Fan-Fictions vs. Retellings

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on fan-fiction and an interesting question was brought up: where is the line between fan-fiction and retellings?

I spent a long time talking with Nicole on twitter about this issue. And she just wrote a post on her opinion on the matter. I agree with pretty much everything she said, so rather than restate a similar opinion I decided to take it to another level.

I have contacted four authors of "retellings" and asked them the following questions:

What do you consider fan-fiction?
Do you consider your book to be fan-fiction? If not, what sets it apart from your definition?
Based on your definition, should fan-fiction ever be published?

Their answers are very interesting and very different. Here's a preview of each of their answers, and then I'll be posting their individuals answers over the next few weeks.

Marissa Meyer
Author of the fairy tale retelling Cinder
To me, fanfiction is when a work takes specific characters or settings from an original work and re-uses them. Alternatively, a story about a boy who discovers that he's a wizard or a band of magical beings who go on an epic journey to destroy a dangerous artifact - while they may have very direct and obvious influences - wouldn't be considered fanfiction in my opinion, because they aren't making use of the world and characters from the original.

Author of several fairy tale retellings
I've always understood fanfiction to be any piece of writing which utilises a world or characters that already exist (in whatever form) under copyright to the original author. Something is not fanfic if the world and characters that you use are out of copyright - if they no longer belong to someone else.

Amanda Grange
Author of numerous Jane Austen inspired novels
I suppose to me fan fiction is something based on other people's creations, written solely for the pleasure of the fan fiction author or possibly the pleasure of the fan fiction author's family and friends as well ,and then posted online. It doesn't have to meet any standards so it can be good, bad or anywhere in between.
Author of the Persuasion inspired For Darkness Shows the Stars
There are currently things being called "fanfic" and posted on fanfic sites that I personally wouldn't consider fanfic. For instance: someone who types up the words of a published novel and then changes the names of the characters in that novel into the names of the characters in the "fandom" -- that is not fanfiction. That is not "crossover fanfic." That's not "AU fanfic." That's just plagiarism. (It's happened to me and it's just baffling -- they're missing the whole point!)

Want to see more of their answers to the other questions? Check back each Wednesday to see what each of them have to say in more detail

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012


  1. Interesting. I haven't really thought about the differences or similarities before. Good topic!

  2. Great discussion.

    This can almost be similar to music sampling.

  3. The lines of what is and is not fanfiction have gotten really blurry. I've read a few stories, outside of character names and traits, are nothing like the original work.

  4. I'm excited to read these posts. :)

  5. Very cool idea to interview authors on their takes, especially ones who have a stake in the discussion. Love it and can't wait to read more!

    There's definitely some parallels in other art forms. But we're not sure sampling is fanfic... In music, fanfic would be more like a cover song, we think. Sampling would be more like spinoff or "meta" fiction (see: THE WIDE SARGASSO SEA or THE EYRE AFFAIR).


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