The potential of fanfiction: 5 reasons why you should read it and 5 why you should write it

spiderman reading fanfiction

Fanfiction has been a popular phenomenon for at least two decades, to the point of some of those works eventually turning into published books and popular movies. Are you familiar with The Mortal Instruments or Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies? Still, fanfiction is so much more than just the titles that make it into the bigger leagues. It can be an enjoyable hobby for many, as readers, writers, or both. 

 

This ever-rising genre of fictional writing is fuelled by a desire of expanding, further exploring and playing with the contents of other original works. Fanfiction is an excellent example of the twenty-first century “prosumer”, a consumer and producer of media content. Fans of popular franchises, such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, or the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), often go the extra mile when it comes to their role within the fandom. Some choose to put together tribute videos of their favourite characters, many dedicate themselves to drawing beautiful art pieces, and others spend hours crafting elaborate stories that expand the original narrative. These last ones are those who write fanfiction. Fiction, written by fans of the original, also known as canonical, content. 

If you are not yet entirely convinced by the idea of supporting fellow fans with their writing and enjoying reading or writing similar fun stories in the process, here are five reasons why you should read fanfiction and five reasons why you should write it. 

5 reasons why you should read fanfiction: 
  1. You get to explore new exciting material about your favourite universes, characters, or ships. 

Fanfiction allows you to read exactly what you want; that is one of its main draws from the start. There is fanfic for almost any possibility you wish to dive right into. There are prequels, sequels, canon-divergent stories, missed-moments from canon, and more. In every fanfiction site, you can filter and search for specific characters or ship tags, making it easier for you to find the perfect kind of story you are looking for. It does not matter if the canon material stopped years ago, fanfiction allows you to keep exploring the stories you love the most. It fills the gaps left by the original content. 

  1. It is a fun way to get more involved in your favourite fandoms.

Fanfiction has the potential to be a very sociable hobby. You can leave comments on every chapter of the stories you are reading, making it easier to find others with the same fandom preferences as you, or even chat with the authors for a bit. Trust me, writers live for comments and feedback. You might also get the opportunity to participate in fanfiction events within your fandoms, in which readers usually enjoy a week-long content overload to celebrate a ship or particular character. All the events are fun and can be happening on more than one platform at the same time, such as Tumblr or AO3

  1. If there is something about the canon material that simply broke your heart, you have a good chance of finding fanfic that makes it right. 

There is a reason why fix-it fics are so popular: sometimes people just disagree with a canonical event. This can range from the outcome of a romantic pairing all the way up to the death of your favourite character. Whatever the canon decision that made you want to vent to your friends about it, fanfiction most surely has you covered. 

  1. Did I mention AU’s? The sky’s the limit when it comes to Alternative Universe stories.

If you have ever found yourself wishing for a chance to get to see how well your favourite character would do in Hogwarts, there is probably fanfic for it. Alternative Universes are huge in fanfiction because people love being able to read about the characters they know and love in a different setting. There are all sorts of these types of fics, from placing the characters in the middle of the twenty-first century or studying in the most famous Wizarding School to New Girl alternative universes. And in case you prefer to stick to the original universe, there are also AU’s that change who the main character is or mess around with superpowers. 

  1. The writing can be truly wonderful and you might be an early discoverer of an up-and-coming writer. 

Some people tend to believe all fanfiction writers are lazy, unoriginal, or prematurely amateur. This is not the case at all. There is a reason many fanfictions have grown into becoming published books or movies: those stories are actually good. Lots of fanfiction writers put a ton of time and effort into it, which usually reflects in a beautifully crafted story that you might end up loving even more than the canonical material. Some well-known authors that started off writing fanfiction are Cassandra Clare, Meg Cabot, Andy Weir, and Rainbow Rowell.

 

5 reasons why you should write fanfiction: 
  1. It is an amazing way to dip your toes into creative writing.

There is a reason many published authors started off as fanfiction writers and even keep going back to it: fanfiction is fun to write and a very good way to perfect your writing skills.  Most of the hard work has already been done by the original creators, such as crafting complex characters, making it easier for you to just jump into writing with a more confident stance. You get to play around with a narrative universe you are familiar with whilst improving your craft. 

2.You are free to write quite literally whatever the heck you want and however you want it within the fandom you know and love.

You get to try as many different styles as you want and with the point of view that suits you the best at the moment. You are in charge of creating a whole new story. Why not make the characters part of a Jane Austen’s novel and have fun with it? This is all about having fun whilst exploring your creativity. Feel like doing a series of nothing but scribbles? Go ahead, it will be a brilliant addition to your AO3 profile. Only want to write about a particular ship? I am sure there will be many fellow fans to thank you for it. And talking about readers…

  1. The feedback can be quite amazing. 

There are comments, favourites, kudos, follows, bookmarks, all sorts of ways your readers can show their appreciation for your story. Since fanfiction is traditionally posted on a schedule of roughly one to two chapters a week, definitely no more than a chapter a day, your readers can leave you their feedback on every new update that goes up. This can be particularly motivating for new writers and knowing someone is fond of your writing helps to truly commit to a story. 

  1. Writing a fix-it fic can help you get over that canon injustice.

Ever found yourself unable to get over the way a book, movie, or show ended? Well, you are not alone in this one. Fix-it fics are some of the most popular ones out there. The good news is you can also write one, and you get to fingerpick each and every last detail of it. No more crying over the death of a character or bickering about the lack of spark of a certain ship, gather your thoughts, and get to work. You will be surprised how gratifying it can be to make a story your own. 

  1. Fandom events, collaborations, and new friends who also write.

As I mentioned earlier, fanfiction is a great way to get more involved in your favourite fandoms. Now, as a writer, you can volunteer to “beta” (edit) another’s author’s stories, and they can do the same for you. There is also the possibility of collaborating with one or more fellow writers to create a joint new story, which can help you gain more recognition within the community. When it comes to fandom events, writers get to have fun crafting a new story for every day of the designed week, or month, following a loose list of prompts to spark that creative inspiration. On top of it all, you can join different groups with writers for your fandom, even for specific ships or characters. One way or another, fanfiction is bound to help you get to know some new people within your preferred fandoms. 

Finally… Where can you read or post fanfiction? 

The three most popular sites are AO3 (Archive of Our Own), Fanfiction.net, and Wattpad. Usually, Fanfiction.net is used by the older fandoms whereas Wattpad is populated by a younger demographic. All in all, AO3 is commonly known as the best option since it is ad-free and has a very user-friendly interface. 

No matter which fanfiction site you choose from, remember you can decide to read or post in more than one of them, it will provide a similar entertaining, creative, and exciting experience.   

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About the author

Sol Natalia Dieguez

Argentinian non-fiction and fiction writer. Media and Entertainment Management student. Bilingual in English and Spanish. Passionate about storytelling, theme parks, mindfulness, and all things creative.

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