Writing this in part because if I hear one more damn thing about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ I may have to hit someone. Instead I refer you to this:
It will be a far better use of your time I promise you.
That aside you may or may not know that the book is based on a fan fiction story for ‘Twilight’ (which is still online so I suggest you read that and save your money) And while ‘Twilight’ may be the only works on which written work can only ever be an improvement on the original, when reviews/TV programmes mention that 50 Shades originated in fan fiction I want to scream ‘it’s not all like that’.
Because here’s my dark secret: not only do I admit to reading fan fiction…I write it too.
Now some of my friends are saying ‘Pfft and? We know we’ve read it!’ some of them are saying ‘fan fiction what now?’ and others are deleting my number from my phone as we speak….
Well actually I’m not (that) embarrassed and I honestly think that after friends and family fan fiction is keeping me marginally within the realms of sanity as I plod through my PhD. (I did say marginally). I use reading/writing it as a constructive waste of time-it’s still reading/writing rather than looking at rubbish on the internet and beginning the day or taking a break by writing some is actually I’ve found a great way to focus my head in order to get back to work-much in the same way I use this blog.
So why fan fiction then? Why not write something actually useful? Or write some kind of fiction that I don’t know could be published? Well fan fiction writing is like a writer’s playtime. It’s also a fan’s playtime, and for me it’s where those two worlds collide.
In terms of writing, what I love about fan fiction is the chance to explore what would never be said on screen or on page otherwise, an exploration of the ‘what if’ perhaps. In some cases this is a fully fleshed out story-the main fandoms I’ve gotten involved in fan fiction in are The X files, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who-all three of these lend themselves well to a ‘write your own version of’ or ‘what if’ so ‘What if the Doctor met such-and-such-alien’ or ‘What if Sherlock Holmes solved this or that crime’ or ‘What if Mulder and Scully had a case where…’ all the crazy things for which there was never the budget or time to do on screen or that are perhaps a bit too crazy and out there to commit there (then again have you seen these shows? That was never a problem) it’s the chance to ‘fix’ or ‘flesh out’ the world in which the characters live or even ‘finish off’ a particular story.
Another useful tool in fan fiction is the chance to move them elsewhere-to alternate universes or scenarios: so what if Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson met while Watson was still in the army (in one particular fic the answer is I recall they have quite a lot of graphic sex in Afghanistan. Ahem. Least said about that the better) or what if Mulder and Scully found themselves working for the British government (well actually they’re a lot like Holmes and Watson…I’m sensing a theme there) . More extreme examples is that Wimbledon story from a year ago that I haven’t quite read yet where Holmes faces Moriarty for the Grand Slam or a slightly scary Top Gun inspired story I stumbled across earlier today. The point being you can take the characters anywhere, Sherlock Holmes can go to Hogwarts (he’d probably find it boring) Harry Potter can join the cast of Glee (Please tell me that hasn’t happened….oh dear it probably has) and Mulder and Scully can move in next door to Holmes and Watson (now there’s an idea). Writers can fulfil whatever strange ideas have entered their heads about their favourite characters.
Which leads nicely to the final facet of fan fiction that is important for me-the relationships, for me this has always been a central reason to read/write fan fiction. But now we’re straying back to 50 Shades territory again. So let’s just say it: yes there’s a lot of porn out there. Which is why I urge you to read the real fan fiction not 50 Shades, there is far more, far better written and free porn on fan fiction sites. And lets clear something else up, I don’t write porn either! Mainly because I don’t think I could come up with ten different euphemisms for a penis. Yes I read slash (I love Sherlock, there’s pretty much no other kind of fic for that) no I don’t read the porn (intentionally sometimes one stumbles into unexpected porn) And of course the definition is a relative term. I don’t object to pornography in fan fiction although it has occasionally left me thinking some people need some pretty basic anatomy never mind sex education lessons (He did what with his…? To his what?!)
Joking, and porn aside, the relationship explorations are the centre of Fan fiction for me, whether it’s exploring characters who are in a relationship on screen/on the page or who will never, ever be it allows for the kind of character development that you never get in a conventional novel or on screen. So you can spend 10,000 words exploring a space of time that’s less than two hours just to get to two characters holding hands. You can explore the minute and dull of a relationship-one of them has a cold, aw how cute that’s easily 3,000 words worth. And it’s a strange thing to explain but for characters you love it gives you a special sort of satisfaction to read or write about things that are deemed too much, too mundane or just too odd for the canonical texts.
Because that’s the things for writers and readers of fan fiction they have such passion for the characters, the love of the canon source that they will spend hours doing it. I get excited reading it and writing it otherwise why would I bother? It only works if you really love it though. And it’s odd that some things appeal to you as a fan but not as fan fiction. I love Harry Potter but can never bring myself to read fan fiction, likewise I love Doctor Who but can’t get my head around relationship based stories in that. Of course there are other things that make me scream ‘no get it away the real thing is bad enough’ (Twilight I’m looking at you again. And Glee.) And there are some crazy stories out there too, out of interest –in relation to the PhD I once searched for stories on AIDS, now there’s a can of worms. Other times you just ask ‘what is this author drinking’ Sherlock Holmes is a shark? Watson’s a cat? What? What? But the times I step away and say ‘wow that was genius’ outweigh the ‘what the hell’ moments. It becomes integral for most fans to being a fan-for example say the titles ‘Alone on the Water’ or ‘Performance in a Leading Role’ to any Sherlock fan and you’ll get a reaction similar (possibly greater) than saying ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ or ‘Study in Scarlet’
Yes it’s all incredibly nerdy but I am incredibly nerdy as are some of my friends in real life -two of whom met for the first time when one ran to the other, squealed a bit said ‘You’re * inset fic writing pseudonym* I love your work’ hugged her and ran off. (I should say I wasn’t there but this is the story that I was told so I’m sticking to it) I have had an on-going discussions with one of the above about a Sherlock Holmes story I wrote for about 6 weeks, and got told off for sending her an update while she was out and couldn’t read it. So it’s not just nerds in dark rooms, real people having real conversations about this nonsense (ok nerds in real life granted) . So does that make it less nonsense? Maybe. And you know what who cares anyway?
Now if you’ll excuse me I have someone else’s fictional characters to generally mess around with on the page. (And yes I know people will now try and guess my pseudonym but tough that’s one thing I’m not confessing, though I fear sooner or later someone might figure it out. Oh dear what have I done…..)