Online Fanfiction website: The Underestimated Grassroots literature

Are you a fan of something, whether it is a movie, a historical figure or even a football player? Have you ever read a fanfiction online and write your fiction about the people (or even the non-human) whom you love?

In the past 20 years, over 60 billion words of fan fiction have been written and posted on Fanfiction websites. They may be texts written by primary school students, as report shows the majority of the fanfics industry is teenagers, and half of them are under 15.

The Fanfiction readers used to be defined as “creative material featuring characters [from] works whose copyright is held by others” by Francesca Coppa, in her book, The Fanfiction Reader. They gain inspirations from other intellectual property, such as a movie or a book, extending it’s worldview or using it’s characters to create their own narratives.

Creativity being underestimated

However, in light of the current situation, the fanfictions cover a even bevener spectrum of topics and themes. fanfiction readers are so creative that they can write a fanfiction about literally anything, not necessary other intellectual property. For example, there are online fanfictions about some contemporary celebrities or historical figures like Thomas Müller and Mozart.

It can be imaginable when you see the fan-made fictions and paintings depicting the Iron Man and Captain America as a couple, because yes, they are close friends, it is reasonable that some people see tensions between them. However, can you imagine there are more than 1,000 fanfictions about the romance between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump on the website Archive of Our Own?

-Influence being underestimated

Theoretically speaking, it costs nearly no fees for the fanfics reader to read and write online, the large fanfic-reader group that consists of mostly young people respect their own rules and protect the harmonious environment of creating.

According to MIT technology review, some elementary school students claim they make great progress by writing fanfics and comments. The only reason for them to start writing is always the love for the original work, when they are using the fanfics to advertise the original work, they also fall in love with writing itself.

The online fanfics websites not only provide a stage for the normal people’s imaginations, but more importantly, they build a community for establishing identity, and exploring new trends that are not accepted by mainstream. The fans share their interest and writings while establishing relationships with others online.

Achievement being underestimated

Among the fanfics, there are countless works of quality, but because fanfics are production of fan circle and written under the name of other intellectual properties, they are usually thought inferior to common literature.

If fanfics writers want to have the same status as book writers, the first thing is always to deny the connection with other works in their fanfics. For example, E. L. James famously converted her online “Twilight” novel, “Master of the Universe,” into the 2011 blockbuster “Fifty Shades of Grey” by removing elements like names, vampiresthat that might infringe a “Twilight” copyright. Only then can she be regarded as an original writer.

From this case, we can conclude that fanfics can be seen as a writing mode, you borrow the elements from other works to create your own stories. But if you want your works break the fan circle, the elements that you borrow should be hidden to show your originality. The debate on whether fanfics is appropriate is heated nowadays, but just as Roland Barthes said: “The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author, the achievements of online fanfics show the great power of contemporary readers.

The Promise and Potential of FanFiction

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  • S1962574
    Posted October 9, 2020 at 1:42 pm 0Likes

    Great article! I read a lot of fanfics when I was younger, and I can definitely say that some of them were of quite a high standard, so I definitely agree with you that it should not by definition be seen as ‘lesser’ quality compared to what is available in bookstores. It also reminded me of how “real” poets often diminish the work of Instagram poets, even though Instagram poetry is not always bad, and published poetry is not always good. There’s a really cool documentary about this available on YouTube:

    • xi
      Posted October 11, 2020 at 5:26 pm 0Likes

      wow really thank you for sharing this documentary with me^ ^ I will watch it tonight~ Yes, the potential of fanfic can be beyond our imaginations, since they are creations of the “public”! some people create bad fanfics, and some people create really fantastic stories, I can imagine some famous writers who were poor before their wild-known books came out will live more easily if they have fanfic-website at that time, as it costs nearly nothing and owns such a large group of audience, so they can get famous more easily. Today we have some excellent writers start their career just like that! You said you read a lot of fanfics, I don’t know if you feel they helped you with your writing skills or reading speed?hahaha

  • abrikoos
    Posted December 18, 2020 at 5:43 pm 0Likes

    Fanfics are so undervalued as a piece of media! No one is going to say that the Aeneas is a fanfiction of the Illias, while I do think it technically qualifies. Same for Romeo and Juliet – apparently, Shakespeare based it on an Italian piece published some years prior, but he did not like the ending. So he, like so many other fanfic authors, rewrote the story to his liking. However, as it’s mostly teenage girls writing fanfiction these days, it’s usually dismissed. I think writing fanfiction allows young women to create a narrative for themselves, as quite often they’re neglected or made fun of in mainstream media. See for example the proliferation of Star Trek fanfiction. Most women on the original show are pretty useless – but through fanfiction, women could imagine themselves as important agents in the story too. I think it’s still a problem that young women are not represented enough as their own person, as opposed to a love-object or something else to continue to story; so as long as this is the case, women will reimagine the stories so they can be part of it too.

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