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Fanfiction: Literature’s Frenemy

By Emma Gordon, Contributing Writer

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The Internet has certainly had a powerful effect on literature in the last decade. The sudden global connection has opened a lot of doors in the publishing arena and allows for commenting on texts and stories that have existed for centuries. With book reviews at the touch of a button on apps like Goodreads, long winded opinions that span several scrolls on Tumblr or even reimagining of already published stories on FanFiction.net, the Internet has revolutionized how we access and use literature.

While some might fear that the Internet is slowly destroying literature and ruining young readers’ chances of ever getting hooked on books, I believe that the aforementioned sites, and others like it, have only strengthened the need and love of literature.

Though the concept of using characters from an author’s published stories in one’s own may raise some eyebrows, I think this interconnectivity is what keeps literature alive. Here is a young writer who is imagining the what’s-next’s or the what-could-have-been’s in novels, movies, musicals and shows they adore and putting the words to paper. If anything, fanfiction serves as training wheels for budding authors. Through working with characters that are already developed, trying to work within the established mannerisms and speaking in the voice of the author, they eventually develop a sense of writing that slowly becomes their own.

Why am I so protective and pro-fanfiction? I myself am a fanfiction author and reader. As an aspiring fiction
writer, working with already-developed characters helps me get past writer’s block. If anything, writing fanfiction gives young authors the confidence they need to eventually remove the training wheels and move past the roadblocks their own characters
might present.

Futhermore, fanfiction is not a new medium or idea. It has been in practice for quite a while. Fanfiction is essentially mimicking or working off what you’ve read. Famous authors such as Charlotte Brontë and even the great Bard himself dabbled in fanfiction (as much as I adore Shakespeare, most of his plays were adapted from already existing stories).

Fanfiction is arguably a crucial artery for literature which helps keeps it alive by encouraging timid writers to put pen to paper. As for the Internet, it has made all of these mediums of review, commentary and new stories even more accessible. With Fanfiction.net, Archive of Our Own and Tumblr, authors can post their stories and get quick feedback. Anonymous, constructive and unbiased criticism can be helpful to authors who are new to the craft, especially young ones who are afraid of comments. It fuels the writing fire.

Overall, the age of high speed Internet has done literature a great service. It has allowed writers and readers everywhere to connect, explore and grow. Fanfiction keeps the coals of literature hot and the Internet gives those who kept notebooks full of original “Harry Potter” fanfiction (Dramione anyone?) the opportunity to be read and heard across the world.

From one proud fanfiction author and reader to any others who share the same passion (I know you’re out there): keep writing and exploring and don’t be afraid to publish. Feedback from a stranger may be the key to unlocking the writer’s block with your own characters. Fanfiction authors today are probably the authors of tomorrow.

Email Emma Gordon at [email protected] 

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