Fan fiction (alternatively referred to as fan-fiction, fanfiction, fanfic, FF, or simply fic) is a broadly-defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work's owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published. Because of this, many stories often contain a disclaimer stating that the creator of the work owns none of the characters. Fan fiction, therefore, is defined by being both related to its subject's canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside the canon of that universe. Most fan fiction writers assume that their work is read primarily by other fans, and therefore tend to presume that their readers have knowledge of the canon universe (created by a professional writer) in which their works are based.
Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.—Lev Grossman, TIME, July 18, 2011
The encyclopedic ambitions of transmedia texts often results in what might be seen as gaps or excesses in the unfolding of the story: that is, they introduce potential plots which can not be fully told or extra details which hint at more than can be revealed. Readers, thus, have a strong incentive to continue to elaborate on these story elements, working them over through their speculations, until they take on a life of their own. Fan fiction can be seen as an unauthorized expansion of these media franchises into new directions which reflect the reader's desire to "fill in the gaps" they have discovered in the commercially produced material.
As children and young adults, Charlotte Brontë and her siblings wrote many stories and novels detailing fantasy adventures of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington and his two sons, Arthur and Charles. Later tales focused on Arthur, who became an almost super-heroic figure, the Duke of Zamorna. The Bronte juvenilia are an early example of "real person fanfiction".
The turn of the 20th century saw parodies and revisions of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland by authors including Frances Hodgson Burnett and E. Nesbit. In addition, there were several fan-authored versions of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.
Modern phenomenon 
Before about 1965, the term "fan fiction" was used in science fiction fandom to designate original, though amateur, works of science fiction published in science fiction fanzines, as differentiated from fiction that was professionally published by professional writers; or fiction about fans and fandom.
However, the modern phenomenon of fan fiction as an expression of fandom and fan interaction was popularized and defined via Star Trek fandom and their fanzines published in the 1960s. The first Star Trek fanzine, Spockanalia (1967), contained some fan fiction; many others followed its example.:1 These fanzines were produced via offset printing and mimeography, and mailed to other fans or sold at science fiction conventions for a small fee to help recoup costs. Unlike other aspects of fandom, women dominated fan fiction authoring; 83% of Star Trek fan fiction authors were female by 1970, and 90% by 1973. One scholar states that fan fiction "fill[s] the need of a mostly female audience for fictional narratives that expand the boundary of the official source products offered on the television and movie screen."
Fan fiction has become more popular and widespread since the advent of the World Wide Web; according to one estimate, fan fiction comprises one third of all content about books on the Web. In addition to traditional fanzines and conventions, Usenet group electronic mailing lists were established for fan fiction as well as fan discussion. Online, searchable fan fiction archives were also established. The online archives were initially non-commercial hand-tended and fandom- or topic-specific. These archives were followed by non-commercial automated databases. In 1998, the not-for-profit site FanFiction.Net came online, which allowed anyone to upload content in any fandom. The ability to self-publish fan fiction at an easily-accessible common archive that did not require insider knowledge to join, and the ability to review the stories directly on the site, became popular quite quickly. FanFiction.net now hosts millions of stories in dozens of languages, and as of 2003 was widely considered the largest most popular fan fiction archive online. Its indiscriminate policy of accepting any and all submissions has led to its being fondly/derogatively nicknamed "The Pit of Voles."
LiveJournal (founded in 1999) and other blogging services played a large part in the move away from mailing lists (both electronic and amateur press associations) to blogs as a means for fan communication and the sharing of fan fiction. Although much fan fiction today is published to archives, it would be impossible to tell whether more or less fan fiction today is posted directly to blogging services than to fan-fiction-specific archives, particularly since many authors maintain accounts on multiple sites and liberally cross-post their stories.
On May 22, 2013, the online retailer, Amazon.com, established a new publishing service, Kindle Worlds. This service would enable fan fiction stories of certain licensed media properties to be sold in the Kindle Store with terms including 35% of net sales for works of 10,000 words or more and 20% for short fiction ranging from 5000 to 10,000 words. However, this arrangement includes restrictions on content, copyright violations as well as poor document formatting and/or using misleading presentations.
