There is fanfiction for literally everything from TV shows and movies like Supernatural, Game of Thrones, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to random things like a story in which Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert fall in love. Or, the Chicago Blackhawks re-imagined as a kindergarten class. You name it, it exists in the fanfiction universe. Keep reading after the break and I'll tell you why I read so much fanfiction.
First of all, you might be judging me for loving fanfiction so much, or at least, you might be confused by my love. So, let me address a few of the more prevalent fanfiction stereotypes.
Fanfiction is all poorly written slash fiction by angsty teenage girls
In case you aren't aware, slash fiction is a code name for romance fiction, usually reserved for gay fiction, ie: M/M or male/male, F/M, F/F, etc. However, not all fanfiction revolves around a romantic relationship, though, admittedly, that's what I read. And, it is definitely not all written by teenagers. I've read fanfiction in several different fandoms and the majority of them are written by adults, mostly women, but there are a few male authors as well. As a matter of fact, I've read fanfiction by people who are professional, published authors. For most of them, it's just for fun in a fandom they are personally involved in. Though, some of them use it for practice to hone their skills or to get a story that doesn't fit into their published works out of their heads. For example, SE Hinton, author of The Outsiders, has admitted to writing Supernatural fanfiction. Then, of course, there's the published fanfiction. No, I don't mean 50 Shades, though that does technically count, I'd rather pretend that it doesn't exist. I'm talking about real, published books that could be considered fanfiction. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for instance. Or, March by Geraldine Brooks, a retelling of Little Women from Mr. March's perspective. There's also Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. Or, Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald, a Sherlock Holmes/HP Lovecraft crossover, or his short story The Problem of Susan based on Susan Pevensie from the Narnia Chronicles. I could go on, but I think this is enough examples. Anyway, as you can see, fanfiction isn't all terrible and it isn't all written by teenagers or lonely single women who just want their favorite characters to kiss.
Fanfiction is weird....really weird.
Yes, there is some really weird shit available in the fanfiction world. Really weird. Pregnant men, humans going into heat like animals, people turning into animals and having sex in their animal form, tentacle porn, I could go on, but I think you get the idea. But, just as in regular fiction, the vast majority is completely ordinary people doing ordinary things. Just like any other book, movie, or TV show. It might just be in different circumstances than you are used to seeing those particular characters in. This is called an alternate universe or AU in the fanfiction community.
Ok, I think I've covered the biggest rumors about fanfiction. Now, on to why I love it!!
I read fanfiction for a lot of reasons. But, probably the #1 reason is for the characters. I can read my fill of my favorite characters, even if the show is on hiatus, or even if the series is over. I actually got my start in fanfiction with Eric and Sookie from True Blood/The Southern Vampire Mysteries. Neither the show nor the books ever did their relationship justice. So, I had to turn to fanfiction to quench my need. I also dabbled in Alcide/Sookie, because he deserved a chance with her, damn it! She was too virtuous for her own (and my) good! No, I'm not over it. But, now, my main genre of fanfiction is Supernatural based, mostly Dean/Castiel. But, I'm a fanfiction slut and I'll read any pairing that strikes my fancy in the Supernatural fandom. I also read a fair bit of Cut & Run fanfiction. That fandom is vastly creative for being so small and there is a lot to choose from. Especially now that the main series is over, I just jump on Tumblr or the fanfiction-centric website, Archive of Our Own, and see what's new. I'm desperately awaiting the third and final part of a full-length Cut & Run steampunk pirate alternate universe called Airship Sidewinder. It's amazing and I'm dying for it. What I love about fanfiction is the ability to put the same characters that you know and love into any situation and their personalities, and usually backstories are the same, and they still find their way to each other. It's amazing how many different scenarios the same people can fit into and still be the characters you fell in love with in the original works. And, as I mentioned above, no matter your fandom, there is fanfiction for it. I've read works a lot of different fandoms, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Tolkien, Les Miserables, Once Upon a Time, Marvel, and probably a few others I'm forgetting. Whatever you want, it's out there just waiting for you to read it.
Abundant and Free!
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm pretty strapped for cash most of the time. Between going down to working part time since Toddler Wolverine was born, and the expenses associated with Wolverine himself, daycare, diapers, new clothes and shoes every six months, it adds up. So, sadly, books have fallen down the priority scale. But, by it's very nature, fanfiction is free!! There are tons of places you can read and/or download fanfiction. My personal favorite is An Archive of Our Own, or AO3 for short. There is also fanfiction.net, LiveJournal, Tumblr, Facebook, and probably more that I don't know about. And, if you are a multi-fandom person, like me, there is almost no limit to the amount of fanfiction available to you. The Supernatural fandom alone, I could read for several years and not read it all. It's a great resource for broke people like me. Even if I stay broke forever, which, with kids, is a distinct possibility, I'll always have something to read as long as I can access the internet.
I know what you're thinking, "I already read to escape." And, that's true. Most people who read any kind of fiction read, at least in some part, to escape. Fanfiction has the double whammy of being about characters you already love and, if you pick the right story, can be just total fluffy nonsense. No heartbreak, no angst, nothing but joy and sunshine. And, in my case, sex. Honestly, sometimes, the stories I pick are just sex. Cut the filler and get to the good stuff, right? But, even if erotica or fluffy nonsense isn't your thing, there's still a unique feeling that fanfiction brings out, a combination of coming home and exploring something new. You are reading about these characters that you already know and love (or hate), but it's in a totally new and different scenario than you've ever seen them in before. It might even be a totally new world than the one you are used to. Fanfiction is a perfect escape from real life or sometimes from your fictional life. I'm currently listening to the Outlander series on my commute. And, while I do love it, it is a very involved world. You have to pay attention to everything because it is such a complex world. And, having never read it before, everything is new to me. So, my attention is consumed by it. That's where fanfiction comes in. I don't need to focus so much on it. It's a nice easy, uncomplicated read. Yes, of course, I can get this from other books as well. But, only fanfiction can combine my favorite TV characters with a nice, easy, smutty read. It's the best.
Get Involved in Your Fandom
Whether you are new to a fandom or you've been with it since the beginning, fanfiction is a great way to get involved with others who love the same things that you do. Nearly everyone who reads fanfiction is a huge fan of whatever fandom they are reading. So, you have a built in set of people to discuss that latest book, movie, or episode with. I've made most of my best friends through fandoms. If you don't know how to get involved with your fandom, fanfiction is great place to start. Your favorite authors will have links to their personal blogs, Tumblrs and/or Facebook pages on their stories. Go to one of those and branch out from there. I think everyone should have something that they are passionate about. But, some people are too afraid to let people know about it. I'm here to tell you that you shouldn't be afraid. Nerds are ruling pop culture right now. Star Trek, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and The Big Bang Theory are some of the hottest things out there. Comic book movies rule the box office. All of them are way up there on the nerd spectrum. Don't be afraid to let your freak flag fly.
Well, Saucy Readers, do you read fanfiction? If not, I hope my rambling has convinced you to try it.
Happy Reading, whatever you choose to read!