Smack Dab in the Classroom: How Fan Fiction Can Inspire Kids to be Authors by Dia Calhoun

In middle school I was not only a voracious reader, I also a wrote fan fiction before there was a name for it. I loved the Little House on the Prairie books. But alas, there were only nine in the series. After devouring them all many times, I wanted to stay in that world. So I made up stories starring me as Laura. I didn’t just “retell” Wilder’s stories, I made up new ones.

A few year later, my imagination intrigued b Star Trek, I made up stories around that series, too. Sometimes I was the captain. Sometimes the science officer—a female Vulcan.

I firmly believe that my imaginative extrapolations of existing stories was part of what led me to becoming an author—of original stories! believe that kids today should be encouraged to do the same—write stories based on books they love.

But there is so much concern today about “plagiarism.” But consider music. Music has a long history of composers who wrote variations on the themes of other composers. This from Wikipedia:

“Many classical and later composers have written compositions in the form of variations on a theme by another composer . . . .Many of these works are called simply "Variations on a Theme of/by ...". Other works, which often involve substantial development or transformation of the base material, may have more fanciful titles such as Caprice, Fantasy, Paraphrase, Reminiscences, Rhapsody, etc.”

Fan fiction is not plagiarism. It is a point of departure for imagination and creative exercise. If this is made clear to kids, it is a wonderful way to get them started writing stories—especially kids who might not otherwise. If they can write a story based on one they’re already excited about, half the battle is won.

And who knows where that might lead? I would be honored if some kid started on the road to being an author by writing about Eckhart from my book After the River the Sun, or Eva from Eva of the Farm. Honored if my work could do for someone else what Laura Ingalls Wilder’s work did for me.

Dia Calhoun posts Smack Dab in the Classroom articles on the 23 day of every month. Learn more about Dia Calhoun on her blog.


  1. I love the idea of fan fiction helping kids get into writing...They don't have to start from scratch, but with characters they already know and love...

  2. Fan fiction by kids means a true connection has been made. I just received an email from someone who started out writing fan fiction for THE ADVENTURES OF THE BAILEY SCHOOL KIDS. Those early stories launched him into writing graphic novel. How cool is that?!?


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