Fan fiction is totally a guilty pleasure of mine, but should it be? or should it just be a pleasure like reading in general? Is there anything wrong with admitting you are a fan of fan fiction? Does is some how make me less of a true reader?
For those unfamiliar with fan fiction it is quite simply stories written by fans of other works, it could be books, films or TV. People take characters created by others and use them in their own works, they might base their stories in the familiar environment of the original work, or use the characters in an alternative universe, they might introduce their own characters or cross characters over from another book or show.
I’ve been reading fan fiction for years, there were definitely periods within my degree where the only reading I did outside of assigned texts and research papers was fan fiction – I even wrote some back in the day, although I wouldn’t recommend hunting that out!
For me I’m always intrigued to read other people’s takes on some of my favourite characters from TV and print, it might not always be to my taste but there are some great writers to be found on fan fiction sites, and some truly epic stories, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of words in some cases.
One huge area of fan fiction over the years has been Harry Potter, it’s still a very active area, there’s currently over seven hundred and seventy thousand stories either completed or in progress on fanfiction.net, over three quarters of a million pieces of fiction that have been inspired by that one incredible series.
Personally I love reading some of the stories that corrected an error or two that crept into J.K.’s work, I mean she’s a queen, but we can’t expect her to be perfect. So yes, in some of my favourite pieces of fan fiction Severus Snape survives, and that epilogue never happened. Sorry to all the canon fans, but I never shipped Ron and Hermione and never believed they should have ended up together, and Harry marrying Ginny who throughout the series was often referred to as looking like his dead mother is just a little too creepy and Oedipus like for me.
I also like reading stories where the author has picked up on some of the same ideas I have about characters – Just maybe Dumbledore wasn’t the kind benevolent grandfather he liked to appear as (see this discussion post for more on that), or someone who is willing to represent The Mauraders as the bullies they were and not brush over the fact because James was Harry’s dad and really they were just young boys being boys and pulling the odd prank.
I am frequently amazed by the ability and dedication of some fan fiction authors, they’ll never get paid for any of this work, they’re writing purely because they enjoy being creative and love a particular set of characters. I recently finished a story by Corvusdraconis that was posted over a year and a half and was over four hundred thousand words long, it was incredible!
These days with so many re-tellings and re-imagings is it really so easy to draw a firm line between fan fiction and other fiction – I don’t want to call in proper fiction because that takes away from fan fiction, and as I already mentioned there are some amazing writers out there – so lets call it published fiction. I know there’s a huge range of quality in fan fiction, but I guess that’s true for published fiction too. So is there really a difference between some of the great pieces of fan fiction and say Heartless by Marissa Meyer? Surely it’s just a piece of fan fiction based on Alice in Wonderland that landed a book deal? And this certainly isn’t to take anything away from Heartless, I really enjoyed it, but maybe it shows that some fan fiction and its authors deserve the same level of respect we give published authors and their works.
I think the great thing about fan fiction is that there’s a huge chance you’ll find something that takes your fancy, even if you ship some obscure coupling chances are someone else out there in the six billion or so of us on the planet also feels the same way and has written about it. I’ll admit there’s definitely some weird stuff out there, and I don’t really agree with the fiction based on actual people, there’s a lot One Direction fiction out there which I find a bit strange but each to their own I guess.
What do you think about fan fiction? Do you love it or have you never really read any? If you have any favourite authors or stories let me know in the comments!