Last week, two of my girls - the bloggers that are in the metaphorical 'inner circle' of my blogging life (that probably makes it sound more like a cult than it is - oops!) - made their points for and against fanfiction.
The lovely Emily @ The Paperback Princess argued against, and the sweet Sierra @ The Nerdgirl Review argued for.
Both made great points, and you should definitely check out their posts. :)
Not content with writing epically long comments on their blogposts, I decided that I'm going to throw my opinions out there in technicolour for all of you to read.
And who wouldn't enjoy that?
A warning before we start: for some reason I use really big words and/or fancy sentence structures when discussing fanfiction.
...So I might end up coming across as pretentious, but I honestly believe every word; I just become weirdly eloquent when talking about fanfiction.
(The irony of this, given the grammatical standard of a butt-load of fanfiction, is not lost on me.)
Also, this post might get quite long. You have my permission to take breaks to go to the loo or get a cuppa if necessary.
You can even skim-read, if you really must ;)
Although obviously I'd love it if you were to read and cherish every word ;)
Fanfiction is about, at it's very heart, passion.
(Yes, I can hear you giggling - it does often include that sort of passion. So much smut. *Mind flashes back to...images.*)
Fanfiction is the expression of our fundamental love for the things we're passionate about - the TV shows, the books, the films, whatever.
Basically it's the fans engaging with the material in the deepest of ways - saying, we loved this so very much that we want MORE!
And you know what that should mean to the people who produce the original material? A lot.
Because it means you've really meant something to people - it means people are carrying a piece of your creative endeavour in their hearts.
Fanfiction gives characters life - actual moving, in-flux, living, life. Because they're no longer confined to their original media, their original stories.
Fanfiction sets characters free (yes, I know that sounds a bit new-age-y, blame my parents, I do.)
They're able to become more than just a story - they enter our collective consciousness as myths, legends, symbols.
Through fanfiction, characters can transcend their original medium; they can spread and gain a greater understanding - a greater following.
Do you think that when storytellers sat around the fire they used to tell the same version of the story every time? Of course not.
Even someone with a fabulous memory will miss out a detail here, use a different word there. And over time the story changes, inch by inch, into something else.
And that is the same beautiful, morphing, fluidity of narrative, that we now have in fanfiction.
That spark of interpretation that means a reader never truly reads the same words twice has been captured and magnified. We are making the stories our stories.
And fanfiction can be a force for improving literacy (no, really, bare with me on this one.)
Yes, there's plenty of truly atrocious grammar, plot-holes galore, and a wonky grasp of spelling; but it's spreading reading and writing to the world.
People who would normally not consider themselves readers, or writers, are a part of the fanfiction scene, tapping on their keyboards, or reading anxiously on their phones.
And that? Truly amazing.
Fic-writers are brave. They are not afraid to tackle any topic in any way.
(The anonymity helps - but this was, originally at least, primarily a way to not end up getting sued by Disney. I'm sure there are other companies. But it's Disney that the primal part of every fic-writer fears.)
Granted, a lot of the time this means a lot of very graphic sex between... well pretty much anyone on two legs (and some with more or less than two legs *cue brain flashing on disturbing fic images.*)
Male/male pairings dominate the medium - partly because major companies, publishers, studios, etc. are too afraid to give the big-money characters a same-sex partner, but also partly because a lot of people find two men having sex very hot (fans self.)
It's not all sex though - you're just as likely to find your favourite characters struggling to deal with relationships, family, mental health, and the everyday domesticity of supermarket runs.
(I've read so many supermarket stories - what is it about the supermarket guys? Does anyone know??? I really don't get the fascination with this trope.)
The porn is everywhere though. I'm not going to lie to you. There are some things that I really wish I could un-read, and that make me worry about humanity in general.
And sometimes you're just reading what you assume is non-sexy-times fic and... Oh! Look! Much graphic porn!
(Things tend to escalate quickly. Very quickly. And in a weird and usually unexpected direction. Sometimes the unexpectedness isn't even sexual - just random as all hell, because collectively, fangirls/boys have no inhibitions. At all.)
But usually fic-writers leave tags and/or warnings to stop the unaware from falling too far.
It doesn't always work, but if you don't pay attention to the tags IT WILL NOT WORK.
YOU WILL BE LOST. *Cue more fanfiction images flashing through my mind.*
If someone's given warnings for heavyweight subjects, or just the obligatory 'I'M SORRY - WHAT DID I WRITE?' (you'll find this a lot,) then please tread carefully.
It ain't gonna be rainbows and bunnies (and if it is you're probably not going to look at rainbows and bunnies the same way ever again.)
I personally don't agree with fanfiction that uses real people as characters, instead of characters who were fictional to begin with - I think it's more than slightly creepy, in all honesty.
I don't like the whole writing-about-celebrities-doing-it thing because, well, would you want someone to write about you having sex? Eww, no. Exactly.
Fanfiction also definitely warps your perspective. I no longer find MPreg (male pregnancy) that weird.
I should definitely find it exceptionally weird... I don't. I just kind of accept it and move on.
And that's probably not the worst of it... far from it, actually (*yet more images of disturbing fics - I really can't explain, it's not repeatable in polite company.*)
But, despite the many times I wished I hadn't read a particular fic, or even just a particular chapter, I still love fanfiction.
It's wish-fulfilment. It's a safe place to explore sex and relationships. It's somewhere where you can read about characters feeling just like you do - and going through the things that you 're going through.
It's unfiltered feels (strong and indescribable feelings to the non-fandom-speakers.) It has it's own genres - family, hurt/comfort, angst, fluff...
It's the mood of the fans, and what speaks to them, in the purest of forms.
And real writers emerge from the depths of it - E L James and Cassandra Clare, no matter your personal feelings on either of them, are hugely successful authors. And both were fic writers.
It's the perfect ground for newbie writers, who need to get all the writing practice they can. How better to start than with characters who are all ready existent, and just waiting for you?
Well-written, character-driven fanfiction? (And it does exist.) It's the best feeling in the world.
A distillation of humanity's imagination, its hopes and fears, just waiting for you.
So, what do you think? Ready to give it a try, and hear the voices of millions as together they transform beloved characters into something... alive? ;)
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