In Defense of Fanfiction

It’s not a secret–when a lot of people hear the word “fanfiction,” they immediately roll their eyes and don’t take it seriously. However, while some people may view it as a trivial or lesser form of writing, fanfiction can offer a variety of benefits and can be a valuable tool for writers of all levels. If you’ve spent five minutes on my site, you can tell I’m a fan of fanfic–I have a whole section of my site devoted to it. And fanfiction isn’t just for amateurs–Neil Gaiman has famously written short stories that would be considered fanfiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone deriding his talent because he utilized characters and worlds created by other artists. Speaking of…

Fanfiction allows writers to explore established worlds and characters.

One of the biggest advantages of fanfiction is that it allows writers to explore already-established worlds and characters. Whether it’s a TV show, movie, or book series, fanfiction writers have the opportunity to dive deeper into the worlds and characters they already know and love. This can be incredibly freeing for writers, as they don’t have to worry about creating a completely new world or characters from scratch. Instead, they can focus on exploring and expanding upon the existing material. For example, maybe you watched the Star Wars sequels and were annoyed that the directors tried to pass off Poe and Finn as just “good friends” when it was OBVIOUS that they were in love. Fanfiction allows you to correct this egregious oversight.

They’re in love and I will not accept anything less.

Fanfiction can help writers become better writers.

Writing fanfiction can be a great way for writers to practice and improve their craft. By working within the constraints of an established world and characters, writers can challenge themselves to come up with creative and original ideas while still adhering to the established rules and guidelines of the source material. This can be especially helpful for new writers who are still developing their skills and may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of creating something entirely new. It can also help if you’re experiencing a bout of writer’s block; if something original feels daunting, give yourself some direction with the confines of fanfiction. Sometimes boundaries can paradoxically help set us free.

You like that little bit of fortune cookie wisdom?
Still true, even if it sounds trite.

Fanfiction allows for creative expression and experimentation.

Fanfiction can also be a great way for writers to experiment with different styles, genres, and perspectives. By writing fanfiction, writers have the freedom to explore different themes and ideas that they might not feel comfortable or confident exploring in their own original work. This can be especially helpful for writers who are still finding their voice or who want to try something new without the pressure of having to create something completely original.

Fanfiction can foster a sense of community and collaboration.

One of the most exciting things about fanfiction is the sense of community and collaboration that it fosters. Fanfiction writers often share their work with other fans and writers online, creating a supportive and engaging community where writers can share ideas, get feedback, and collaborate on projects. This can be especially valuable for writers who might not have access to traditional writing communities or who might feel isolated in their writing pursuits.

That being said, this item can and should be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve found some amazing support and friendships through fanfic communities and they mean a lot to me. But, of course, with the good comes the bad because apparently the universe has to balance out somewhere. When I wrote my Writer’s Retreat series, I received a lot of love and support from people who enjoyed it. However, the series ended a little differently than some people expected (including me, the characters had minds of their own) and after I posted the end, I received a bunch of messages from people telling me I ruined the series and demanded I redo it with the “correct” ending. However, there will always be critics and the support I received vastly outweighed the negative comments, and other fanfic writers whom I respected agreed with my ending. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and while fanfic can come with great communities, it’s necessary to have a thick skin (which is true of writing in general).

Wrong general.

Fanfiction can lead to professional opportunities.

Quick disclaimer: this is NOT guaranteed for anyone and it absolutely does not happen for everyone. But…it is possible that writing fanfic can lead to other opportunities. Famously, 50 Shades of Gray started as Twilight fanfiction and Cassandra Clare started out writing Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fanfiction and now she’s a bestselling author of several works including the Mortal Instruments series. Not to mention all of the books that are rumored to be fanfiction with the serial numbers filed off, which sort of lies in a creative gray area.

If you go into fanfic hoping it’ll lead to a publishing contract with a major publisher…you’re apt to be disappointed. For every Cassandra Clare, there are thousands and thousands of other writers, some less talented and some more who write completely unseen by anyone except their fandoms. But writing fanfic still gives you a chance to develop your muscles as a writer and, most importantly…

Fanfiction is fun.

How else am I going to give Poe and Finn the ending that the cowards at Disney are too scared to give them?


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