Fifty Shades of Grey fan fiction devotees grapple with film's success

While controversy around the film Fifty Shades of Grey rages on, an equally contentious battle is being fought within the online writing milieu the book sprung from.

While some prefer to avoid the spotlight, others say the fan fiction is finally coming into its own

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson embrace as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the hotly-anticipated movie Fifty Shades of Grey. (Universal Pictures/EPK.tv)

While controversy around the film Fifty Shades of Grey rages on, an equally contentious battle is being fought within the online writing milieu the book sprung from.

The book Fifty Shades of Grey, on which the film is based, originates from the fan fiction community, where mostly female authors write stories based on popular books and films.

Fifty Shades of Grey was written by Erika Mitchell, better known by the pen name E. L. James, as fan fiction based on Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series — sans vampires.

"It was one of tens of thousands, really hundreds of thousands, of stories written by this vast community of women who were inspired to write and share stories by Twilight," said Anne Jamison, author of Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World.

Controversy within fan fiction community

The overwhelming success of the book, and now the film, has drawn a mix of criticism and praise from fan fiction devotees.

"It's really fractured the community," said Jamison. "It wasn't the first fan fiction to be published, by any means, but it was the first that was so big and so popular and got so much attention."

Jamison says many fan fiction writers became concerned that all the attention to their previously insular community would put them at risk of being sued by the creators of the original stories theirs were based on.

"There was a feeling that this would shut the whole thing down," said Jamison.

There are also those who feel that E. L. James exploited the community she gathered feedback from when she posted chapters of the book online. Members contributed to the story with the understanding that no one would profit from their efforts.

Jamison says that for those who feel betrayed by James, "It's upsetting to them that the film exists at all."

Fan fiction 'coming into its own'

But others are excited about the success of the book and the film.

"And then there were the people who thought this was great," said Jamison. "That fan fiction was finally coming into its own and getting some respect."

This faction believes that E. L. James has opened doors for the mostly female writers to gain recognition and make money from their work.

The reality, however, is that little has changed for most of the writers within that community.

"Most of the writers of fan fiction are telling the stories that movie studios are not going to produce," said Jamison.

To listen to the full interview with Jamison, click on the audio labelled: Fifty Shades of Grey fan fiction devotees grapple with film's success

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