If you’ve never heard of fanfiction, you have never truly lived.
According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of fanfiction:
Fan fiction, or fanfiction (often abbreviated as fan fic, fanfic, or simply fic), is a broadly defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator.
That’s kind of a boring way to put it, but yes, that is fanfiction. The most popular fanfic site that I’ve seen (and my most favorite to date) is FanFiction.Net. They have everything on there. You can sort fanfic by the specific fandom, and then by character, genre, rating, length, language, or multiple other things. You can get it down to something so specific there is only one story that complies.
I write Harry Potter fanfic. I’ve tried Hunger Games and a few other books, as well as a couple TV shows, but I always go back to Harry Potter. It is, by far, the most popular fandom on the website, with 673,000 fics. The second most popular fandom is Twilight with a meager 215,000 stories. TV shows, movies, games, and others don’t even come close to beating Harry Potter for the top spot.
I love fanfiction because it’s so easy to fall into the characters that I know and love, and get them to do things that I know would never happen in canon. Like my OTP (One True Pairing), for instance, which I won’t share just yet. Some of the stories are so outrageous, some people would probably either gag or fall out of their chair–with laughter, of course. Maybe. Like the newly famous pairing of Drapple (Draco Malfoy/Apple). No, Apple is not some weird name for a character. People literally pair Draco with an apple.
Or we could talk about Severus Snape/Hermione Granger. Yeah. Some people live for that ship. I personally think it doesn’t make a bit of sense for more reasons than the fact that he’s a generation older or that they could never have chemistry. Mostly I just think that Snape would never fall for anyone, ever, except for Lily Evans, because he just loves her so much. If it had anything to do with chemistry, my personal OTP would not be a good example.
People like to say that fanfiction is great practice for writers, for when you start to go to real writing. You know, the original kind. I scoff at these people. Fanfiction is hardly practice for the real thing. It is the real thing. You think coming up for a plot with these characters that actually makes some semblance of sense in the context of the story is practice? It’s almost harder than coming up with your own story, because you have to fit in with someone else’s accommodations, even if only slightly.
I write original fiction as well as fanfiction, and it works out really well for me. When I write original fiction, I can come up with cool characters that I love and a plot that (I think) is so incredibly original and fun that it’s amazing when I get to write it. But writing fanfiction is just as fun because I know the characters didn’t come out of my own mind, so they’re harder to write. I like a challenge (but not with school).
Speaking of challenges, you can do those too on FFN. At least with Harry Potter. And I certainly do. I’m currently running a challenge myself, as a matter of fact. Challenges make fanfic all the more fun, because you have to fit yet another kind of criteria. Some even come with deadlines and prizes.
But I think the thing I love most about fanfiction, especially this specific website, is that you don’t have to worry about not getting feedback, or having to spend half your time on the site trading stories for it. The way the site is set up, the second you publish your story or a new chapter, it moves to the top of the fandom’s page, so people browsing will see it. FFN is not a competitive site by any means. People aren’t on there simply to get feedback. They’re on there to read fic as well as write it, so you don’t have to fight for half-ass feedback.
Maybe this kind of sounds like a commercial for the site, maybe it doesn’t. But I love delving into someone else’s world and playing around with the characters. I love being able to sit down at my computer and already know everything about the characters I’m going to write, instead of discovering them as I go along. I love reading and writing new interpretations of a story I connect so deeply with.
Some people think that fanfiction is a joke because those that read it are just trying to keep reading the story they want, and look for it in cheap channels. But fanfic isn’t that at all. We just want to extend our own personal understanding of the story and the characters. We aren’t trying to take over for JKR. None of the authors would dream of it. That’s why there’s a disclaimer at the top of every chapter of every story, saying that we are definitely not JKR. We just want to ask all of those “what if” questions that were never answered.
What would happen if all of the Time-Turners really weren’t destroyed in OotP?
Has Dumbledore ever visited Grindelwald in prison?
Was all of this really the delusion of Harry Potter, a neglected, abused child that just wanted an escape?
What if everyone was a Muggle?
What if we crossed the Harry Potter series and the Wizards of Waverly Place TV show?
What if Remus and Sirius were in love the whole time, and Tonks was Remus’s way of being in denial?
There are so many questions that JK Rowling could never, and will never, answer. So we just have to answer them ourselves. It’s incredibly fun to explore new relationships between all of the characters, ones you’d never even dream about.
In a coming post, I’ll detail my own personal experience with fanfiction, and I’ll mention my OTP (though you’ll figure it out when you see my username). I want to know: do you write fanfiction? Read it? Do you think it’s idiotic or cool or you had no idea it existed?