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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of that amazingly mysterious word — Fanfiction. Without the bells and whistles of the stereotypes that I’m going to discuss in a bit, Fanfiction is pretty much taking an already-established universe and writing stories based on it. Many times, this means taking characters like Harry Potter, Doctor Who, or even classic characters like Mina Murray-Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and placing them in situations or places not immediately shown in their original universe, like imagining what would have happened if Harry and Hermione were in a relationship or if Jonathan Harker died at the beginning of the story instead of going to Castle Dracula. Basically, it’s a creative outlet for fans and writers alike that want to live out “fantasies” with their favorite characters. It’s “fiction”, written by fans.
Get it? Fanfiction?
Alright, so that all sounds fantastic, right? You would think that no one would ever have a problem with it! Unfortunately, Fanfiction comes along with a bunch of lame myths and stereotypes, and I’m here today to let you know why all those are completely and absolutely untrue!
1. THE QUALITY OF WRITING IS ALWAYS POOR
This is not true in the slightest. It is true that there are a ton of fanfics (nickname for fanfiction) that are poorly written, but the same can be said about traditionally published books, too. The idea of this myth comes from the fact that fanfiction can be posted for the public without any kind of editing. And some people do! But most fanfiction writers (at least, the ones I know or know of) use what’s called a “beta-reader”, or a kind of editor before they press publish on a chapter. Basically, they want to make sure there’s no errors or big gaping plot holes missing from the story. Mainly, these are the stories that become famous, as they’re a better writing quality than the small ones you’ll find throughout the internet.
As a sidenote to this, I know many fanfictions (and am friends with their writers) that are a thousand times better than any movie or book already in existence. Many have been turned into books or movies, which I’ll talk about in my next point.
2. FANFICTION WRITERS ARE JUST PEOPLE WHO CAN’T WRITE THEIR OWN STORIES
I don’t know what kind of fanfiction you’re reading, but the last time I checked, fanfiction is writing. Just because the characters aren’t completely original doesn’t mean that the writers are completely incapable of coming up with a unique spin on it. Fanfiction usually falls into one of two categories, either OU (original universe, everything world-wise is the same as in the original story), or AU (alternate universe, the world is different from the original, ie: Katniss and Peeta from the Hunger Games meeting in college). In fact, one thing to think about is the idea that there are only about seven different stories in existence, and that all plots and stories ever made somehow fit into one of these categories. If this is true (which I personally believe it is), then wouldn’t all literature and entertainment be rooted in the same story anyway?
Something else to think about, as mentioned in my previous point, is that there are a ton of writers who got their start writing fanfiction. Steven Moffat, writer of Doctor Who, originally had an idea way back in 1994 for the show (which has been around since the early ’60s) later used that plot in one of his episodes! However, this doesn’t mean that fanfiction is only a springboard to more “professional” writing. In fact, many stories were published as books themselves, like Peace in Amber by Hugh Howey (inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five) and Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was just turned into a movie!
I would like to point out that there are other notable works that have been published, such as Fifty Shades and After, but as I have a really big problem with both of those books, I’ve chosen not to discuss them on here. I might do a blog post on them later, but please feel free to look those up on your own.
3. IT’S ALL JUST PORN
This one definitely isn’t true. Sure, there might be a lot of… innapropriate fanfic available online, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing out there. Unfortunately, names like Fifty Shades have given this myth some backing, but as with any other kind of entertainment genre, there is going to be content that is spanning across all levels of maturity in topic and appropriateness.
4. FANFICTION IS SOMETHING TO BE EMBARASSED OF
I cannot tell you guys enough just how much this isn’t true. The coolest thing about fanfiction is that there’s so much of it, and it’s all free online! That means whoever wrote it put their time and effort, usually a long time and a lot of effort, into making something amazing that they will probably get no retribution for. I’m sorry, but that sounds like an absolutely commendable thing for someone to do, and if you write fanfiction, you should be proud of your work. I think the main reason why people are embarrassed of their online fanfic publications is either because of the content (that inappropriate stuff we mentioned earlier) or the fact that there’s a huge stigma against fanfiction altogether.
I’ve talked to you guys about it before, but things are finally starting to come to light with books like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which has a character that is an active fanfic writer, and it honestly shows just how much we go through to get that aforementioned free content out to our readers. There is absolutely nothing for you to be ashamed of if you enjoy writing or reading fanfiction.
Besides, we loved the characters in the movies and books and TV shows, so why wouldn’t we want to read more of the fun adventures they go on?
I say, read and write fanfiction to your heart’s delight (I know that I will!) and if anyone tries to judge you for it, just name your next evil character after them and make them get eaten by an alien squid.