ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Merits of Fanfiction

Updated on August 7, 2013

Fanfiction, often shortened as fanfics or simply fics, has an infamous existence around the Internet. As the name implies, they are stories written by fans using the existing characters and worlds of their favorite books, movies, TV shows or games. The reason why fans are drawn to do this is easy enough to understand: for the folks who are inclined toward creative writing, a favorite story can be an imagination-stimulating experience, and the 'what if' questions most fans have are met with the outlet of writing fanfiction. It is a way to keep the strong impressions of that story fresh and alive, and participate in online communities with similar fans.

Fanfiction writers are of all ages. Both genders are represented, though it seems the majority are women. Online communities of fans that discuss the particular story, exchange fanfics, show off their art inspired by the story (appropriately called 'fanart'), debate and share news are called 'fandoms.' Popular websites for fanfiction include, Livejournal, and Archive of Our Own, but they can be found on every corner of the Internet. Fandoms reach through every corner of media, from young adult books to mature readings and even classics, from anime and manga to video games, from mainstream movies and television dramas to obscure things like ancient mythology. On, as of summer 2013, the most popular fandoms are Harry Potter, Naruto and Twilight, and other hugely popular fandoms include Lord of the Rings, Supernatural and the Final Fantasy series. The stories themselves might take any genre, be it adventure, romance, tragedy or comedy.

What are the main reasons that fans take the time to write fanfiction?

  • Filling plot holes / answering the unanswered. One thing that can fuel the imagination like no other are mysteries in the story. Fans like to develop their own theories for ambiguous endings, time jumps in the plot and why or how certain events occurred.
  • Romance. The art of supporting fictional romantic couples is called shipping, and can be the topic of serious discussion (and ferocious debates) online. The couples in question may or may not be "canon" - that is, written as fact into the original story, and might be ambiguous (do they like each other?) or not presented at all (the characters have never interacted). Though it is said you can find fanfiction or fanart of almost any pairing, a popular sub-genre of romance is slash - pairing of two same-sex characters, most often male. Yes, a lot of romance fiction does include sex (and sometimes not much else), but many writers take the time to explore and develop their love stories.
  • Original characters. Sometimes a fantasized self-insert, sometimes pure imagination, writing a story based around a fan-made character existing in the fictional world of their choosing is popular as well.
  • Illustrating fan theories. Engaging one's self in a story can lead to coming up with theories about the reality of the characters or events. Think that the antagonist's right hand man might actually be the main character's love interest's father? Do you swear that episode 13 actually only happened in the protagonist's head? Was the protagonist actually the Chosen One, or was it his comedic relief of a sidekick? These types of theories become plot lines in many fanfics.
  • Desire to continue where the original story finished. For many fans, the ending doesn't feel like an ending to them. What happens next is a common theme.
  • Putting characters in a completely new situation. Whether introducing a new obstacle or antagonist, or plucking the characters out of their universe and plunking them into another - such as transferring fantasy characters into modern day Earth - the possibilities grind at many fanfiction writers' imaginations.
  • Desire to involve one's self in the online community. Some write fanfiction for the purpose of meeting other fans and participating in the fandom.

So, is fanfiction okay to write? Many authors disagree. Some find it offensive and even infuriating. Interview with a Vampire author Anne Rice says, "I do not allow fan-fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan-fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes." Other famous authors like Orson Scott Card and George R. R. Martin share Rice's opinion, taking offense at fans using their characters and even believing it is illegal as per copyright laws.

Other authors might find this stance old-fashioned and indicative of not understanding how the Internet has influenced fan communities. Some authors view fanfiction as flattery and praise of the highest sort. In response to a question about fanfiction on, Joss Whedon writes, "All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn’t your pet — it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you."

Controversy about the morality and legality of fanfiction can be murky. But what benefit do fanfiction writers get "wasting their time" in someone else's sandbox?

  • Honing writing skills. The ability to put together sentences using proper grammar, spelling, and with a coherent message is an important ability for everyone to have. Writing anything can boost your level, especially something meant to be read by possibly thousands of fans online.
  • Honing reading skills. Those who write fanfiction generally read fanfiction, too. Though the average fanfiction is probably no literary classic, reading is reading, and this is a good hobby for anyone to have. Not only will it help improve your own vocabulary and understanding of language, but reading someone else's ideas is food for the mind!
  • Practice for writing an original story. Many fanfiction authors have dreams of releasing their own original work one day - and many have been able to do it successfully! Learning how to take an idea, expand upon it, define the roles of your characters, build up to a climax and conclude the story are skills that aspiring fiction writers want to practice. It additionally can get you in the habit of writing, and enjoying writing, which can be an obstacle for many would-be authors.
  • Opportunity to get feedback. Is your fanfiction riddled with typos and bad grammar? Here's the good news: someone will probably tell you so. Most fanfiction websites are set up so readers can leave a review with their compliments or critiques. A friendly fandom can also be very encouraging for writers, and help them find the confidence to write more.
  • It's fun! What would be a waste of time is to write something you don't enjoy. There are a lot of dangerous or expensive hobbies that people can have. Fanfiction is creative, skill-building, and totally free!

Right or wrong, fanfiction has existed for decades. Even some literary classics could be called fanfiction - after all, isn't a retelling of a Shakespeare story in a modern setting technically fanfiction, too? And considering the millions of fanfics on the Internet, it is safe to say that fanfiction isn't going away anytime soon.

What do you think of fanfiction?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 

      5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      I like to write fan fiction for classic tv shows, mainly classic westerns. No copyright infringement is intended and most of the original writers are no longer with us, so this would serve to honor their memory. But more than that it honors those actors/actresses and film makers still here to praise the accomplishments they shared with us. My main reason for writing fan fiction is to practice writing and someday publish a western adventure of my own.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)