Japanese dōjinshi 
A similar trend in Japan also began appearing around the 1960s and 1970s, where independently published manga and novels, known as dōjinshi, are frequently published by dōjin circles; many of these dōjinshi are based on existing manga, anime, and video game franchises. Manga authors like Shotaro Ishinomori and Fujiko Fujio formed dōjin groups such as Fujio's New Manga Party (新漫画党 Shin Manga-to ). At this time dōjin groups were used by artists to make a professional debut. This changed in the coming decades with dōjin groups forming as school clubs and the like. This culminated in 1975 with the Comiket in Tokyo.
Categories and types 
Fan fiction can be categorized in a number of ways. Some of these categories are similar to original fiction (e.g. romance); some are specialized (e.g. Mary Sue stories). Please note: these categories apply to western fandoms. Fandoms in other parts of the world have different conventions.
Relationship to canon 
Stories are also categorized by their relationship to canon. The most common term is alternate universe which is frequently abbreviated AU. There are two main sub-categories of alternate universe fan fiction: stories that exist in the same "world" as canon, but change one or more major plot points (e.g. a character dies who is still alive in the source material or some event in the characters' lives is altered) and stories that take some or all characters from the source material and put them in an entirely different situation (e.g. Harry Potter and Hermione Granger are a "soul-bonded" couple rather than Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger being a couple). In some cases, only names, genders, locations and sometimes relationships are retained, with everything else different, such as the characters of the Harry Potter universe all being normal humans instead of wizards. Fanfiction work sometimes include Dark! or Fem! prefixes before names in their summaries. Fem! denotes of a male character in canon either born female or made female intentionally or by accident. Dark! denotes a character showing the evil part of their personality throughout most, if not all, of the story.
There are several categories of "canon" stories as well, that is, stories that do not contradict the source material in any way. Missing scenes fill in parts of the story that were "left out" of the source. Episode Codas (a term that applies only to fan fiction based on animated or televised works) are stories that pick up at the end of an episode. These are usually written shortly after an episode airs, when viewers are left wanting more. Other categories, like pre- and post-series refer to stories that depict events taking place outside the chronological scope of the source material. Futurefic refers to any story that takes place after the currently available canon.
Romantic or sexual pairings 
There are four main categories that refer to the romantic or sexual story elements. "Slash", "Femslash", "Het", and "Gen" (short for "General"). In almost all fandoms, slash refers to same-sex male pairings. The term originates from the slash between the names of the characters in a relationship (e.g. Kirk/Spock). Although all types of pairings in many fandoms are denoted with a slash (anime fans use an "x" instead), only same-sex pairings are referred to by that term. (Thus, although often written out as Harry/Ginny, to use a canon heterosexual relationship from the Harry Potter fandom, these relationships would not be called slash.) Femslash, or sometimes femmeslash, refers to same-sex female pairings.
Genres and tropes 
As with other forms of fiction, fan fiction stories can be written in any genre. There are some specialized genre categories that only apply to fan fiction or, at least, the terminology is specific. "Crack", a story with a deliberately bizarre premise, such as a nonsensical crossover; "angst"; and "fluff", "schmoop" or "WAFF (Warm And Fuzzy Feeling)" for a "feel good" story, are well-known examples.
Certain tropes are also used and reused in fan fiction. There are so many of these that it would be impossible to name them all, and they vary greatly from fandom to fandom. AUs (alternate universes) are common in many fandoms; "hurt-comfort" is also broadly popular.
Mary Sue is a trope originating in Star Trek fan fiction that has crossed over to the mainstream, at least among editors and writers. In much early Trek fanfic, a common plot was a minor member of the USS Enterprise's crew saving the life of Captain Kirk or Mister Spock, often being rewarded with a sexual relationship as a result. A Mary Sue is an idealized character representing the author. Among science fiction readers, editors, and writers, characters exhibiting similar qualities in stories that are not fan fiction are frequently labeled "Mary Sues".
The term kink has a somewhat different connotation in reference to fan fiction than it does in mainstream culture. Sexual tropes or situations are often referred to as kinks whether or not they are particularly "adventurous." Sometimes the term is even more broadly applied to describe plots or tropes that people enjoy, regardless of whether or not they are sexual in nature.
