“Fan fiction” is pretty much what it sounds like – a fan of something (TV show, book series, whatever) writes a story about those characters, set in that universe. So a Trekkie (for example) creates a story about Data, post-emotion-chip, falling in love with Dr. Crusher. Something like that. Unlicensed, unofficial, and possibly not so much legal – anyone can do it. All you need is a story and a site to host it on.
The world of fan fic is a twisted, slightly horrifying, eternally fascinating place. See, anyone can write it – so you have thousands of different authors, and zero quality control. The Vulcan proverb says “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” and that’s exactly what happens. Without a filter, you get everything – every possible idea for a story, good or bad, it’s out there somewhere.
“Good or bad” means, of course, mostly bad. Sturgeon’s Law applies: 90% of everything is crap, and in this case I’d say 90% is generous. No cliche is unused, no relationship pairing is unexplored, no act of sex or violence is so grotesque that it isn’t portrayed in extensive graphic detail somewhere or other. (Draco putting Harry Potter in a sex dungeon isn’t a story, it’s a genre.) And, of course, these aren’t professional writers, so even the better story ideas are often marred by poor writing.
And yet, and yet…I confess there’s a certain allure.
Partly it’s fun seeing how wacky the stories can be, even if they aren’t especially good. Partly it’s cool spending a little more time with characters you love, even if they aren’t written quite right. And partly – I admit – some of it is actually pretty good.
Lately I’ve been writing some fan fic myself – Buffy, of course. It’s the first serious writing I’ve done in months, and the first fan fic I’ve written in over a decade. It feels a little weird, a little silly – and you know what?
I love it.
It’s an entirely different experience than writing an original story. For one thing, it’s much easier (in my opinion), because so much of the work is done for you already. World-building? Already finished. Characters? Developed, ready, and waiting. Exposition? Minimal, since your readers already know the universe. The groundwork is there – all you have to write is the story. It’s an intriguing exercise.
And besides, creating more content for a show you love is just fun. Each story is like a scene, or an episode, that never existed before – and if you do it well enough, it even feels sort of “real.” You can write plots or confrontations that you always wanted to see in the show, but never did. You can do, well, anything you want.
My obsessions tend to go in cycles, and this one may burn itself out in a week or two. We’ll see. But for now, it’s a pretty good time.
Have you ever read, or – god help you – written any fan fic? What was it like?