The Horrors Of Fanfiction
By Professor Spork
It is the pride and bane of every famous author and some infamous ones; a reader's world of dreams. It is the practice zone for would-be writers, and the line of fire for the likes of wannabe Stephanie Meyers. Fanfiction is just what it sounds like: fans of an anime/game/TV show/fantasy series can write their own stories based on the world or characters already there. It is an area where readers can search for their version of the perfect ending, and writers can write it, without having to worry about copyright infringement. But like everything else, fanfiction is a disfigured rose with thorns.
Bad writing can come in the form of Twilight, or it can come in the form of fanfiction. You skim over the twenty-five fictions summarised on one page, and you're drawn in by one title. You make your fatal mistake by checking the number of reviews and yes, there are tons. Now, remember that people like flaming writers as much as praising them. Since anyone and everyone can write here, their skills range from nonexistent, all the way to brilliant. When the fan-base is large, so is the diversity, and let's just say the curve doesn't peak for the better writers. The Naruto folder for instance, with the largest number of fictions in the Anime/Manga category (over 260,000), contains as many appalling fanfictions as absolute masterpieces, both in terms of literature and storytelling.
Sometimes you come across a deathfic where, after an awesome storyline, your favourite character suddenly goes and offs himself. There are those which change the characters so much only the name remains, and you wonder who you're reading about. And then there are the M-rated ones you thought was rated because of violence. Yeah, right. It's entirely possible to have nightmares about apparently harmless, not-even-published stories.
You can search for hours or even days, but finding a good fiction is like waiting for rain in the Sahara - it'll happen, but not anytime soon. When you do accidentally stumble across one though, you discover that it was worth the suffering. Fanfiction can be as bad as drugs. Now you're in, and there's no going back. You're not the only one who thinks Captain Jack Sparrow should be allowed to fly a spaceship. Trust in yours truly: no matter how ridiculous your idea is, it has been done. As you come to this realisation, your search grows more frantic, and you find yourself unable to stop. The worst part is, right before you give up, you find what you've been looking for: a fiction where Naruto and Sasuke discover Nintendo. Yes, even Sesame Street is given prime time action. With so many options floating around in front of you, it's practically impossible to refuse the apple of Eden.
And why only speak of the readers? Writers discover a place where they can pen down whatever they want, however they want, and not be bothered by critics, friends (the pseudonyms are useful), or the law. They want a different storyline for Chuck and Blair from Gossip Girl, they don't have to wait for the scriptwriter to come up with it. They can be the authors of their own story, and this is a very large amount of power in the hands of a puny mortal. As we all know, power is addictive.
Because there's no contract to worry about if they miss the deadline, there is no deadline. An excellent writer with a better story can go poof right before the final chapter, which incidentally was going to contain oh, just about everything. The updates can take days, or years, or eons. Literally. It can drive readers crazy. A fanfiction writer's attention shifts over time, and soon your favourite How I Met Your Mother-fiction writer starts liking X-Men Evolution. Once the author loses interest in the subject of their story, they usually stop writing it. The readers of said story are abandoned. Hence the onset of reviews begging for continuation, private messages containing threats, and general chaos.
Addiction also leads to insanity. Just saying.
The better side
It's not all bad. Many budding writers make their first mark in publishing in the form of fanfiction. They take in the feedback, learn, and several have taken their writing beyond cyberspace already. Contractors from publishing agencies have been known to prowl fanfiction.net, contacting good writers and offering them a career in the actual industry. The obsessed can keep obsessing over their favourite movie, despite the hopes of a sequel being crushed, through reading and writing fanfiction. In this world, stories don't end.