When you dive into another person’s fiction so deeply that you feel their characters as if they are of your own making, or, if not that, then at least as if you can move them outside boundaries that media like television imposes on them, then you’re a bit like a mad woman, a crazy old lady or a kid with an imaginary friend. You become just a teensy weensy obsessed with the characters or that particular character that got your mind caught in a loop, wondering about all the wonderful things the flat people that move inside the TV set do when they are outside its borders. This is when your mind has already stepped into fan fiction.There, on the outside, in a place where that what was shown to us didn’t go, for prudence, or fear of boredom, that is where fan-fiction is born.
What did Captain Jack Harkness eat for breakfast the day when he accepted the fact he couldn’t die, is as much a driving question for producing a perky and well read story, as the one what was that death exactly like, and whom did he wink at afterwards (and got something we should blush about, but we never do). And to be fair we must say that the room outside our box, and limited time slot in the evening, is endless. The possibilities are countless. And people, those wonderful, slightly crazy people obsessed with imagined beauty, like myself, seize that space and spill out their vision of what could happen, what did happen in their minds.
I don’t disagree that most of what comes out in form of fan fiction is often childish, juvenile, poorly written, or just simply a way of showing off fantasies. But that’s just the point: everybody gets to have a go at it. As a fan, this is what I love about fan fiction, because in it you can find the Doctor running around with Rose from dogs with no faces before he collapses, or find out what flavor of coffee Dona took on the diamond planet while her feet got rubbed. (No, it’s not dirty connotation, but it can be if you like it that way).
If you get stuck because can’t pass that line of demanding standard in your writing then you’re missing the point of the whole thing. Firstly it is fun. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to spend time with your favorite characters, to drag them into existence even if they died somewhere else. Thirdly, it’s a training ground. For instance, the fact that is is often childish is in most cases a consequence of being written by young people or by people who haven’t been inspired to write before. The third point is most gratifying for me, because I think it’s fun to write in general. This way people who normally wouldn’t sit at their computer to do something creative, but just to surf away pointlessly, get to create something almost their own.
In the end I offer my own view on reading (and shamelessly writing) fan fiction. I found it to be a perfect training ground for writing anything really. Because you get to play there, to be outrageous, to get replies, to get as many bad responses to your fiction as good ones. Or to get silence or to communicate with others just like you, people obsessed with fiction. It is good way to get used to being evaluated, to be judged and/or praised. Besides that when you read a lot, when you read many different stories about same characters and about the same space and time where those characters are, you get to discover the true sense of parallel universes where each one of those stories can be possible, can be something that did happen to those people you can almost feel. And that opens up a whole new layer in the world where life isn’t just a journey from A to B, a linear path, but rather a wibbely wobbly something that can be changed, reinterpreted, re-experienced through someone else’s lenses. And each time it comes out differently. I can say that it can be liberating in the sense of how you perceive your task as a writer and human being. The task is to thread carefully and get somewhere where you, and your reader, want to hang out for awhile. At least that’s how it played out for me. What was it like for you?
(You can guess what my fan fiction was about, right?)