Fan fiction, also commonly referred to as fanfic or fandom, is a phenomenon of digital times that has the potential to alter the literary world. Since fan fiction is based on and inspired by an original work, it usually exists to create certain plot twists or new adventures for the characters.
Fan fiction is any kind of written work that is inspired by books, movies, TV shows, music, celebrities, theatre and other pop culture topics. It is created and published by fans of the original work, forming a sort of community. In addition to the aforementioned categories, fan fictions can also merge together two works, which is referred to as a crossover. For instance, on http://www.fanfiction.net Titanic has crossover fan fictions with a variety of movies and TV shows, including Twilight, Harry Potter, “Sherlock” and “Glee.”
FanFiction is considered to be the world’s largest fan fiction archive. Launched in October 1998, it has currently more than two million users, and hosts stories in over 30 languages. The most popular sections include Harry Potter, “Naruto” (anime/manga) and Twilight. Users can favorite a story if they want to continue following and viewing new content, post a review or add to a community.
Kindle Worlds was established in May 2013 by Amazon to combat potential legal issues and allow fanfic authors to earn money for their writing endeavors. If a fanfic falls under any of the licensed properties, mainly intellectual property, the writer can submit his or her work to Kindle Worlds Self-Service Submission Platform. Licensed “worlds,” include, among others, “The Vampire Diaries,” G.I. Joe, “Veronica Mars” and “Pretty Little Liars.” Kindle Worlds books usually cost between $0.99 and $3.99, creating a commercial platform for fan fiction writers.
Another very popular fan fiction platform is Wattpad, a fan fiction source based in Toronto. It is one of the largest book communities on the web, boasting a monthly audience of over 10 million readers. The FanFiction URL can be viewed on mobile devices, but Wattpad went further to create widely used apps for iOS and Android devices.
Another difference between the two websites is that Wattpad fan fiction is centered on mostly celebrities and comics, whereas FanFiction ceased featuring celebrity fan fiction to avoid copyright issues. Wattpad members can find fan fiction about Taylor Swift, Zac Efron and Selena Gomez, among many others.
The site has an extremely active community, helmed by One Direction fans. There are over 100,000 variations of One Direction fan fiction such as After, which is a Harry Styles fan fiction written by first-time author and fan, 25-year-old Anna Todd. An ambitious, optimistic young girl, Tessa, falls in love with Hardin, who sports countless tattoos, dark, tousled hair and a gruff, at times cruel, demeanor.
Todd’s three-part Wattpad series, which the site boasts has amassed more than one billion reads, will be distributed by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books. The first installment was published Oct. 21, and the next two are slated to be published in November and December. Just days before the book’s release, Paramount Pictures announced that it had acquired the screen rights to After.
Todd’s writing endeavor is not the first fan fiction to garner a great deal of buzz. In 2009, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith was deemed a bestseller. As the title suggests, the novel combined the seemingly polar opposite worlds of modern zombie fiction with Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. The commercial success that both Gallery Books and Paramount Pictures would like to mirror is first-time author E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, which was originally a Twilight fan fiction.
Fans could not stop talking about Christian Grey, the beautiful, tortured entrepreneur whose self-described “singular” erotic tastes draws in literature student Ana Steele. Those who spoke out against the mature content or the seemingly poor writing quality only further perpetuated talk about Fifty Shades of Grey. The fans’ negative reaction to the news of casting Charlie Hunnam as Grey is rumored to have contributed to his foregoing the role prior to production. Movie studios being forced to answer to online fan fiction communities is a potentially negative aspect because it is difficult to please nearly everyone, and movie projects have budgets that play a role in casting.
Fan fictions such as Fifty Shades of Grey and After build active online communities that foster diverse creativity, even though some may deem certain fan fictions nonsensical. After all, there is even fan fiction of One Direction and the book series The Babysitters Club. As fan fictions are commercialized in the form of Amazon Worlds, book deals and movie adaptations, these communities form already made fan bases.
Fandom creates trends on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the form of hashtags, fan art, videos and music that extend the story experience. It is apparent that the merging of online communities and the literary world has revolutionized how we create and consume media.
Nicole Horton is the Culture Editor for The Fordham Ram.