Fanfiction is a category of literature that is related to the creation of stories or characters by fans. The characters and stories used for such works are based on characters or settings made by comic book artists. While the legality of these works is always under question, as long as fan fiction remains with its legal limits, it is considered a valuable part of literature in any society. In fact, original work creators are known to promote fan fiction as it also pushes their original works along.
Fanfiction is, however, nothing like regular works where you are required to publish your work and sell it. It is extremely rare for an original artist to commission a fan to create a piece of work based on a concept they had come up with and, then, sell it as their own. As a result, you almost always find a disclaimer attached to fan fiction works. That said, fan fiction is a fantastic hobby for those who have a fascination for writing or illustrating their own pieces of work based on ideas that they believe in.
The Rise of Fanfiction
There is often a comparison of fan fiction with the concept of a post-apocalyptic world time when there is no more money in circulation. When it comes to exchanging things that are worth something in the market, for barter, fan fiction comes into the picture and that is the only kind of motivation that seems to push these fans into creating such pieces of work. They don't just sit and enjoy the work that has been done for them by artists, they sit there and actually contribute to the entire process of promoting the pieces they love and becoming a part of the movement themselves.
Some of the contributions to fan fiction comes from the perception that there might be certain gaps or possibilities in the original story-line. A lot of the work that fans do is based on their own perception of what's happening in the piece they are reading or watching. The potential for extra plots that the original artists leave out, intentionally or otherwise, are exploited by these fan fiction artists who then give it out to the general public. Many readers make their own perceptions from what remains untold in a story or go to the extent of putting in a whole new angle to the story they've just witnessed.
For those who want to enter into the world of fan fiction, there is something out there for everyone to interpret in their own way and exploit. What originally started with the Star Trek series of stories, gave rise to what is considered as the modern phenomenon that rules the fan fiction world. Creating fanzines, as they were called, and published in offset printing or mimeography, these fanzines were sold at conventions for a small fee to help make up the costs. That concept still works today despite the various copyright laws!
The Legal Angle
There are a lot of potential problems that come with fan fiction and the biggest one is the issue of copyright. When someone takes your hard work and puts a twist to it and sells it off for profit, there is a huge issue of plagiarism. Works older than a certain period are, however, not covered in the copyright laws and that has often resulted in the adaptation of works by Lewis Carroll, such as the Alice in Wonderland story, as well as several stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his famous Sherlock Holmes series.
Under certain laws, like the American law, fan fiction is considered as derivative works and that leads to prosecution by law. While fans argue that it isn't, the fact remains that any kind of work that s directly an off-shoot of the original is derivative and a violation of the copyright laws.
Fanfiction as a Hobby
The most common reason people turn to fan fiction is because they want to improve their skill in that line of work. If it's a comic book, then they make their own story, using those same characters, and put it out there in their own unique style to get feedback. This is the most common reason behind fan fiction and most artists, especially in their early days of learning and education, tend to turn to this format of writing or illustration or design, depending on what their field of interest is.
The most common angles that fan fiction writers or artists normally choose is the "parallel universe" concept where there is another universe where the same characters have a different storyline or relationship with each other to create a whole new angle. The other is the angle of romance where people introduce romantic angles or different romantic angles into the story. Then there's the whole idea of changing the entire genre. You can take a regular action thriller story and make it a love story or take a regular novel and convert it into a comic book.
The line you choose is completely based on where your interests lie and as long as you aren't breaking any legal limits, you are safe to practice the creation of fan fiction based on your abilities and your interests in it. Use it as a hobby and nothing more, practice your work through it but don't try to make it something more than what it might be - and you will enjoy fanfiction as much as you do the original.