Crossovers are stories that incorporate two or more different sources. For example, an author may take a character from Canon A and place him or her in the universe of Canon B, or characters from two or more fandoms may meet at a neutral location (e.g.; Harry Potter x Hetalia: Axis Powers or Lord of the Rings x Star Wars). These stories may include romantic or sexual pairings between characters from different canons.
Categorization by story length varies greatly among fandoms and among individuals. It is a common practice in many fandoms to list word count in the header information, especially on LiveJournal. Fanfiction.net and other archives may have their own specialized rules. Terminology for story length also varies. Some commonly used terms are drabble (either a story of exactly 100 words or a very short story), ficlet (longer than a drabble, but still very short) and one-shot (only a chapter long). Longer stories may be called longfic, epic, full-length, or novel-length, but these are typically not labels that would be applied by the author.
It is common, especially in fandoms based on U.S. source material, to provide a rating based on MPAA movie ratings G through NC-17. Ratings are usually accompanied by a brief statement of the reason for the rating such as sexual content, violence, or profanity. "Adult" or "Mature" are also commonly used to refer to content equivalent to an R or NC-17 rating.
On Fanfiction.net, the ratings are as follows:
- K for Kids: Suitable for all ages (Equivalent to a G-Rating)
- K+ for Older Kids: Suitable for children 9 and older (Equivalent to a PG-Rating)
- T for Teen: Suitable for teens 13 and older (Equivalent to a PG-13-Rating)
- M for Mature: Suitable for teens 16 and older (Equivalent to an R-Rating)
- MA for Mature Adults: Limited only to adults 18 and older (Equivalent to an NC-17-Rating)
(MA has been banned on FanFiction.net and FictionPress.com.)
Story creation in the online era 
Fanfiction is often posted serialized as a "work in progress" or WIP, with new chapters published in sequence, sometimes as soon as they are finished. Chapters may take anything from a day to several months to be updated and often remind readers of their place in the story with each new installment. Most archives allow authors to upload individual chapters sequentially under a single title with a main link to the first chapter, and each chapter easily linked to via a drop down menu.
It is often considered wise in fan fiction circles to acquire the aid of a "beta reader," sometimes shortened to "beta," whose responsibilities are roughly those of a professional editor to a commercial author—with the exception that the "beta" is most commonly a volunteer who works without pay and on a casual basis and communicates through E-mail or private message systems. Writers are discouraged in some circles from posting fan fiction that has not at least been checked for grammatical, spelling, consistency and plot errors by a beta reader. In late February 2008, FanFiction.net set up an area of their site that contains a list of authors willing to "beta" other authors' "fics".
Interactivity in the online era 
Unlike traditional print publication, the internet offers the option of giving and receiving rapid feedback or "reviews". Reviews can be given by both anonymous and registered users of most sites, and sites are often programmed to notify the author of new feedback, making them a common way for readers and authors online to communicate directly. This system is intended for a type of bond between the reader and the writer, as well as helping the author improve his or her writing skills through constructive criticism, enabling him or her to produce a better work next time.[unreliable source?] Occasionally unmoderated review systems are abused to send flames, spam or trolling messages. As a result, the author of the story can either disable or enable anonymous reviews, depending on his/her preference. Internet fanfiction gives young writers a wider audience for their literary efforts than ever before, resulting in improved literacy.
Recently fan fiction has seen greater use of the forum or LiveJournal blog format. Built around message board systems, stories are posted on threads with feedback interlaced and immediate. This style of fan fiction is more interactive but also can be a distraction since the stories and comments are between each other. These communication methods make fan fiction sites and blogs useful affinity spaces as writers are able to take readers' feedback and improve their skills and abilities as writers. This informal learning is a side benefit for many fan fiction authors, some of whom eventually attempt or go on to writing professionally.
Also, fanfiction.net is very famous for a broad range of fan fiction stories. It allows readers to follow, favourite, and review stories as well as publish their own. It is currently one of the biggest fan fiction archive website.
Some argue that fan fiction does not fall under fair use. The 2009 ruling by United States District Court judge Deborah A. Batts, permanently prohibiting publication in the United States of a book by a Swedish writer whose protagonist is a 76-year-old version of Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye, may be seen as upholding this position regarding publishing fan fiction, as the judge stated, "To the extent Defendants contend that 60 Years and the character of Mr. C direct parodic comment or criticism at Catcher or Holden Caulfield, as opposed to Salinger himself, the Court finds such contentions to be post-hoc rationalizations employed through vague generalizations about the alleged naivety of the original, rather than reasonably perceivable parody."
