OTW Fannews: Fanfiction for Fans

  • Fanfiction has moved surprisingly quickly from a rarely-spoken-of pastime to something celebrities acknowledge reading, people want to bring into literary canon, or be seen doing, or even writing their college admission essays about. However the activity’s newfound popularity is rarely portrayed as part of the fannish impulse to create a shared canon, leading to an awful lot of focus on professional rewards.
  • Many a published fanfic writer has recently testified to its usefulness as both writing training and developing an audience. “If I can’t tell one character from the next in the middle of a conversation, you’ve really missed the mark. You’re not going to convince me that any of these characters are worth reading about if they all come across as one nebulous dude inhabiting various bodies” yet “[t]his is where my high school and college career spent writing fanfiction comes in handy.” It’s even spoken of as an apprenticeship. Yet these works have long been created by professional writers, and turning pro is an avenue only some fanfiction writers have ever been interested in pursuing.
  • The idea that fanfiction is something that will only be created for publishers rather than for fellow fans seems to steer Amanda Hess at Slate into an odd direction, asking if slash writers will all turn to het in order to get more chances at a big payday. “But as fan fiction gets its due, it appears that publishers are still picking up stories that conform to old models about what women want. Baker may not be your traditional romance writer, but she’s selling a familiar story: She lifted the hetero One Direction script from the lyrics, put it in her own words online, and then sold it back to the mainstream. And 50 Shades of Grey may have been steamier than the source material, but it kept Twilight’s passé dynamic intact—competent older man schools naïve virgin…But even the most well-populated fantasy worlds may be too transgressive for the mainstream.”
  • Meanwhile, within fandoms, there are more transgressive issues than slash to discuss which relate to fanfiction in its practice, rather than as some form of professional development. Recent articles have focused on the treatment of women, a lack of ethnic and racial diversity, or indeed taking shipping out of fanfic and onto the social media pages of their related celebrities.
  • Whatever the discussion, however, the OTW’s always glad to see its projects mentioned as fannish resources.

If you write or read fanfiction, how has it affected your life? Contributions are welcome from all fans at Fanlore.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.