by Tegwyn Hughes, jaBlog! Blogger & Book Reviewer
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
In jaBlog!’s series about fanfiction, we have learned about both the basics of writing and reading fanfiction and the negative stereotypes surrounding those who write and read it. This article will focus on the importance of fanfiction for diversity––how it helps writers learn about others, expand their own identities, and go to new heights in their creativity.
As you know, fanfiction is a way of letting writers take control and change another writer’s universe. Some writers use fanfiction to either create or focus on minority characters in the media. In a world where television, movies, and even literature centre around white men who date white women, some writers are using fanfiction as an escape.
I adore a certain TV series, Teen Wolf, that I watch religiously, and I chose to start writing fanfiction about the characters I love on the show. I especially liked changing these characters in the stories I wrote to explore diversity that isn’t normally seen on TV. Most of the fanfiction I write involves same-gender relationships between two characters from the show, and I also write some characters as having disabilities. The characters don’t change as people; their personalities stay consistent with the show, but I have created more diverse characters by tweaking the ones I love so dearly.
Take Scott McCall and Stiles Stilinski, for example. These two protagonists on the show have known each other since childhood, spend every moment together, and have a deep emotional connection that has been emphasized by the show. This gave the show producers the potential to explore a relationship between them, which they chose not to do ––both characters have been confirmed as straight, and have had relationships with girls. That’s still cool, but through my fanfiction I can explore what could have happened if the show chose another path.
I think that creating diverse characters through fanfiction not only increases awareness in my readers, but teaches me how to write original characters who are different. Realizing that the emotions and thoughts of the characters I write aren’t changed by new differences means that the diverse characters I write in the future will be real, will have realistic personalities, and will have realistic variety. If Scott and Stiles were boyfriends, they would still hunt monsters, play video games, and generally have the same personalities as they already have. The only difference is that they might hold hands every once in a while.
It isn’t inherently bad to write a story about a white person, or a straight person, or a man. I have read amazing books, and seen amazing shows, that focus on these people. At the same time, when I see a show about women, or a show that features LGBT people, it makes me happy to know that these characters are being included and inspiring the people that can relate to them.
I have seen more diversity in fanfiction than I have ever seen in television, movies, or books. This allows writers not only to expand their writing skills but to encourage others to see the world through a more diverse lens. If you wish that characters would have more variety when it comes to gender, race, and sexuality, I would highly recommend writing and reading fanfiction.