I’m a little embarrassed.
I’m pretty well-versed in the ins-and-outs of publishing. I know how to craft a compelling scene and keep the adverbs in check. I’ve interviewed tons of terrific authors about their work. But I know nothing about the biggest area of genre fiction going right now: fan fiction.
I mean, I’d heard about it. Writers would drop casually that they’d written a little fanfic on the side just to keep themselves limber between projects, or a fansite would have a section devoted to fanfic. Slowly it dawned on me that this was a viable outlet for writing fiction, and I wanted to know more.
So I do what I do, get online and start digging away. Last week I also asked our readers if they’d written any fanfic. Sure enough, many did, and a few have shared their experiences.
So what is fan fiction?
In short, it’s an original work of fiction based on someone else’s characters and settings. The practice has an illustrious history. Folks have been writing privately about their favorite characters ever since books have come into existence. Whole societies have sprung up in the service of fanfiction, and there are many fanzines and clubs that support it (no surprise that the Trekkies transformed the practice into an art form). Wikipedia has a great rundown on the history of fanfic.
With the advent of the internet, with Livepage Journals and blogs, fanfic has exploded. I googled a few t.v. shows and movies, and I was stunned to find literally thousands of sites devoted to fanfiction. I read some, too.
And you know what? Some of it is gripping fiction. Sure there was a lot of badly-written stuff, just like there is anywhere, but depending on the topic and the site, there’s some compelling storytelling out there, free to whoever wants to read it. The scales literally fell from my eyes.
If you’re curious about trying your hand at fanfiction, there are a few things you should know before taking the plunge:
- It’s online. Which means anything you post isn’t copywrighted. In other words, people can steal your stuff.
- It’s anonymous. Some writers have legendary followings. And yet know one knows who they are. So if you think to build your name up on fanfic to help support your published career, think twice.
- Each site has its own customs and level of graphic descriptions. Some boards are strictly G-rated. Others can get pretty hardcore (slash, bsdm, same-sex, etc). Know what kind of board you are posting to before you do it. Moderators can pull work off at will if the rules are violated.
- Get a beta-reader to read your stuff first. A beta-reader is a critique partner. Many boards offer beta-readers. You can post a request for a beta-reader and have plenty of eager eyes willing to read your efforts first before you post. And you’ll want that because flaming can occur if your work’s not up to snuff.
Here are some of the biggest fan fiction websites:
FanFic.net. The big daddy. Truly boggles the mind.
Harry Potter Fan Fiction. Self-explanatory. Humongous site.
Fiction Press.com. Not just for fanfic.
Godawful Fan Fiction. The place to mock fanfic.
This is just a tiny scratch in a global-sized surface. Like I said, there are thousands of fanfic sites and fanfic writers.
In my next post, I’m going talk about fanfiction from the writer’s point of view. I’ll share some of the experiences our readers have had in writing their fan fiction. And I’ll tell you about my recent foray into the world of fan fiction. That’s right. I’m road-testing fanfic for WU.
I’ll let you know how that went very soon.