In 1981 Lucasfilms Ltd. sent out a letter to several fanzine publishers asserting Lucasfilm's copyright to all Star Wars characters and insisting that no fanzine publish pornography. Lucasfilm did not want the family-friendly aspect of the story and characters to be corrupted. The letter also alluded to possible legal action that could be taken against fanzines that did not comply. Later that year, the director and legal counsel of the Official Star Wars Fan Club sent fanzine publishers a set of official guidelines. Lucasfilms supported fan publications contingent on their upholding these guidelines.
The Harry Potter Lexicon is one case where the encyclopaedia-like website about everything in the Harry Potter series, moved towards publishing and commercializing the Lexicon as a supplementary and complementary source of information to the series. Rowling and her publishers levied a lawsuit against the website creator, Steven Vander Ark, and the publishing company, RDR Books, for a breach of copyright. While the lawsuit did conclude in Vander Ark's favor, the main issue in contention was the majority of the Lexicon copied a majority of the Series' material and doesn't transform enough of the material to be held separately from the series itself.
While the HP Lexicon case is an example of Western culture treatment of fan fiction and copyright law, in China, Harry Potter fan fiction is less addressed in legal conflicts but is used as a cultural and educational tool between Western and Chinese cultures. More specifically, while there are a number of "fake" Harry Potter books in China, most of these books are treated as addressing concepts and issues found in Chinese culture. This transformative usage of Harry Potter in fan fiction is mainly from the desire to enhance and express value to Chinese tradition and culture.
In recent years, several prominent authors have given their blessings to fanfiction, notably J.K. Rowling. Rowling said she was "flattered" that people wanted to write their own stories based on her "fictional" characters. Similarly, Stephenie Meyer has put links on her website to fan fiction sites about her characters from the Twilight series. The Fifty Shades trilogy was developed from a Twilight fan fiction originally titled Master of the Universe and published episodically on fan-fiction websites under the pen name "Snowqueen's Icedragon". The piece featured characters named after Stephenie Meyer's characters in Twilight, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan.
However, Anne Rice has consistently and aggressively prevented fan fiction based on any of her "fictional" characters (mostly those from her famous Interview with the Vampire and its sequels in The Vampire Chronicles). She, along with Anne McCaffrey (whose stance has been changed by her son, Todd McCaffrey, since her death) and Raymond Feist, have asked to have any fiction related to their series removed from FanFiction.Net. George R.R. Martin, who was selected by Time magazine as one of the "2011 Time 100" and is most famous for his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is also strongly opposed to fan fiction, believing it to be copyright infringement and a bad exercise for aspiring writers.
See also 
- Canon (fiction)
- Collaborative fiction
- Cthulhu Mythos
- Legal issues with fan fiction
- Media fandom
- Wold Newton family
- Schulz, Nancy. "Fan Fiction - Literature". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- "Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Archives: Transmedia Storytelling 101". Henryjenkins.org. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "Just like today’s writers of ‘fan-fiction’ who use characters and settings from their favourite television shows and books (from Star Trek to Harry Potter), the Brontës used both fictional and real-life characters, such as the Duke of Wellington." The Brontes' secret science fiction stories, part of the British Library's exhibition Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it.
- Verba, Joan Marie (2003). Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan & Zine History, 1967-1987. Minnetonka MN: FTL Publications. ISBN 0-9653575-4-6.
- Coppa, Francesca (2006). "A Brief History of Media Fandom". In Hellekson, Karen; Busse, Kristina. Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 41–59. ISBN 978-0-7864-2640-9
- Bacon-Smith, Camille (2000). Science Fiction Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-0-8122-1530-4.
