This Toolbox Tuesday posts is for readers, writers, and everyone in between because we are all readers. 🙂
In case you’ve never heard of fan fiction, I’ll let Merriam-Webster do the honors of defining it.
1: stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet —called also fanfic, \-ˈfik\
So why am I including fan fiction as a toolbox item? Several reasons.
As a reader, I find fan fiction very easy to fall into. I already like a book or movie or TV show, or even real life celebrities I dream of falling in love, and fan fiction is an extension of that. I have my favorite fandoms and my beloved ‘ships (short for relationships), so all I need to do as a readers is find my latest story. I don’t have to read three chapters to like the characters or to get to know them. I already love them and can’t wait to see how they get together!
I’m a voracious reader as many romance readers are, but I’m also an author who has a tight budget. I can’t afford to buy five books a week fifty-two weeks a year. I’d be broke.
I started out writing fan fiction. It was a nice, slow beginning that allowed me the time and breathing room to learn my craft. The backstory was already written, so the plot was where I needed to focus. It was a very gentle way to start. I wrote fan fiction for three years before I attempted to publish. In those years, I made a lot of mistakes, experimented with concepts I know I never want to revisit, but I also created a network of friends/authors I’m in contact with on a daily basis with.
I’ve written in a few fandoms; I’ve read in even more.
Fan fiction is a place where authors are allowed to experiment more than they’re able to in the publishing world. And you will find crazy-ass stuff out there. Most of the ideas have been around but hidden in places where people only whispered about them. I remember running across what was labeled Tentacle!Porn. Well, little did I know this is based on a Japanese erotic art form starting in 1815. Katsushika Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is a woodblock print of two octopi pleasuring a woman in all the right ways. Writers have simply brought it to the modern world and played with it.
Fan fiction is where I really first came across BDSM. Initially I was both terrified and fascinated by all that went into pain and pleasure, domination and submission. I also learned this wasn’t a world I wanted to delve too deeply into with my characters for fear of getting it wrong, but to this day, I have a thing about collars because of those early experiences.
This is also where I stumbled across M/M Romance for the first time, although in the fan fiction community, we call it slash. I wouldn’t be writing today if it weren’t for landing face first in slash. It was like I’d be called home to this place I never knew existed before. It was a land of gender equality where power could be played with based on something aside from what was between a person’s legs. When I started reading a new story, I never knew what to expect, which is something I love in a story.
It’s why I write such unexpected, unusual MM Romance myself. I love the unpredictable.
Fan fiction opened my eyes to a huge array of people very different than myself. I was exposed to ideas and practices I may have never known about. It made me grow, become even more open minded, and it allowed me to dream. I dreamed enough that characters talked to me, I opened a Word document, and I typed.
I dreamed enough to become an author.
Is there shitty fan fiction? You bet there is! And I don’t feel guilty at all for closing the document and never returning.
Is there fantastic fan fiction? Oh! My! GOD! There are stories I’ve read over and over and over again, and I’m not one to re-read much, so that’s telling. This is where having friends reading in your fandom helps. Recommendations!
As a writer, I do miss the freedom to simply explore. Fan fiction allowed me to try out a lot I’d never be able to get away with in the publishing world. I wrote a story about two teen boys who meet at a Civil War re-enactment and decided to desert to go suck each other off in a corn field rather than “fight” beside their fathers. That’s not something I could publish, but I learned a lot writing it.
I started out writing in first person. That’s all I did because I wrote in the Twilight fandom and that’s how Twi was written. I experimented with third person when I wrote a Merlin fic. Thank God I was allowed that opportunity. The switch was hard, but that’s why fan fiction such a valuable tool! I got to fuck up. My beta reader helped me fix it. Reviewers helped even more. It’s a very different world than publishing, again. Very different.
Another thing to love about fan fiction is the wonderful use of tags. Do you love reading about certain kinks? Search for the tag. Do you want to read fluff, angst, first times? Friends to lover? Click, click, click.
Don’t know where to start?
- FanFiction.net is where I started reading. Stories are sorted by genre.
- FictionPress.com is the original fiction sister site to FF.net. Some MM Authors have published their stories there first before publishing for sale, so you can find some great stuff there as well.
- LiveJournal has a pretty hefty fan fiction community, but many posts are private. I’ve linked you to a page with many fandoms for you to find public pages.
- Tumblr has many offerings, so check that out. Many of the completed stories I read (I rarely read a story that is not complete anymore) are first posted here in chapters before being moved to another site.
- My favorite site is Archive of Our Own, also known as AO3, but you do need an invitation to read many works. Not all, but some. I love it because you can tailor your search so well there. There are also PodFics in some genres, so if you love a story you’ve read, you might find an audio version. Will you like the narrator? Not necessarily, but I’ll use another Tuesday Toolbox to tell you about another tool for that.
- And the site my daughter uses, which limits the content some, is Wattpad. There’s some sex but it’s a lot more teen safe than other sites.
So read some fan fiction. Write some.
And I’d LOVE to hear how fan fiction has helped you as a reader or a writer. Tell me below!