If you were to find any of the hundreds of students I’ve taught over the last decade and ask them to tell you one thing about me, I’d wager a hefty sum that the most popular response would be, “She LOVES Harry Potter!” I was notorious for using Harry Potter examples for nearly everything I introduced: all the literary terms, plot devices, archetypes…you name it, I found a way to relate it to Harry Potter. I would always issue a challenge at the beginning of the year that no student could ask me a question about the Harry Potter books that I would not know the answer to. I only failed that test one time in ten years. Eventually, my students would learn that I am an avid reader and writer of Harry Potter fan fiction. The other die-hard HP fans would think this was the coolest thing ever and demand to read my works, which I would oblige them (the appropriate ones, anyway). The majority of my students, however, thought that reading and writing fan-fictions was just about the dumbest, nerdiest, most ridiculous thing they’d ever heard of.
So I decided to teach them a lesson.
I not only write fan fiction material, but I also have original works that I have been developing for many, many years. One of these is a young adult fiction novel (it’s a coming-of-age piece, really well done, if I do say so myself…the novel and accompanying unit is available in my TpT store – the novel is titled “Purple Storm” – but enough of the product plug). Once I had finally finished it and had gone through several rounds of revisions and edits, I decided to read it to my students. They absolutely loved it! When it was over, they were all disappointed and wanted to know what happened to several of the characters. They knew I had written it, so they implored me to continue writing the story. I told them that I was done and there wouldn’t be any more added on to the story. I then asked them if they wanted to write more for the story – things that happened to characters after the story ended. My students’ eyes lit up and they squealed with joy! “Yes! Oh, Miss, could we do that? I mean, you’d let us do that?” I explained that my work was my own, but I couldn’t stop anyone from writing things about it, as long as they didn’t try to make any money off of it. Once I was sure they were all gung-ho on writing their own parts to my work, I dropped the bomb.
“You want to write what happens next? What you think should happen next? That, ladies and gentlemen, is fan fiction.”
Boo-yah. The looks on their faces were pretty priceless. I had lots of requests to read my HP fan fictions after that. It was a good day.
Encourage your students to write fan fictions. It’s such a good way to develop creativity and writing skills. In fact, I challenge you to write your own fan fictions. And find some good ones to read. They’re out there. I’m partial to the HP universe, of course, but others exist.
You might surprise yourself…