by Lucy Zhang, US East Blogger & Artwork Assistant jaBlog!
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
Most people find it hard to admit they read or write fanfiction.
There is definitely a negative connotation associated with fanfiction, but fanfiction is also one of the best starting platforms for fiction writers. With characters and backgrounds already created and a plot line to follow or modify, writers can create a story without the additional leg work of building characters and setting from scratch.
This might not sound like much, but to someone who has already attempted writing an original novel, writing fanfiction is a gift. Furthermore, the versatility of fanfiction means it can meet the needs of any level of writer. For example, if a writer is getting his or her feet wet in the industry and doesn’t know much about creating dynamic characters, it is easier to stay true to an existing character and imagine how that character would respond to different situations. More experienced writers might attempt to put their own creations into the original work, perhaps by altering the setting or by adding side characters to the story.
Fanfiction also provides writers with an enormous audience (and occasionally a fan base). Having already read a popular book or seen a popular show, many people are immersed in their respective fandoms and will naturally gravitate toward the outlets that have fanfiction. On the other hand, original fiction posted online has a much harder time of gaining an audience and reviews simply because of the relative obscurity. Fanfiction thus has the benefit of a “brand name.”
In addition to providing writing experience and readers, fanfiction is ultimately a fulfilling and satisfying pastime. For those who are upset with an original work’s ending, those who want to flesh out side characters, and those who want to examine different timelines that were barely touched upon, fanfiction offers a creative outlet. The fun of fanfiction is ultimately and undeniably what drives most writers. Therefore, the written works in these fandoms can reach amazing quality without the need to meet marketing qualifications or standards. Writing fanfiction can truly be satisfying for a writer.
Unfortunately, because of the overwhelming desire for satisfaction, there is plenty of poor quality fanfiction online. In fact, most fanfiction is a result of a writer’s desire to romantically pair two characters together or insert themselves into a scenario and become the new protagonist. While some writers have executed these common fanfiction behaviours fairly well, most of the resulting writing is rushed and very underdeveloped. In no way is romance an inferior genre, but to write for the sole purpose of ensuring a marriage between two characters is vain and counterproductive to the quality of writing.
So is fanfiction deserving of its negative connotation? No, not the concept of fanfiction itself. Fanfiction is not perfect, nor should we expect it to be. After all, if it is a training ground for writers, we cannot go in expecting every published piece to be a masterpiece. The fanfiction community is one full of constructive feedback and criticism, sure to let authors know if their pieces are worthy of praise. And when one stumbles upon that hidden gem in a sea of mediocre writing, reading fanfiction truly becomes a worthwhile experience.