Thank you guys for sharing your thoughts with me, you've really helped me to clarify things. I think my confusion started because I posted some work that really was, unambiguously, original, and I was surprised by the (modest) positive reaction. Then I actually checked out the "original work" section and was very surprised by how active it was--25 or 50 stories a day, it seemed. So I got to thinking, maybe this is a label people use pretty broadly. But it sounds like you guys are saying that actually, it's better to use it sparingly, only when it really, truly applies.
Well, I've got another scenario for you.
Like I said, I have no problem writing these things, it's just when it comes to labeling them that I stumble! When I was younger, for some reason, even though I read a lot of fanfic and wrote a lot of stories, I didn't really want to combine the two. So if I really liked a show, I would make what I myself called a "rip-off" of it. I would start by copying the template of the show--characters (but with different names), setting, etc.. And some of first plots would be very similar to what was on the show, but maybe I didn't like one thing that happened so I would change that. But then, I would take things in different directions, and characters would develop different backstories, have different adventures and relationships
, etc.--but you could very clearly see what my template was.
So, for example, Smallville. Littlefield, in my version.
Meteor Capital of the World, home to hunky teenage alien orphan Barry, lovely but melancholy Dana, sprightly go-getter Zoe, scheming dashing bald billionaire rebel Xan, etc.. I wrote a lot
. I really enjoyed it and I think it's good. I don't need
to share it, I don't need
to share anything because I write 98% for myself. But, would it be possible
to share this? Without
doing a lot of revisions--because it's not just a matter of find+replace on the names, I gave Xan a sister (that he grew up with) and there's a different backstory for why Barry's on Earth and so on.
I see it as this weird middle ground where it's really not Smallville fanfic in any recognizable form that I'm familiar with, but yet I would feel very deceptive calling it "original." Maybe it just needs to stay in my filing drawer?