OTW Fannews: Fanfiction’s here to stay for everyone

  • The past months have produced a rash of discussions on fanfic ranging from the critical to the deeply personal. The Telegraph kicked this off with a complaint about derivative works. “To take entirely against fan fiction is pointless, not least because it’s clearly here to stay…Nor is being derivative necessarily a sin – after all, the writer who tries to create work from inside an influence-free vacuum would probably never type a single word.” However, using someone else’s building blocks and using only those blocks are “the difference between writing that pays homage to another’s work, and writing that robs that work wholesale of plot, theme and characters.”
  • A good example of how fanfiction is “clearly here to stay” appeared on the posting boards of Shadow Era where an official policy was posted. “Time and time again references are made of fears that you will be somehow punished for the writing of Fan-Fiction. Often we’ve been asked to reveal the ‘Official Stance’ on these works, so here it is: We love it. Fan-Fiction is created when members of a community love the game, and that’s what we see in these creations…For that reason, we’ve reached out to a website specializing in this specific genre. Fanfiction.Net now list Shadow Era as an actual category…so anything you create can be viewed by more people than ever!”
  • The London Review of Books had an ambivalent view from a fanfic reader. “The first time I told anyone I read fan fiction was just a few months ago. My roommate’s response was: ‘So? I do too.’ I kept my habit a secret for so long because it seemed immature and embarrassing. But by the time I told her I had stopped spending so much time online. I got bored with having to scroll through tens of misspelled summaries to find just one story that sounded appealing.” But it seems she has a way to go yet before putting fanfic behind her. “During those years, every attempt to curb my obsession failed, and even now, although my accounts have gone untended and my email updates have been halted, I still can’t quite give it up…Every so often, I spend some time browsing in new, different fandoms, changing the preferences one by one and then scrolling down to the white space at the end of the page. I am not sure what I am looking for.”
  • Another writer was clearer about her motivations and more reflective about fannish culture. “When I decided on an academic career I stopped writing fiction altogether, so by the time I found fanfiction I hadn’t written any fiction in about five or six years…I really shouldn’t have ever stopped. The passion was draining out of me for academia, but it was rushing back in when it came to fiction.” Regarding slash, she had more to relate than a sheepish attraction. “Our culture has learned lies about women’s sexuality from actual porn and men expect women to act it out as if it’s real. So if erotic fanfiction makes men uncomfortable, I say, so be it. They should learn to cope. Girls have their own sexual imaginations and their own pleasures, so I think it’s perfectly fine for them to have it. Fanfiction communities that centre on slash and erotica, or even ‘porn’, are self-catering in that regard. It’s mostly women fueling the emotional and sexual imaginations of other women. Are we going to be prudes about this and get upset about it? Think it shouldn’t happen? In a world where women’s sexuality is still defined by images created by and for men?”

What milestones exist in your own fanfiction history? Put them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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.

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