NEW YORK – With the fall TV season revving up, fans who aren’t satisfied with their favorite shows’ plot twists are taking the script-writing duties into their own hands.
TV enthusiasts have flocked to the Web to create “fan fiction (search)” -- stories that run the gamut from original episodes or shows to romantic scenes between characters who would never get together on air.
Whether people's fascination with TV shows is too fervent -- as some experts charge -- or just a creative hobby, avid fans see the fall season as more grist for their mill.
"When the last season ended, everyone was wondering what was going to happen. The only way we could get through the summer was to write about what we thought happened," said Gennie Bailey, 25, who co-founded The Alias Four about the ABC spy drama “Alias.”
“You get to love these characters and you know about their lives. To have them in situations you control, that’s nice,” said the 25-year-old from Savannah, Ga., who likes to pen steamy scenes between the show's characters.
Programs with the most avid fan fiction writers tend to be dramas like “24,” “CSI,” and "Without a Trace," but people also write about sitcoms like “Friends.”
On one Web site, a “Friends” fan created a 27-stanza love poem written from Chandler’s perspective to Monica: “Then we went to London / and got drunk over our heads / I couldn't remember what happened / but I woke up with you beside me in bed.”
Television historian Ed Robertson (search), who is not a fan of the fiction, compares the Web sites to the fan clubs of yesteryear.
“Before the Internet, you had fan clubs,” he said. “Fan fiction takes it to the next natural level.”
But Robertson said fans can be too vehement in their ardor for the shows, and they develop unusually strong emotional bonds to the fictional characters.
“Everyone has an imagination, and God bless them for that, but there are some ideas that should never be explored,” he said giving the example of fans’ speculation over a sexual relationship between Captain Kirk (search) and Mr. Spock on “Star Trek.”
“I guess it depends on how you look at it. Some people are frightened by it. Some people feel if it keeps the show alive, what’s the harm?” he said. “In fairness, more people do it because it’s fun. It’s a hobby.”
Brittany Frederick, 18, from Murietta, Calif., creates stories based on “24” and “The West Wing,” among others, and counts herself among the most prolific of fan fiction writers.
“I see actors doing amazing work and I get attached to them. I get into their heads, and ideas pop into my head and who am I to say no?” said Frederick, who also writes scripts for defunct programs like “The X-Files.” “I like to say I don’t write the stories. The characters prompt me and I go for a ride.”
People spend hours of their free time creating the scripts -- and they develop bonds to the series' creators as well as the actors and characters.
“When I heard Aaron Sorkin was leaving ‘The West Wing,’ I was emotionally heartbroken,” said Frederick, who sent a sympathy e-mail to the cast about his departure. “I cried my way through both parts of the season finale. I won’t go back to the show this season.”
While some experts like Robertson find many of the fans overzealous, others are happy with the viewers’ dedication.
“We love it and we encourage it,” said J.R. Orci, a writer for “Alias.” “If we inspire people who otherwise wouldn’t write something to write, it’s completely flattering.”
Orci isn’t allowed to read “Alias” fiction because of potential lawsuits if a script he writes is similar to fan stories, but he thinks the writing is a natural progression for TV fans.
“In a way, it’s a form of making the show interactive. They’ve gone from being spectators to being creators,” he said. “It creates a community where people give each other feedback and some people must go on to be published writers.”
But Orci said fans also use the Web to voice their dissatisfaction with the plots he and the other writers create. After last season's finale, the show's e-mail boxes were flooded with angry letters over the cliffhanger, in which Jennifer Garner's character Sydney Bristow wakes up nearly two years after a fight to find her boyfriend married.
”People are so angry Vaughn is now married," he said. "I’m like 'Wow, we don't deserve to be bashed.'"
Still, Orci said the fact that the fans are so protective of the characters must mean the show's writers are doing something right.
"It says we are doing our job if people are getting so riled up.”