The spokesman for the Christopher Little literary agency said: "JK Rowling's reaction is that she is very flattered by the fact there is such great interest in her Harry Potter series and that people take the time to write their own stories. Her concern would be to make sure that it remains a non-commercial activity to ensure fans are not exploited and it is not being published in the strict sense of traditional print publishing."
And write. Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you'll get. But don't write in my universe, or Tolkien's, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe, or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings. Using someone else's world is the lazy way out. If you don't exercise those "literary muscles," you'll never develop them.
Neil Gaiman: This iconic author has published multiple works of fanfiction: a Chronicles of Narnia fanfic, “The problem of Susan;” an H.P. Lovecraft fic, “I, Cthulhu;” and the Sherlock Holmes fanfic, “A Study in Emerald.” When asked about the resemblance of his stories to amateur fanfiction, he replied: “I’m not sure where the line gets drawn — you could say that any Batman fan writing a Batman comic is writing fan fiction. As long as nobody’s making money from it that should be an author or creator’s, I don’t mind it. And I think it does a lot of good.”
Fanfiction authors often come under attack for writing plots and characters taken from someone else’s world when they could be writing their own stories. Many people believe that fanfiction writers aren’t original enough to come up with their own premises and that fan authors would never keep writing fanfiction once they graduated to the “real” world of publishing.
But the truth is that many authors of fanfiction have written original fiction, and vice versa. In fact, some authors even “graduate” from original fiction to fanfiction once published or keep writing both at the same time.
So is that Supernatural fanfic you're working on legal, or should you worry about the lawyers coming a-calling? This is a question that gets asked a lot in the comments and warrants a detailed discussion. Fan works are an important part of our cultural landscape. Retelling stories and remaking artworks offers us new perspectives on familiar cultural works, and it's part of our nature as human beings to imagine different versions of the same stories, "what if" scenarios, and old tales given fresh voices. Many content creators recognize the value of fan works in creating a thriving fan community; they see that fan fiction and fan art can create a further market for their creative products. But there are plenty of creators who resent fan works across the board, and sometimes even the most understanding creator may encounter fan works that step over the line from homage to competition. So how can you tell when you're legally in the right?
Diversity: the fan-fiction scene is hyperdiverse. You'll find every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, age and sexual orientation represented there, both as writers and as characters. For people who don't recognize themselves in the media they watch, it's a way of taking those media into their own hands and correcting the picture. "For me, fanfic is partially a political act," says "XT." "MGM is too cowardly to put a gay man in one of their multimillion-dollar blockbusters? And somehow want me to be content with the occasional subtext crumb from the table? Why should I?"
Currently, the largest source of fanfiction on the Net (and probably anywhere else) is the aptly named Fanfiction Net, which offers a couple million stories across all but a select few canons (which were banned due to creator request) and an automated system for posting. While other sites exist, no other site offers as large an audience.
Jane Austen was less concerned with such matters, basing characters like Wickham in Pride and Prejudice upon "The Rake" from the lore tradition. In the 20th century with developments in cheap printing techniques and distribution, Austen inspired fanzines. A cult of dedicated literary fans called themselves the Janeites and the novel Old Friends and New Fancies – an Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen by Sybil Brinton, published in 1913 was the first published work of Austen fan fiction.
If we see fanfic as "the reworking of another author's characters" then this form really only appears for the first time in history with the invention of legal authorship in the 18th century through copyright and intellectual property laws, after the invention of the printing press. After all, you can't have derivative works or copies if there are no regulations over what constitutes original works, or separates ownership from theft. Predating this change, with the exception of educated men of letters and Christian scholars, the populace experienced stories only through the aural folklore tradition. Such tales were re-tellings and re-makings of the same stories over generations – this was a manuscript culture in which texts were open to intervention and were not fixed.
Although Fanfic exploded along with the Internet, it existed well before the Net did. Such luminaries as John Stuart Mill contributed unauthorized, original stories set in a fictional universe. Before medieval French troubadours were shipping Launcelot and Guinevere, the ancient Greeks were writing plays about relationships between characters in The Iliad. In Plato's Symposium one character complains that a play by Aeschylus got the characterization of Achilles and Patroclus wrong. Namely, that it got the Lover And Beloved dynamic backwards.
Fan fiction itself is generated primarily by women of all ages, sitting at home in front of computers tapping madly into keyboards to complete often novel-length stories about their favorite characters. They do not do it for the money, of which there is none to be gotten; they do not even do it for fame, since most fan fiction writers guard their real life identities very carefully. They do it because they love writing their stories, they love the characters that are not theirs, and they develop a commitment to the community they discover when they start to share this love with others.