What you need to know about fan-fictions (before you judge them)

Fan-fictions may be an unconventional way to begin this new blogging scheme but I find that people jump onto the negative bandwagon far too quickly when it comes to this topic. While my experiences in both original and fan-made fiction are not as vast as some others, I do see this lack of diverse knowledge behind what fan-fictions are to people and why it is still a fairly popular medium in entertainment.

WHAT ARE FAN-FICTIONS?

If you do not already know, fan-fictions are transformative creative pieces either inspired by or contain characters from a TV show, movie or book. Fan-fictions also involve fictional characterisations inspired by celebrities mostly by their name and physical features depending on the genre or universe.

WHY DO PEOPLE WRITE FAN-FICTIONS?

Transforming plot & character decisions

Raise your hand if you watch Game of Thrones and liked how the final season ended?

If you did not raise your hand then it is highly understandable (if you did, that’s okay too).

Fan-fiction writers will generally take this disapproval to the next level and attempt to transform their favourite pieces to the way they like it. Due to a little thing called fair use in copyright law, fans are now allowed to be inspired by their favourite entertainment sources and change them around for free so long as it is a transformation (and not a direct copy which would never make sense anyway).

Training in Writing

Sometimes you just want to get your writing out there in the open. No hassle, no extra worry, just write, edit, post and engage. If you are a writer and part of a fandom you love then this is usually only a step towards what you want.

Another reason why a lot of people might start with fan-fictions is because it almost provides you with a base or a template depending on how much you are using from your particular source.

This is especially true with celebrity fan-fiction writers. The usual stereotypical view of a celebrity fan-fiction is that they are grammatically incorrect pieces with embarrassing scene structures possibly made by a stalker who has nothing else to do with their lives. Or you just think of After (The book seems well-written but the fact that out of all the fan-fictions in the world, this was chosen says a lot about the clear stereotype created by mainstream media for fan-fiction writing).

I have seen novel-length stories filled with deeply thought out themes, intricate character development, suspenseful plot building and even a personal taste to the work that some mainstream novels do not always have. I also understand why they might not because there is a high chance publishers bring their own input into stories sometimes so it may not always be a raw piece from the author.

If you look deep within instead of just the surface, you would be surprised to find a lot of aspiring writers simply trying to train themselves in their craft before going onto serious publishing (sometimes both at the same time). At the end of the day, all of it is considered creative writing.

WHY DO PEOPLE READ FAN-FICTIONS? 

Have you seen a TV show/movie/book and wondered ‘what would it be like if x and y ended up together’ or ‘what would it be like if x was evil’?

Once again fan-fictions are the first source readers can go to if they are ever curious. Especially if it is a big fandom, it would be easy to find these themes just by writing down a few keywords.

Harry Potter is a big example. From evil Harry to what Draco and Hermione would be like together, the HP fandom has curated one magnificent collection of fan-fictions.

A TV show example can be Teen Wolf. I have heard fans sometimes prefer the fan-fictions over the show itself. Which by my experiences in watching the show is not that surprising even if I have not read the fan-fictions. Another TV show example should be no stranger to anyone: Supernatural. Destiel. You do not have to be an avid fan-fiction reader to at least hear of this ship name being dropped every now and then.

Celebrity fan-fictions work in a similar way except there is a much larger world to explore here. If you dive deeper into the world of celebrity fan-fictions (aside from low quality concert photo covers in Wattpad with the bright purple title ‘My Brother’s Tattoo Artist’), you will find that a significant portion of writers only use the celebrity’s name and some notable physical features.

Since the world is so open, readers manage to find their favourite celebrities inspiring all these quirky, interesting characters like faeries, vampires, sirens, seelies and many more. The reason why this is more appealing than just simply just reading a fantasy or sci-fi book is due to the familiarity of the celebrity as the character.

Haven’t you ever watched a film simply because you liked the actor in it? The concept is no different from a reader wanting to see their favourite celebrity in a mafia alternate universe.

WHY IS THERE A STIGMA AROUND FAN-FICTIONS? 

Think of this scenario:

You go to McDonalds, have a meal and unfortunately end up getting a bad stomachache. At that very moment you would probably hate the very idea of food. Except food is good, you simply chose the wrong kind that made your bowels despise you.

Stories work in an oddly similar way (not just fan-fictions). Just because you have had a few bad experiences or you have only heard of bad experiences does not mean fan-fictions in general are bad or cringe-worthy.

There are some stories that are bad and cringe-worthy but nothing good ever comes from assuming the worst when you have not experienced the best. Which may take some time but if you love stories and are willing to look then it should not be a problem.

All in all, the stigma simply has to do the lack of proper knowledge and presentation of what fan-fictions are. Additionally, people tend to express hatred towards something that they never tried to fully understand in the first place which is something that cannot be helped unfortunately.

Of course, we also need to consider that a person could have spent a large portion of their time diving into fan-fictions both as a reader and writer but found themselves in a toxic environment which ruined their view on the entire concept. This is understandable. Which is why this post is not directed towards this particular collection of people but to those who try to judge far too quickly for their own credibility.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Fan-fictions are fun! That was the whole point of the post in all honesty. If you find the right ones, the stories are always so raw and direct. There is no sense of cloudiness or even censorship but simply an author’s thoughts channelled onto a previously blank canvas.

This is not to say that original fiction cannot do the same thing as well but it can be deeply buried in the depths of all the popular ones for the general public.

On a final note, stories are meant for people to enjoy and their preferences are most likely extremely personal to them which needs to be respected. Being a fan-fiction writer or starting out as one does not make you any less of a writer nor does enjoying fan-fictions make you any less of a book worm.

Keep enjoying your favourite stories and happy writing!

– Ashley.

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