In Defence of Fan Fiction

By Kristyna Hrivnacova

Comic books by Marvel.

“Fan fiction? What’s that?”

“Your read fan fiction? Ugh, gross.”

“What do you mean, you write fanfiction? Oh, that dirty stuff?”

That, in order, is most of my friends, then my fandoms-are-stupid friends, and finally my best friend, before she found out fan fiction can be sweeter and cheesier than the worst cliché novel – without the protagonists so much as touching each other.

Generally, fan fiction almost feels like a taboo. People do not speak about it unless they’re making fun of it and even then, you can feel the audience cringe. You do not, I repeat, do not tell prospective friends what you write on your free afternoons – the judgement tends to be instantaneous. Also as a fic writer, you probably wouldn’t mention those works in your personal statement or professional CV – even if they are 50.000 words long and were seen by 60.000 people.

There were three crucial statements in the last paragraph that sum up why I am writing in defence of fan fiction: written on free afternoons, 50.000 words, 60.000 people.

What most people don’t realise is that fan fiction writers create worlds and weave plots in the precious hours that could be spent studying or going out.

But that’s what proper authors do anyway, you say?

Well, yes, that’s what they do. And they also get paid after publication.

Fic writers create works that have ten words, a hundred thousand, or way, way more, with the knowledge that they won’t see a penny. The most they can hope for are hits, likes, kudos, reblogs and comments which, if the work is well-written, will certainly appear.

That’s the second point about fan fiction – the great creative environment that connects audiences from all over the world. Harry Potter, Supernatural, Marvel, Sherlock: if you post it, somebody will, without doubt, see it, and if you’re good and persistent, praise and – the much needed and desired – constructive criticism will be delivered.

Archive of Our Own, one of the biggest fan works storage, has over a million users. New works and chapters appear every day, be it Christmas, summer holiday or deadlines time. The dedication to the craft, as my creative writing and journalism lecturers tend to say, is vital – and in this case, also clearly visible.

I am not asking for universal acclaim – I am not even asking for acclaim. All I would like to see is a change of opinion; one where upgrading your hobby in a creative way and sharing it with a friendly and open-minded community isn’t considered a vice.

If that’s impossible, well, what can I say – I’m sure we will fanfiction on nevertheless.