The Rise of Fanfiction in Mainstream Media

As an avid fanfiction reader and writer, I'm thrilled to see how much the world of fanfiction has grown over the years. What used to be considered a niche hobby has now become a full-fledged phenomenon, with countless websites dedicated to the craft, online communities bustling with creativity, and even mainstream media taking notice. It's a truly exciting time to be a fanfiction enthusiast.

For those not familiar with fanfiction, it's essentially stories and novels written by fans that are based on pre-existing works, such as books, movies, TV shows, anime, and even video games. Fanfic writers often take beloved characters and bring them into new and exciting storylines, explore different "what ifs," and delve into deeper character development than the original works allowed. It's an incredibly collaborative and creative process, with writers all over the world sharing their work for others to enjoy.

But it's not just a fun way for fans to express their love for their favorite properties. Fanfiction has become a bona fide cultural force that has impacted mainstream media in many ways. Let's take a look at some of the ways fanfiction has risen through the ranks.

The Role of Fanfiction in Building Fandoms

One of the most important ways in which fanfiction has impacted mainstream media is by being a driving force behind fandoms. Fans who are passionate about a particular work will often turn to fanfiction as a way to explore their love of it in greater depth. Fanfic writers have the ability to create new stories that expand upon the original works, filling in gaps and answering questions that the creators themselves may not have had a chance to explore.

A great example of this is the Harry Potter fandom. J.K. Rowling's magical world captured the hearts of millions, and there are countless fanfic stories set in the Wizarding World. Fanfic writers have breathed new life into the beloved characters and explored different possibilities for the storylines. In turn, this has kept the fandom active even years after the last book was published, and has helped to bring in new fans who are discovering the series through fanfiction.

Fanfiction as a Launchpad for New Talent

Another way that fanfiction has impacted mainstream media is by providing a platform for new writers to hone their craft and get their work out to a wider audience. Fanfiction websites like Archive of Our Own, Wattpad, and have millions of users and offer aspiring writers a place to share their stories, get feedback, and build a readership.

In fact, many professional writers got their start in fanfiction. E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a fanfic based on the Twilight series, and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series began as fanfiction based on Harry Potter. These authors were able to use their fanfiction writing to hone their storytelling abilities, develop an audience, and eventually land book deals.

Fanfiction's Impact on Canon

Another interesting way that fanfiction has impacted mainstream media is by having an impact on canon. Canon refers to the official storylines and characters of a particular work, which are usually set by the creators. However, fanfiction writers often take liberties with canon, exploring different possibilities and creating alternative storylines. Sometimes, these alternative storylines are so popular that they become accepted by fans as their own version of the canon.

Take the case of the popular BBC show, Sherlock. The show's creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, have often cited fanfiction as an inspiration for their creative decisions. For instance, in the show's third season, the character of Mary Morstan was introduced, and this was an idea that had originated in fanfiction. In a way, fanfiction has helped to shape the world of Sherlock, allowing fans to have a say in the direction the show takes.

The Impact of Fanfiction on Representation

Finally, fanfiction has had a major impact on representation in mainstream media. Fanfic writers often reimagine characters, making them LGBTQ+ or exploring different racial identities. By doing so, they add much-needed representation to a media landscape that often falls short in terms of diverse representation.

For example, the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the subject of countless fanfics that explore LGBTQ+ relationships between characters like Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, and T'Challa and Erik Killmonger. While the films themselves may not have explored these possibilities, fanfic writers have helped to fill the gap and give fans the representation they crave.

The Future of Fanfiction in Mainstream Media

So, what's next for fanfiction in mainstream media? It's hard to say for sure, but one thing is certain: fanfiction isn't going away anytime soon. With the growth of online communities dedicated to fanfiction, and the increasing acceptance of fanfic writing as a legitimate form of creativity, it's likely that we'll see even more crossover between fanfiction and mainstream media in the future.

Perhaps we'll see more authors like E.L. James and Cassandra Clare, who got their start in fanfiction and went on to become bestselling authors. Or maybe we'll see more fanfiction-inspired storylines make their way into mainstream media, as we did with Mary Morstan in Sherlock. And, of course, we can be sure that fanfic writers will continue to explore new possibilities for their favorite characters and works, pushing the boundaries of what's possible and adding depth to beloved stories.

The rise of fanfiction in mainstream media is an exciting development for fans everywhere. From its role in building fandoms, to providing a platform for new talent, to impacting canon and representation, fanfiction has left an indelible mark on the world of media. As a fanfiction writer and reader, I can't wait to see what the future holds for this thriving creative community.

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