If you’ve ever been a diehard fan of any TV show, movie, book, play or any other form of pop culture, chances are that you weren’t the only one. And chances are that within this loyal and enthusiastic group of fans you’re a part of (or “fandom”, as they’re collectively called), there is a small subsection that’s dedicated to writing poems, short stories, or even novel-length epics inspired by this very piece of medium.
Meet the authors of fanfics: amateur writers who take creativity to a whole new level by taking beloved and well-known characters and settings to create a brand new story for like-minded fans to enjoy, free of charge and accessible on their own time. With that said, some student authors shed a little light into the vast and complex world of fanfiction, so as to better explain the inner workings of their writing.
A brief history
Fanfiction has been around for longer than you think. Even back in the days of classics like Sherlock Holmes, people were already writing stories about their favorite characters. However, fanfics have never been as popular as they are now. The invention of the Internet has played a hand in the birth of a generation that shares and creates as easily as they breathe. This has allowed writers, artists, and animators that are fans of many forms of media to flourish.
Nowadays, many platforms are available for fanfiction writers to publish their works—two of the most popular ones are Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net. These two sites alone have hundreds of thousands of works under many different fandoms, turning into something of a haven where both amateur and seasoned writers can share their works with others.
An inside look
Justine Singca (I, BS-IT) believes that people write fanfiction to “explore the potential character and story development, if the original work was in another setting.” While fanfics are widely praised by fans who claim to have wanted “more to the story”, there are still those who turn their nose up at the mere mention of fanfiction.
Some original authors, and even some of the readers themselves, think that fanfiction is unoriginal and uninspired. E.L. James’ highly controversial 50 Shades of Grey reportedly started out as Twilight fanfiction, which sparked an argument with Stephenie Meyer, while Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments, was originally a Harry Potter fanfiction writer. Both authors are now successful in their own right, with movies (and even a TV show) based on their books, despite the many noticeable similarities between their own original characters and the characters they wrote fanfiction about.
With regards to the stigma against fanfiction, Andrea Alvarez (III, AEI-ADV) admits that she is sometimes embarrassed when people find out about her interest in this particular type of writing. However, she believes that “when you write, it has an implied purpose to be read by other people. They’re words that you can’t speak through your own mouth so you write them down so that others [can] read them and ‘hear’ you.” On the other hand, Margot Pingcas (I, AB-OCM) says that while she is not embarrassed about the fact that she writes fanfiction, she is embarrassed about the genre her stories are mostly about, since her works are usually “slash”, or feature homosexuality.
Justine has a different view on the topic. “Doing something you love really shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about. What’s more important is what makes you happy,” she shares, although she admits that there really can be a sense of embarrassment when writing fanfiction. After all, it’s understandable that these writers feel somewhat shy about their works, since they are very personal and show a side of themselves that people they know in real life don’t really get to see.
Now, one question remains: is fanfiction literature? Andrea and Margot both agree that it should be considered as a new type of literature, stating that they are more than just the fans’ labor of love, and should be viewed as works of art, given that they contain all the elements needed for a coherent story. Justine disagrees, however, saying that fanfiction is “rarely professionally published because it is only the fans’ work of an already published work of fiction. It is based on a published literary piece and, dictionary-wise, cannot be considered as a piece of literature.”
Whether you love or loathe it, fanfiction isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially with the ever-increasing numbers of people in fandoms, and fanfiction writers themselves. New genres and storylines are created the more that people write these fanfics, with a whole new set of possibilities and scenarios for characters to venture into. To look at it under a different light, fanfiction might even be looked at as a training ground for aspiring writers to hone their literary skills in the hopes of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or John Green.