When someone says that they read fanfiction, most people laugh at them and say it is not real literature. However, that would be like saying that reading an article or some magazines is the same as reading fanfiction.
All of those things have one thing in common. They are something based off a source material that the author has given their own spin. Magazines use opinions and small blurbs of information on popular people and topics. Articles usually consist of a person’s thoughts and condensed information about a specified subject.
So what makes them legitimate sources when fanfiction is both? I am not saying that opinions on fanfiction being less than normal publications are unfounded, but people should not be mocked for enjoying it.
Yes, it isn’t rare to find stories on the various large fiction sites that are poorly written or just someone putting themselves into the story for the sake of becoming God.
Yes, it takes some time to get a feel for finding the good stories out of the large quantities that are posted daily, but in my opinion it is well worth it.
Once you find the fandom you want to delve into the site opens up and you learn how to find the stuff that fit your interests.
Despite the stereotyping, no, not all fanfiction is smut written by horny teenagers in their parent’s basement. Pardon the crude wording, but I think it was necessary.
I haven’t personally written anything related to fanfiction since before my freshman year of high school, but since January of 2013 I have been very active on fanfiction.net.
Does this mean I went from being a high school athlete and outgoing person in my community to a shut in? No. Nothing changed except for two things.
The amount of time I spent reading nearly tripled and I learned of new fandoms that in turn led me to watch or read their source material. The only thing I lost in the exchange was sleep on nights when I get hooked on a story.
The stereotype is there and can be proven true, but just because it is present does not mean the majority of the writers and readers can be classified under it.
Don’t judge a book by its cover… even when it is online and doesn’t technically have a cover.
Looking deeper at the medium
For a first-time user that drops into the vast internet library that is fanfiction.net, it can be pretty intimidating. Not hard to believe when a show like Naruto has a basic library of 412K stories and Harry Potter fans have taken it even further with 763K.
It has taken me roughly four year to finetune the system I use for finding compelling stories and even still I read a lot of the bad to get any of the good.
My personal preference of search options feature looking at the most favorited stories that are above 20k words and under any rating. That seems to yield the stories that have the highest reader base and quality on that site.
Digging through a lot of the bad stuff for a few years I noticed my tastes evolve and the number of stories I consume weekly has increased. Reading fanfiction has increased my reading speed a fair amount and opened up a lot of new shows and books to my viewing list.
The time it takes to narrow down your interests and find the good stories in the sea of mediocrity is well worth it.
Bonus to the bad stuff you will need to read though, you will have fun stories to tell and appreciate the good stuff more.
Do I recommend it?
The final verdict for me is based on preference. I love reading how people interpret the stories or expand on the worlds from shows and other media I have seen. There are very few times I have been disgusted in anything I have read on the site and if you have any interest in seeing differing perspectives on established material I highly suggest giving it a try.
Just… be sure you know what you are getting into… and beware any sour, yellow fruit.