I’ve mentioned in fanfiction in passing before, but I’ve never really mentioned how much I love it or why. When I first dove into procedural TV as a teenager I quickly found the fanfiction community to be a place that not only encouraged my interest in television, but also my interest in writing. The first steps I took as a writer outside of school work was entire notebooks full of bad fanfiction that never even got to the computer screen.
The fanfiction community exists only on the fringes of general public knowledge. Put simply fanfiction is stories that fans write about the characters in a favorite movie, book, or TV show. They can run the gambit from novel-length epics that imitate the story of an original work, to 100-word drabbles examining a single character or moment.
Often fanfiction is looked down on in general society and is a taboo topic for the entertainment industry. While no fanfiction writer is trying to steal the characters they are writing about (in fact many put a disclaimer on their work), some creators dislike people considering their characters in any way other than they originally intended. Outsiders sometimes see it as plagiarism or copyright infringement, but at it’s core, fanfiction is just a way for fans to express their love for a story.
Besides that, fanfiction builds friendships and community. In the same way that a group might gather based on participation in a sport or a shared interest in model boats, fanfiction creates a community of people who share love for whatever they are writing about. Writers get to know each other, encouraging each other’s work and building each other up. Friendships take root online and solidify at conferences. What starts as a shared love of Doctor Who becomes an investment in each others lives.
Lately I’ve found myself returning to fanfiction. I’m reminded that these are my roots. Fanfiction is where I started writing. It’s how I became interested in pulling back the curtain on my favorite TV shows. In a lot of ways, fanfiction was the first step that brought me to where I am today. And even if I never find a job in LA, if I wind up doing something else entirely, they can never take fanfiction away from me.