came to be.
    And Paramount or at least the book division has bought stories from fans for a few of their books.
    And couldn't fanfiction be a gateway to a career in writing? Practice with those guys could lead someone to write their own stuff? Not everything is pointless.

  2. The way I see it fanfiction is a helpful writing tool in the case of Marvel and DC characters. If anything I would use it as the means show the world what both universes shoudl look like and it will be better than anything dumpster fire they burn.

  3. In fact I do fanfiction because it's fun not because I want money I can come up with ideas for my own stories at any given time. And I already have.