Between an increase in published examples, especially insanely popular ones like 50 Shades of Grey, and writers like George R.R. Martin opposing it, fanfiction has recently become a rather polarizing concept. But to those who love it, it’s just what we’ve been reading for years, probably since we were 11 and really wanted to see more going on between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.
If you love fanfiction as much as I do, here’s some things you might be familiar with:
1. It’s kind of embarrassing/confusing to tell other people
People tend to either not know what it is or they assume it’s something weird, when it’s basically individual artists showing off their art!
2. But at the same time, you don’t get what the big deal is
It’s just stories? You have no idea why fanfiction gets so much mockery and is presumed to be bad writing when most people agree that reading is great.
3. There’s no accounting for all the great content you read
You read all the time but does your Goodreads account reflect that? Nope.
4. It’s a procrastinator’s worst nightmare
What do you mean I shouldn’t start a 120k word fic the day before an exam? I can start and finish it.
5. There is no escaping truly bizarre kinks
Sometimes, you’re pretty sure all the strange fetishist, incest lovers and straight-up weirdos of the internet congregate as fanfic writers because some fandoms have straight-up strange things happening in their fic.
6. Often, the examples published are a pretty poor representation
The Mortal Instruments series? 50 Shades of Grey? Um, why? Fanfiction writers have done so, so much better.
7. There’s a good chance you’ve written some yourself
Chances are, in some dark forgotten corner of the internet, some (possibly really questionable) fanfiction penned by a pre-feminist awakening 11-year old you still exists. It’s not pretty, and you kind of forget it even exists most of the time.
8. There is no better bonding activity
I have no shame in admitting that I’ve found most of my closest friends through fandom, okay. My eighth grade best friend and I still talk every once in a while about the fic we’ve read.
9. Some fics are iconic jewels that may never die
Meet anybody who ships Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy and there’s a 98% chance they’ve read Delicate. All Jily fans know of TLAT and Commentarius. It’s just a rite of passage in most fandoms.
10. Getting your fanfic fix for pretty much any pairing becomes totally normal
Often, when you finish a really good book or movie or TV series and are left feeling vaguely bereft because you don’t know what to do with your life once you’re done. Luckily, if you’re into fanfiction, the fandom usually has your back and has continued the story.
11. In fact, sometimes they even make the original better
The Harry Potter series, for example, sometimes leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to how the female characters are represented, but fanfic writers can totally make it better. Some, like this incredible series, are completely canon-compliant yet manage to improve the canon.
12. It’s where you can find your people
Do you really think you’re alone in guiltily shipping Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe just a little bit, in all their literary sassy glory? Think again, my friend.
13. Two words: fandom hate
There are way too many people who hate my precious mess of a son Ron Weasley and feel the need to write fanfiction about it, and that’s gross. Surely, they have better things to do with their time?
14. A lot of people shame the smut, but it’s actually pretty good
Not all of it, of course, but a lot of fanfiction tends to be written by younger, more progressive women than the ones writing actual romance novels. As a result, the smut in well-written fanfiction tends to be much better than the published writing
15. It’s the ultimate love letter to fandom, and you love it for that
The act of writing (or even reading) hundreds and thousands of words with no return and no motivator apart from sheer love of a story and desire to see it continue is pretty much the ultimate act of love for a fan.
16. There is no way to miss the Real People Fiction, to be very frank
One of the best fanfics I ever read was a One Direction fanfic called These Inconvenient Fireworks – just because somebody described it as “more quotable than Mean Girls” – but there is something undeniably creepy about real person fiction. And yet, there are apparently 192,396 fics about RPF on AO3 alone.
17. The most visited website on your mobile browser is definitely archiveofourown.org or fanfiction.net
It’s just so easy to read fanfiction on the go. In queues, while waiting for people, on your commute… you name it, and fanfic is basically the best way to spend time.
18. It’s low pressure reading
Especially if you’re a student who spends most of your time reading convoluted thoughts and pretentious academic writing, fanfiction is just the most relaxing thing to read.
19. There is no escaping the bitterness that comes with bad writing…
The terrible affliction that is interesting plot suffering from grammar or writing that makes your eye twitch is the worst, because you know the writer put in a lot of effort but you just can’t read it.
20. …but you know being one of the entitled jerks is not an option either
No writer owes you anything, and you can appreciate that and be thankful for it. Even when they don’t update for 2.6 years.
21. Eventually, reach that point where the associated shame is obliterated
The shaming associated with fanfiction is inescapable. It’s like pumpkin spice lattes, selfies, and scented candles—basic just by association with teenage girls. And some people think it’s pretty damn misogynistic, but you’re over the whole shaming thing, honestly.