By Karen Slininger
When we think of literature, we usually only consider novels and poems that are created from fresh ideas as part of this category. The characters and plot must be unique, having any references or inspirations be fleeting images. But what if we want to write about characters from a television show in a universe of our own creation or give our own twist to the plot of a video game? That’s what fanfiction is all about.
I grew up writing fanfictions about a handful of series, and I knew people who said that writing stories in this way was uncreative and unoriginal, even going as far as calling it lazy. What these critics don’t understand, however, is that I wouldn’t have even started my long journey into the world of writing if it had not been for these series and the incredible amounts of inspiration they gave me. From writing a plausible mission for a group of anime pirates to taking the names and descriptions of beloved wizards and inserting them into a slice-of-life Salsibury cafe scene, it’s fun to write out scenarios based on media that have left a lasting impression on our hearts.
Fanfictions have also snuck their way onto the shelves of many bookstores. Remember 50 Shades of Gray by E. L. James? This erotic novel was originally uploaded to a popular fanfiction website under a different name, Masters of the Universe. Why? Well, Mr. Christian Grey and Ms. Anastasia Steele used to be Mr. Edward Cullen and Ms. Bella Swan of the Twilight Saga. This is a classic example of borrowing characters we admire and putting them into an entirely new world, an alternate universe.
Hopefully I’ve proved to you that fanfictions can be built from sheer creative thinking and inspiration as well as showing how it has made its way into our local Half Price Books or Barnes & Noble. Understandably, fanfiction writers save time in the writing process by borrowing ideas from the original content, but there is still a large amount of effort and dedication that these stories require. The longest piece of literature in the world was once In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, containing about 1.2 million words and even winning a Guinness World Record for Longest Novel. But what if I told you that his numbers have since been surpassed by a fanfiction? The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest, a fanfiction based on Nintendo’s game series Super Smash Brothers, has been updating ever since 2008 and has clocked in at 4.1 million words to date. In a 2013 interview with Buzzfeed, Christian, the author who is better known by his online persona, AuraChannelerChris, admitted that he began writing fanfiction as a way to improve his English and that it quickly became his most treasured pastime. His passion has not only made an enjoyable read for those who love Super Smash Brothers, but it has also moved the goal post for those wishing to create longer pieces of fiction. Can someone like this really be deemed a lazy writer?
In short, the craft of creating fanfictions is just as valid as writing the next bestseller, even if the audience is limited by the base content they’re writing from. Creating alternate universes or plot twists for their favorite characters takes a lot of effort, dedication, and, most importantly, creativity. They are written out of passion and respect for the original content that inspired them. Have you ever imagined different scenarios for characters from a beloved series to take part in? It may just be time to break out the notebook and get to writing.