Let’s talk about fanfiction

What is fanfiction?  My definition is fiction that fans write for characters they saw or read in movies, TV shows, or books.  It may not be the best definition for it but it’s what I’ve come to know in the fanfiction world.

So why do I want to discuss fanfiction?  Well, it seems to be a guilty pleasure for most people.  It’s something that’s swept under the rug and avoided in all discussions in public.  I’ve met more people that will admit to reading erotic stories than surfing the web for the latest fanfics. Honestly, I think fanfiction is extremely underrated and underestimated.  There are amazing writers out there who take fanfiction very seriously and so do their loyal readers.  Am I saying that all fanfiction is great?  Of course not, but there is a lot of talent being overlooked because of the misconceptions of fanfiction.

Stereotypes of Fanfiction:

  • They’re all written by immature teenage girls.
  • Fanfic authors aren’t real authors because they’re not getting paid for what they’re writing.
  • Fanfic authors aren’t real authors because they’re using another person’s setting, plot, and/or characters.
  • All Fanfics are badly written. (I’ve actually heard many people use this to show why they never read fanfiction)

The reality of fanfiction:

  • First, saying that only girls write fanficton completely ignores the contribution that boys and men have made as fanfic authors.  It also expresses the notion that girls can’t write just because of their age and the fact that they are girls.  Moreover, there are many adults who write fanfiction and take pride in their work.  Furthermore, if a story is well written then age shouldn’t be the most important factor in deciding whether it’s good or not. Talent is talent no matter what gender or age possesses it.
  • Of course fanfic authors don’t receive royalties because they don’t own all the elements of the stories that they’re creating.  They still have to give credit to the original author and inform their readers that they don’t own or make a profit from their stories.  This doesn’t mean that they aren’t authors since they’re work is still being published somewhere.  It may not be as prestigious as some people think publishing should be (with an agent and a company) but the work is still being published for the general public to view.
  • This seems to be one of the most controversial topics about fanfiction.  Yes, they are using characters that were already created, and the setting is the same in most stories, but the plot is usually unique and sets it apart from the original.  Fanfiction is a way for the fans to explore the “what ifs” of different characters and focus on parts of the story that the author may not have emphasized.  If five people read the same book, they would all come to five different conclusions.  Each person brings their own personal background to everything they see and read, so fanfiction becomes their way of expressing what they found important.  Most fanfiction that I’ve read have approached the same plot in a different way, focused on the subplots of specific characters, or created a completely different plot outside of what the original author created.
  • Combined with the stereotype of fanfic author’s ages, this is usually the conclusion that people have without even reading fanfiction.  Not all fanfiction is bad just like how not all published books are good.  Some authors of these fanfics are amazing and others have room to improve but it doesn’t mean that their stories are terrible.  One thing that these fanfiction websites allow is continuous editing.  An author can always go back and edit a story that they posted.  This is why most websites that host fanfiction have a comments feature to encourage interaction between authors and their readers.  This way authors can continue to grow and perfect their craft with the help of the public.

Like I said before, fanfiction gives fans a way to express themselves.  It allows them to answer questions they felt weren’t answered in the original piece and develop questions that get everyone else thinking about the “what ifs” of their favorite stories.  I’m proud to say that I enjoy reading fanfiction.  My reason is because of the emphasis on the characters that may not have been a part of the main cast.  It adds an element to the original story that I may not have previously noticed.  So why do you all like or dislike fanfiction?  What did you think about the quality of this post?  Is it good or do I need to do some major editing on this?

**I know some people write fanfiction as two words, but I’ll use it as one for this post since either way is correct.  Also, fanfic is just another way of saying the longer word.

**These aren’t the only stereotypes about fanfiction.  I’m sure that there are many more out there but this is what I usually hear whenever I talk to people about this subject.

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About cozycommons

I'm an active reader and a habitual writer who loves the good, the bad, and the ugly of the literary world.

Posted on May 31, 2012, in Observation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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