Writing fanfiction gives students an opportunity to express

March 13, 2018 — by Annissa Mu and Matthew Luo

To fanfiction writers, the genre represents a chance to exercise their wacky imagination and express their love for an author’s characters.

While fanfiction is often dismissed as amateurish writing, it is still writing — an art — nonetheless. And although it borrows from another work’s characters and worlds, its stories are still woven with the author’s original plots and characterizations.

Sophomore Elodie Torres, who enjoys writing “Alternate Universe” fanfiction, said that when writing a new story, she first decides what source material to base her story on and then starts thinking of how the characters would interact with each other. She believes that it’s important to keep the canon [material accepted as officially part of the story] characters as close to the original story as possible.

Sometimes, she engages in research sessions when necessary, depending on the story she is writing.

“For example, if you’re writing a mafia story, you’re going to first have to know how the mafia works,”  Torres said.

After completing a chapter, she revises and edits it twice, once immediately after completion, then again before publishing it on a fanfiction platform such as Archive of Our Own the next day.

“I write fanfiction because I think it’s a really good way to improve your writing,” said Torres. “It also makes other people happy to see new scenarios with their favorite characters in it.”

Another fanfiction writer, junior Cheryl Wang, started writing in fifth grade and continued up to eighth grade. During this time, she has often published 4,000-word chapters weekly about book series such as the Percy Jackson one.

“Writing with characters I love and are already well fleshed-out is much easier than working with original characters,” Wang said. “That’s is why I think many people prefer to write fanfiction over original fiction.”

She noticed that fanfiction also attracts much more readers than original works do. For example, Wang said she once wrote a “really bad” Percy Jackson fanfiction, which got around 300,000 views, while all of her original works, no matter how good, got only a handful.

Torres said that the massive fanfiction readerbase helps writers easily gain feedback from the community.

“Sometimes I learn really helpful things,” said Torres, “which is weird because you wouldn’t think that it would be the place to get topnotch writing advice.”

She notices that the kind of comments or reviews she gets vary among publishing platforms. Wattpad readers give plentiful comments, but they’re rarely critical or helpful, while sites like Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net have a higher probability of getting lengthy and thoughtful commentaries.

In fact, one of the shortcomings to writing fanfiction, according to fanfiction writer sophomore Jacqueline Lo, occurs when she updates a story and receives little to no feedback.

“It’s makes me feel unmotivated to continue writing the story,” said Lo, “because I feel like nobody actually wants continue reading my story.”

Even with such disappointments, there are many reasons for young writers to keep plowing forward.

Writers often put the characters in alternative universes (AUs), Wang said, where they can overcome the original creators limited world and set designs to expand on the possibilities of their imagined story arcs.

According to Torres, this freedom of expression that fanfiction allows often becomes emulated in a sub-genre called “crack-fic” where writers put the characters in ridiculous and outlandish situations.

“You can literally go “Hey! What if this character was dating a potato?” and while that would be trash in actual fiction, it’s completely acceptable in fanfiction,” she said.

In general, these writers all believe that writing fanfiction, whether in the past or present, has granted them a many benefits, like a “bigger imagination” and “writing practice.”

Although Wang is no longer writing fanfiction, because she has outgrown the younger demographic, she still writes original fiction and is currently creating her own novel.

She said writing fanfiction has “created the base” for her “strong” and confident writing, and she encourages others to continue writing for the exercize.

“I remember back in seventh grade a guy made fun of me for writing fanfiction, but I didn’t care,” Wang said. “Follow your dreams and don’t let what other think stop you from doing what you want.”


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