Fanfiction is a beautiful, wonderful ball of cookie dough that you could eat over and over again. It’s a simple thing and it doesn’t matter who makes it, you’ll still consume it with the same eagerness that you would anything else. That being said, fanfiction is sort of a phenomenon when you think about it. It’s technically the knock-off of the original story, so why do fans love it so much? Well, I have some theories as to why. So without further ado, here is where we talk about one of the geek community’s favorite thing; fanfiction! Why do we love it?
#1 It Gives Fans An Alternative
The other day I was in my methodologies class where one of the girls discussed her research project and how she was looking into fanfiction as a viable source of information. She was researching a specific series and the fans’ response to it; she found that those who were upset with certain outcomes would turn to fanfiction to help give them the alternate ending they desired.
What I liked about this definition is that it is exactly why fanfiction people produce and consume this material. Not only that, but this is the one and only area that a fan gets to really interact with their series, other than just being told a story. Joseph Fink, one of the creators of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, once discussed the idea of a space for fans that creators had no business being involved with. He was referring to the fact that his audience would come up with what they thought the characters of the show looked like (since it is strictly audio with no character descriptions) and that he would never clarify them.
This is important because fanfiction, whether it be written, art or other, is the space where fans get to be creative with their favorite series. It’s not just a place for weird porn people! And while there’s plenty of that to go around, what’s important to take away from this is that fans are creating places and communities to share their work with their peers. It’s a place where posting on a certain website or adding a specific hashtag can connect a person with dozens of readers and an entire community of people who enjoy the same thing.
Pretty nifty stuff right there, I’d say!
#2 It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect
Look, I will admit, I write a ton of fanfiction when I’m not working. I love posting on FanFiction.net and watching my stats go up as reader after reader strolls by my work and finds true love. Which is surprising because my work is completely PG so I’m not sure what’s attracting people, but it must be good. My longest fanfiction, and growing close to my most popular, is actually a World of Warcraft fanfic with original characters. I know right; why would you ever read that?
I bring this up because I know that I am constantly making mistakes in that story. Especially when it comes to canon factors and plots that are in the game. But I keep writing it anyways. And when I get weird comments or people look down on me because it isn’t exactly right, my response is always, “That’s why it’s a fanfic!” Because it’s purely a person’s fictional take on a story, no writer of any series or genre ever has to feel pressured into doing something simply because it’s canon.
Isn’t that the whole friggen’ point of writing fanfiction? You get to bend the rules and do what you want with a pre-made story line and characters you’ve already emotionally invested in! Nothing beats that! Except for maybe snuggling Elliot; let’s be honest, that cat is the best.
#3 It’s Relaxing To Write and Read
When I was in high school, and even now, only two things kept me calm; playing WoW and writing fanfiction. At the time I didn’t have the discipline to write as much as I do now (and even that’s questionable) but writing a fanfic about a game or anime that I liked a lot would do just the trick. I could calm my anxiety down and feel ready to go the next day.
Now I’m not sure how many other writers have this experience when they’re creating a fanfiction, or even their own personal work, but this was how it was for me. Fanfiction doesn’t need to have an acceptable length, so you can do whatever you want with it; two chapters to a whole novel. And while a lot of people write amazing stories half way through and then stopped for five years (you’re the devil by the way), you don’t really have the responsibility to come back to it. It’s there for your pleasure to write/draw/create. And if you’re not writing it, the work of other writers is there for your consumption.
You might find that one fanfic that has the alternate reality you’ve desperately been searching for. And when you do it feels like the series just got better and you’ve made progression in your feelings towards certain characters. But most of all, you probably feel both excited and satisfied. I am a strong believer that the right fanfiction can make you feel bliss.
#4 It Helps Writers Practice
This is not only my final point, but also my most important. Fanfiction can be a great strategy to help writers grow. When I hit writer’s block while doing original work such as Bosh & Brave, any of my untitled novels or even news articles, I always find it’s best to go back to the basics. Doing something I’m familiar with, even if it’s not original. Fanfiction provides a way for people to practice the art of telling stories without needing in depth planning ahead of time.
Writing original work can take a long time. Trust me, it took us months to even begin to start Bosh and we’re still constantly editing and working on it. But because a team of writers has already built an entire world and story for you to follow, most the work is already done. All that’s left to do is to take the story down the avenue you want. Simple as that.
The way I see it, it’s a great exercise and it can help jog your other writing. Personally, when I write fanfiction it’s more than the views. Sure, it feels nice to see people liking my work or my take on a story, but really at the end of the day, the practice is more important to me.
I only write this post because I notice that the anime community is really big on fanfiction. Whether it’s Attack on Titan fan art or Tokyo Ghoul short stories, I see it all over the place. It’s a subject I find fascinating when looking at our small community. But fanfiction does get a bad reputation, and that probably has to do with the large quantities of fan-made porn (which isn’t bad, do yo thang), but I argue that it does have value to its existence.
So go out there, write/read a lot of fanfiction and support fellow writers!
What’s your favorite fanfic? I wanna know! Tell me in the comment section!