Fans take the pen

By Mary Mangual

Hoof Print (McDonough, Georgia)

As many learned from the conclusion to Lost, TV shows don’t always end the way fans want them to. And as many readers know from a whole host of teen novels, often the most interesting character is the least addressed. However in the age of rapid fire information and anonymous posting, some fans have taken matters into their own hands and written the story of two characters who should have kissed, the one guy who shouldn’t have died, and the mysterious person in black. Now some readers even consider these reimagined plots their own genre: fanfiction.

The practice of repurposing and combining stories is as old as art itself. Nobles used to pay artists to paint them into scenes from the bible and classical literature. Nearly every work in the canon has a classic counterpart. Some would argue that all biographies are forms of fiction. Epics like the Divine Comedy by Dante jump into the perspectives of prominent archetypes like the blind poet and the devil. The internet (and widespread literacy) have merely brought this pastime to a larger part of the population.

Several Ola students said that they read fanfiction for their favorite franchises. One, Maia McDonald, said that when she reads well-written fanfictions, it doesn’t even bother her that the artist is basing the story on someone else’s work. “It adds a separate element to it that’s more interesting and in-depth. It’s like watching a show or an episode again just with a different plot.” She said.

One anonymous freshman said that they like fanfiction because it’s something different. “If you don’t like what happened in the original it can be different in the new version and you might like it in the new version.” They said. That student, like several of the sample, said they read fanfiction by story and not by author.

Alexis Williams, freshman, reads fanfiction for her favorite show: Empire. To her, the show’s popularity demonstrates a domination over adversity, which is part of the reason she likes to read other people’s interpretations of it. “I’m just happy that it’s a black show still on the TV.” She said, “You know, usually they cancel all of these black TV shows that have black main characters. But I’m glad it’s on. It’s still surviving and pushing its way through.” She said that the other reason she reads Empire fanfictions is her favorite character, Hakeem.

While fanfictions most naturally seems to refer to stories based on fictional characters. There is also a branch of fanfiction that reimages the lives of real people. For example, Casey Gunn said that she likes to read fanfictions about “hot guys and Youtubers.”

Ariana Lee, freshman, once even tried to write such a story about two people she knew. “Never again.” She said, laughing. Lee explained why she reads fanfiction, “I love a good flop man, especially one with a great plotline… I just like how it embodies what we don’t get to see in the show or book or whatever.” She advises that people new to fanfiction, “Stick to the fluff.”

Conner McKnight has not yet written his own fanfiction, but he wants to get started. “I’ve seen a lot of stories and it seems real fun to express your creativity for two characters you love.” He said.

Charity Heath, junior, said that she sometimes writes fanfictions for games and animes she really enjoys. “You can get your thoughts out on paper, you can imagine how those characters would act during that scene that you might not get to see them act that way during the show or the storyline in the game,” She said.

Heath likes to write adventure stories. She says getting to see the characters in new ways makes it, “worthwhile to write.”

Valerie Withers, while she does not write fanfiction herself, has had students who have shown her theirs. “I really find their creativity really inspiring.” She said, “I don’t know that I necessarily always agree with the takes that some of the students have taken on certain books. I know that on tumblr and on twitter and on various social media outlets they have Sherlock fanfiction and Doctor Who fanfiction and I don’t necessarily agree with some of their ships that they have going on but I can appreciate good writing when I see it.”

Image Credit: Unsplash

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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