I have a love/hate relationship with fanfiction.
On the one hand, it makes my skin crawl. Especially some of the seedier stuff, the type where you just know some poor, deranged soul has been privately fantasizing about Princess Leia and, for some unfathomable reason, has decided to share those fantasies with the world.
On the other hand, it can be fun – and fruitful – to borrow characters from your favorite movie/TV show/game and make them do your bidding (just so long as you’re not making them hump). After all, without fanfiction, the internet would be pretty much content-free (save for content of people humping).
I’ve only ever participated in writing fanfiction once. It started as a joke, but the more I wrote, the more I enjoyed it. I discovered that building on a world, moving the pieces and making things happen is intoxicating. Especially when, as a fan, you’ve invested time, energy and love into the enjoyment of the thing. Turning the tables, then, and becoming a co-creator, in essence, is a singular thrill.
My own adventure in fanfiction writing wasn’t about Princess Leia or any fictional character, in fact. It was about yogurt – Dannon Light and Fit yogurt, to be precise. It was a sort of circular story-telling exercise on a videogame forum I used to frequent that, I have to admit, got a little out of hand. Still, I had a good time, even if (as we can all surely agree) yogurt and zombies should never be mixed.
This is why I’m conflicted, you see. Although we know very well from our observations of the many, many places where one can participate in content creation on the internet that most of the content created is garbage, there is the occasional jewel in the rough. And even when the content being created has no redeeming value whatsoever, one can’t deny that the act of creating it is fun. So I guess it’s probably time we stop pussy-footing around this issue and cover it straight-on at The Escapist.
Does this mean we’ve lost our minds? Have we at The Escapist finally gone over the edge? Will this be the day on which we publish fanfiction, thus destroying our credibility once and for all? No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. This is The Escapist after all. We have standards.
We have noticed, however, that fanfiction means something. It’s important. Not only in that it provides an outlet for the frustrated, the bored and for those with talent yet very few options, but in what it says about us, what it means to us and what it does to us when we participate.
For this week’s issue of The Escapist, Issue 249, “The Fanfiction Issue,” we’re probing deeper than Princess Leia slashfiction – or even my own lame attempt to glorify breakfast food. Brendan Main explores the relationship-based fanfic of Star Ocean: Second Story, Peter Parrish speaks to the creators of fanfic about how they ply their trade, Vanessa Cohen looks at how writing fanfic can prime one’s pump for creating original work and Dillon Sinnott examines the rise of “corporate fanfic.” Enjoy!