Fan Fiction: What is it?
It might be a term you've heard of but never really looked further into. It might be your first time seeing the term. Or you've got a familiar understanding of the subject, and just wish to hear what I have to say on the topic. Regardless of which you are, this should be an interesting discussion to start things off on. To start in the simplest terms, Fan Fiction, otherwise referred to as fanfic, is any piece of work created by someone which contains characters or settings that were originally created by someone else. These can take many different forms, ranging from written works, animations, live action recordings, and even full on video games at times. The raw definition of the term has been argued at times. In the modern day, it's usually considered that it has to be work based off someone else's intellectual property for it to be fanfic. Otherwise, you'd get the situation where you have to consider a large chunk of classical literature fanfiction. As a vast majority of it is authors expanding or writing about things they had heard or read about. Arthurian Legend and most mythologies being the biggest example of this. This leads to the modern day fanfic mostly being for modern day creations. Things like Harry Potter, Star Trek, DC and Marvel, and all sorts of Anime all were some of the original communities that came into being with 'fanfic'. Fan magazines with people posting their own stories about Star Trek, people making their own comics, things of that nature is where it started. After the Internet came properly into being however, it exploded. The two most popular fanfiction sites that I know of are Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net. These two websites, alone, contain within them each over 10 million different 'fics'. Stories varying in size from a hundred words or less, to the longest pieces of fiction in the world. That is no joke, with the top three longest pieces of fiction on Archive being 6.7 million, 6 million, and 5.2 million respectively. To put that into perspective, the entirety of the Harry Potter novel series is only a little over 1 million. This raises a question: What would drive someone to devote literal years of their life to writing a piece of fiction that they can't market? Each of those three fics (the common term to refer to written pieces of fan fiction) contain characters and or settings that are the intellectual property of someone else. It's quite literally impossible for the authors to make a profit off of them. So why put so much into them? Well, the answer is really quite simple. Love. The authors of these works truly, genuinely have a love for the characters they write about. It's the reason why people would make entire games based off preexisting franchises, simply because they have an idea. Of course, love doesn't necessarily mean ability. Many of those who make fanfiction are amateurs at whatever they're doing, whether that be writing, filming, animating, or game design. So there's a common connection between fanfiction and low quality works. There is also the case that some creators don't like fanfiction being made of their work. The most famous example of this being Nintendo, and their war against fan-made games. There have been multiple instances where they have had fan-games shut down, even ones which weren't monetized in any way. There is also a legal grey area around fanfiction and things such as Patreon. If you give money to someone who produces fanfiction, are you paying for that product, or just paying that person in particular? Regardless, fanfiction remains a large chunk of media on the internet. Fan animations, games, stories, and even songs can be found all over the web. If you want to practice any particular skill, and want to get a few eyes on it and by extension you, fanfiction can be a good way to do it. Just avoid the smut.