Why we’re terrified of fanfiction





Stands up on soapbox, holds up this article like it’s the opening of the Lion King.

Y’all should read this because it is FIRE, but also because a post from the Time Lady Project was linked in this!

Historically, whenever young women are interested in a form of media,
we like to tell them it is bad for them and that they are bad for
liking it — unless the media goes mainstream, in which case it becomes
no longer feminine and hence okay. Novels are dangerous and cause
insanity, until they become classics worthy of being studied in college.
Beatlemania is the province of “the dull, the idle, the failures,“ until the Beatles become a band that everyone loves.

Young women are so attacked for loving the media they love that it is
a radical act for a young woman to love something unashamedly.
transformative fandom is the most radical act of all, because it
reverses that “lady thing to respectable thing” process.

Emphasis added. It’s so good- go read the whole thing.

Yooo this article is lit. 

Why we’re terrified of fanfiction




If you’re ever unsure on if you should leave comments on people’s writing on AO3, just remember that I have made two of my most beloved friends by either me commenting or them commenting on my stuff. Comments are powerful things, man.

Also, if a writer puts in the notes that you can bug them on Tumblr, or email them, or whatever, that isn’t them just being idle. That is an ACTIVE INVITATION. I, for one, LOVE it when people come to my ask and talk story with me. If you ask the right questions, you might leave learning a lot more about a fic you may like. Seriously. 

Comments are awesome.  

Yes please ask me stuff about UDC/PBB. 😀


Useful posts on how to write comments for fanfics – [here] & [here]

On a personal note. I’ve
met wonderful people throughout fandoms and by leaving comments. I’ve made
great friends, some even on comment sections, as we shared our enthusiasm for
the same story. 

People who like the same ships often hold similar character
traits and life experiences; they’re people who would get you. The bonds in fandoms only strengthen when people meet other
people as humans – and there are fantastic humans waiting to meet you. 

Leave a comment. 🙂

For Data Collected

For this, I’ve used AO3, currently the most popular fanfiction

I’ve taken the first ranked story in each ship, completed, rated
by kudos – since bookmarks on AO3 can be set to private so the counters don’t
reflect the real numbers – to reflect the stories that had the most positive
feedback in their category.

For the comments, I’ve (falsely and intentionally) assumed the
numbers represented are singular comments from singular, different users
(tipping the scales in favor of the commenters). For Destiel, Johnlock and
Spirk I had to pick the second story by kudos, since for the first the
deviation error (assuming the author haven’t replied and there aren’t
discussion threads included in the comments) was far too high for the ratio to
be accurate, and my initial assumption couldn’t be applied. My apologies to the

The data was collected on
May 2nd , 2016.))

Slash Fic Gothic


You have blond hair, he has brown hair. You always have blond hair, he always has brown hair. You dye your hair brown, but suddenly his hair is blond, and you feel as though maybe you are him, and he is you, and you have blond hair again, and he has brown hair.

His gaze is impossibly fond, his eyes are impossibly blue, he pulls you impossibly closer, your heart beats impossibly fast, the bulge in his pants is impossibly hard, he should maybe get that checked out.

You don’t remember ever working out and yet you look down and see you have a six pack. When you next see yourself in the mirror you have an eight pack. When he takes of your shirt you have ten, twelve abs. You’re scared to look again in case there are more.

His eyes change colour depending on his moods. At first you thought it was a trick of the light, but now you’re not so sure. They switch between blue, green and grey. Once you thought you saw a flicker of red. You make sure to kiss with your eyes closed now.

You’re white, and so is he. Sometimes he’s your enemy, but you still love him, don’t you? Of course, it makes sense. You’re not sure what you like about him, exactly, but there must be something, right? There’s this intangible thing between you, isn’t there? You feel like you may have more chemistry with your non-white friend, but that can’t be right.

You don’t remember taking your clothes off but you’re naked now. Well, all you remember is toeing out of your shoes. You always toe out of them, although you don’t quite know what that means.

