Monday, September 5, 2011

Confessions of a Fan Fiction Fan

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In honor of Labor Day, I am musing on one of my favorite methods of procrastination – Fan Fiction. Though there exists a definite stigma against Fan Fiction fans (no doubt perpetrated by a few creepy slash lovers), the rich world of fan-told stories can offer plenty of solid entertainment for avid readers. In order to toe the line between “fun” and “weird”, I personally follow 6 basic rules:

1.      Stick to canon stories.* I know, I know, it limits the possibilities, but it also keeps you from turning into a psycho when thinking about the actual literary work.
2.      Characterization is key. If a writer can’t capture the original character’s voice, then forget it and move on.
3.      Be a grammar geek. Same goes for writers who don’t bother to capitalize and punctuate their taglines.
4.      Always check the reviews. Avoid stories with fewer than 25-30 reviews unless you’re familiar with the author’s previous work. Otherwise you might end up reading some 4th grader’s version of Twilight. (Not that the quality of writing would differ much from the original…)
5.      Good authors have good favorites. Once you’ve found a good writer, you’ll find that they probably value good writing.
6.      In the end, the original author still wins. Show me someone who writes with more humor and heart than J.K. Rowling, and I’ll show you a liar.
*Missing moments are always good, as are point-of-view shifts. I would even loosely interpret “canon” to include time period shifts (e.g. modern interpretations of Jane Austen).

These rules are by no means the “right” way to approach Fan Fiction; however, the tips may work well for casual readers. As for my personal favorites, I’m a definite Harry Potter fan, so I would recommend:
  • Dumbledore’s Army and the Year of Darkness by Thanfiction. An almost 250,000 word epic on the 7th year at Hogwarts, told from the perspective of Neville Longbottom. Can be slightly cheesy, but it’s grounded in that it seems to be inspired by military experiences of war.
  • Cauterize by Lady Altair. Another war-inspired story, this time about the aftermath. Short and poignant.
  • Six Foot of Ginger Idiot by Pinky Brown. Basically Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince written as Ron Weasley’s diary. Absolutely hilarious because the author completely nails Ron’s voice.
  • Better than a Superhero by Realmer06. Five moments between Ron and Bill Weasley. (Yes, okay, I like Ron. A lot.)
I also like modern interpretations of Jane Austen:

Disclaimer: Yes, I am aware that we could all read actual literature instead. And yes, none of these stories can truly compare to said literature. But sometimes we just need a break from serious thought, and Fan Fiction provides a fun way to put off important work. Happy reading!


  1. I've been in quite the Ron/Hermione mood lately so I read those two Ron stories. They were great, except for that one non-canon part of "Six Foot of Ginger Idiot" that goes completely off-base and out of character for Hermione. (It was still kind of enjoyable though, I admit.)

  2. Dactyl, did you ever end up reading the modern-day Downton Abbey fanfic "University Challenge" that I recommended?