When one hears the term “fanfiction,” people think of infamously bad erotica about Harry Potter or how Fifty Shades of Grey began as Twilight fanfiction. Many authors dismiss or sue fanfic authors for copyright infringement and people scoff at the idea that writing fanfiction is somehow lesser than actual writing because you are not creating anything original. Yet fanfiction has had a long history, dating back to the 1800’s with groups dedicated to writing stories about Sherlock Holmes and arguments that William Shakespeare wrote fanfiction. While fanfiction has a history in print media, such as fanzines and Japanese doujinshi, it has become much more accessible with the world wide web; according to one estimate, it comprises over one third of content about books on the Internet. In 1998, Fanfiction.net was created and it allows several categories of different mediums, including Crossovers.
Bettina Soller looks at how the movement of hypertext electronic literature has changed from what it was originally intended to be, which was an “escape from the book’s linearity and the…efforts of hypertext on the future of reading and writing.” She claims that the golden age of electronic literature has ended with many literary critics marginalizing the movement and that fanfiction is one of the largest phenomenon of online writing media, in that it allows the consumers of popular media to establish their own original stories as part of the world’s canon or create “what-if” stories that switch up the dynamics of the characters.
While there are problems with many of these stories (as there are with other mediums), fanfiction allows people to create and publish stories, and ignites their passion for writing, for example myself. People who say that fanfiction is “unoriginal” are wrong because they are original stories that just happen to use an established canon as their basis. It introduces people to online writing media and opens paths to electronic literature and even a career in writing, such as the aforementioned Fifty Shades of Grey and Anna Todd’s After series which began as Harry Styles fanfiction and racked up 1 billion views. So instead of disregarding fanfiction as simply trash, try to give it the benefit of the doubt and look more into it.