Fanfiction: Fill in The Gaps!
Your favourite character got killed off and you’re still agonizing over his brutal death? Read or write fanfiction and carry on in sweet denial! So what if he’s canonically dead? Not in fanfiction, he isn’t!
With fandom culture on the rise, one can’t really escape the words ‘fanfiction’, ‘canon and shipping’ that are thrown about quite so often! Now what is fanfiction exactly and why is it important? And can it ever be considered as a legitimate genre of literature?
Fanfiction, according to Wikipedia, is defined as “fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator.” Whereas, canon is the material accepted officially as part of the fictional universe of that story.
Fill in the Gaps
You can pick up right where the author left off with fanfiction. It requires less exposition and world building and you can straight away dive off the deep end. Bummed about the way the sequel ended? Found glaring plotholes that were left unaddressed by the author? Write that alternate ending yourself! Or read up mind-boggling fics which add that extra missing substance and explain away the plotholes.
Explore Alternate Scenarios
Find yourself wondering what your favourite fictional person got up to in their daily life?
Fill the ordinary gaps in the lives of extraordinary characters through fanfiction. Explore alternate universes, scenarios and timelines! What if Deadpool just abandoned everything and opened up a coffee shop? What if Harry Potter grew up and went to an all Muggle school instead?
The original story can often be full of conflict and angst and leave you emotionally burdened. Indulge in a sweet, light-hearted fanfic that leaves behind all the troubles and makes everything rosy, providing a cathartic experience.
Alice in Fanfiction Land!
Once you join a fandom, the infectious energy of the community sucks you right in! Before you know it, you’re lost down the rabbithole of shipping, OTPs and Headcanons! No, we’re not talking about boats or transportation when we say shipping. In the tongue of the fandom, Shipping is the desire by fans for two or more people, either real-life people or fictional characters to be in a romantic relationship. When you say you ship Stucky, you mean you want Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be in a relationship. And of course, shipping leads us inevitably to the wondrous OTP!
Now OTP is not to be confused with One Time Password! OTP, in the world of fanfiction, is the password to a fangirl’s heart, it is her One True Pairing. This is the pairing of characters that a fangirl believes share the ultimate bond of love and one that the fangirl would figuratively die for! If a fan says their OTP is Drarry, that means they love the pairing of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Of course, just because it says One True Pairing, doesn’t mean fans don’t jump ship the moment a better pairing comes along.
As far as Headcanons are considered, they refer to something that the reader generally assumes or accepts about the story or a character to be true, though it’s never officially stated in the books or the show. Headcanons generally attempt to read between the lines of the story. For instance, it can include the fan’s personal, idiosyncratic interpretation of canon, such as the backstory of a character, or the nature of relationships between characters, or the events that may have occurred.
Safe and Creative Space
Fanfiction is a powerful medium, especially for teenagers to explore their creative freedom and self-expression. For example, Wattpad is filled with stories by teenage girls who explore their individuality through self-insert characters in fanfiction. Whereas, Archive of Our Own has more matured writers who make you see your beloved characters in a totally different light!
A World of Your Own
Tired of having heterosexuality and heteronormativity shoved down your throat? Fanfiction opens up a wide arena of possibilities and provides a safe space for marginalized communities to interact and express themselves. It gives them the representation that they so desperately crave, which they don’t find in mainstream media. Especially on Tumblr, you can find fascinating genderbent retelling of Harry Potter with a Female Harry. Or engage differently with a familiar and popular white character who’s changed to be a Person-of-Color. The JohnLock (Sherlock X John) pairing is favourite amongst the LGBTQ members of the fandom.
Canon vs Fanfiction
Now, certain people like to keep it old school and stick to canon and are confused by people’s need to extend the story. The story ends for them when the author says so.
On the other hand, too many cooks spoil the broth. To expand the universe, some authors try to paint just a little bit more, until they end up ruining the painting with that extra stroke! While people generally prefer to ignore fanfiction in favour of canon, things are different in the Harry Potter fandom where the canonically approved Cursed Child was rejected by the fans, after it left them cringing at the nonsensical plotline. In this case, fanfiction was definitely better written than canon.
Prejudice and Plagiarism
Fanfic authors often feel embarrassment and face a lot of backlash because of the prejudice and stigma associated with fanfiction. There’s a perception that if someone is writing fanfiction, they’re lazy or incapable of creating their own story, by preferring to stick to characters that are already readymade. Or it’s assumed that fanfiction is merely a writing exercise, honing their skills for the real deal.
The literary world still scoffs at fanfiction, dismissing it as just silly fantasies of teenage girls.
People sneer at it, flagging it down as plagiarism and being a rip-off. While it may be a creative outlet of self-expression for some, to others fanfiction is just a blatant lack of originality. But that again sparks the debate: What is originality really? Was John Milton merely inspired when he wrote Paradise Lost or did he instead basically write Fanfiction of Book of Genesis? In fact, our fellow Shakespeare can also be called a resident fanfiction writer since almost half his plays had borrowed material which was then given a twist.
One can say that just because the base material is borrowed, that doesn’t automatically dictate that the hard work, creativity and individual flavour added to the story should be ridiculed.
Show me the Money
But there’s no money in fanfiction! Might as well pour your blood, sweat, and tears into creating your own story instead. However, there have been cases of fanfiction going mainstream and getting republished after gaining a massive fan following. The highly popular BDSM erotica, Fifty Shades of Grey, once started off as Twilight Fanfiction. Anna Todd also landed a movie deal for her fanfic ‘After’ based on Harry Styles from One Direction. So keep writing that Doctor Who fanfiction. Who knows, it might turn into a sweet movie deal!
So don’t hate it till you try it! You would find Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell to be a compelling read, as it beautifully highlights the writing struggle of a young teen between sticking to the comforting world of fanfiction and coming up with a world of her own.
To Sum Up
It is mindblowing to comprehend that you can glimpse into your favourite character’s life after the story has long finished, and that too absolutely free of cost. These fanfic writers are not only generous and selfless in their contribution to the fandom, but they also help build the fanfiction community and foster strong friendships over the Internet. You may just find your potential BFF lurking on Tumblr, waiting to collaborate on a Drarry fanfic!
Nerd and proud? Then be insanely creative and come up with as many wacky ideas as you can! And enjoy your slide down the enchanting rabbit hole of possibilities in a fanfiction!