Hello, I’m fedoralady and I write fanfiction. And, contrary to popular belief, I am not a geeky sci-fi guy who lives in the basement of my parents’ trailer. (Not that there’s a thing wrong with geeky sci-fi guys; I married a perfectly lovely one.)
There are plenty more fanfiction writers—and readers—out there, and not just in Armitage World. After years of being considered something of a “red-headed stepchild” of the literary world, fanfic is increasingly moving into the mainstream.
My husband can tell you fanfiction as we know it today was born in the 1960s when a series called Star Trek appeared, spawning a fanzine, Spockanalia.
Today there is fanfiction based not only on books, films and TV shows, but plays, musicals, video games, board games, rock bands, the Bible—even pro football player Peyton Manning has fanfic written about him. Fanfic is boldly going where no fiction has ever gone before.
How big is fanfic? Estimates show fanfiction now makes up at least one-third of all content about books on the Web. FanFiction.net alone has over 2 million fanfictions archived on its site, and that’s not counting Live Journal, Wattpad and other sites.
Fanfic’s rising profile has been documented and explored in major publications, including Time magazine (“How Harry Potter Became the Boy Who Lived Forever,” Lev Grossman, July 7, 2011) and Entertainment Weekly (“Just Do It!” focusing on fanfiction, shippers and slash writers, February 17, 2012– print edition only).
However, there are other authors who welcome it, including J.K. Rowlings and Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, who even provides links to fanfic on her own website.
And now, showrunners are sitting up and taking notice of fanfic. Television show executive producers are actually monitoring social media for feedback on characters’ story arcs, particularly romantic storylines. Writers of the TV show Fringe were warned fanfic writers and vidders might rebel if they kept two characters apart. It seems our voices are finally being heard.
Rather than keeping it their dirty little secret, more and more published authors are now freely admitting they also write fanfic.
Naomi Novik is the bestselling author of the series Temeraire which has been optioned by none other than Sir Peter Jackson, Richard’s director for The Hobbit films. Novik is also a fanfic writer who was interviewed for the Time article.
“Fanfic writing isn’t work, it’s joyful play,” she said. “The problem is that for most people, any kind of writing looks like work to them so they get confused why anyone would want to write fanfic, instead of original professional material, even though they don’t have any problem understanding why someone would want to mess around on a guitar playing Simon and Garfunkel.”
In the Time article, Grossman points out that fanfiction is part of the “cutting, pasting, sampling, remixing and mashing up” that have become “mainstream modes of cultural expression.” Fanfiction “challenges just about everything we thought we knew about art and creativity.”
So, who is writing this “challenging” stuff? From anecdotal evidence, it appears the majority of fanfic writers are female. And it’s a diverse lot, of every race, color, creed, religion, age, nationality, socio-economic level and sexual orientation.
Fanfic comes with a built-in audience for our work. Ever eager for more adventures with Harry and Ron, Bella and Edward and—in our case—Guy, Lucas, Thornton, Porter et al. we flock to new stories, new pairings, new alternate universes.
Not only do we write and read fanfic online, we see friendships and partnerships develop as we become part of a community. Writers get more immediate feedback from their readers, and there are younger writers who say fanfic is a great learning tool for improving their writing skills.
Some fanfic writers go on to write original stories with their own characters. And some of those writers become successful novelists in their own right (my particular dream).
As with Richard Armitage, the term “fanfic” certainly isn’t known in every household. But that’s definitely changing.
Who knows, in a few months newly minted fans of the brave and charismatic warrior dwarf Thorin may be inspired to sit down at their keyboards and start writing fanfic.
After all, it’s joyful play–and the wave of the future.
Richard always encourages us to be generous and to support worthy charities, and in that vein I am going to mention some of the causes during F3 which have been dear to me. The American Cancer Society has made tremendous strides in the fight against cancer through their support of research, as well as through the education and moral support given to cancer patients and families. Each year the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life raises monies and brings communities large and small together to “celebrate, remember and fight back.”