Fanfiction Is, And Should Be Seen As, A Valid Form Of Writing
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Fanfiction Is, And Should Be Seen As, A Valid Form Of Writing

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Fanfiction Is, And Should Be Seen As, A Valid Form Of Writing

Fanfiction is the use of another’s work(s) of fiction or stories to create an often unofficial work that borrows aspects or makes use of the world and characters created by the original writer, often written or created by fans. Because of this, fanfiction often gets a bad reputation.

There are those who believe fanfiction writers lack imagination or originality to create their own stories or argue that writers should invest their time creating unique narratives, building their own fictional universes instead of working with ones already created by another. However, there is merit to fanfiction writing, and it serves a purpose amongst the audience of the original work.

When it comes to writing itself, fanfiction is often a great way to start out as a writer. A budding writer could have difficulty world building while creating new characters and unique storylines in their first few pieces. Fanfiction offers the freedom to create and grow as a writer, allowing the necessary skills of plot development, storytelling, and characterization to develop in a writer without the worry of making every aspect up as they go.

It is hard to create a unique work because there is no new idea out there, so often stories are influenced by those around us. A seemingly original piece is often pieces of favored plots and characters knitted together, which is a form fanfiction in itself, so why should that hold more merit than the route many take just to get their toes in the sand and see if they could do this writing thing?

It offers the opportunity to develop their own voice and style, picking and choosing as much as they want from the original work(s) to tell their own story.

Fanfiction allows for the exploration of possibilities. When a writer created a work of fiction, he often builds a world of characters who are reacting to or influencing what is happening in their world, creating the plot of the story. By doing so, he created people who are susceptible to internal and external forces and motivations, and as nonfictional people react to each situation differently, so could these characters because they were developed enough to be autonomous as far as decision making and abilities as determined by who they began as and became in their world.

Fanfiction writers are able to take these characters and/or worlds and experiment with how these would be impacted and shaped by varying circumstances. They can explore the avenues that the original writer cannot or will not for the sake of continuity or sense.

What would a character from the Victorian era be like on a space station in the distant future, remaining herself despite having been raised in this vastly different reality originally created for her? What if she wasn’t from that future but was brought there? How would she react and adapt to her changed circumstances? What if an unknown force was attacking her home? Is it a reimagining of the antagonist from her original world or a newly constructed opposing body to create conflict? What if she met a character from another work of fiction and they have to work together despite their differences?

The original writer cannot possibly do anything and everything to their works despite how many sequels or episodes they write. It would not be feasible or even accepted. It takes a collection of minds with their own ideas to mold and play with a world at their whims, to stretch the possibilities, and fans possess a certain freedom that the creator doesn’t.

What if this character got superpowers in a detective story, or this character died? What if this never happened or this did instead? Could this issue or relationship be fixed? What is she truly listened instead of speaking over her brother? Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense at first, but a fanfiction writer is allowed to validate his modification where the original writer cannot.

Sometimes, fanfiction is a way of expressing enjoyment or appreciation of a work. Why else would one dedicate time to write using another’s template lest the work inspire some passion or fervor in them to create? A fan can see what could become of a story and rises to meet the challenge presented. Or it can be a way of fully understanding and valuing the idiosyncrasies or complexities of a character or story.

To write a fanfiction well, one must understand the motivations of a character which involves a form of meditation and study of them. Dedicated to understanding this fictional person is learning to appreciate him for his own choices and thoughts even if they are not agreeable or moral. In a sense, fanfiction writing could breed a form of empathy through writing because it involves getting to know and accepting a person despite divergent opinions to better write them, aligning yourself with him despite what he does and validating his actions and beliefs to do him justice in the piece. To best praise or condemn a character, she has to be known to the writer.

On the other hand, the source of one’s drive to create could be critique or utilization for another purpose. Fanfiction could be a way of criticizing the choices a writer made in her work, faulting them for her decisions, characterization, or plot. Maybe she didn’t do this character justice, or offense and/or inaccuracies could be found in her work.

A fan could, in essence, correct what he perceives are having been done wrong or could have been done better. Even more, fanfiction could serve as a tool of persuasion or way to express an opinion. One could use a well-known character as a satirical tool to critique an issue that should be amended or focused on by a certain audience.

