First of all, sorry for this huuuge delay, I’ve been in the zombie sleeping-eating-sleeping mode these last past 48 hours, absolutely exhausted by a terrible final week. But here I am, back in the game, fully energized, for this literary post on… FANFICTION.
As some may know, I’m an active fanfiction writer, either on hpfanfiction.org in French, under Julia Erwelin, or on fanfiction.net under the pen name TheodoreIsNott, in both French and English. You can check it out if you have an interest in the Harry Potter fandom because I mainly write on it. But, well, what does fanfiction even mean? What are those barbarous words fanfictionner use? What could even be the advantages of writing fanfiction? Can we say fanfiction aren’t as great as original writing? Are authors looking down on fanfiction? I’m going to try to answer to all these questions that usually cross someone’s mind when we speak about fanfiction – my parents for example, who clearly don’t understand. Ah, grownups.
In the past month, I’ve been studying in English Literature class a subject called Shakespeare revisited where we discussed about different works written on the Shakespearian canon and if they’d either exploded or explored the canon. It was a surprising subject to study as I first did not know Shakespeare was that much everywhere in everyday life, that much reused and that… well, that fanfictions were recognized to the point that we were studying them. Great surprise, then.
But, now, once again, what does fanfiction mean?
One of the main definition says that it is a “fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, film, etc.” Therefore, as an example, we could take Romeo+Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which is a fanfiction of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Fanfictions existed for as long as one can remember – when Ancient Greeks and Romans troubadours were walking down the empire’s roads, singing stories which changed every time they changed of narrator is a kind of fanfiction. We can also think of this anonymous writer, in the 1600’s who thought Miguel de Cervantes took too long to write the following story of Don Quixote decided to write it himself – and by that experimented fanfiction. We also have the examples of all those ladies in the 18th, 19th, reading romantic novels and being not satisfied by the ending, rewriting them in the intimacy of their room and sharing them only with friends or main circle. All of those experimented fanfiction before fanfiction became a thing.
And fanfiction became something big with its internet publishing, but also thanks to Star Trek, who inspired hundreds of people and launched the beginning of the fanfiction era. Nowadays, a lot of stories inspire fanfictionner, either best sellers, smaller books, unknown one which frustrated the fanfictionner or made him dream by the thousands of unexplored possibilities in its pages. We have, for example, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, as well as the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. It is also well renowned in the TV series or manga domains, with Naruto gaining first chart on fanfiction.net and Glee winning by little Supernatural for the TV shows.
We can therefore see that fanfiction has quite expanded, mainly in the amateur domain but it also recognized in a larger scale.
Even though fanfiction can have a little ethical problems, as the majority of books, TV shows or movies people are writing about did not fall in the public domain basket, those which are can actually be used in a profit activity, as we saw earlier with Romeo+Juliet. We also have the example of West Side Story, again an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, but Shakespeare was not the only one to inspire authors, directors, etc. We can think of March published by Geraldine Brooks, which is a fanfiction of Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott and won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize. You can therefore see that fanfiction are recognized, even though some people don’t even know they are writing fanfiction.
However, when one takes his courage, his bravery, and tries to enter the fabulous world of fanfiction – even though there are some pretty scary things which I’ll talk a little bit after -, the same one can be quite scared by all the specific language of fanfiction.
It would take absolutely too much time to enlighten you on all the specific terms used in the fanfiction slang, however I’ll define 10 words that I believe are used enough in the Fanfiction domain for you to need them. Here we go:
♦ OC – original character: a character completely invented by the author, therefore belongs to him only. For example, Harry Potter is J. K. Rowling’s OC, but if someone X took him to write on him, it won’t be his OC. In the contrary, if X writes a fanfiction in the Harry Potter universe and creates a character named Eléonore Black-Wanders (©LittleGladys) for example, it would be his OC and not J.K.R’s. Is that even slightly clear? I hope so!
♦ OOC – out of character: in this situation, the author X takes a character from the novel/movie/TV shows/etc. he is writing about and changed his personality, physical attributes or even his story. He can change him completely or only a slight part, a single trait – it still is a change, so that makes him an OOC. For example, if Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin from the Harry Potter series suddenly starts loving mudbloods and ends up in Gryffindor, it is an OOC.
♦AU – alternate universe: when an author X takes the characters, maybe even the story line, or part of it, and transfers all of that in another universe. For example, if we take James and Lily Potter away from their world of wizardry and send them in a common high school in Bristol, Edinburgh or wherever in the United Kingdom – or why not even Paris? As long as it is not in the common universe of the original work piece, it is an AU.
♦ Canon: it is the dogma, the bible of the fanfictionner, the original work piece written by the original author. For example, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare is the canon of West Side Story. There is a bit of a controversy as whereas we should consider as the canon only what has been written by the authors or also what has been said by the author in interviews, declaration and such. For example, for the Harry Potter canon, should we only consider the books as the canon or the multitude of things J. K. Rowling said during interviews and on Pottermore?