Your pronouns mix into a blur and you no longer know where you end and he begins… You reach out your hand to his hand on his arm… your arm… his… You are sitting and he straddles you but is facing away… There are hands everywhere…


So, when I was doing my thesis on whether or not fanfiction should be considered a legitimate genre of literature, my advising professor asked me for examples.  I gave him the generic ones, of course – “Pride & Prejudice and Zombies” is a horror fanfic of “Pride & Prejudice”, “50 Shades of Grey” is an erotica fic of “Twilight" – and that seemed to make him understand what fanfiction is, but not how it’s useful.  So I thought about it, and, after about a minute, I said, “Paradise Lost is basically a fanfiction of the Book of Genesis.  And The Divine Comedy is an epic self-insertion fic for Catholic doctrine.  So, basically, you were teaching us fanfiction last semester.”  I had never before seen a grown man’s eyes widen with such fear, incomprehension, disgust, awe, and understanding.











Honestly speaking, if AO3′s cold culture had been my first introduction to writing fic? I can’t guarantee I’d still be writing it.

Livejournal was a lot of (mostly bad, towards the end) things, but at minimum it was a community of readers that were excited to read and talk about your work. Their feedback was essential to my early evolution as a fic writer. Absolutely essential.

So I’m not posting numbers in an attempt to whine or look for more attention. I just want everyone to consider dropping some Kudos if you take the few minutes to read the entire story, and maybe leaving a comment if you liked it – especially if you’ve read it multiple times. Many of these writers might not even know how talented they are, since AO3′s not the kind of place that’s very keen on revealing your worth.

But we can help change that, you know? We can all do something about it. We don’t just have to accept it as “that’s the way it is” and shrug it off. That’s how you lose writers. That’s the kind of lonely, quiet environment that makes someone facing a writer’s block instead choose to close up shop. Then you’re wondering why they never continued their epic series, when all they ever got were about 3% of people leaving Kudos and five comments for days and days of work.

And I just think that’s a damn shame. 

I’ve seen this discussed a few times recently, so I think it’s something that’s finally hit its limit with a lot of writers.  I agree that what’s hard about it isn’t just feeling unappreciated, or that readers are uninterested, but the silence that takes away a large part of how fic writers engage in fandom.

I know people are not short on headcanons, and they can write essays on symbolism.  I hope they come to understand these are things writers want to see, and not things they have to keep to tumblr.  If a reader can’t go into detail, a simple, “Great fic!” suffices.  Literally anything to let a writer know you heard them.  It’s appreciated.

Also, it’s so much more fun to feel like you’re part of the community that creates fic, and commenting is an incredible way to do that. I love the feeling of telling someone that I loved what they created, and hearing back from an author is exciting. 

It’s easy to be lazy and just graze from fic to fic, but it’s more rewarding to be engaged.

I’ve been having this problem a lot lately, and it isn’t a “omg whine no one likes me” sort of feeling, but just… for me personally it just feels draining to keep putting out work, to keep committing a little part of your creativity, a little bit of your heart and soul and a bit of your creative stuff out there, and not really knowing if it’s resonating.

And maybe it is just me showing my Fandom Age, but fandom for me was always about community, about engaging other people and writing fanfic was always a part of that, that there was a certain give-and-take with fanfic that you couldn’t have with Real Books or whatever. Which is why even now, long after LJ and fanfiction on LJ, I really still feel compelled to go and answer every comment, to not just simply acknowledge someone had written something nice to me, but to be like “oh hi you like the thing I also like the thing let’s us both like the thing together”. 

And I’ve had friendships that literally grew out of fanfic comments, that there are people whom I consider good fandom friends whom I met because I would flail in their fics’ comments sections and they would flail in mine and we would end up following each other back on LJ or here on Tumblr and it just felt so much more personal then, so much more like I’m writing not just for me but also for someone else’s enjoyment and not just because I really like carpal tunnel. Hell, I’ve sometimes been inspired by the comments to write new fic, because creativity doesn’t come out of the vacuum. It comes out of sharing and sometimes all it takes is someone going “man I loved that and it brought this other thing to my mind…” and suddenly the spark is just there, the “oh that’s awesome/awful I’m gonna write it”

I think feedback nourishes a fandom as much as fanwork does, that “yes! you’re not alone! you like the thing! I like the thing too! have you considered this other thing?!” drives creativity as much as any kinkmeme as much as any prompt call. 

I mean just yesterday, I was feeling exhausted, I was feeling like my creativity had run dry and there was just nothing coming out of the tap, no words no love no spark. And I was exhausted. Wondering if it’s time to give up on writing for a fandom, because I was getting hoarse from shouting into the void. And then I woke up to an incredible pair of messages from a reader, from someone who was reading an older fic of mine who was clearly enjoying themselves. And I won’t say it fixed everything, because feedback is magical but it’s not that magical, but it made me smile. And it reminded me that writing fanfic could be fun, that it could be a way of making things fun for someone else.

