A Beginner’s Guide to Fanfiction: Where to Read and How to Start Writing

Fandoms have been a thing since the early times of literature and even before, although never as large as they have become in modern-day times. With fandoms come fan content, created to share with other like-minded people to explore different scenarios or ideas than what has been deemed canon. This is especially true if fans don't agree with a certain pairing or ending.

Anime fanfiction in particular has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, with franchises like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer bringing in much more mainstream attention. Fanfiction is one of the most popular and easily accessible forms of fan content, as it literally costs nothing to get started. The only things needed are a fandom and some imagination.

What is Fanfiction?

Fanfiction is just as the name suggests: fictional stories written by fans based on universes that have already been established by someone else. One of the first widely spread fanfictions was a Star Trek story published in 1967 in a zine called Spockanalia. While it's not the first fanfiction, it's one of the earliest examples of "modern" fanfiction. There are earlier examples that date back to the time of Arthur Conan Doyle, and some date back further than that. The Divine Comedy, written between 1308 and 1320 by Dante Alighieri, could be considered Bible fanfiction by today's standards, following Dante himself as he is led through the different levels of Hell, meeting numerous famous political and religious figures throughout his journey.

With the development and quick evolution of the internet, fanfiction became more widely accessible by fan communities. Sites specifically for fanfiction began cropping up, usually based out of LiveJournal and other similar hosting sites. These sites allowed users to create pages that were specifically geared toward certain fandoms. During the early days, it wasn't uncommon for there to be multiple sites for just one fandom because each site would have different rules for what kind of fics were allowed. It also wasn't uncommon for some pages to have rivalries over these rules. Fanfiction has now increased in popularity alongside anime, with Haikyu!!My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan being some of the most popular franchises.

Some Famous Fanfictions

Violet Types A Letter In Violet Evergarden

Several fanfictions have become especially well-known over the years, either through infamy or because they became their own officially published works. "My Immortal" is the former, being known as "the worst fanfiction ever written." Nobody knows for sure who wrote this particular fic, but its horrid grammar, complete disregard for characterization and the author's insistence that everything be goth has made it the target of ridicule even to this day. Coming out of the Harry Potter fandom, the story first popped up on Fanfiction.net in 2006, centering on a girl named Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way as she attends Hogwarts. What follows is absolute chaos and confusion that could only come out of the mind of a teenager in the 2000s.

The Draco Trilogy was another HP fanfiction written by established author Cassandra Clare. As the title suggests, the series focuses on Draco Malfoy and popularized what would be dubbed "Leather Pants Draco." It begins when Draco and Harry end up switching bodies after an accident in Potions class. Over the span of three installments, the fic contained almost one million words, though there would be other fanfiction that would have larger word counts.

In the past decade or so, publishing companies have begun taking popular works and turning them into their own stories for distribution. After is a book that started out as a One Direction fanfiction, featuring a bad-boy version of Harry Styles. Along the same line, Fifty Shades of Grey also got its start as fanfiction, being written for the Twilight fandom. These are just a few of the numerous fics-turned-book examples, a large number of which came out of the Twilight fandom in particular. Several authors have also gotten their start by creating fan content before moving on to bigger projects of their own.

How to Get Started With Fanfiction

Konata typing on computer

So where can one read fanfiction? There are several sites like the aforementioned Fanfiction.net, though that site's popularity has declined due to several "purges" and rule changes over the years. Many writers have since migrated to Archive of Our Own and Wattpad to post their works. Tumblr was once somewhat popular for posting fan works, and some can still be found there. The benefit of sites like AO3 is that there is a tagging system that can filter out what kind of fanfiction comes up in the search results. Tumblr has a similar tag feature, but it isn't as refined or thorough. Anime in particular is popular on these sites, with My Hero Academia being one of the top three categories on AO3.

Writing fanfiction is easy and doesn't take a lot of experience. It's as simple as typing or writing out a scenario with pre-established characters. There's no need to be great at writing and anyone can do it. There's no need to post it, either. Personal enjoyment is enough of a reason to write.

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