Over 20 years ago, I had a brilliant idea: why not write my own Star Trek story? I could start a new series, make millions, and live off of writing.
Okay, so I was in 5th grade and didn’t know any better. But I wrote a Star Trek story any way. All of my classmates became characters in it. I even turned one classmate I had just had a big argument with into the villain. Until she read it and pleaded with me to not make her evil. So in the end, she becomes good again :)
And that was the very first story I wrote. I loved it, I love writing it, I loved letting my classmates read it, and getting their feedback! I still have the hard-copy, too, and I turn red in embarrassment every time I read it, heheh.
What I didn’t know at the time was that I had just ventured into something that, if it wasn’t already known as such back then, would one day be known as fan fiction.
Dun dun duuunnnn! That evil thing known as fan fiction! What so many professional writers and publishers turn their noses at and detest.
…Except it isn’t evil. At least, I don’t believe it is.
Writing that first story, that first fan fic, sparked within me a passion that burns stronger than ever over 20 years later. It opened up a whole new world to me. And it wasn’t my last foray into it either.
I’ve hinted at my fan fiction before, but I’ve been hesitant to really go into details here, for fear of legal reprisal down the road, should I ever make it big. But in reality, fan fiction isn’t looked down upon like it used to be, and big name companies, including Paramount, aren’t as anti-fan fic as they used to be.
Furthermore, fan fiction has a huge benefit that I think a lot of people overlook. I’ll explain in a bit.
Star Trek Dragon – 7 years, 70 stories
In 1999, while looking around this really cool thing called the internet (on dial-up!) I found a website called Star Trek The Adventures of Argus. I was shocked: Star Trek stories I could read online? For free? What is this…??
That was the first time I read the words “Fan Fiction.” I learned that it was fans, normal every day people like you and I, writing stories not for money, but for pure love of Star Trek, or any other number of franchises! In some cases, such as Argus, people were putting in countless hours and incredible efforts to create these websites and write these stories.
This was how my own fan fiction series, Star Trek Dragon, was born. I wanted to make my own mark. I wanted to tell my own Trek story. I didn’t care that I could never, ever make a single dime from it.
However, there was more to it. By 1999, I knew more about how publishing worked, and how difficult it was for new writers to get into the industry. I also was very much aware that my own writing style was in dire need of polishing.
So STDragon became my test bed. It was where I could hone my skills, test out new ways of writing, and get feedback from readers. Readers who eventually became fans. Including fans who were never shy about telling me when something needed work, heheh.
For 7 years I wrote Star Trek Dragon, each ‘episode’ becoming longer, more detailed, and better written than the last. Each story building upon the previous, leading up to a finale that had my inbox overflowing with fan mail! …okay so that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
It had fulfilled it’s purpose. I finished Star Trek Dragon in 2006, and began writing what would eventually become the novel I am now preparing to publish, The Sword of Dragons. A novel that might never have been realized, or at least not be good enough to sell, had I not spent so much time and effort honing my skills.
Advice and Cautions
With all of that in mind, I now and forever will be a fan of fan fiction. It is an amazing tool, a great medium for content-hungry fans, and free advertisement for the franchises that spawned them.
So much so that I seriously hope someday people will write Fan Fictions about The Sword of Dragons or Chronicles of the Sentinels! I’ve even had the pleasure of already having fan fiction written about my stories: a follow-on series of Star Trek Dragon was started by an individual named Daniel Balding, called Star Trek Peacemaker!
However, there are some pitfalls to be cautious of. First and foremost, there are legal considerations. Intellectual Copyright permits the owners of intellectual property to control content of and relating to their series. That means if an author or company tells a fan-fic writer to stop publicly posting and distributing their fan fiction, they have that right, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees with it.
On the plus side, writing and publicly posting fan fiction can be a real boon for aspiring writers! And I’m not just talking about the practice we get out of it. Whether you’ve realized it or not, you’re developing readership! You’re creating a name for yourself.
I hadn’t even thought of it that way until I talked to a guy today named Wayne, who runs a podcast on the website VtW Productions. He’s a pretty cool nerd, and he and I talked for a good long while about all of this today. He helped me realize that there’s no need to hold back, and to tell the world about my fan fiction :)
So no matter what you might hear, if you’re a fan fiction writer, or you want to become one, don’t be shy. It isn’t the evil taboo that some of the big names have claimed it to be. Yes, there are fan fics that are all about fulfilling someone’s…desires. But that is only a small percentage of fan fiction. There are a ton of quality fan fictions out there!
Remember that, and if you decide to write one, make it one that’s really worth reading. After all, this is your work, and that means it’s a representation of you :)
Thanks for reading!