Fanfiction Recognition

Ashleigh Neville

Oh, boy. Fanfiction. It’s actually been a while since I thought about that demographic of writers. At least in the sense of analyzing and critiquing their work.

I know that it exists, and I know that people write for fun, but I also know that it’s bad.

Yes, fanfiction is bad. It is almost always poor writing that just stops your brain every two seconds because of spelling and grammar mistakes.

What’s even worse is when I’m reading a published book that makes me feel exactly the same way. All fake and superficial, like the editors couldn’t have helped the poor author with a few words.

But, I will say, we all had to start somewhere. And I did in fact start writing because of fanfiction.

Yes, yes, gross gross gross, but to any writer that hasn’t written fanfiction before… you didn’t do it right.

I have this scientific theory about fan fiction that’s been rolling around my head as I read one article about it. As you watch other shows, you are enamored with them. You just cannot get enough of the characters and you think about what they do outside of the show, you think of what the world would be like to live in and how you would survive it yourself.

You’re given a basic backdrop, in any basic story. The world, its history, and the current characters in it. Great. You’re given the original story, the main plot, that has nice flow and a great events. Amazing. Now it’s your job to mimic that. It’s your job to write in a similar style to the author and make the new story fit so flawlessly that the reader doesn’t know the difference. That is your goal. That is your purpose.

And either you achieve it, or you don’t. Children that write want to do it for themselves to fill their imaginations. That’s what I did. It was a way to past time that was fun and gave me the same enjoyment as watching tv. Those that are posting it for the real world to see, they want people to understand their take on the story and like it, to agree that it’s believable and that the world or the characters are well followed and all the same dynamics are still there.

But for me, all it was, was a gateway. I developed enough maturity to understand that I didn’t want the character I mirrored. I wanted to create personalities instead of mimic them. I realized that I was bad at fanfiction, that the characters I was trying to mimic had distinctions that set them apart from their canon self. I put them in worlds that weren’t theirs. I wanted them to deal with new stories that had nothing to do with them.

And that was it. Fanfiction let me realize that I wanted to create my own story, to not have to rely on any other author to supply the information needed for these characters. And I continued to write them for 60 some chapters until I had more ideas. Better ideas. Larger.

And then I kept writing and made it my life. I went to school for it and became a part of a specialized community of writers.

But there’s a good and bad side to all of it. The good side is that no one is afraid to speak their minds, so I’m getting the hard facts as soon as I put myself out there. No barriers from being told what needs to be fixed. What people generally don’t like. But that also just so happens to be the bad part.

My favorite story I’ve ever written can be a labeled a “furry story”, even though I’ve never written it for that purpose. I’ve written the story in a half-human half-animal world because that’s just the way the story was meant to be told. I loved my characters and I wanted them to thrive in all the right ways. I wanted to keep writing for them, even if I already made an ending to their story. I wanted to detail their experiences with poems and short stories, let them feel everything they need.

Unfortunately, my outspoken friends were very much not into my story. My idea that I loved so much was only able to get some watering in the sunlight when there were small drills in the morning that nobody else would read. I was afraid of being an outcast. I already suffered that in my middle school, I couldn’t take having that happen all over again.

This space was said to be safe, but that never stopped the bullying I got freshman year for it. I tried accepting it and laughing it off, but it just got worse and worse, so I never wanted to talk about it again. Better to sweep it under the carpet and forget about it.

So, I let it die for a year or two. Never touched it. But I knew it was still there, even as I focused on other incomplete ideas that I never felt confident about.

That “furry story” is now my screenplay I’m completing for my senior thesis. I was told to make a full story and pitch it, and I couldn’t ever look away from my one passion of this story.

I didn’t care what everyone thought when I told them what story I was going to publish. I knew they would never understand my fascination I have, and that they might find it weird and odd even though it’s just the dynamics of these special characters that make me so excited to write.

And now, senior year allows all of us writers to just write by ourselves, instead of constantly hearing everyone’s critiques. I’m able to boost myself up and work with myself to making this the best story I could ever tell.

And I will say, it was a journey to get to the end of my script. I’ve got amazing friends that have actually accepted my story and have helped me with my characters and my story.

It seems like once I finally accepted the story, everyone in my class accepted it too. They’re helping me with my character dynamics, even though some of them are still uncomfortable with the general idea, but they push past it. I can’t thank them enough for that.