Feature Article

The Expanding World of Fan Fiction

by Melissa Minners



            Have you ever wondered what might have happened if Padmé hadn’t died in Revenge of the Sith?  What if Green Lantern met Silver Surfer?  How would Buffy the Vampire Slayer have turned out if she hadn’t lost her mother?  What if the Birds of Prey television show had aired for more than one season?  These and many more are the questions asked by many fans around the world. 

            Prior to the internet, fans of television, movies, books, and comics discussed these “What If…” questions amongst themselves, secretly writing their own tales on pieces of paper that they only showed to their closest friends and families.  Their hypothesis never got further than their small circle.  Marvel Comics got wind of the “What If…” craze and even created a comic book series to tackle some of the wonders of their comic book fans.  Fans of Alien and Predator were able to see their own ideas mirrored in the comic book series Alien vs. Predator.  But most fans of movies, television and books had to be content with small discussion groups via their own network of close friends and the occasional fan club.          

            The invention of the internet has created a whole new avenue for discussion among fandom everywhere.  Now, folks who penned alternate endings, new beginnings, or continuations of their favorite tales have the opportunity to spread their ideas worldwide.  No longer must they be content with discussing their hypothesis within a small circle of local fans.  Now, these ideas can be discussed among thousands of people from all over the world. 

            You may be telling yourself that this is a fad that will soon end.  You’d be very wrong in that assumption.  Fan fiction has been around since waaaaaaaaay back when my brother and I were writing stories which continued the adventures of Hunter, V, and G.I. Joe.  People always have ideas about how certain characters in their favorite show, movie, book, or comic book should act or how they would react in a certain situation.  The industrious of us put pen to paper and write these ideas up.  The more adventurous of us feel a need to spread the word and see what other fans think about our hypothesis. 

            You may be astonished to discover that while there are a great many people who write fan fiction, there is also a tremendous amount of people that love to read it!  A great many fan sites include fan fiction within their categories and on their message boards.  There are also a couple of sites completely dedicated to fan fiction of every nature.  One such site, FanFiction.Net, contains stories about favorites in such categories as anime, movies, books, comics, cartoons, television, games and much more.  Games?  Yes, people write fan fiction about games like Final Fantasy, Tekken, Grand Theft Auto, and more.

            Perhaps that is the most surprising thing about fan fiction – the fact that you can find fan fiction about everything and anything out there.  Someone discovers a passion for televised wrestling and wonders what might have happened if a certain character turned bad and puts pen to paper – wrestling fan fiction has evolved.  Whether you can believe this or not, I have discovered that there are actually sites out there devoted to American Idol fan fiction!  Fan fiction spans every form of entertainment, even reality television.

            The world of fan fiction is just as diverse as its subject matter.  There are stories which are primarily character driven and others which are emotionally driven.  Fan fiction has often taken the form of poetry.  There are forms of fan fiction which are erotic.  Slash is a form of fan fiction which contains erotic situations among same sex characters.  Often times, fan fiction authors put two different topics of fandom together creating what is known as the “crossover” story.

                        People who write fan fiction give different reasons as to why they devote so much time and attention to such an enterprise that pays in feedback alone – no money can be made on such stories due to copyrights.  Some say that it is their way of paying homage to their favorite writers, characters, etc.  Others feel that they could do a better job than the writers who are currently in control of their favorite characters.  Still others wish to further the adventures of their heroes.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about fan fiction writers is that many of them will insist that they have never written anything prior to their fan fiction story.  These writers were so inspired by their subject matter that it drove them to put pen to paper.  They had never before considered themselves talented writers and still insist that they aren’t, explaining that writing new situations for someone else’s characters is not an incredible talent.  Others would argue that to show such imagination and create such believable situations for their “pre-existing” characters while staying true to their preconceived characteristics, is a talent few can aspire to.  To say that many fan fiction writers never realize they are truly talented writers is an incredible understatement.    

            The internet has been a blessing for this form of entertainment that has existed in secrecy for many decades.  Ideas are spread amongst vastly large communities.  Thoughts are exchanged and ideas shared, creating new written works.  Many people join forces to write new stories about their old favorites.  People who can’t get enough of their favorites soon find they have new avenues to explore.  The joy of fan fiction - what was once a hidden entertainment form has now become something enjoyed by fans all over the world.

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