Is FanFiction really that bad?
Fanfiction: fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.
Fanfiction’s so popular nowadays that some fanfiction has even been published into books or made into movies (with altering of character names and whatnot for copyright purposes.) Yet, it’s a huge chunk of the fan world and its prevalence has caused some… altering viewpoints on fanfiction that I’d like to bring to the floor and open up for discussion.
Now, I have to start off by saying: ‘I’m biased’. In my high school years, I not only read fanfiction, but wrote it as well. I even posted it up on one of the most popular fanfiction sites: Fanfiction.net. But before you start hunting: don’t. My writing was trash and I know it. This segues into my argument about why people do not like fanfiction: the quality.
Many readers don’t like fanfiction because of the poor quality in which much (not all) of it is written because anyone can write fanfiction. As a result, the people writing it may not have attained enough experience to be considered ‘good writers’. This is annoying for readers because they read fanfiction to be entertained, to have all their dreams for their ship be played out because it didn’t play out in the actual book/movie/tv series. And I will say that for every well-written fic you’ll find, there are another 100 that are poorly-written.
Writers, on the other hand don’t often like fanfiction because of how little work can go into writing fanfiction. Some people, especially those who may not have much experience writing, can whip out chapters in an hour or two. Following this, they could have an entire ‘book’ written in a month and never go back to do edits because it’s already published up on the internet. This is frustrating for writers/authors because they can spend months or years slaving over a single book before it’s even ready to publish. Many writers may feel that fanfiction writers are making a mockery of writing.
Yet, in my opinion, it’s not the same thing. After all, these fanfictioners (totally making that up now and using it) are not creating their own worlds, their own characters. Rather, their taking someone else’s world and characters and twisting them to fit their idea of what should have happened. They have no claims to the original story, characters, world, etc. They can’t go out and publish it because it’s not theirs. For fanfictioners, it’s just something fun to do and share with other people and, often times, a way to make friends within the same fandom.
Of course, some writers/authors are opposed to the idea of other people using their stories and characters and twisting them around. They can’t imagine anything being different than the way they made it. They can’t imagine anyone ‘defiling’ their babies, but there isn’t much they can do about it and, in my opinion, they should be flattered. After all, if people are taking the time to fantasize about and write about your characters and worlds, you have written a good story and people love it. Be happy in that, not upset about what they’re changing.
Though, some readers have an issue with the changes fanfictioners make, as well. And they’re kind of for the same reasons. Not because they own them (though many fans do feel as though they have a claim to certain characters). Rather, it’s because the fanfictioner does something that seems ‘out of character’ or ‘unrealistic’ for a character and in so doing, they lose the authenticity of the original character. To readers, it’s like lying or cheating because the fanfictioner isn’t staying true to the best parts of the story. Though, one could argue that the changes made by the fanfictioner are simply that person’s viewpoint of the character, even if it seems different from what the character might do in the original book/movie/tv series.
Yet, I think the biggest reason why some people don’t like fanfiction is the explicit details that some fanfictioners write. These details can be anything from smut and gore to something taboo. Obviously, this is what some people are after because there are people who write it and there are people who read it, but for other people(especially younger readers or people new to fanfiction), this kind of graphic detail can be scarring. It’s even worse when it’s both scarring and horribly written. This could be enough to deter people from ever reading fanfiction again.
It takes only a handful of bad experiences for people to be put off from fanfiction for life. Whether that’s bad writing, explicit details, frustration with changes, or something else entirely, there are people who hate fanfiction. But there are also people who love it. It may take a little longer to find what you’re looking for because you have to siphon through the bad stuff, but for those people, it’s worth it. After all, they just want to read about their OTP (one true pairing) FINALLY getting together in the perfect way possible. That’s what fanfiction is all about: enjoyment.
I’d like to add that fanfictioners aren’t TRYING to write poorly or TRYING to scar people or TRYING to ruin a fandom. They’re just trying to have fun while writing about their favorite characters in their favorite world and that shouldn’t be a bad thing, but maybe you feel differently. Maybe you think that fanfiction is a blight on the world. If so, tell me about it!
Let me know in the comments what you think about fanfiction and what your experiences with it were like! I’d love to hear from you! ^.^
And if you missed it, check out my discussion from last week: