Have you noticed that popular creators like George R.R. Martin, Alan Moore, and others, generally hate the idea of people having their own interpretation of their works? Martin has outright called fan fiction plagiarism, and Alan Moore condemns every one of his works from being turned into movies (which is why you never see his name on those movies). It’s easy to understand this attitude. When you put tremendous care and time into a creation, of course you wouldn’t want someone else to butcher it… But, is fandom really such a bad thing?
I think no. Of course not.
First of all, without fans, no popular work would be, well, popular. I believe that in itself gives fans at least some authority over the story, if you let them (and you should). That’s not a bad thing. I mean, who better to share your works with than the people who love it?
I believe that a creator should always take their fans’ theories and/or desires for the story into consideration. Don’t let your fans control the work, but just hear them out and never venture too far from what they want. Sometimes the fans understand a work better than the creator, like with Star Wars. Truth is, 99% of the time, fans put more time into understanding and/or expanding on your works. Fan theories are some of the most creative things you’ll ever hear in life. They create new conflicts, new characters, new twists, and they just generally think of things the creator never had. For one example, Stewie and Brian, from Family Guy, make a great duo, and thus many episodes are about those two working together (or getting into shenanigans together). But Seth MacFarlane admitted that he never thought about that originally; it was his writing staff.
With Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin has admitted that he learns things about his characters while he’s writing. And he’s the creator of these characters. I’ve experienced the same thing as an author. I’ve learn some of the biggest secrets my characters have while writing about them. Point is, no creator should ever believe they always know 100% what they’re doing or that they have the best ideas for their creations. Diversity of thought helps your creations, not being stubborn. If fans of my works came up with some amazing theories, if those ideas were good enough I’d implement them in future installments. It’s only wise.
With Star Wars, I heard some awesome theories about who Rey was. (It’s hard to believe that ANYONE thought Disney would put that much thought into their movies.) My favorite of the Rey theories as that she is the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker and that they are both mere creations of the Force, born during times of imbalance in the Force with the purpose to bring the Force back into balance. Isn’t that a great theory? Well, too bad it isn’t the case, because neither George Lucas nor Disney ever cared about good ideas, they only ever cared about what sells, which is why you see Porgs and teddy bears (I mean….. ‘Ewoks’) and Jar Jar Binks and THE FACT THAT LUCAS SOLD STAR WARS TO DISNEY IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The lesson of this article is simply this: If you are a creator, your most precious asset is your fan base, and they should be treated with the utmost respect. They’re shouldn’t be in control, but their opinions should have the highest value.