In Defense of Fanfiction: Reading and Writing Through Fandoms

Jon'nette Kidd, Staff Writer

There’s a lot of stigma surrounding fanfiction and fandoms in general. For those who don’t know what these two things are, they may seem like random fan jargon. Fanfiction is a body of work about something in pop-culture made by a fan, or fandom, of that thing.

Fandoms are the umbrellas these terms fall under, meaning groups of people that concentrate towards the same thing.

From a young age, I have always been in a fandom. I recently just turned fifteen, so I have about 9 years of experiencing being in a fandom.I think it all started when I was around six years old, Justin Bieber was the center of my life. Everything I said or did had to revolve around the popstar, and there was nothing in the world I was more proud of at the time than having the same birthday as him.

The next year, One Direction had just released their song ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, which was an instant success after their X Factor loss. Immediately, I was hooked.

The smiling faces of the boys as they strut down a beach was enough for seven year old me to fall in love with the band instantly. At this point, I had just started first grade and was soon known as the “the girl in love with One Direction,” and that was the start of it all.

I discovered fanfiction at eight years old through One Direction. I had always loved to read as a child, and stories about my (then) favorite people on Earth seemed almost too good to be true. It was an immediate downward spiral into the world of Wattpad, an app for reading and writing stories..

Wattpad in 2013-2015 hit differently. Every story was iconic and left its mark on me. From “1-800-Niall-Horan”, “The Husband Games”, “Game On, Horan” to the many “adopted by One DIrection” stories, there was an abundance of fanfiction about my idols.

When I was young, there was nothing that you would do that could stop me from reading whatever I pleased on Wattpad. It allowed me to envision what life would be like if I knew my idols personally.

Eventually, I grew out of One Direction. It was inevitable, and I soon moved through the ranks of middle school.

From then on, I joined different fandoms, and my fanfiction library spanned over hundreds of stories.

One might ask: was there ever a time when I got tired of fanfiction?

The answer would be no. Surprisingly, because I was in multiple fan bases at a time, it allowed me to read works about anyone or anything, from Youtubers Dan and Phil to popular tv-show “Teen Wolf”. There was never a dull moment when I was reading, as it allowed me not only to connect myself to the characters but also to the stories being told.

Fanfiction can also have its faults, in the broad scheme of things. A lot of it is just trash: improper grammar, unoriginal story, poor spelling, etc. Basically amateur writers who post on a platform and hoping people will read it. It also gets a bad reputation of it all being inappropriate and pornographic, which while a large number of it is, more than half of fan works aren’t. There are about 5 million works on a popular fanfiction platform, Archive of Our Own (or AO3 for short); and of those millions, only 1.5 million works contain mature of explicit material.

With that said: the writing side of fanfiction is as important as, if not more important than, reading the works. Without fanfiction writers, there would be no fanfiction in the first place.

I have written plenty of fan works in my time and know the struggle of not only producing the stories, but publishing them as well.

From the writer’s perspective, creating your own original story while also staying true to the personalities of the original characters can be very challenging.

Confidently, I can say that fanfiction has helped me with my writing and reading skills. Since I had grown up with an affinity for literacy in itself, the world of fanfiction really allowed me to expand my reading and become a true reader.

While there’s understandably a large stigma surrounding fanfiction and fanworks in general, it continues to be a practice that people in fandoms rely heavily on. Fanfiction has been around since books and other entertainment became popularized, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon.