Most authors appear to be indifferent to fanfiction, but some have expressed support (J.K. Rowling), amusement (John Green–John’s actually admitted to writing some himself!), or opposition (Anne Rice). My personal stance on fanfiction is that it is amazing and ridiculous and fun and beneficial to both readers and writers. if you’ve spent your life scoffing at the idea of fanfiction or making fun of fans who enjoy it, I would encourage you to reconsider your position.
When it comes to works by authors like Anne Rice, we must respect the author’s desires and not post fanfiction based on their works online. I think Rice’s position on this is sad and I wish she felt differently, but in the end, it is her art, and if she doesn’t like the idea of other people playing with her art, we need to be respectful. But don’t stress too much, because most authors have no problem with fanfiction. And as long as the author is cool with it, there are so many possibilities!
Fanfiction exists on an extremely broad spectrum. There is truly awful fanfiction, like the Legendary My Immortal, and there are complex and beautiful fics by authors who, in some cases, are now published novelists (Cassandra Clare, for example). Whether you prefer gorgeous and thought-provoking prose or hilariously terrible disgraces, there is fanfiction in the world for you to enjoy. For readers, good fanfiction is a wonderful way to supplement their experience of a story. It may analyze characters and situations that the cannon work didn’t have room to expand on. It may explore the possibilities of alternate universes, or what may happen if one small detail is slightly altered. Fanfiction allows us to experience a story from every conceivable angle, or to indulge in our most bizarre “what if” fantasies.
I would also highly recommend fanfiction to beginning writers looking to develop their skills. It provides an opportunity to practice your craft using pre-existing characters and universes on a platform that allows for feedback and community involvement. One of the really cool things about writing fanfiction is that you get to write for an audience. That’s an amazing resource for a developing writer. If you’re interested in practicing your writing skills in a supportive fandom community, fanfiction is the way to go.
If you enjoy a good fanfic now and then, recommend your favorites in the comments! Let’s disprove the notion that fanfiction is purely ridiculous. (This is not to disparage the ridiculous, by the way–I maintain that the world is a better place for having My Immortal in it.)