Fanfiction is a strange topic. When mentioning it, you’re bound to be met with a wide range of reactions, from “You write fanfiction too?” to “You mean that nerdy fiction that tweens write?” As someone who has been in the fanfiction community for quite a while, I have seen my fair share of both well-written stories with in-depth characters and vivid world-building… and fiction that reads like it was written by twelve-year-olds who forgot spell check exists. Regardless, even the worst writers improve as they age, honing their writing skills and eventually creating something worth hyper-fixating on. However, despite the harmless fun of writing about characters of certain fandoms, many people still disregard fanfiction as a childish hobby. What these people fail to realize is that fanfiction does matter, for a variety of reasons.
The first is fan interaction. It seems like certain fandoms such as Harry Potter, Supernatural, and even Twilight just won’t die despite their stories concluding years ago. That is mainly due to the number of dedicated fans still writing and reading about these characters. While the stories aren’t written by the authors of the original source material, fan interpretations can either be a refreshing look at a character or be so similar to the author’s work that it’s hard to tell the difference. Just because the main story is over doesn’t mean it has to stop for readers. In addition, fanfiction can be used as a creative outlet and allow people to become better writers.
Writing can also be therapeutic. Sometimes people will write a character with whom they feel a connection in a situation similar to one that they are currently experiencing, to better cope with the event. This is an example of what someone would call a comfort character. As strange as it may sound, doing this can be a real benefit to people as it helps them feel less alone in whatever situation they are facing.
The last issue is the judgment fanfiction writers face. Fanfiction writers get called childish or face mocking because of the stereotype of it being something only tween girls do. To this, I ask: why do people care so much about what someone does in their free time? There are worse things people can do than writing stories about fictional characters. It’s also not like fanfiction is anything new; some classic literary works we read in Civ, such as Dante’s Inferno, could be considered fanfiction. It keeps people creative, and some of the best storytellers of the modern era got their start by writing fanfiction. It allows people to connect and form bonds in ways they wouldn’t be able to normally. It’s an experience unlike any other, and instead of being scorned, it should be encouraged to allow people to dream and be creative with the characters they love.