I had no idea this even existed until last year, when an online friend mentioned that she wrote fan fiction for a particular show. I went to check out her work, and damn! it was good. It was a show I enjoyed watching and she took the relationships of the characters to a whole new level that the show did not. I became an avid follower of her work on http://www.fanfiction.net
And then I started exploring other stories on the site My first thought was, “These people need to get a life!” There are dozens of categories–book series, movies, television shows. There are crossover categories, where someone can make up a story combining the characters from, say, L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” with those from Star Trek and come up with a whole new world or, in FF terms–alternate universe.
Some fan fiction stories are incredibly bad. Poorly written, unrealistic plots, just a waste of time to read. In the FF world, these are referred to as “crack fic”–as in “that writer must be on crack”. (On Twitter, follow @SVUCRACKFICS for examples.) Crack fic can also refer to stories that are well written but incredibly far-fetched, but the first description is most typical.
Some stories are not bad, entertaining and fun to read. Some are excellent–great writing talent, good attention to detail and realistic plots. In the world of fan fiction, it is considered good etiquette to review a story if you read it, in order to acknowledge the author’s efforts.
Through reviewing a piece of fan fiction, I got introduced to another level of fan-dom–Twitter. There are whole groups of people who tweet about their favorite shows, find each other by the subject of their messages and then hang out to share tidbits about the show, screen caps, pictures and interviews. Wow. Nothing like watching a show and tweeting with dozens of other people at the same time–like having a film discussion group in your living room.
I’ve discovered that there is a whole new vocabulary to learn if one is to spend any time in the world of fan fiction. At first, I thought people were speaking another language–what the heck was a shipper? Slash fiction? Why are they talking about arcs and canon? Wikipedia has a good entry to sum them all up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fan_fiction_terms
So why do people read and write fan fiction? For an avid follower of a series, it can be frustrating when there are no more new installments/episodes to read or watch, so they look to read what others have written. Sometimes a story doesn’t end the way you think it should, so you write it the way YOU want it to end. There are groups of people would like to see Seeley Booth and Temperance Brennan hook up on the series “Bones” or Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson get busy on “Law & Order: SVU”. These people are known as “shippers” (for relationship)–so someone might identify themselves as an “E/O shipper”. Even more interesting are the slash shippers, people who would like to see homosexual relationships that don’t exist in current story lines–popular pairings are Olivia Benson with almost any of the female ADA”s who have been featured on Law & Order: SVU.
For the people who write these stories, it’s a non-threatening way to practice your hand at writing and get some feedback–although reviews of stories tend to be perfunctory and along the lines of “more, more” instead of offering real critiques. Some people go on to try their hand at original fiction.
A list of fanfiction sites can be found here: http://www.squidoo.com/fanfictionsites
At least it’s a fairly harmless way to waste time!