I know, I know. You’re all holding your breath. I promise I’m not here to write a defense of Fifty Shades of Grey, though I will admit to having read all three books. I figure I’ve got to know what my competition is like, don’t I? Or maybe not, especially since they’re not properly competition, as I write in a very different genre of erotica, but whatever. Not the point.
Okay, so back to my point – fanfiction. It’s much maligned by the general writing world, and with good reason. Droves of teenagers write fanfiction, and usually people write it terribly, regardless of age. Fanfiction is wish-fulfillment, and when it’s in the hands of an inexperienced or poor writer, it is often playing right into the stereotypes of fanfiction being worthless drivel. That teenage girls are large producers of fanfic make things so much worse for the general fanfic world, because it’s somehow popular or cool to use being an enthusiastic teenage girl as an insult, by calling someone a fangirl (a label I wear proudly, despite being a mid-thirties woman). But I can rant about fangirls and the use of girl as an insult another day. To be truthful, loads of fanfic is terrible. It’s poorly written, the characters are handled clumsily, and it only serves to promote some stupid trope or another.
But that’s not always bad. Tropes aren’t always a bad thing. In fact, many of the publishers to whom I submitted required that I list out the tropes I used in Falling Apart in my submission letter. And sure, if the writing is terrible, it’s bad for business, so to speak. But fanfiction is a breeding ground for writers. It gives inexperienced writers a playground equipped with their favorite toys to experiment with. It gives experienced writers an escape hatch, when their own worlds get to be too strenuous, or when they just want to walk in another park, to keep up the metaphor.
I am a prolific writer of fanfiction, though I rarely share it with anyone. I’ve turned a few of my favorites into original fiction to share either here on the blog, with friends, or to give as a gift. Eventually I may work to polish up a few and see if they can be made into anything worth writing into a full length novel, or a long short story for an anthology. Fanfiction gives me a chance to play somewhere else, somewhere that a lot of the work is done for me. Yes, fanfiction is easy. But it’s also very challenging to do well – you’re working with characters who aren’t your own, in a world that isn’t of your creation. It can be hard, as much as it can be easy.
In short, fanfiction is whatever a writer makes it to be. We can mock and judge, sure, but I’m beyond that point in my life. Even the aforementioned famous fanfiction, Fifty Shades, while not my cup of tea, isn’t something I’m willing to mock. Other works of fanfiction include the Mortal Instruments series, After by Anna Todd (a Harry Styles fanfic that’s been picked up as a novel and, rumor has it, a movie), and several works by Neil Gaiman.
For a list of authors who are well known for writing fanfiction, see here. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a taste of some of my fanfiction sooner or later.