Can you imagine Harry Potter falling in love with Voldemort? Edward Cullen in med school? Or even Joffrey Lannister as the troublesome teenager into heavy metal? If so you might have a bright future in fan fiction.
With so many screens and pixels vying for our attention many people are asking, what exactly does it mean to read in the digital age? Fan fiction is the 21st century’s answer to the novel. With the death of publishing comes the strange yet social-media-savvy rebirth of fiction. Fresh from the depths of the internet comes a genre merging pop culture with teen fiction that the mainstream media is gobbling up.
The biggest fan fiction ‘success’ story has been Fifty Shades of Grey. The trilogy was originally based on characters from Twilight – with an obvious side of BDSM – and has sold more than 100 million copies. The fact that it has set the record for the fastest-selling paperback of all time is slightly worrying. Even worse, it has sold more copies on Amazon than the entire Harry Potter series combined, making E.L. James Amazon’s best-selling author.
The latest hit comes from 25-year-old Texan, Anna Todd, who found inspiration in teenage-heartthrob Harry Styles and started writing her erotica novel, After. Now over 2,500 pages in, she has signed a six-figure publishing contract for the books to go into print, and Paramount Pictures have acquired screen rights. Cue the despair for humanity. One reader wrote: “This fanfic will make u hate and love Harry at the same time,” if that doesn’t put you off, I don’t know what will.
Fan fiction dates back decades. Pre-Internet fans of sci-fi and fantasy franchises, such as Star Trek and Star Wars, would often write work based on iconic figures. Some have even won Pulitzer Prizes and risen to stardom. There is a certain appeal in wanting to live on with a group of characters, or a fictional world, crafting new story lines long after the original ones have run out. Yet it seems that the fan fictions receiving the most media attention give well-written pieces a bad name.
Most fan fiction authors have little to no prior writing experience. Anyone can be an overnight success these days. The formula is simple: introduce your favourite celebrity or fictional character; make sure it’s a steamy romance with a few clichés thrown in; include a sex scene at least every twenty pages or so with some descriptive words here and there but not to the extent of literary-masterpiece. A cheque and film-rights would be appreciated sharpish.
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