♦ Mary Sue: this creature is the evilest, the most terrible character ever. She is the one every fanfiction author, every author in general try to avoid as much as one can. She is the super duper perfect heroin, with long hair, all the power, with a terrible past, with a bright future, she is the savior of the world, she is loved by all the boys, she is admired by all the girls, and she is perfection itself. And she’s pretty shallow, scary and, well, if you see one, RUN. (There is even a website where you can see if your character is a Mary Sue or not. It is quite an intense and pressuring moment for an author. You can check it out here!)
♦ Gary Stu confer Mary Sue as it is the exact same syndrome except for a boy character this time.
♦ Drabble: it is a small text, of a hundred (100) words. Nowadays we see loads of people writing “drabbles” which are between 100 and 800 words but a real drabble is of 100 words exactly, precisely and only. It is a great exercise for the writer as he has to put all the feelings, the story he wants to share in such a little amount of words.
♦ Lemon/Lime: in this, beware teens, as it is a piece of work with a bit of sex, erotic description and so on. Lemon are usually more detailed than a Lime which can only describe the act briefly.
♦ Yuri: it is a piece of work where a relation with two girls is related.
♦ Slash/Yaoi: as Yuri, except here we have a relationship between two men. Yaoi is more used in the manga field. We have the example of SasukexNaruto which is a pretty well-known pairing.
♦ OTP: one true pairing: I said I would give you only ten, but this one is also pretty much used and refers to the most worshiped pairing of the author, the one he is going to ship no matter what. With that I should explain the word ship which is to put together two characters which are or aren’t in couple in the original series. One can ship Delena, for example (short form of Damon and Elena, from The Vampires Diaries) as one can ship Drarry, Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter, which never happened in the original series. (YAY DRARRY).
There, with this you have a little peek of what we find in the fanfiction slang and hopefully it will help you make your first steps in the fanfiction domain if you still haven’t.
Now that we have a little explanation of what is fanfiction, where does it come from and how can we understand fanfictionners, let’s take a bit of time to think about those questions: What could even be the advantages of writing fanfiction? Can we say fanfiction aren’t as great as original writing? Are authors looking down on fanfiction?
Lot of people are looking down on fanfiction, as they believe it is not real creation, as one simply copy what another has already created. I, myself, is completely against that saying. Yes, indeed, we are using characters and stories that other created – however, in a way, it is a kind of homage we give the original creator, as we believe his story was great enough to make us dream and be inspired even after closing up the books, series, movies. Moreover, one does not only take what the author have created and simply go on rewriting it.
We create new characters, we create new plots, we create new situations, and we talk about things that happened during missing moments. It is a hard work – and while we do not have to invent the base of the story, we still have to create new things ever and ever to gain a community to our stories. If we all wrote down the exact same things, fanfiction would have never worked. It is because we have imagination to spare that we write fanfiction, and we express our creativity throughout it. We also don’t have the pressure, the scary feeling of inventing everything from scratch. We have the comfort of things that have been used before, but to which we can give a new life, a new peek, a new light.
Therefore, because of all of this, I can’t admit that fanfiction is less great than an original piece of work, as it helps you get comfort in your writing skills, in your characters’ creation, in your plots development. Moreover, when we see the amount of time and effort one can put into writing a fanfiction, we definitely can’t say it is less great that an original piece of work.
I believe it can be the first stage of writing, which will guide you to the original stage, where you will write and create everything of your own, as it can also be the first and final stage, as one can simply use fanfiction to take pleasure into writing because one loves writing without seeking the need to invent and create everything from scratch. It can only be the need to write that piece of work where our OTP finally gets together whereas it doesn’t in the original work, then put down our pen and go on reading other books. It can also only be a reading phase, where people do not know or feel the need to write, but are desperate to read more about characters they loved. And as the original author won’t write about them anymore, amateur writers from all over the world satisfy their envies and needs. That’s all. That’s all, but that is still big.
However, there are some authors who do not understand that, who don’t get the homage feeling, and think that their work is theirs and they have worked too much for others to take it and do whatever they want with this. Those authors have their beliefs and we also have to accept this. For example, G. R. R. Martin is against fanfiction – well then, let’s not write fanfiction on Game of Thrones. We have a list of authors, publishers that do not want fans to write on them which is published on Fanfiction.net, and all we need to do is follow it. We have to respect one’s wish. On the other hand, we have some authors who are open on fanfictions. For example, J.K.Rowling gave her blessing to fellow fanfiction writers in 2004 – we can then write without guilt and enjoy her rich world.
Here is the list of the writers/publishers refusing fanfictions:
Dennis L. McKiernan
Laurell K. Hamilton
Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb
So, here we go – I felt like this post had to be done as I’m an active fanfictionner and I definitely could not talk about this matter on my blog! What are your thoughts on fanfiction? Do you write some? Do you read some? Give me a bit of your experience, either as a writer or as a reader! If you’re lucky enough, you might even be chosen for an interview featured on my blog.
And don’t forget you can also be featured by participating to the Writing Contest of December. The theme is WONDERLAND and you have until JANUARY11th. More details here. 😉
With this I’m leaving you for now, but don’t worry, I’m coming back very soon with a critical post! Hope this article pleased you, do give me your thoughts either on the comments section below, on Twitter, Facebook, or by liking/sharing this article!
Loads of lil’kisses from a