I feel like fanfic gets a bad rap.
I think it’s probably because people assume it’s all shameless smut full of Mary Sues (when an author writes themselves into the story, usually as a troubled but bad-ass heroine, or the love interest of their favourite character). And sure, there is some terrible stuff out there, but there’s also a lot of amazing work written by talented writers.
For me, fanfiction, or any fanworks, make up a valuable part of their fandom. They’re about picking up where the original left off, exploring alternate realities and delving deeper into the characters’ lives. I think it’s wonderful that fanfiction brings together talented, creative people, who are so inspired by the world created by their favourite film, book or TV show, that they simply want to live in it a while longer.
Some of the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read have been fanfiction, and it’s no surprise to me that publishers trawled through fanfic to find their next superstar author (though I’m personally not a fan of 50 Shades of Grey, I think E.L. James’ discovery and subsequent rise to fame is pretty incredible).
Fanfiction may well lead you to some weird places.
For example, and no judgement at all here, but I personally don’t get the whole wolf pack A/B/O dynamics thing. However I know what I like and what I don’t, and sites like AO3 have a pretty good system of warnings and tags, so you usually know what you’re in for. Also, I recently stumbled upon Chuckle Brothers fanfiction (I bet my husband that it would exist somewhere, and quickly wished I’d been wrong. Read in all its bizarre glory here). I know, I’m as confused as you are.
Sites like AO3 and Fanfiction.net foster a wonderfully creative and (for the most part) supportive environment, where people can share ideas, theories, and character analysis. As soon as I finish a show I love, I check out fanfic, often to see other people’s take on a particular scene/character, or what they think might come next. If fills in gaps, gives a unique insight into other people’s interpretations, and sometimes challenges my own.
I love to write fic as well, get myself completely lost in the world, and truly become friends with the characters.
I think what most writers love about it is there are no limits or restrictions, which can take you down some bizarre paths, but can also be wonderfully freeing. The creator of the original work has established the universe and its parameters, but you’re free to bend them however you like. You can bring in characters from other universes, change gender and sexuality, and explore alternate realities.
I’ve been reading and writing fanfic since I was a teenager, and it’s always disappointed me that it’s seen by many as nerdy or lame. It’s exposed me to some truly gifted writers, made me laugh and cry, and meant I could keep enjoying my favourite books/films long after they ended.
Fandom in general gets a bad name, and is perceived by many as screaming girls obsessing over their favourite celebrities. But for me, it’s so much more than that. It’s wonderful to get lost in something, over-analyse it, and let your imagination run wild. And really, isn’t that what entertainment’s all about?
There’s a lot of different fic out there.
Personally, I prefer fics that stick to canon. For me, that’s when the best stories are born, the ones that truly delve into a character’s mind and explore their motivations and relationships with others. But again, each to their own. And that’s truly the joy of fanfiction. There’s something for everyone.