Fanfiction could be used as a statement to bring awareness to social issues, such as suicide prevention, mental illness condemnation, etc. Or, a character that aligns with the beliefs and motivations of the fanfiction writer could be used as a mouthpiece to get the writer’s belief understood in the context of a story if harder to digest outside. Fanfiction can be political writing and social commentary, or it can be just a way of saying what could be improved in the fictional world or our own.

Fanfiction is often for the sake of the writer and fellow fans. It’s a way of sharing ideas amongst like-minded people or those who merely share something in common. It’s a form of expression. Whether it be for the appreciation of a character or for more personal reasons, fanfiction allows an arena for sharing what one believes or wishes to understand.

Maybe a fan wished something had happened in her beloved story but lacks the means to make it come true; she could request the service of a fanfiction writer to bring it to life for her. Or another fan dares to do what others wished but couldn’t muster the courage to write it so. Some writers just want smutty situations with the characters they love in them while others use it as a way to explore aspects of themselves or their worlds in the safer confines of fiction.

Fanfiction allows for the expression and exploration of sexuality and identity, allowing writers to mold characters they relate with to reflect their internal struggles or to view a character’s actions through a previously unexplored lens. Fanfiction writing also allows a writer to try things that would be harder to, more dangerous to, or impossible to in reality.

It could be a route of closure by completing the tale of a character left unfinished by varying circumstances (plot holes or original writer’s death) or for the fanfiction writer herself who may have experienced or suffered something in life that she has no way of dealing with except through the expression of writing, putting forth her real-life struggles and fears but feeling safer behind the guise of fiction and a fictional character she aligns with.

It is a call for understanding from those that connect through the original work, and it can build a foundation or community of people who all claim a piece of the narrative as their own. Fiction is often written for the audience, and the audience loves to claim it.

All in all, fanfiction is full of limitless potential. Any idea could be explored or formed, and any route could be taken. It is the way fans can enjoy and explore what they love, paying homage to the efforts of the original writer. Fanfiction takes many forms, some not easily recognizable as fanfiction, or some works may have begun as fanfiction. One famous example is the "Fifty Shades Of Grey" trilogy by E. L. James which began as a fanfiction story for "Twilight" (Stephenie Meyer) called “Master of the Universe,” a story focused primarily on the ship (relationship) between the protagonist, Bella, and one of her love interests, Edward.

James decided to make her fanfiction piece an original work by modifying the names and backgrounds of the characters to make it publishable. Other well-known works are unknown to be or not often called fanfiction. "Rugrats," a well-loved children’s show, is believed to be inspired by "Doctor Who," a British show.

Tommy Pickles is a baby known for seeking out adventures and defeating adversaries accompanied by his friends and armed primarily with his toy screwdriver which has gotten him out of many situations. This is reminiscent of the Doctor who travels through time and space with companions and a sonic screwdriver, doing his best to preserve life and end conflict. A Dalek even appears on a toy shelf in one of the episodes. "BBC Sherlock," "Elementary," and "House" are all essentially fanfictions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."

The first two are modern adaptations of the well-known character, taking him out of his original context and even genderbending John Watson (in the case of "Elementary") while maintaining their base personalities and motivations. House is a show about Sherlock Holmes as a modern medical doctor instead of a consulting detective, a change to his field, but he retains his asocial personality and his astounding observation and “deductive” abilities. He even has a best friend named Doctor James Wilson (Doctor John Watson) and lives in an apartment with the address of 221B. These are changes and explorations fans are wont to do in a less official manner.

Other examples are Marvel and DC movies which are fanfictions of the comics. The rights may have been bought by others, allowing them to produce these adaptations, but they still fall within the arena of fanfiction because cinematic stories are being told using the characters and worlds of the original creators. Not all of them stay true to form as some comic fans have pointed out. Backgrounds and stories have been changed and adapted, making them official works of fanfiction.

In the end, fanfiction deserves recognition as a valid form of writing or creative expression. Just because the world or the characters fanfiction writers are using aren’t originally theirs, it doesn’t mean the story isn’t. They are still writing their own narratives, and those who indulge in fanfiction appreciate it and may have been even inspired by their efforts. Something that may have started out as fanfiction may develop into an original story, or it may stay the same. It shouldn’t matter. It is still a work of fiction that could be enjoyed by many and even more so by its writer.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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