- Ellen, Mary. "Fanfiction.net Statistics". Alternate Universes-Fanfiction Studies. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Boog, Jason (2008-09-18). "Brokeback 33 Percent". Mediabistro. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
- Buechner, Maryanne Murray (March 4, 2002). "Pop Fiction". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-29
- Bradley, Karen (Winter 2005), "Internet lives: Social context and moral domain in adolescent development". New Directions for Youth Development. 2005 (108):57-76
- Urban Dictionary
- Pepitone, Julianne (3 May 2013). "Amazon's "Kindle Worlds" lets fan fiction writers sell their stories". CNN Money. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- "Kindle Worlds for Authors". Kindle Words. Amazon.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- Nerd Nexus (February 25, 2013). "What is fanfiction?". nerdnexus.com. Archived from the original on 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- "Missing scenes". Fanhistory.com. 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "SuperNaturalWiki.com". SuperNaturalWiki.com. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "Fanlore.org". Fanlore.org. 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Segall (2008). Fan Fiction Writing: New Work Based on Favorite Fiction. Rosen Pub. p. 26. ISBN 1404213562.
- "Fanlore.org". Fanlore.org. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "Fanlore.org". Fanlore.org. 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "Fanfiction.net Beta Writers". Fanfiction.net. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Siubhan. "Bad Fanfic, why Beta?". Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Moonbeam. "Fanfiction Terminology". Angel Fire. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- "Fanfiction.Net Review Form". Fanfiction.net. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Merlin, Missy (2007-09-13). "Dr. Merlin's Guide to Fanfiction". Firefox. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- Tosenberger, Catherine (2008) "Homosexuality at the Online Hogwarts: Harry Potter Slash Fanfiction" Children's Literature 36 pp. 185-207 doi:10.1353/chl.0.0017
- "Fanfiction.net Forums". Fanfiction.net. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Lee, A.T. (10-1998). "What's "Derivative Work?"". A Brief Introduction to Copyright for Fanfiction Authors. Woosh!. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Burns, Elizabeth and Webbr, Carlie. "When Harry Met Bella: Fanfiction is all the rage. But is it plagiarism? Or the perfect thing to encourage young writers?" School Library Journal, 8/1/2009.
- Chan, Sewell (2009-07-01). "Chan, Sewell. "Ruling for Salinger, Judge Bans 'Rye' Sequel" ''New York Times'', July 1, 2009". Cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "Frequently Asked Questions - Legal". Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
- Jenkins, Henry (2003). "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture".
- Schwabach, Aaron (2009). "The Harry Potter Lexicon and the World of Fandom: Fan Fiction, Outsider Works and, Copyright". University of Pittsburgh Law Review 70 (3): 387–434.
- Gupta, Suman (2009). Re-Reading Harry Potter 2nd Ed. Basingstoke (UK); New York (US): Palgrave Macmillian.
- Waters, Darren (2004-05-27). "Rowling backs Potter fan fiction". BBC. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- "Twilight Series Fansites". StephenieMeyer.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- GalleyCat. "The Lost History of Fifty Shades of Grey". mediabistro.com.
- "Fifty Shades of Grey: Stephenie Meyer Speaks Out". mtv.com. MTV.
- "Frequently Asked Questions - George R. R. Martin's Official Website". Georgerrmartin.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Martin, George R.R. (2010-05-07). "Someone Is Angry On the Internet". Retrieved 2013-03-24.
Further reading 
- Black, R. (2008). Adolescents and online fanfiction. New York: Peter Lang.
- Bode, Dana L. "And now, a word from the amateurs". TransformativeWorks.org, Transformative Works and Cultures, 1 (2008).
- Fowler, Karen Joy. Wit's End. Putnam, 2008. A novel about a mystery writer who constantly battles fan fiction about her famous detective.
- Hellekson, Karen, and Kristina Busse. Fan fiction and fan communities in the age of the Internet: new essays. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2006. ISBN 0-7864-2640-3.
- Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (Studies in Culture and Communication). New York: Routledge, 1992. ISBN 0-415-90571-0.
- Lawrence, K. F. (2007) The Web of Community Trust - Amateur Fiction Online: A Case Study in Community Focused Design for the Semantic Web. PhD thesis, University of Southampton. (URL retrieved on 20 August 2008)
- Pugh, Sheenagh. The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context. Bridgend, Wales: Seren, 2005. ISBN 1-85411-399-2.
- Grossman, Lev. The Boy Who Lived Forever. http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2081784-1,00.html
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- Fanfiction.net—the largest fan fiction gallery on the internet
- Chilling Effects about copyright issues of fan fiction
- "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture"—Henry Jenkins on fan fiction