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Fan-fictions: not just a crazy obsession

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

By Eszter Sailer

Although, for obvious reasons, it is unlikely that any kind of fan-fiction would be posted here, it is still a genre of writing, and that is what the journal committee does. It writes. Its writing might not be any kind of fan-art, but its presence in writing should not be ignored.

Generally, people who are not into it, would say writing fan-fiction is just a way for 14-year-old girls to express their obsession for their idols. Let me give you an example: ‘And then What Makes You Beautiful started playing and when it came to Harry’s solo, he spotted me in the crowd and rested his eyes on me and that’s when I passed out. I woke up backstage, with Harry looking down at me. ‘Are you all right?’ – he asked. ‘Yes, but…why am I here?’ – I looked at him confused. ‘When I saw you in the crowd, you were so beautiful and I fell in love with you and I was so scared when you fainted.’ ‘Aw Harry I love you too.’ – yeah right.

While not entirely wrong, the fan-fiction base does not only include works like the one given. It is not always about happiness and love. The best way to describe it would be ‘unpublished works by independent artists’. Because that is what we are. Independent artists. No one tells writers to write, they are not bound by contracts, and they do not expect payment either. Fanfiction is still written. Why? And what are the benefits of it? Of course, I can only speak for myself and talk about my own experiences with fan-fiction and their writers, however, this might serve as a satisfactory introduction to the topic and hopefully it might answer some of your questions.

First of all, what is fan-fiction? It is understood as a work of fiction written by fans of artists, movies, TV-shows, books and comics, but it could be about anyone or anything that is well-known. If you were wondering whether there is fan-fiction written about X, the answer is yes (there is even fan-fiction about SpongeBob, and neither is that my work, nor is it something that I am proud of).

Secondly, why are they written? Mainly, it is to put one’s wishes and daydreams about a certain character on paper, or for a reader, to read scenarios about their idols. Now, why do I say wishes and daydreams? It is because fan-fiction is about what has not happened yet or (in most cases) will never happen, but a fan wants it to happen.

In a way, I discovered, it helps you to deal with your feelings. Even though you know the things you write will not happen, it is a feeling of relief when you write out your wishes, somehow getting a sense of reality of your dreams. As for the reader, the same could apply. When they read a scenario, they know it is not real, but reading about it can soothe their wishes. You got upset because a character in your favourite TV show died? How about making them leave for a long time instead of killing them? You can write that. Or read that, if it has already been written. You can even do both.

Fan-fiction can help with other things as well. It can improve your English (most fan-fictions are written in English), whether you read or write, and your writing skills. It can also help dealing with feelings. Imagine writing about depression, for example, your favourite character helping the protagonist with their mental-illness. There are a lot of people, also fans dealing with it. Even if they do not hear the words from the character’s mouth in real-life, it can be extremely helpful to read or write about it. It would be silly to generalize the age of fanfiction writers and readers, but young people make up a great deal of the amount and they can be easily influenced.

Now I know that usually, helping someone else is not the conscious aim of writing fan-fiction, rather the aforementioned reasons: putting your wishes and twists of reality on paper. Still, a writer can even reach out to their readers by using a famous character. With this being said, we get to another point: the convenience of having a real character.

You don’t have to make up a well-known person, you do not have to imagine an appearance for him or her, therefore the struggle when books are made into movies does not apply here. Everyone already knows exactly what their idol looks like. You might not know your idol’s personality, but there is always a general view about him or her, which can form a base to the person in the fan-fiction.

Even though a layered character is crucial to fiction-writing, even if we possess a lot of information about them, one can be a bad writer. Here comes the thing: talent. I have read fan-fictions that were poorly written, did not have any details, contained only dialogues and nevertheless received a lot of attention. I have also read works of art, very well written plots with three-dimensional characters with flaws and failings, that received less attention and feedback than they deserved. However, others might think differently about the writing that I have read or written. It all comes down to taste, and taste can determine a lot.

Some are interested in romantic fan-fiction, others in sexual or disturbing ones. For the reason that there are no rules, no restrictions and plenty of platforms to put your work on, one can find fan-fiction about anything. If your first encounter with fan-fiction was disturbing, you might think fan-fictions in general are like that. As I said before, they are not. It depends on where you look and what you are looking for. It can serve for many purposes, but generally, it is there for enjoyment.

To repeat my title, it is not just a crazy obsession. One can write without being obsessed, merely for his or her own enjoyment. Moreover, how is this non-violent, creative expression of one’s admiration for something thought of as crazy, embarrassing, even childish, when grown men at football games start fire, damage their environment and hurt each other? To conclude this article, it is safe to say that fan-fiction is not the craziest obsession out there. It can be weird, yes, but in the end, we are all just independent artists, trying to partially turn our imagination into reality.

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