The simple word “fanfiction” causes people to scrunch their noses in distaste. Yet many people in this age don’t even know what that word means or refers to. That in and of itself is a shame because there are fanfiction authors out there that are more skilled at the art of writing than some published authors are. Let’s debunk the fanfiction myth once and for all.
“Fanfiction” is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet.” That’s it.
Yes, there are different types of fanfiction. There’s AU or alternate universe, meaning that the fictional characters are given new aspects that don’t exactly correspond to the real character. There’s ship fanfiction, referring to the relationship between two characters that may or may not be true (or as fanfic readers and authors call it- “canon”). And yes, there’s also erotic fanfiction — but that’s just one type amongst many.
Fanfiction is art and it does matter — ignorance or refusal to acknowledge that notion doesn’t make it any less true. The fact of the matter is fanfiction is one of the most difficult crafts there is. Fanfiction authors do already have the characters or celebrities that their stories are based on, but they have to craft an entire world or plotline on their own. The fact that they use real people or pre-written characters don’t invalidate fanfiction. There’s a certain power that’s achievable in fandoms. These are people, young or old, that love a character, musician, or world so much they don’t want it to end. They give it life over and over again so fans like them can continue to experience those worlds and people. Fanfiction is transforming literature for both readers and writers. In fact, it’s already had a massive impact.
Best-selling authors everywhere have started off writing fanfiction, like Meg Cabot who wrote the famous “Princess Diaries” and E.L. James who was behind the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. Certain fanfictions have even been published into novels, like Anna Todd’s Wattpad sensation “After.” Fanfiction is a basis — a take-off area for budding authors and writers everywhere. More importantly, it’s a way that makes readers and writers alike feel safe and accepted. It’s a place where the creativity never ends. Fanfiction creators not only write these stories, but they gain fans and also create art for their stories. Fanfiction is only the first door to a world where writers, artists and creators can live in peace and stay with the characters, shows and celebrities that have impacted them so much. Fanfiction also leads to making friends — people who read your work quickly change from fans to friends.
Of course, there is fanfiction that has negative connotations. There are fandoms that are extremely intense with a certain ship or topic, and there’re fanfictions available on just about any topic on hundreds of platforms. Ultimately, the pros outweigh the cons.
Don’t just take my word for it. Here at the University of Utah, Professor Anne Jamison of the English department is also an avid fanfiction defender, “Fanfiction today is a vast engine that drives an international exchange of fiction and ideas. It connects people of all ages and skill levels through a shared love of the stories and characters that inspire them.” Jamison has also written a book on fanfiction and it’s relation to academia as well, entitled “Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World” if you need further convincing.
As a proud fanfic fanatic, I encourage you to pick your favorite fandom and google some fanfiction work on it. There are several popular fanfiction platforms you can check out: Archive of Our Own, Wattpad, Fanfiction.Net, Quotev and more. Whether it’s Marvel, Harry Potter or a real person, the possibilities of what you will stumble upon is endless. My hope is that you’ll see why fanfiction is so important, even vital. At first, you’ll feel weird about it, but slowly and surely you’ll come around. Don’t let the f-word scare you from discovering your favorite story retold. Fandoms and works live on within their fans, after all.