Welcome to the World of Fanfiction

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 ficfanfic, 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.

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Credit to BakaMokona from DeviantART

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?

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In Which I Disagree With Rowling

In the issue of Wonderland that Emma Watson guest edited, JK Rowling made some comments on some of our favorite characters in the Harry Potter series.

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” she says. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” she continued, “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.” (source)

 Now, Ron and Hermione are not my favorite relationship in the books. But, unlike the majority of fans I’ve spoken to, I actually enjoyed the way things turned out in Deathly Hallows. A lot of people didn’t like the epilogue because it was “too corny” or something, but I did. I thought it ended the series nicely.

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And I thought–still think–that Ron and Hermione are a good pair. People seem to believe that Ron isn’t smart enough for Hermione, or that Harry and Hermione had chemistry the entire time.

I’m not saying that Ron is brilliant or anything, but are these people saying that Harry is? Come on. Harry needed just as much help on his homework as Ron did, and was more easily distracted and got more detentions than his friend did. Ron was the one that became Prefect, not Harry. So, that argument really doesn’t make any sense. If you were saying that Hermione deserved, say, Michael Corner instead, then perhaps that would have more merits. But that isn’t what people are saying.

And as far as expecting Harry and Hermione to get together the whole time–where did you get that from? The only chemistry Harry had with anyone in the series was Ginny, and I’m not even sure about that (not to say that I don’t love Harry and Ginny together, because I do, and that’s another reason why I disagree with this). And Hermione and Ron were clearly in love (or least in like) with each other from the very start. LOTS of tension between the two of them. You don’t even have to really pay attention. It’s quite obvious.

Which leads me to why I don’t understand what JKR is trying to say. In what way was this wish fulfillment? She had clearly built up the Ron/Hermione relationship from the beginning. It wasn’t like she just sat down to write the seventh book and went “Oh, I think Ron and Hermione look cute together” or anything. She was going at this from the beginning. The only thing Hermione and Harry had was platonic friendship, the entire time.

My mom, who found out about this news a little late, told me that the first time she read the series, she was expecting Harry/Hermione the whole way through. She couldn’t really explain why to me, but that had been her thought. It confused me to hear that. Perhaps I’m not remembering correctly, since it’s been a while for me (though it has been for her, too) since I first read the series, but I don’t think I ever thought Harry and Hermione would get together. I didn’t anticipate Ginny with Harry until the fifth book (so maybe I was a little slow), but I had guesses about Ron and Hermione from the second book onward.

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I haven’t heard too many actual reasons why Harry and Hermione should have ended up with each other. Just people all over the Internet going “I TOLD YOU SO” and “Take thatha!”. I’m probably just looking in the wrong places, but honestly, I have yet to see a single reason. Hopefully someone can reason with me in the comments.

I’m hardly the spokesperson for Ron/Hermione, but I definitely think that it makes more sense than Harry/Hermione. Really, it kind of grosses me out to think about them as anything more than friends. I’ve always seen the two of them as brother and sister, while I didn’t get the same vibe from Hermione and Ron. They appeared to be crushing on each other from the start.

Do you agree with JKR? With me? Can someone enlighten me as to why Harry and Hermione actually make sense?

In Which Harry Potter is My Life

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I would be a completely different person if J.K. Rowling hadn’t written the Harry Potter series. Sometimes I think about it, late at night. What would I be like if someone used a Time-Turner to go back and stop Jo from writing down that first idea on her napkin while riding on the train? What would have happened to me?

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Because if I think about it, Harry Potter has shaped my life. I hated reading when I was little. I was good at it, but I thought it was boring. The only books I’d been given were ones I didn’t care about. But one day, in late 2006, I was home from third grade, and my mom handed me Sorcerer’s Stone and said, “Read it. If you don’t like it, put it away, but give it a chance.”

I stayed up pretty late that night.

I read the series as fast as I could, which, being in third grade, wasn’t that fast, but it wasn’t too slow, either. I was halfway through Order of the Phoenix when its movie came out, and I remember being outraged that my mother had gone to see it without me because I hadn’t finished the book yet. And I didn’t get to go to the midnight release of the seventh book because I was only a quarter through the sixth, and Mom knew I would want to start reading Deathly Hallows with everyone else.

When I finished the seventh book, I went right back into my room and picked up the first one again. And finished the series. And read it again, and again, and again, until Mom finally told me I wasn’t allowed to read another one until I read something different first. I was disgusted, but I read something else for a while.

Ultimately, though, I went back to Harry Potter only a few months later. By the time I was in fifth grade, I’d read the series about ten times already. At that point I started slowing down, reading other things, but I was obsessed with Harry Potter.

And then I discovered the fandom.

I was clicking through iTunes one day, bored out of my mind, when I came across a free podcast called MuggleCast. Interested, I clicked on it and downloaded the latest episode. After that, I followed those podcasts loyally. They’ve recently retired from that particular podcast, but still release episodes occasionally. I download and listen as quickly as I can.

After I found MuggleCast, I discovered the website it came from, Mugglenet.com, which has lots of Harry Potter news and other tidbits. And that’s where I first discovered fanfiction.

I read lots of that, and started to write my own, finding more on a different website called Fanfiction.Net, which I still go on pretty often.

And once I was on there, I went to every website I could. Mugglenet has an interactive HP game, called MNI, and I was obsessed with that for a while. I roleplayed for hours there, and quizzed myself and made a few friends. And then the Mugglenet creators made Hypable, which is now my most-visited website, and I’ve never stopped looking.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t even begin to describe all of my experiences with Harry Potter. I’ve written fanfiction, a lot of it, which led me to original fiction. I’ve gone to conferences, the theme park, London. I own eighty percent of the merchandise from any of the official stores you go to, and I was Hermione Granger for Halloween for four years.

When I meet someone new, one of the first things I ask is if they like Harry Potter. Most people say yes. Some people say no. I don’t hate those people. I just feel sorry for them. To not have such a wonderful thing in your life… I don’t know how they do it.

I’ve never loved anything as much as I love Harry Potter. No other book, movie, or TV show even comes close, and the ones that do are in some way related to HP. I don’t hang on the end of my seat for anything anymore, waiting for something new to come out. I don’t go to any more midnight releases of anything.

Which means, at least in my mind, that if Harry Potter hadn’t existed, I wouldn’t feel this strongly about anything. Nothing at all. I might not have gotten into reading (though that’s doubtful). I definitely wouldn’t have gotten into writing, because fanfiction was the whole reason I did. I might even be friends with different people.

I would definitely have different values in life, I think. I wouldn’t be as proud to be smart. I wouldn’t be as willing to be different. I wouldn’t notice the little things that make life so… magical.

Put simply, I wouldn’t be me.