Writers are certifiably crazy. It’s an absolutely essential qualification for the job. If any adult were to stroll up and tell me, “I’ve got dozens of imaginary people running around in my head, I create worlds for them to grow in, and I control how they live their lives,” my initial thought would be along the lines of an insane asylum having very poor security.
“I’m a writer.” That clarification will immediately cause me to dismiss their admission of insanity and challenge with my own: “I write fanfiction.”
That’ll send the poor soul running. Everybody knows that the only thing crazier than a writer is a fanfiction writer.
For the sane and naive, fanfiction is a form of fiction that takes inspiration from creative works such as books, movies, and TV series, amongst others. It often features the original work’s characters, but any number of changes could have been made to give the story a new spin. These changes can range anywhere from a glimpse of an unknown past to a take on how things could have continued past the dreaded, inevitable “The End.” In the hands of a fanfiction writer, the rules are rewritten—nothing is impossible. Beloved characters once destined for Death’s embrace can be given a second chance, universes can be warped at will, and a happily ever after can be revoked just as easily as given.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s because it is! With great power, comes great responsibility, and fanfiction is no different! In the right hands, I’ve seen wonderful masterpieces come to life; yet, far more frequently, I see the disastrous results of what happens when this limitless power is used terribly wrong.
Harry Potter, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Supernatural, One Piece—whatever your favorite fandom might be, the thought alone of its name being slandered is enough to scare many away from the idea of reading or writing fanfiction. That’s because, unfortunately, the common misconception about fanfiction is that all of it is bad.
As a well-seasoned reader and writer of fanfiction, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that simply isn’t true.
Just like regular fiction, there exists a whole spectrum. There’s a variety of genres, styles, and quality of writing. No story or author is quite the same, and sometimes it takes a good amount of searching to find that one diamond in the rough. Sure, there are probably two My Immortal’s for every one unpublished masterpiece, but the search is what makes the find that much more special.
So, if you’ve never explored the world of fanfiction, I issue you a challenge—give it a shot! Tap into the infinite possibilities at your fingertips, be it through setting out to find that one gem or aiming to create it yourself. Fans are the make-or-break factor of fanfiction, after all.
Who knows? Fanfiction could be your perfect cup of tea, and if you fancy yourself to be a wicked wordsmith or a religious reader, crack open your laptop and dive right into the wonderful chaos.