The minefield that is Fan Fiction

Aspiring authors, amateur writers and passionate readers, lacking their own characters but overflowing with words and ideas and a desire to put pen to page (or finger to keyboard), respectfully take characters who aren’t theirs and throw them into plots and settings of their own creation. Twain’s Huckleberry sees a world he could never have imagined if left within the binding of his original novel. Hermione and Draco’s love affair would have remained forever suppressed by the conventions of J.K.’s plot if it weren’t for those who nurtured a literary setting in which the seeds of their love could be sown. Shakespeare’s star-cross’d lovers live beyond the untimely fate that made their impetuous love so famous. Yes, it is a world where anything is possible, where the very natures of characters are twisted, where plots are recreated and redirected and where our favourite stories develop new chapters… It is the world of fan fiction.

Sounds fantastical doesn’t it? Amazing, breath-taking, captivating? Well…sometimes. The greatest flaw in the fan fiction phenomenon is the presence of horrendous grammar, appalling spelling and weak plot and character development, all of which combine to disappoint readers who look to fan fiction in search of an extension of their favourite stories. Imagine if your most beloved character was recast in an amateur writer’s messily structured, poorly written fan story? I know that for me, being an obsessive compulsive adorer of succulent literature, such an abominable bastardization of  my beloved characters would be heart-breaking…has been heart-breaking. The world of fan fiction is a minefield, a vast plain of mediocre writing throughout which horrors are interspersed but which also fosters a few little literary gems which, when stumbled upon, send joyful chills down readers’ spines.

I have had both great fortune and terrible misfortune when it comes to riffling through the countless pages of online fan fiction. I have been reduced to grief by terrible takes on classic stories but I have also laughed and sighed and loved to the tune of excellent exposes of fan writing. The very best examples are a breath of fresh air and can inspire the pursuit of authorship, good grammar and further reading, all of which, in my humble opinion, are beneficial to the literary industry.

Want an example? I thought you’d never ask. There is one online author whose writing makes me giddy with pleasure. Impeccable grammar, a vast vocabulary and creative plotting make her own chapters of Death Note and Harry Potter wonderful must-reads if either of the originals ever appealed to you. A little extract of her Harry Potter story titled ‘Her and Me’:

Chapter One

A Painfully Normal Day

It was on an utterly mundane Wednesday evening that Hermione Granger’s painstakingly orderly, painfully normal life went straight to Hell.

Absently she chewed on a cuticle as she skimmed the letter. It was another complaint, which wasn’t surprising, given that they were all complaints, because that was her job, but this particular specimen was getting on her nerves. Not only was it petulant and petty, it was badly-worded and defied the tenets of basic grammar. If there was one thing Hermione Granger hated, it was—

“Hello, love.”

—Draco Malfoy.

…DRACO MALFOY?

She blinked three times, but he persisted in existing there, lounging idly against her desk, grinning down at her like he knew something she didn’t. Maybe he did. No, probably he did.

“M…alfoy?” she hazarded. He was wearing a white button-up shirt, gray slacks, and the same complacent grin he’d paraded around in all through school. His hair was on the short side and a little ragged, as if he had directed the barber to make it appear that he’d cut it himself, but he was still quite unmistakably Draco Malfoy.

His smirk widened at her miserable excuse for a greeting, and he shot off a quick salute. “In the flesh,” he confirmed. He paused and pursed exquisite lips. “I take your blank expression and enduring silence as signs that you’re too happy to see me to speak.”

This minuscule insight into her twenty chapter tale of Hermione’s and Draco’s post-Hogwarts lives does not fully convey the author’s grammatical brilliance and witty plotting but does, I feel, demonstrate the beginnings of good writing. For the rest of this hilarious and enchanting read, click here. I promise, you won’t regret it.

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2 thoughts on “The minefield that is Fan Fiction

    • I agree. I don’t appreciated writers who borrow others’ characters but don’t respect the conventions of good writing by simply paying a little more attention to their grammar and spelling. Good choice though – to practise your skills via FF. Keep writing!

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