Hold onto your butts - this is basically a giant FUCK YOU to those who describe fanfiction as unoriginal and uncreative.
I'm getting increasingly more tired of reading and listening to derogatory comments about fanfiction. So often fanfiction is described, with a sneer, as silly little stories written by horny girls slashing two straight male characters together. The popular attitude towards fanfiction is so frequently insulting it makes me grind my teeth and published authors tend to be the worst offenders. What makes me uncomfortable is the way media and published authors tend to snigger about slash in that, 'Oh fanfiction and your silly little slashing tendencies, tee hee', way, or treat it as if it's beneath them to indulge in reading it. Firstly, yes, a lot of fanfiction is slash. I'm not going to go into this in any depth, because it's a complex issue (where a lot of people assume that only women write slash and that het women writing slash is a bad thing). I'll point you in the direction of the lovely Suaine
instead, whose comments on slash writing are just a must-read. But yes, anyway, please don't tell me that there is a lot of crap fanfiction written, because of course there is. Have you been in a bookshop lately? There's also a lot of crap published
, but we don't sneer at published literature as a whole because there's a lot of rubbish printed out there.
I read this quote by Neil Gaiman the other night (edit: to put it in context, lots of people ask Gaiman what his opinion on fanfiction is and he explained that he's all for it so long as people aren't making money off his characters etc., and that ultimately all writing is important): "I think you get better as a writer by writing, and whether that means that you're writing a singularly deep and moving novel about the pain or pleasure of modern existence or you're writing Smeagol-Gollum slash you're still putting one damn word after another and learning as a writer."
My first thought after reading this was, 'Why can't fanfiction be both?' I really am positive it wasn't Gaiman's intention to reduce fanfiction to a "slash only" domain (and in doing so, reduce the slash writing phenomenon to a silly fetish), but the problem isn't so much this one comment - it's the multitude of similar comments made about fanfiction writing that perpetuate dominant ideas that fanfiction = slash and porn (also that slash and porn are so often coupled together, which… well I don't need to explain how sad that is, do I?).
These all-too-frequently made comments completely overlook the wonderful ways in which people engage with literature. There is a terrible stigma and literary snobbery attached to fanfiction writing. So many authors say they dislike writing in other people's worlds, yet I've found the same authors drawing from myth and folklore (which is seen as everyone's right to access - people forget that there must be original writers and treat their works as public domain, much like the works produced by unnamed authors of paperbacks in the last century), to setting their stories in previously published works like Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Austen's Pride & Prejudice, or the works of Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.
The line between original works and fanfiction is blurry at best. Hell, often the line appears to be whether a work of fanfiction is "published" or "unpublished", and has little to do with what is deemed original or a high quality of writing. Don't get me wrong, I think there is a line - I don't believe fanfiction writers should be paid for their work unless they have been granted permission by the original author, but I would like more people to recognise that a great number of published works are essentially fanfiction - stories based on a specific world and characters originally created by someone else
. What of the (fucking awful) published sequels to The Secret Garden? And the vast number of Sherlock Holmes novels in which Holmes and Watson venture into various works of fiction e.g. H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. What are The Looking Glass Wars and the Flashman series if not fanfiction? The title character of the Flashman series was invented by Thomas Hughes, not George MacDonald Fraser. But Fraser reinvented him in his writing, granted him a new lease of life and explored his personality further in a charming series of immensely popular stories (indeed, the Flashman series is probably as popular if not more so than Hughes' original Tom Brown's School Days). How is this any different from what fanfiction authors do? Yet where so many published authors, whose stories are based on pre-existing worlds and characters who are not their own, may receive applause and critical acclaim, fanfiction writers are accused of literary laziness - we're too lazy to create our own works, only really interested in hooking character A up with character B and writing porn. A serious work of fanfiction seems inconceivable - it cannot make a serious discussion of the evolution of consciousness, of representation and sexuality, or temporarily and history. Except, like any other form of writing, it can.
There are always more stories to tell. Just because you're dipping your toe into another author's world does not mean you can't spin an amazing story within it. There is always room to move in another person's world - hell, we do it every day. In the same way Orwell inspired John Reed to write a follow-up to Animal Farm, fanfiction writers are people inspired to write more. What that "more" is can take any form, whether it means critiquing an aspect of the original you may have disliked, engaging with/exploring the cast of characters, or transforming the story to make a serious social comment on class structure. Within every novel there are a million and one stories that can't be told. Fanfiction is a way of telling those stories, the good, the bad, and the bloody mental. It's about time we pushed aside literary snobbery and recognised this.
Harry Potter Fanfiction
Twin Vice Paranormal Detectives:
Five years after the battle of Hogwarts, Fred is a ghost with a curse on his head. Now in order to save Fred's soul, the twins must solve a series of murder mysteries that will lead them to a dangerous secret stretching deep into the vault of the Founders' history. Fred W. x OC, George W. x Luna :: [link] Less Bread! More Taxes!:
Death comes to us all. When he came to Fred and George, they offered him a job. 100 drabbley musings of the Weasley twins, the Grim Reaper, a Muggle Detective and a dreamer. Fred x OC, George x Luna. Part of Twin Vice Paranormal Detectives. :: [link] Ouroboros:
The Hogwarts Founders had many enemies; Vikings, giants & the terrible Unseelie Court to name a few. But when Salazar Slytherin's mother, the Snow-Walker Gudrun, wages war on the country, the Founders will find just how harsh the winter can be. Salazar x HelgaDragonball Z Fanfiction RumBuggery!:
When King Kold is poisoned, the notorious team of pirates, the Ginyu Force, are charged with protecting a Princess. Little do they know they're about to be framed for murder. High sea adventures, wit and rumbuggery aboard the SS Milk Dud. :: [link]