Despite judgment, students enjoy comfort of fan fiction


Ishani Hariprasad

FAN FICTION FRENZY. Offered by a multitude of websites, fan fiction allows students to read new stories within the world of their favorite works.

Amy Ren, Assistant Editor

A set of frustrated fingers jams the power button on a TV remote as credits roll. Another pair of hands slams a book shut. A third set of hands flings away the phone they held. All belong to fans unsatisfied by the media they consume, whether a show, book or video game. However, they can turn to something else to satisfy their hunger for more: fan fiction.

Written by amateurs, fan fiction uses copyrighted characters, settings, plots and other intellectual property while crediting the creator of the original work. Although some people value fan fiction as a way to explore additional possibilities untouched by the original creator, hone creative skills or connect with other fans, others characterize it as immature, embarrassing and shameful.

Since ninth grader Beatrice Park wasn’t satisfied with the conclusion of the book series “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” when Beatrice was in seventh grade, one friend recommended fan fiction.

Beatrice started with a 698-page fan fiction on Quotev, which, along with Tumblr and Archive of Our Own, is a website that hosts many works of fan fiction.

“I looked up ‘Lord of the Rings’ and read it and was, like, ‘Oh my gosh, wow, that’s so cool,’” Beatrice said. “It was a while, but it was such a fun ride.”

After Beatrice watched “Hunter x Hunter,” an anime series, a friend recommended she read some works from that fandom. She discovered another style.

“I read through a few of them and they were… definitely a 180,” Beatrice said. “The ones I’d read were more like books that were created by the authors, or like a character… created and put in the story, but this was like the author put you in the story.”

This writing style, known as reader-insert fan fiction, differs from works written in third-person with a “canon” character from the original work or original characters created by the fan fiction author.

Junior Eliza Dearing — who mostly reads fan fiction of the shows “Good Omens” and “The Sandman” and the book “The Song of Achilles” — said some people look down on reader-insert fan fiction because it constructs a fictional relationship between the reader and someone else.

“That’s seen as the most cringey because, ‘Why are you shipping yourself with fictional characters or, like, band members, especially?’” Eliza said, referring to imagined relationships. “Real people also are iffy territory, because that’s a real person… They’re definitely seen as the lesser, more indulgent, more weird side.”

People often believe that fan fiction is embarrassing, due to how it can humor readers, according Eliza. Both Beatrice and Eliza agree that another misconception about fan fiction is that it contains mature content, like overtly violent or sexual themes.

“I know there are definitely negative views of it, which I can understand… there could be mature things in it,” Beatrice said. “That doesn’t stop curious young readers from clicking.”

Some websites allow readers to easily avoid or seek certain topics because creators can “tag” works with particular themes.

“It feels very reliable and very safe,” Eliza said. “You’re never really going to be surprised.”

Both Beatrice and Eliza believe one of fan fiction’s biggest impacts is how it encourages creativity among both individuals and communities.

“People create this base where people all over the world can read it, and see different perspectives,” Beatrice said. “People can create a whole new world.”

Eliza said the excitement of writing fan fiction for beloved characters can develop writing skills and spark a passion for writing.

“It’s definitely a great creative vessel, and it’s just really fun to read as well because you know that they’re having fun with it and you’re having fun with it,” Eliza said. “It’s not supposed to be, you know, the ‘height of literature.’”

Both Eliza and Beatrice emphasized that fan fiction is not its negative connotations or a ground for judgment.

“It’s not something to be ashamed of,” Eliza said. “If something makes you happy, don’t stay away from it because other people might think you’re weird.”