OTW Fannews: Living with fanfiction

  • An article from the Oakland Tribune provided a good exploration of fanfiction and the activities of people who write it. “The online communities — fandoms — are vast and develop their own guidelines, techniques and even vocabularies. People write about, talk about, have mini conventions about, make videos about and even edit each other’s stories about everything from favorite novels, TV shows and comic books to Japanese anime and mangas, poems, video games or popular songs…’It’s really big, it’s really diverse, and if you’ve only seen one little slice of it, you haven’t seen anything.'” The piece also featured discussion with OTW Legal Chair Betsy Rosenblatt, and mentions OTW projects the AO3 and Fanlore.
  • Meanwhile Transformative Works and Cultures editor Karen Hellekson discussed how varied fanfiction can be in The Eye. “‘Although I’m glad that Fifty Shades of Grey has caused interest in the fan fiction phenomenon, I also worry that the prurient, overtly sexual, often violent nature of the text reflects badly on fan fiction in general, because it’s not representative of fan fiction or the impetus to write it.’ Fans are inspired to write fiction in order to continue experiencing a text, its characters, and settings. Often, they write for themselves and for fellow fans, with no pretensions of achieving fame comparable to their source texts’ authors. Fan fiction’s forays into the worlds of publishing and academia, however, show that it is a broader cultural phenomenon that appeals to more than the fans alone.”
  • In a review of Batman comics on PopMatters, Michael D. Stewart talks about how uncertain canons can make all stories seem like fanfiction. “Many of the writers currently writing our major superheroes are fans of the characters. They’re not the original creators of the character, so what’s the difference between fan fiction and what is being published today? Sophistication? Editorial endorsement and inclusion in canon? A paycheck?…[I]n terms of the culture talking to them and they responding in its language, “Death of the Family” and Snyder’s Joker is not “almost” fan fiction, it is fan fiction and that’s something he should be proud of. While I have been wary about the amount of horror that has been injected into Batman, and concerned the Joker hasn’t to this point been very funny, and that each and every issue hasn’t been an ideal portrayal, I will always be appreciative knowing a fan is writing this cornerstone of comics.”
  • Whether fan fiction writers are or aren’t going pro, they still have to deal with some similar issues. Fandom Wanderers decided to offer some advice, a lot of which related to dealing with one’s audience. “You can’t please everyone – in every story, you will have at least one reviewer who says “Can you make … happen?” If that happens to fit with your storyline and you want to, go ahead. If not, don’t. It’s your story, not theirs” but also “Be grateful to your reviewers – A lot of people lurk on fanfiction sites – I know, I’m guilty of it myself – and you can’t always tell if they’ve enjoyed the story…So when you get a review, thank that person…If it’s a particularly long and helpful review, take the time to message them and let them know that you’re grateful for their feedback.”

What fanfiction habits and activities do you take part in? Write about it 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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