In Defense of Fanfiction

So I kinda wasn’t planning on blogging anything till the new year – just letting this lovely little spot go on hiatus for a bit longer while I edited and copy edited and generally did the tap dance of life. But something crossed my Twitter feed last night just before bed, and I want to talk about it.

The new season of Sherlock starts soon, and there was an episode showing and panel this past weekend for fans. The cast was there for a panel, during which the moderator had the show’s stars – Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman – read an excerpt from a Sherlock/Watson slash fic.

The moderator did NOT have the fanfic author’s permission to use her work like this.

It seems to have been done in jest but only succeeded in making the actors uncomfortable and humiliating the fanfic author, who never wished for her work to be exposed like this.

The author – who, judging by the excerpt, is quite good – has been a class act about it, but it doesn’t change the fact that what the moderator did was a jackass move. Whether or not she meant to denigrate fandoms and the creative output of fandoms, that’s exactly what she did, and it sucks.

So I’m breaking out my soapbox to say this: Fanfiction authors, I love you. Fanfiction authors, I am you.

I wrote (really, really terrible in hindsight) Newsies and Buffy/Angel and Harry Potter fanfiction. I begged my fandom friends for Spike/Buffy drabbles way before it became a canon pairing, and I have a Mal/Inara drabble that my friend Jess wrote me that was so freaking on point I still think it could’ve fit seamlessly into the show. It’s my favorite Mal/Inara moment, and it never existed on screen.

And if anyone knows of a really great Stargate Jack O’Neill/Samantha Carter fanfic out there? I’m all ears.

You know my favorite part about the word “fanfiction”? Fan. As in, someone who so loves a creative endeavor that they want it – they need it – to continue on and expand even after the original creator has moved on. Someone whose enthusiasm takes them past the bounds of absorption and turns passive into active.

Fanfiction is so often demoted to the shadowy corners of the writing world, seen as less, seen as not good enough. And I will grant you that the line between fanfiction and pull-to-publish borderline plagiarism has gotten a tad blurrier of late. But that’s such a small fraction of the fandom world. 99% of fanfiction authors aren’t writing because they want to make a profit. We do it because we just fucking love our fandom so much that we want a chance to play in it.

We’re writing the alternate universes or the off-screen moments or the pairings-that’ll-never-happen-but-dammit-they-should-because-reasons. We’re penning extra adventures for the characters purely for the enjoyment of other fans, in the hopes that we make just one person’s day when a new chapter gets posted. We’re exploring and analyzing and building on the universe someone else started, and by doing that, the fandom itself breathes and grows.

And yes, sometimes fans be crazy and shipping wars explode and everyone’s bickering, but hell, sometimes my big, noisy family is crazy and I still love them fiercely.

So here’s to you, fanfiction authors. Thank you for all of it – the weird pairings, the songfics, the fluff and the PWP. For slash fics and canon ships. I think you’re fucking awesome.

And seriously…about that Stargate fic…hit me up.

7 thoughts on “In Defense of Fanfiction

  1. I got back into writing fanfiction this year, because I’ve been doing so much ‘work’ writing (not that I don’t love my writing, but sometimes, especially when you are pursuing publication, it feels like work) that I needed something to remind me writing was fun.

    Fanfiction is perfect for that, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one day looking forward to finding out someone had written fanfiction based on MY stories. Because really, that’s the ultimate compliment!

  2. Seriously. ❤ I started out scrawling awful, awful Star Trek TNG fic in my science binder in middle school, did Poltergeist the Legacy fanfic in high school, and then stopped caring enough about most TV to bother… but still dabble when a show catches my eye. 😉 Nothing wrong at all with 'fic! It's fun! 😀

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