Fanfiction Readers Anonymous

I have a confession to make.

I read fanfiction.

To some people I know, this is not news, but anyway, it still feels like a confession.

tl;dr - Fanfiction is an inherent part of fandom 'life'. I love it and I wouldn't change that for anything.

I think this is because of the impression of 'outsiders' - by which I mean, those who don't read fanfiction and/or are not inside fandoms - is that fanfiction is a very nerdy or geeky part of fan culture. It is also perceived that fanfiction is a hotbed (pun fully and unashamedly intended ;) ) of porn and smut. Well... it is. There is no point in denying it. But that's not to say that you can't find something with as much depth and plot as the original material.

The point of fanfiction is to fill in the gaps, continue the story, and have a play with those characters you love (or love to hate) so much. It's like you have this huge playground to play in, with infinite possibilities. Also, for a lot of writers, it is a sounding board for their writing. They get to experiment and hone their craft, but with established characters/worlds, an established audience and instant feedback.

I have read fanfiction from a few fandoms in my time, namely, Harry Potter, Twilight (no judgment please) and Glee. Each of these fandoms have their own idiosyncrasies and vernacular, but the thing that stays the same is the enthusiasm of the authors for their stories and the source material.

Reading fanfiction is a different beast from reading books. If you're lucky you might stumble upon a completed multi-chapter behemoth of a fanfiction that is well written, has a good plot and good characterisation. If you're extremely lucky.

You, of course, read a LOT of horrendous stuff as well. Both in story line and in the writing. For an example of this, there is one that is infamous in fanfiction circles; I present exhibit A: My Immortal from the Harry Potter community. It is a masterpiece of modern literature. Otherwise known as the worst thing I have ever read, but also one of the most hilarious because of it. I can't even begin to explain it... just know that not all (or any) fanfiction is as bad as that. I've linked to it, but fair warning, read it at your own peril.

Fanfiction is the main reason I don't 'read' as much as I would like to, despite the fact I am actually reading all the time. I have set a challenge for myself on GoodReads to read 15 books this year. Well, I can safely say I have already read enough to constitute that many books, but unfortunately fanfiction doesn't count...

Fanfiction is, for me, a way of keeping the story going beyond the pages or screen. It's as close to being able to read the books/watch the tv show again with fresh eyes as I can get. It inspires creativity, debate and collaboration. The story of Harry Potter was completed now 5 years ago. Apart from the films, there has been no 'new' material to work with but still the fandom marches on, and IMHO, I think the creation of fanfiction is a big part of that.

I don't think I could stop reading fanfiction, even if I tried. It has been a big part of my life since I was 12ish, and is an inherent part of my being a fan. It doesn't stop me from reading new stuff completely, just more slowly. And sometimes, I'll come across something new that makes me want to go find fanfiction for that book/film/tv show/whatever. Finding something that makes me want to go find fanfiction for it is generally the seal of approval from me.

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