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One question often posed to readers and writers alike is to what degree fanfiction is considered ‘true literature’? Whilst this article alone will not settle the debate, which still ranges on across the reader community, it will hopefully allow more insight into what fanfiction actually is, why people write and read it, and also why it still remains incredibly popular.
First and foremost, the concept of fanfiction must be defined in order for an understanding of it to be gained. Fanfiction is a division of fiction which consists of stories written by fans, who use the worlds and characters that are already in existence to form another story. More often than not, these stories venture from the canon created by the original author of the works. A lot of individuals who are unfamiliar with the process of fanfiction writing often confuse the works produced by fans as ‘(semi) plagiarised content’, judging said fanfiction writers and slating them for the ‘theft of another’s creation’ or their ‘lack of imagination’ and ‘inability to create work of their own’. What those judgemental individuals should come to accept is that:
“Fanfiction isn’t copying – it’s a celebration. One long party, from the first capital letter to the last full stop!”
– Jasper Fforde, One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing.
So now that we’re familiar with what fanfiction is, let’s look into why people write and read it.
There are, in fact, many reasons as to why people write and read fanfiction and it is clear that the acts of doing so have become integrated into fandom life.
“But I don’t want to write my own fiction,” Cath said, as emphatically as she could. “I don’t want to write my own characters or my own worlds — I don’t care about them. . . I’d rather pour myself into a world I love and understand than try to make something up out of nothing.”
– Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
One of the more popular reasons from both writing and reading fanfiction is that it allows fans to exercise their imaginations and explore various ‘what if’ scenarios regarding their beloved fandoms. For example, what if Harry Potter had become friends with Draco Malfoy? What if John and Sherlock had both been gay and Johnlock was indeed a canon ship? All these potential storylines explored by a ton of writers who post their works online for the other fans of the show to enjoy. As well as the ‘what ifs’, many writers of fanfiction also write in order to expand the Universe further, stretching their fandoms world to incorporated and coincide with another. This is known as a ‘crossover’ and actually makes for some interesting fanfictions to be created, just imagine the characters from Teen Wolf meeting those from The Vampire Diaries, or Merlin seeking the help of Doctor Who to go back in time and change the past… This is the kind of thing which people write fanfiction about. Additionally, fanfiction writing also serves a purpose as fanfiction allows for the story to continue even if the franchise, TV show, or book series etc has ended. I suppose this could raise the question: Can a Fandom ever truly die? If fanfiction is a means of making sure the answer to that question is no, then why on earth would someone dislike the existence of the activity?
But many more exist so that writers of fanfiction may share their works, read the works of others and discuss an endless amount of theories and scenarios, whether canon or not. So, perhaps you have an idea for a story that you can’t stop thinking about, why not write it and post it on one of these sites for others to read? And if you’re worried that you’ll receive nothing but criticise be assured of one thing, there is definitely someone out there who is interested in reading your take on a particular fandom or ship!