What Is Fanfiction?
By Sarah Lehman
Have you ever written a story about your favorite fictional characters, one that came directly from your own imagination? You are far from the only one to do so. As a matter of fact, such stories—also known as fan fiction or fan fics for short—are very common, especially on the Internet. Wikipedia defines fan fiction as “a type of fictional text written by fans of any work of fiction where the author uses copyrighted characters, settings, or other intellectual properties from an original creator as a basis for their writing.” So if you were to write a story using characters from the Harry Potter series, for example, that would be considered a fan fiction.
There are many different kinds of fan fiction. Not only do you have the basic types like adventure, fantasy, and the ever-popular romance, there are also types that are more common in fan fiction. Among these are slash (gay pairings), fix fics (which change aspects of the original story that the author doesn’t like), crossover (in which two or more settings, like Pokemon and Digimon, are combined in some fashion), and fluff (stories with a focus on being happy, funny, cute, or heartwarming). In addition, there are several common terms that fan fic writers use, such as canon (the original story and anything related to it), headcanon (a fan’s personal view of some aspect of canon, like a character’s backstory), and Mary Sue (an overly perfect character not in the original story, usually in a romantic relationship with a major character).
Since fan fiction is based on the works of other people, you may be wondering if the original creators are aware of their work. Many of them are familiar with the concept of fan fiction, and while some like it, others do not. For example, J.K. Rowling has little problem with fan fiction, her only concern that adult Harry Potter fan fiction (i.e., fan fiction with graphic use of violence and/or sexual content) should not be accessible by children. Likewise, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer has posted links to sites containing Twilight series fan fiction on her own site, and the Fifty Shades trilogy was actually based on a Twilight fan fiction. On the other hand, Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles, asked that Fanfiction.net remove any stories related to her work. It is worth pointing out, however, that there is no law against fan fiction, as long as you’re not trying to make money from it.
If you find yourself interested in reading fan fiction written by others or in writing your own, there are sites created for people to post fan fiction, such as the previously mentioned Fanfiction.net and Archive Of Our Own. Some of them, such as DeviantArt, allow you to post fan art as well. You can also find fan fiction posted on personal webpages on sites like Tumblr. Hopefully, you can find the perfect place for your own stories. Maybe you could, in the future, post it here on the blog. But before we can do that, we need to know what else you wish to learn about fan fiction. Stay tuned for a survey that’ll help you let us know, and for more from yours truly.