The Best of Smack-Dab-in-the-Classroom: Fan Fiction, by Dia Calhoun

"Fan Fiction" is one of my favorite posts from two years ago. As kids have more time in summer, I decided to post this blog again in the hopes of inspiring them to write.

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.

You can learn more about Dia Calhoun at


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