Welcome to Fanfiction Friday! I am someone who firmly believes that fanfiction is a vital part of being in a fandom. Is it required? No. Is it necessary? Honest opinion, absolutely, but factually, probably not. The fun thing about fanfiction is that you can continue the stories of your favorite shows or books in your own way. You can make pairings that aren’t canonical, create crossover universes, and make new and very like-minded friends. I personally am just getting back into fanfiction. My heyday was in the 90s, so I’m not qualified to introduce or guide anyone, but my friend Lil Red is! She’s an avid reader and writer of several fandoms and ships which makes her well versed and qualified to give some tips for anyone who wants to delve into this fun community. So here at my request and of her own volition is Lil Red Writing Hood’s Introduction to Fanfiction.
Fanfiction: Where stories are continued, reborn, or reshaped.
Whether you have enjoyed the massive entity that is fanfiction before or you have no idea what it is, this article will endow you with some new information and safe browsing practices. Or at least I hope it will.
My first adventure into fanfiction was a beautiful verse based on the show Supernatural and was recommended to me by someone to whom I am now eternally indebted. It was a long downhill spiral after that first ‘fic’ and I have only a couple regrets which were entire all my fault.
So… what is fanfiction?
Fanfiction is a magical thing that is provided on countless platforms for free (or mostly so) and it takes a wide variety of stories that have been told to us through movies, television, books, theatre, etc and retells them. Whether they change one tiny detail or they change everything, fanfiction is nearly limitless. Imagine your favorite characters, now imagine the qualities they have that most draw you into them. What would those same qualities look like if their whole world was shaken and twisted upside down?
But isn’t fanfiction, stealing? Building worlds with characters that belong to someone else?
No. Most fanfiction authors never claim to create the characters they love to write.
There’s an argument to be made that could easily state that things like BBCs Sherlock could be considered a modern day AU, which is just to say here is a universe where Sherlock Holmes was born roughly a hundred years later than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created him. What would his deductive reasoning look like today? Sure, the copyright for most of Doyle’s detective works has expired and is public domain at this point, but the point still stands.
Countless authors have been inspired by other characters and creations for generations and technically you could, just enough, or wait until the copyright runs out, and you could potentially make a profit, but most fanfic authors post stories online for other people who love the thing they love, for simple enjoyment.
So any tips, advice, links?
Of course! I got you boo!
First Pro Tip to reading fanfiction.
LEARN WHAT TAGS ARE! LEARN WHAT THEY MEAN! LEARN HOW TO READ THEM!
Do NOT dive into fanfiction until you have a medium grasp of the following:
Rating System (is pretty self-explanatory most places)
G-GA General audience
T-teen and up
E- Explicit (graphic sexual situations)
NR- Not Rated
MCD= Major Character Death (usually means one of the main people who are tagged under characters). If you’re unsure and the author hasn’t posted any hints as to not give away the story, you could politely ask in a comment or see if they have any contact info in their profile. Most authors are super understanding and helpful!
UNDERAGE= Someone under the age of 18 is involved in a romantic/and or/ sexual relationship ***(It’s out there, we’re not condoning, just informing)***
Most authors will tag anything that could be a potential trigger, we understand that there’s a lot of scary things out there and everyone’s trauma is different. So we absolutely do what we can to protect our loyal readers and anyone that happens to stumble across our works.
If you’re unsure about what a tag could mean, please do your research. The last thing anyone wants is for you to get mid-way through an amazing story and when something triggers you or even just causes you to stop reading with a disgusted feeling in the pit of your stomach. You don’t want to feel that way and we don’t want you to feel that way.
My best advice for new readers? Think about what it is you’re looking for and then search it out. If you’re looking to laugh, check out something tagged crack or crackfic. If you think that a sappy romance between two of your favs is just what you’re looking for, check out things tagged for Happy Ending/Fluff. And if you are looking to have a long deep sobbing cry, cathartic tears shed as you’re curled up in bed, I highly recommend, Angst/AngstWithAHappyEnding. Though, you can totally do it without the happy ending too if that’s your jam; no judgment.
If you are still unsure, ask around find out if any of your friends read fanfiction. If they don’t, or you can’t find anything you’re interested in, feel free to reach out here. I have tons of recommendations for the fandoms that I’m interested in but even if we don’t jive with the same media, I’ll do my best to hook you up with something that’s up your alley and well written.
Last ProTip for reading fanfiction:
Whatever the options are there, pleaseeee please take them. If you don’t like something, obviously you can close it and move on without feeling bad about that. But for any story that you enjoy, let me tell you…it’s an author’s lifeblood to get feedback. Whether it’s simple, ‘Man I really liked that, thanks for sharing.’ or a keyboard smash that just says ‘kajfdskjflsadkj jlkads j I LOVE IT!! OMG!!! ‘ or a full paragraph or multiple paragraphs, it doesn’t matter. As long as you feel you left a comment worthy of the free story you just inhaled, I promise, the author will absolutely love you.
Alright, now onto the good stuff. Where can you find fanfiction?
There are a ton of websites that cater to some version of fanfiction but here’s a few of the most popular.
ENJOY!! Please feel free to reach out to me if you don’t understand a tag, or need a good fic rec, or really anything except math beyond a third grade level.
I’m so bored, please be my friend.
Seriously though, go find something that tells you what it would be like if your two favorite characters started smooshing their faces together. You won’t regret it!