There was a discussion question posted in one of my writing communities recently that read something like, “Do you feel that 50 Shades of Gray being published is a victory for fanfiction?”
(In case you’ve been living under a–admittedly lovely–rock, you probably know that 50 Shades started out as Twilight fanfiction.)
Quite honestly? No. If anything, I think it may actually hurt fanfiction a bit. I admittedly have not read the books (and do not plan to), but when I hear other people talk about them, the conversation goes a little like this:
Person 1: Wow, this is terrible writing.
Person 2: Well, it was fanfiction.
(The latter said with a bit of a sneer.)
It’s not as if this is the first bit of fanfiction ever published. People make a living writing stories about other people’s characters, whether it’s Sherlock Holmes, Elizabeth and Darcy, or one of the many, many novels that go along with a multitude of television shows, movies, video games, and roleplaying games.
(I’ve read a lot of Trek novels. If those do not qualify as published fanfiction, nothing does.)
Ignoring those and focusing on thinly-veiled fanfiction, I find it hard to believe that none has ever been published before 50 Shades. I suspect most people just don’t bring it up. And then, there are authors like Cassandra Clare who were huge in fanfiction (I’m pretty sure you don’t get bigger in the fanfiction arena than Cassandra Clare, who wrote as Cassie Claire in the Harry Potter and LOTR fandoms) that have since moved on to have very successful original publishing careers.
So what is the publication of 50 Shades a victory for? Well, the author and the publisher. But fanfiction was fine on its own before it.
What do you think, Squiders? Have you delved into the infamous trilogy? Did you like it? Do you feel like it helps or hinders fanfiction as a whole?