Fan Fiction and Star Wars: The Old Republic

What is fan fiction? Ask five different people and you will likely get five different answers.

According to Wikipedia, “fan fiction (alternately referred to as fanfiction, fanfic, FF, or fic) is a broadly-defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator”. I personally write fan fictions for SWTOR, because I have loved Star Wars since I was a small child. I saw Episode IV A New Hope from the back seat of my Dad’s car in 1977.

But a writer does not have to be a total Star Wars geek like myself to write good stories. The main thing that is required is a good story. I cannot count the number of stories I have read and thrown away because the story did not engage me. Just because a story has a thousand pages, does not make it a masterpiece. As Yoda so wisely said, ‘Size matters not’. Without substance, it doesn’t matter if you write ten thousand pages, it is still not a good story.

Just like making a film, a good story is complex. It needs a good plot, solid characters, epic action, intriguing twists, good dialogue, not too much or too little humor, and a hint of mystery, horror, or whatever else the writer wants to add. Without at least a good grounding in all of these, the reader will not be hooked. And that is the bottom line; you want the reader to enjoy what they read. In the case of a published author, they write so that so the reader will buy the book. In the case of fan fiction, it is a little murkier. What do the authors of such fictions seek?

It isn’t money, since for one thing, if authors start charging for fan fiction, they get into copyright infringement. If they don’t own the rights to the story, they have no right to sell it according to international law. Lucasfilm and LucasArts in particular have no sense of humor when people start doing things like that. Because the internet allows for anonymity, it makes it very difficult for people to say ‘This is my story’. Anyone else can come along and say ‘No, it is MY story’. Who is the actual author? Who knows. Is it bragging rights? I wrote more threads and posts online than you, so I am better? Again, who knows if that author cut and pasted from some other source. The internet is a wonderful resource and a horrible temptation. So much information is just sitting out there, virtually free (no pun). It has been said that most of the ideas have already been done. That almost all of the great masterpiece story ideas and plots have already been published by other people and to an extent that is true. But… If you take some of what someone else did, and modify it slightly, and add some of your own ideas, you can create something that seems fresh and new.

A case in point is Episode IV, A New Hope. There is nothing in the original Star Wars movie that had not been done before. The evil empire, the quirky companions who happen to have the key to defeat the evil empire, the captured princess, the evil villain in black, the hero from nowhere, the wise old man who becomes the hero’s mentor, a mystical energy force. All of these and more are known plot elements from stories that date back hundreds of years. George Lucas did not come up with the script for Star Wars by himself. He wove the elements together and added in a few touches that were distinctly his own. And in doing so, he created something amazing – a modern day myth. Love it or hate it, he created the world that we know as Star Wars, and it simply took off from there.

I have been writing SWTOR fan fiction since December of 2008. I’m afraid the story arc is a bit on the long side and not all of them are good. These threads recount a story of a trooper who is more than just a normal soldier, and his family who are anything but ordinary. I write because I have to. I have the bug. I can’t seem to not write. It is almost like an addiction, but instead of having to take things in, I have to put things out in writing.

I personally believe that the future of fiction will lie greatly in fan created works. For one thing, they are free. For another, a reader can read part of one and say ‘I don’t like this’ and go to something new. If you don’t like a book you bought in a bookstore, maybe you can get some credit at a used book store somewhere. BioWare in particular seems to have a good handle on story. It stands to reason, as they have created some of the greatest story-driven games I have ever played: Baldur’s Gate, Jade Empire, and Knights of the Old Republic to name three. I would be willing to bet that some of their writers are following the stories that are submitted as fan work on After all no-one, no matter how good or dedicated, can have great ideas 24/7.  If some of my work helps in the creation of an epic Star Wars title, I would be honored. For myself, they wouldn’t even need to give me credit. But then again, I am one of those strange Star Wars fanatics.

Over to you: what Star Wars fan fiction has inspired you?

(Editor: In regards to this post’s picture, yes, I know Splinter of the Mind’s Eye isn’t fan fiction. I love that book, so sue me)