For years, I’ve seen all kinds of opinion on fic, and for years, I’ve held my own opinion: fanfiction is a good thing. In fact, it’s a great thing, and I figure today’s as good as any day to explain exactly why I think that, and the bookish community is as good a place as any for getting into it. So get into this, shall we?
Fic Makes Better Writers!
I mean this in all seriousness. I’ve seen all kinds of folks mocking fanfiction, but the one thing I’ve experienced firsthand that’s touched me the most is that fic shapes people into stronger, more creative writers. I’ve read fics better than published books on more than one occasion, and I’ve seen word counts climb higher and higher in absurd amounts of time, never an easy feat.
Most importantly, though, I’ve seen a change in my own writing as well as in the writing of friends in my fic circles. It’s changed us, made our grammar stronger, our sense of style sharper, our knack for foreshadowing keener, our characterization more thorough and realistic. No one’s perfect, not by any means, but fic makes incredible practice.
Fic is Cathartic!
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read fic because the source material has been a big ole disappointment. I’ve read fic because I hated a character death and thought it was a cheap shock value point. I’ve read fic because something ended and the conclusion was entirely unsatisfying. I’ve read fic because the source material couldn’t seem to hold on to consistent characterization while fans could. I’ve read fic because plot points were unexplored or ignored entirely.
There’s a thousand reasons to read fic, and so many of them come down to wanting something other than what the source material has actually provided. Being able to read something that provides a sense of satisfaction where the source failed is amazing.
Fic is Fun!
This can even go hand in hand with that point about catharsis! Fic is a blast because you can go nuts with it. Why else would alternate universes and the like be so popular? Give me that flowershop AU, or that rivals to lovers college AU, or that superhero/supervillain AU, OR LITERALLY ANYTHING. Fic’s a playground for all the goofy stuff that the source material can’t necessarily do. You don’t get fluffy coffee shop AUs in hard sci-fi, or thriller type stories in comedies or cartoons. Half the fun of fic is doing what can’t be done by the source itself!
Fic is Free!
It costs nothing to write fic. It costs nothing to read fic. It’s people’s passion shared openly, and I think that’s important. On top of that, it’s also an important space for marginalized folks to share their passion for writing or certain shows/movies/books/whatever! It’s a wide open space, readily accessible, and that is incredibly important, especially when source materials lack proper representation. So often, writing fic is a way to create greater representation and have fun with it (and to anyone saying, “if you don’t like it, make your own thing,” first of all, people are making their own thing with fic by building off the source, and second of all, they’ll probably make their own original things too, so LET PEOPLE ENJOY FIC).
And I’ll be honest. Fic isn’t perfect. There are especially fandom by fandom problems that exist with the way people treat one another, the way certain things are viewed. And sometimes folks don’t respect how much work goes into fic, and demand chapters when they’re not ready. It’s not a perfect world. But that doesn’t change the fact that fanfiction is an incredible creative force that’s well worth the time. I’ve been writing fic for years now (though most of it’s unavailable at this point because it’s old and SUPER GARBAGE lol), and I don’t think I’ve ever regretted it. It’s been a source of joy and creative exercise that I may not have gotten if I’d chosen to steer clear of fic instead of embracing it wholeheartedly. Fic is good. Hell, fic is great.
And before you go, may I perhaps make a recommendation? If you like The Legend of Zelda, and you like fic, and you’re willing to take a chance on first person fic (I know, I know, but please, trust me, I wouldn’t rec it if it wasn’t AMAZING), check out The Lantern of Shadow on Archive of Our Own. It’s 19 chapters and 82k words at the moment, and it does the most wonderful job of balancing adventure, humor, and tragedy all in one. It’s set after the events of Twilight Princess, it’s probably not even halfway done, and (full disclosure; I won’t ever lie to you guys), it’s written by my close friend and roommate, who is a BRILLIANT writer. Seriously, they’re incredible and I’m sometimes a little jealous in the best of ways.
Lantern of Shadow brings me all kinds of joy that fanfiction is supposed to bring, and I can’t recommend it enough. Even if I didn’t know the person writing it, I’d STILL recommend it to anyone who enjoys Zelda, because it’s JUST THAT GOOD.
So raise a glass to fic, huh? I sure will.