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Monday, April 15, 2024

Fanfiction is more original than most people think

Don’t hate on this literary “fad” 

I used to have a personal vendetta against fanfiction in middle school. Key word, used to — I really don’t feel the same way anymore. Some of my friends were avid Wattpad readers, a popular site for fanfiction and other reads, and I couldn’t understand why they took time out of their day to read random, off-hand stories written by other teenagers. 

Despite never giving fanfiction a chance, I found the idea of writing a story based on another book or movie to be unoriginal and uninteresting. Personally, I couldn’t really understand why people bothered with reading fanfiction when there were so many other great books in the library to fall in love with.

I loved reading books in elementary and middle school, and still do, but reading meant something very different to me as a child. Books gave me the tools to craft a spectacular life in my head. I could travel through time, history and the world in “The Magic Tree House.” “Harry Potter” brought much needed adventure into my mundane muggle existence. Books introduced me to some of the most interesting people and showed me marvelous and unreal places. I loved doing fun and artistic activities in class, such as painting a scene from my favorite book or making a magic wand for myself. I was finally able to bring to life all the thoughts, ideas and pictures that were bursting in my head.

In a sense, fanfiction isn’t too different. Whereas I once saw fanfiction as childish and silly, I now view it as one of the most creative literary activities that teens and young adults engage in.

Fanfiction is unique because it allows its writers — who tend to be a younger demographic — to originally mesh together the stories that live in their heads. Writers might base their ideas largely from a book or movie they are particularly fascinated by, but they also draw a lot of their inspiration from the society and culture around them. 

They aren’t focused on simply telling a story for entertainment purposes; these writers craft an imaginative world that reflects not just the unique environment and community they live in, but also their perception of the stories and ideas that enthrall and fascinate them.

If my younger self was encouraged to creatively express a love for stories, then teens and young adults should be given that chance as well. Although much of the inspiration for fanfiction authors comes from other books and movies, it doesn’t mean that their work is unoriginal. Instead of painting a scene out of a book, these young writers use their words to paint a new experience of the stories we know and love. 

By the time I reached high school, I found it harder to continue reading books for pleasure outside of class. Personally, many of the activities and work that went with my readings felt cumbersome and uninteresting. Fanfiction gives many teens and young adults a reason to eagerly dive into books and stories outside of an academic setting. There’s no reason to hate on a creative literary activity that fosters a love for reading and storytelling.

At the end of the day, writers share their stories in order to bring a new idea or world to readers. Fanfiction is proof that young readers care deeply for the stories, ideas and real world experiences that they come across in their daily lives. Nevertheless, the chances of me sitting down today to read fanfiction are very slim. I’m probably not mentally or emotionally prepared to read about “Dramione” or some other fan rendition of the wizarding world. But I can confidently say that my prior annoyance with fanfiction was unnecessary.

Written by: Simran Kalkat — skkalkat@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.


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