7 Things Only Fanfiction Writers Will Understand


Fanfiction. The word either excites you or makes you raise your eyebrows with skepticism. Isn’t fanfiction for geeks? Well, yes – we embrace the word “geek” with gusto. Is fanfiction for people with no originality? No way. As novelist and journalist Lev Grossman once said, “Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker…. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.”

For all those fic writers out there – the ones who read books and watch movies with an eye for creation – here’s seven truths that you’d live and die by:

1. “Mary Sue” is the worst insult known to mankind.

A “Mary Sue” is an original character who is unrealistic in both looks and personality – often portrayed as strikingly beautiful, with zero flaws. There’s nothing worse than crafting a complex character, only to have her dubbed a “Mary Sue” by those reviewing your fic. The accusation insinuates that you’re a total newbie, incapable of  creating a multi-faceted and innovative character. Ouch.

2. Internet comment sections are nothing compared to review “flame wars.”

People have been jerks in the comment corners of the interwebs for as long as it was possible. When fic reviews turned into personal attacks on a writer’s character, you knew you entered the realm of the “flame war.” For every fic writer, there’s several more in his or her corner, and if there’s one thing about fic writers, they are fiercely loyal to those who run in their virtual circles and will stand up to anyone who trashes them.

3. It’s totally understandable to go see a movie dozens of times – you’re researching for new material.

For example, when the first installment of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy hit theatres, it was not uncommon for fic writers to go see the movie upwards of seven or eight times. (Yes that would be more than a total day’s worth of time in a movie theatre.) At some point, it became impossible not to memorize lines from the movie, and certain scenes became burned into one’s brain. It comes with the territory.

4. Every two-person scene, regardless of gender or sexuality, is subjected to meticulous analyzing for shipping purposes.

Fanfiction writers are skilled at interpreting subtext. The most subtle of gestures – an eyebrow raise, a smirk, a sideways glance – are game for detailed analysis. For every fandom, there are endless amounts of shipping possibilities. Endless.

5. OTP, WAFF, and ETA are all part of your daily vocabulary.

And TL;DR is a soul-crusher.

6. Although you’ll never admit it, you love writing self-inserts above all else.

At risk of being a target for “Mary Sue” insults, you have to acknowledge that deep down, the self-insert will never lose its appeal. Fanfiction is so powerful because it allows people to engage with the material in an infinite amount of ways. You can literally be a part of the very world that you admire.

7. Fanfiction can bring people closer in ways that non fic writers will never truly understand.

When you bond with someone over fanfiction, it allows for a unique friendship to foster. Sometimes these friendships only exist on the internet, but you feel like you’ve known these people IRL forever. You end up developing the weirdest of inside jokes that will prohibit you from looking at that fandom the same way again. You’ll find yourself imagining the Dark Lord Sauron wearing pink bunny slippers all the way through “Return of the King” or something. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.