Fan fiction

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Fan fiction (or fanfic) is fiction written by fans of particular films, books, television shows, cartoons, games or other works and contains characters, situations and other plot elements from the original work as a significant element of the new work. Published amateur collections of such work are called fanzines. The reason that people write fan fiction varies: for some, it's often a way to overcome the wait between new releases in the canonical series by providing other fans something to read and talk about. The Internet has revolutionized fan communities and provided many people with the opportunity to write and publish fan fiction. That said, critical opinion is often highly negative - the work is often juvenile, amateurish and derivative - and the sheer awfulness of some fan fiction is often a source of humor for others.

Works commonly used for fan fiction

Common types and elements

Fan fiction varies in length - often from a few paragraphs to epic, novel-length works. Fan fiction can be one of a number of outlets for fan creativity: online roleplay through chat, fan art and the creation of non-fiction reference works to fictional universes are others.

  • Some fan fiction works can be experimental - works that may not be very good are often published as a sort of 'experiment', much like a scientific experiment that shows an unwanted result might be.
  • Self-insertion is the practice of the author either inserting themselves, or a character that resembles some kind of idealised version of themselves, into the story. "Mary Sue" and "Marty Stu" characters refer to often unbelievably perfect self-insertion characters.
  • Many fan fiction stories contain romantic or sexual relationships between characters in the story who would not typically have had a relationship in the original. The word "ship" is used in the fan fiction community as a verb - so one might say that a story "ships" two characters, meaning they have a relationship described in the story. "Slash" refers to male-on-male pairings of these type, the name being derived from the slash placed between the characters names in descriptions - so, a story might be advertised as "Harry/Ron", referring to a romantic or sexual relationship between those two characters. Often 'slash' stories tend to be most popular with, and authored by, females[1][2][3].
  • Fan fiction occasionally covers real life people - rapper Eminem, comedian Stephen Colbert, actor Johnny Depp and Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling have all been the subject of fan fiction.
  • Crossover or X-over fan fiction refers to the placing of characters or plot elements from one story into another - a sort of literary remix - sometimes to ludicrous lengths.