When I first starting writing fan fiction, I was still just a student in elementary school. I had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to put down on paper, and I wanted it to be about characters I already knew about and loved on screen. With a bent pen and torn piece of paper I wrote my first scene.
News flash, it was terrible…
I didn’t know of any popular fan fiction websites at the time. I had no idea just how many fan fiction writers were out there. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want the story to end after the anime.
Sailor Moon was my gateway, on a whim I did a google search. I quickly learned that hundreds of thousands of fan fiction already existed online for me to read. All of it at my fingertips. I felt elated, and also overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to begin. Back in those days FanFiction.net wasn’t even around. That didn’t come around until 1998, a full two years after I knew what fan fiction was.
In the early days fans made their own websites or posted on forums. There were hundreds of posts sloppily mixed together. Stories were often tangled with comments. It was a far different world than it is today. Some web pages had no way to contact the author, leave a review, or click a kudos. Fans had few ways to connect. As a child I no way to join in on this fun. I had to sit quietly, watching others write their stories, posting them online.
For a short time I stopped reading actual books. I only read fan fiction. I was enamored with it. Every aspect just seemed so much better to me. I don’t know why. I can’t put my finger on it. I think at the core of it all, I recognized that these people were like me. They loved the same thing that I did.
As a child who’d been bullied in school, teased for a lot of different reasons, this one fact gave me inclusion. I finally felt like I was part of something that mattered. I knew these writers had to be older than me. There were a lot of words I didn’t understand, story plots that were never in the anime. That didn’t matter to me. All that I cared about was that for once, I fit in.
FanFiction.net launched in October of 1998. I don’t recall much from that time. I still read fan fiction, and scribbled my own messily on paper. However I stuck to the small sites that I knew of. I didn’t venture into the treasure trove of archival sites until much later.
Yes, published books are polished, neatly written works of art. I don’t argue that. I simply see the original source material as the catalyst for something greater. The author can’t attain such an amazing feat on their own. I believe that seeing art through a fan’s lens makes everything so much more beautiful.
Fan fiction binds us together in a way nothing else can. New stories, deeper adventures, and combined inspiration fill so many different voids in our lives. You can’t put a price on that. It isn’t tangible. Spend enough time in a fandom, and you’ll form bonds you never thought possible. Some of those ties can turn into life-long friendships. I have several of my own. I have fan fiction to thank for that.
One such person is Ruka, our artist. Here you can see some of her earliest concept art for “The Demented Ferrets”. Without gaming I would have never met Kreshenne, but without fan fiction, I would have never met Ruka.
Nowadays fan fiction is very easy to find. A simple search will yield plenty of archives with thousands of fandom to choose from. Countless people gathering in one place to share their works and to celebrate the works of others. We cross over into many communities too, meeting others like ourselves. Artists who draw fan art often credit fan fiction as their inspiration, and vice-versa. This collaborative effort made by fan communities is what fuels the ever-growing fan fiction population.
Yes, fan fiction can be a sloppy, unfiltered, unedited mess. It will often be riddled with grammatical errors and aggravating tropes. Usually people don’t have an editor, or “beta-reader” to help them out. All they have is a love for the medium and idea to plunk down for other fans to read. Honestly, I think that’s enough.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without fan fiction. I would have lived a far more isolated childhood, feeling as though I had nowhere to belong. Fan fiction is a powerful thing, and one we shouldn’t take for granted. I would strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t tried fan fiction to give it go. Open your browser and do a search. Find a book, anime, or television series that you like. There will be fan fiction. I promise you, it’s out there waiting to be discovered. You’ll be glad you did.
This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.
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