Fanfiction: Yes or No?
I have been procrastinating for about 4 days now.
People have many different ways of procrastinating; almost anything can be a tool to distract yourself from doing any actual work. Some plop in front of the television, others immerse themselves in video games, or lose themselves on the wonderful world of internet.
For me, when I procrastinate, I prowl the world of Fanfiction.
Unless you have been living under a rock from the past 10 years, you would have definitely heard of Fanfiction. Either you’ve read the worst fanfiction ever written, accidentally scarred yourself emotionally for the rest of your life or maybe you are one the active particapants in the many fandoms.
Fanfiction is the wonderful world where young writers congregate and write stories. Most of the writers are fans of the TV series, movie, books, etc., and the use the existing characters and situations in the canon universe to develop new plots.
The site was started in 1998 by Los Angeles computer programmer Xing Li. FanFiction.Net is considered the largest and most popular fan fiction website in the world. It has nearly 2.2 million users and hosts stories in over 30 languages.
As of June 5, 2012, the top 5 fandoms on the site (that is, the fandoms with the most stories submitted) are:
- Harry Potter under the Books category with 594,348 stories
- Naruto under the Anime category with 303,061 stories
- Twilight under the Books category with 198,648 stories
- Inuyasha under the Anime/Manga category with 103,850 stories
- Glee under the TV Shows category with 72,913 stories
One of the problem though with reading fanfiction, is the lack of quality control. With the large numbers of stories continually submitted and updated everyday, it is quite easy to lose yourself in the abyss of ridiculous story lines and mind-numbingly perfect characters.
If you are lucky though, you’ll stumble upon a gem. A good story by a great author that uses proper grammar and interesting plot lines. As a reader, it serves great purpose to kill time, especially when you’re stuck in line waiting, and as a writer, you get to explore your creative juices and receive feedback from the mostly teenage readers.
A rags to riches story amongst the fanfiction network is common. Many authors have published their work (though it is mostly self-published work or “published” on the internet).
E L James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, got her humble start from writing on fanfiction. Fifty Shades of Grey began as a work of Twilight fan fiction called Master of the Universe, earning a massive fan fiction following years before the book deal. Now the book (with the character’s names changed of course) tops the New York and UK bestseller’s list. There is even talk of a movie trilogy being made.
A simple albeit dirty Bella + Edward fanfic evolved and is now a best-selling bool.
For me though, the biggest benefit that you can reap from being a part of the fanfiction community is the sense of belonging and understanding that you get from each other. You can find “your people” and have conversations about your favorite characters/shows. It connects and brings people together, and I think it’s great.
So the next time you are unhappy with the ending of your favorite television show/novel.anime/movie, log on to fanfiction and enjoy the alternate reality it provides.
Now, please excuse me while I return to my Harry Pottter fandom.