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A different world.: An Essay on Fanfiction.
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A Different World


   What is your favorite TV show?  Did you ever want to see a character do or say something that the writer didnt originally intend?  Have you ever longed for a different ending or further explanation of a major event?  Thats what a lot of people are doing these days.  Using their favorite TV shows as a base, they are writing additional scenes or whole new stories about their favorite characters.  This is called fan fiction, or fan fic.


A Rare Art Form

   According to Obfusc8ter, an X-Files fan fic writer, fan fiction is a story based upon the character and/or events of a previously established fictional universe written by someone not affiliated with the owner of the original universe.  Caroline McKenna, a writer for several fandoms believes that Fan fiction is a rare art form that has blossomed recently and is now thriving.

   When I first heard of fan fic, I thought it was a fairly new thing, but actually, it has been around since man began to speak and tell stories.  Early legends and folktales like King Arthur and Brer Rabbit could be considered forms of fan fiction.  Each storyteller changed the story around to his liking or to please his audience.



   Modern fan fic has boomed since technology has become more advanced.  The VCR and the computer are two of the main tools that have aided in its popularity.

   Viewers began to tape their favorite shows to watch later at their convenience.  This allowed the shows to be viewed over and over again.  Fan fic writers could watch and analyze their favorite broadcasts.

   The computer, particularly the internet, allowed fans from all over the world to come together and talk about a certain episode, or the show in general.  Eventually, on-line communities formed,  allowing people within a fandom to talk about and post fiction about their favorite style or form of plot action, known as genre.

   The computer is also important as a way of sending and receiving feedback to the fan fic authors.  Since they dont write for pay, most writers like to get an idea of how their work is liked by others. Many friendships have been formed through the email sent back and forth between reader and fan fic writer.


Styles Of Writing

   There are many styles of writing, depending on the show and characters.  They could range from action-adventure to even romance.  For example, in the X-Files, there is a favorite type of writing that most fans of the show love.  It is about the relationship between Agents Mulder and Scully, the two main characters of the series.

   Even though most writers have a favorite genre, few specialize in one particular style.


Who Writes?

  Most people think that writing is boring, but for the people who write fan fiction it is a passion.  Caroline McKenna is a 15 -year -old high school student who has written for several fandoms, so it is not an adult thing exclusively.  According to Sue Hazlett who wrote an article on fan fic entitled Filling in the Gaps:  Fans and Fan Fiction on the Internet, the typical writer is a white, college-educated, middle-classed, heterosexual female between 25 and 50 years old.

   She took a poll of writers and 30 responded, of which 27 identified themselves as female, one as male, and two who didnt wish to reveal their gender.

   Their occupations ranged from teachers, students, computer technologists to even a self-described professional slacker.  Fan fic writers come from all walks of life.


Popular Fandoms

   A fan could write a story about any of his favorite TV shows or movies, but some of the most popular ones right now are C.S.I., 24, ER, Buffy, The X-Files, Star Trek and Star Wars.  Even older shows such as Starsky and Hutch, The A-Team, Hawaii Five-O and Scarecrow and Mrs. King have loyal followers and writers.


Publishing Their Work

   Most fan fiction writers are satisfied to post their work on the many websites that have sprung up about their favorite shows, but some have published their work in fanzines, which are magazines devoted to a particular fandom.

   Writng fan fiction has even inspired some writers to take a big step and write poetry and novels not related to fan fiction.  Caroline and Humbuggie  have other works published and both are currently working on novels.


The Final Word

   Fan fiction gives the ordinary person a chance to make believe and create their own world for their favorite shows or characters.  I will let one author, Audrey, have the final word on the subject.

. . . at its most basic, fan fic is Ken and Barbie for grownups.





Article:  Filling in the Gaps:  Fans and Fan Fiction on the Internet by Sue Hazlett, University of Alaska, Fairbanks


Interviews:  Obfuscator, Caroline McKenna, Humbuggie


Radio Broadcast:  Internet on the Air, guest Henry Jenkins, professor at M.I.T. speaking on Fan Fiction, a production of the University of Michigan School of Information






Fan Fiction Terms


Fandoms are groups of viewers who share an affection

for the same TV show, movie or group of characters.


Genre refers to a particular form or style of fan fiction.


Fanzines are publications of fan fiction, ranging from

photo copied papers to a magazine format.