The Art of Fanfiction

While watching a film or reading a book, have you ever found yourself imagining a different course of events? What if Princess Leia had been raised on Tatooine and Luke Skywalker by the Rebellion? Or what if Harry Potter had been sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor? There’s a million ways you could explore the different narrative possibilities of an existing work: adding scenes, changing relationship dynamics, twisting the main plot, or playing with the what-ifs. All these things fall under the realm of fan fiction.


As a literary genre, fan fiction has received a bit of a bad rap. Aside from the fact that its very nature screams “wish fulfillment,” many of the stories are written by young authors who don’t have a good grasp of the English language. And of course, it’s often only the horribly written stories that draw the public attention. Perhaps most infamous, “My Immortal” is often regarded as the worst Harry Potter fan fiction ever written. It contains such lines as, “Suddenly an idea I had. I clozd my eyes and using my vampire powers I sent a telepathetic massage to Drako and Vampire so they would destruct Snape.” It’s still uncertain whether or not the author, known by her pseudonym Tara Gilesbie, deliberately butchered English into unrecognizable mincemeat…

But fan fiction can also be critical and highly creative. Gender bending stories question gender roles by switching the given gender of the characters. Particularly in adventure or action-based plots, there is a startling lack of women, and those that are present often serve as a romantic subplot for the hero. So what might happen if we suddenly switched the gender of the hero? What if we switched everyone’s gender? In this way, fan fiction can show the sexism present in films and novels that might not have been obvious before. In addition to this, alternate reality or universe stories explore how simple changes in the plot affect the overall storyline. Perhaps the only thing changed is a choice between turning right and turning left, but each has vastly different consequences.

“All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn’t your pet — it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.” 

Joss Whedon

Read the entire article, “The Art of Fanfiction” by Sarah Gronostalski at The Daily.

Teach Me How-to Hobby

There are hundreds of thousands of such stories — if not millions — published online with more added every hour… But what if you have an incredibly specific fan fiction craving, and none of the stories you find will do? Well as they say: If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Writing fan fiction isn’t as hard as it may seem. You already have a universe created for you. You just tweak it to your liking. You could write something that’s feasibly a deleted scene, working with the original content or impose your own plot onto the world or characters. You could even mesh two worlds together — remember “The Fellowship of the Ring” in “The Hunger Games” arena? The possibilities are endless, so if none of the stories you read satisfy your need to see Loki attend Hogwarts, write it the way you think it should be done.

The only difference between writing fan fiction and original fiction is the characters. In fics, the world and the plot are malleable, and to a certain extent so are the characters. But even though you can turn Sherlock Holmes into a woman, she should still act like Sherlock.

This is what the fan fiction community calls keeping “in character,” or “IC.” When a character acts contrary to their original portrayal in the source material, they are considered “OOC,” or “out of character.” This doesn’t mean an author can’t introduce small changes through the course of the narrative. Severus Snape can adopt Harry Potter, but only if the reader can follow his shift from loathing hatred, and consider it realistic for his character.

Understanding the world you write about helps too. If the Starks from “Game of Thrones” suddenly hop a plane without any warning that the setting has changed, you’ll probably confuse your readers. But fan fiction is less about creating amazing works of art and catering to the readers — it’s really just for you. Experiment with plots, characters, and settings. Write what you thought should have happened, or explore what might have. The story is up to you, and you can do anything with it.

Read the entire article, “Teach Me How-to Hobby: Fanfiction” by Sarah Gronostalski at The Daily.