This post may contain slight spoilers for Gossip Girl. Skip the first five paragraphs if you want your innocence and brain cells to remain with you.
GIF: First one I pulled from Google Images. Thanks gify.
Do you know who is a loser? Dan Humphrey. Dan Humphrey is a writer. He also likes to write about the people he knows.
He doesn’t write very good stories.
But why does Dan write Real Person Fiction? Other than being a bit of a slight creep, it’s because he’s a fan of the people he happens to stalk.
Yeah, that didn’t sound really good to me, either. I’m not here to talk to you about Real Person Fiction. (I’m not a fan, and I don’t like it.) But I want to talk to you about what Dan’s doing.
(An aside: This gif makes me laugh. He can’t even pretend to type, but we’re expected to believe he’s a writer? Really?)
Dan is writing fanfiction.
What is fanfiction? It’s fiction written by a fan of a particular television series, film, book, video game, etc. and often features characters from those works. It relies on the reader already being familiar with the characters, and even the setting, although this very much relies on what type of fanfiction you’re reading.
Fanfiction is how I started in writing. Now, I didn’t write like Dan. I’m not writing about people I know. That’s slightly unsettling for someone like me. Other than writing stories about animals that spoke and understood things as humans did (with really cute drawings that I did my best to colour in really, really well), I used to write about characters I really, really enjoyed in television.
At the time, I didn’t really know that I was. When I first started writing fanfic, it was before the Internet became a crazy thing. I never knew of fanfiction.net, or even any fansites that may have hosted stories. All I knew, as a kid, was that I was writing about my favourite characters and “fixing” things.
GIF: I adore them. Thanks http://missmarauder.tumblr.com
If you knew me when I was younger, you’d know I was horribly obsessed with Charmed. You know, the show about three sisters who happened to be witches and have awesome powers and very dated outfits? My obsession was pretty embarrassing.
I like to think of this as my first fandom, even though the first one I ever started reading fanfic for was Harry Potter.
There’s really nothing wrong with that. Charmed is one of the best female driven shows I’ve ever seen, and watching it impacted my life in a positive way. But I’m not here to preach to you about how wonderful this show and its characters were.
I started out writing fanfic about my favourite sister, Piper. I rewrote episodes that left me wanting, because they weren’t about Piper. I didn’t understand at the time what I was doing. To me, I was sitting at the computer, rewriting the pilot episode, and giving Piper a happy ending.
It isn’t until, a thousand years later, that I’ve finally come to understand why.
Why did I write fanfic? Why did I keep doing it? Why do I even do it now?
Fanfic is a way to engage with what you’re watching or reading or even playing. It’s another way to get involved in the story, and immerse yourself in a world that may only be with you for thirty to sixty minutes.
I was engaging with this show before and after I consumed it. Instead of it being over for me when the episode concluded, I was still engaging with the content by writing fanfic. It’s like how some people make the fan-videos and fanart. I’m still interacting with it. I’m still engrossed in its world. I think, if anything, if you find fans are engaging with your content outside of the time it’s been allocated, you have something to be proud of.
Some people write fanfic because they’re unhappy. Even though that may be the truth, no one really wastes their creative efforts on content that they don’t love. I write it for the characters I love and can’t leave behind. I write it to try and keep the story going as I’m super, super impatient for the next week to come by.
I also write fanfic in a way to engage with my community. Sometimes, you meet your best friends by pursuing a shared hobby and even interest. I’ve learned so much from the communities I have been in because of how we, as fans, engage with our media.
I’ve found fanfic to be a different and unique way for fans to express their enjoyment of a television series, a film, a book, a video game — whatever it is that you feel compelled to continue the story for. You’re left unfulfilled. You’re too impatient for the next instalment. So, what do you do? You keep that story alive for yourself until you get your fill.
And, in a way, I kind of discovered something about myself. I still write fanfic as a way to understand the craft of writing and storytelling. I put together ideas and try and construct them in a way that will engage someone as though I’m telling them a story. There’s, of course, pitfalls of writing fanfic, as well as advantages, but, in the end, as someone who engages in this activity with no desire to make any profit (other than to refine any skills and even discover some things about myself), I find it to be a very useful, and valuable, social activity to engage in.
As if you couldn’t tell, I’m hoping to make future posts discussing fanfiction and my time with it. It seems like a bit of a taboo subject, and I won’t be posting any of my fanfiction for people to read. I want to talk about the craft and politics behind it. So, I hope it’s okay if I look like Dan, tapping at my keys in a fake manner in the middle of the street with a smile on my face.
So, what I’d really love to know: How did you start writing fanfic? Were you aware that you were? Why did you begin writing it? (And did you type as horribly as Dan Humphrey does on a post office box or garbage can?)