Why yes I did use the "F" word...
Okay, so I know not everyone is familiar with fanfiction. I wasn't until a couple of years ago. Basically, fanfiction is when people who like a particular book, TV-show, movie, etc. make up their own stories using an established universe and its characters.
If you've never read a piece of fanfiction, try taking ten minutes to look at a site like Fanfiction.net for a better idea of how it works. (You'll also get a better idea of how the slushpile looks, btw, because while there are some terrific pieces out there, most of it's garbage with a capital trash.)
Technically a no-no (darn copyright!), it's generally a don't ask/don't tell situation because if the copyright holders were to shut down the fanficcers (<--- Yes, it's a word. Dictionaries don't know everything.), they risk alienating their hardcore fans.
The point of this post isn't to vilify or praise people who write fiction based off other people's work, but more a matter of curiosity to see others' opinions of the practice.
Before I go any further, I'm going to point out - again - that, yes, I've written fanfic. It was for a couple of TV shows I won't mention, and it was fairly popular given the size of the fandoms. (Neither show went more than a season, so they were small fandoms.)
Don't confuse fanfic with licensed tie-in novels for things like Star Wars or Star Trek. Those are professional books that have the permission of the rights holders. They're edited and must adhere to canon.
In a legal sense, it's not even the same as those "mash-up" novels like Pride and Prejudice... and Zombies. The book used in that case was in the public domain, and once again, it was edited.
Fanfic is no holds barred, mix n' match, alternate universe, fix everything you hated about the original story-telling that can be done by anyone old enough to type.
Don't like the fact that an author killed off your favorite character? Fine. Change it.
Think the MC would be better of with another partner? The best friend? The gay friend? Yourself? Have at it (though, self-insert stories are pretty much a joke...)
Absolutely love a minor character with no backstory? Write one for him!
Hate the fact that your favorite show got canceled? Organize a "virtual" season!
That's the essence of fanfic.
You can't sell it because it can't legally be published for profit. And it's very rarely edited. It's also highly addictive because of the almost instantaneous response and the fact that even some of the worst (as in obviously written by 12 year olds with a crush on the actors portraying the characters) pieces out there get praised and encouraged.
Then there's the other side of it.
Everyone who writes fanfiction does so without the permission of the original creator. For most, it's meant as a tribute to characters they liked so much they wanted to keep alive. They at least try to keep them in character as the author wrote them, and as strange as it may sound, most ficcers I know would immediately remove anything they wrote if the original authors asked them to.
My experience is a little different in that it's TV-fic, so there's not one creative person in charge of the whole thing. It's already a joint effort, and in this case, the people involved read and enjoyed the fans' pieces. They even incorporated several of them into the series finale, which was cool.
With a novel, however, you're in a playground built and maintained by one person. They alone know the motivations that never make the page, and they alone know where they want each character to end up. I see a definite difference in the two kinds of fanfic.
I can also sympathize with authors who cringe at the sight of their beloved characters going against type. Way back when, one of my "babies" (okay, so he was a 6"6' Russian, bear of a baby who was more of a brick wall, but that's not the point) that I used in many stories (a character of my own creation, not something from canon) was seized upon by several other writers, declared "fanon", and therefore fair game. He promptly became a pod-person; I hardly recognized him.
The biggest chunk of fanfic is like that. The characters don't play by the original authors' rules. They either don't "sound" right, or they start staring in porn-style stories with no plot other than "One day Hero and Heroine wondered what would happen if they...."
Granted, most writers know better than to read fanfic based on their stuff, but still. It's weird.
I guess I've rambled long enough, so what's your take? Would you be flattered by fanfic of your novel? Horrified? Angry?
Where do you stand?