And you know, that’s really important sometimes. 

And I always wonder why people don’t bother to comment or leave kudos when they like something – AO3 especially makes it SO EASY. Like the box is RIGHT THERE. The button is RIGHT THERE.

I always get so excited when I see the number of kudos on a fic growing or when people leave comments! We write stuff because we love it enough to spend hours on character analysis and research and basically we’re all major nerds so if you liked it come talk to us! Please! It feels really good talking to someone that enjoyed our stuff. I met an awesome group of people through my fanfiction and now we all talk about that game together and it’s awesome!

If you enjoy the thing, reach out and leave a nice comment and you just might get a friend.

YES I totally agree – most of my mutuals on tumblr have been because they’ve commented on my stuff or I’ve commented on theirs and we’ve brought the friendship over here! So don’t be shy ^.^

I love all of this! Leave kudos! Leave comments! Your writer has spent days or weeks writing that chapter – give them 2 seconds of your time to click a kudos button or take 30 seconds to write a comment. It means so much to know that people are reading and enjoying our stories. And if you’re a fellow fic writer then you know what it means! Make someone’s day and save a fic – leave a comment! Tell your writers you enjoyed it!


Comments are fandom’s lifeblood. Kudos do very little to build community. Comments, by reaching out to creators, show that people care specifically about something, that our fanfics are not just another commodity. Comments inspire conversation and friendships in the way that few other things can.

Comments I remember for years and they can utterly change my mood for the better for the day when I get them. Kudos I forget after I close the email.

So please tell authors you liked something, whether it’s a simple “I liked this” or incredibly detailed. The silence that seems to be the norm now is disheartening.

And before anybody says “you should just write for yourself”:

Writing is a medium that depends on public opinion to survive. That’s the measure of success in writing. If enough people liked your thing to buy/read it, then you are successful. And many, many people who write fic–like myself–do so because they’re interested in becoming published authors. So to them, seeing no comments, no feedback? It means nobody cares. It means they won’t be successful.



I read something this morning that really resonated with me.

Maybe it’s the fandom, maybe it’s the people.

But back when I was between the ages of 12 and 14 I wrote my first few stories and posted them online. Looking back they were terrible abominations of writing, and should anyone come to me and ask if I wrote them I would deny all knowledge whilst sweating profusely.

And yet despite the atrocity of my first few fanfictions there was a plethora of feedback from readers. ‘Write more!’ ‘I really liked this.’ ‘Loved the ending!’ ‘Look forward to more from you’.

There was constructive feedback and insight as well as the views/likes. 

People took an active interest in your words and communicated back to you.

Nowadays as a writer it feels like I’m shouting into the void.

By simply liking a post I understand that you have seen the piece exists. Most often I assume it’s that you’ve saved it to read later, or are merely acknowledging its existence. I have no idea if you read it or not, much less if you enjoyed it.

When you reblog artwork you essentially tell the artist that yes, you liked the piece. You liked it enough to spend an extra few moments putting it onto your own personal space on the web. If you tag it you explicitly communicate how you feel. It’s rare that you would simply like a piece of art, especially if its from your fandom. You want to share it so others can see it and enjoy it.

But most of you wont do that with fanfiction. 

It takes a lot of time to learn to write. It takes a lot of time to write. Writers suffer the same periods of art block, or writer’s block as it’s known to us. We don’t struggle with drawing hands. We struggle with writing what that hand is doing in a way that is engaging. Instead of struggling drawing furniture and rooms and backgrounds we struggle to construct the same image but with our words. 

It’s all relative. Our plight is no harder or easier than an artist but we do not get the same level of appreciation or recognition that an artist does.

In the end what you get is the same thing. An image on your screen. The difference is you have to look a little harder to see what we’ve painted for you. 

So please. Tell the author that you saw it. 

We love words. They are our craft. So give us some back. 

Reblog a fanfic and get it out there so more people can enjoy it.  Please.








More musings on writing advice:

Honestly, I think “yes, you are allowed” is something a lot of fandom needs to hear right now. We had, what, a decade of “what not to do” writing advice, starting with anti-Mary-Sue campaigns and on through sporking and fanficrants and RaceFail, and now everything is this cracked parody of social justice and ~this is problematic~ is the ultimate “what not to do.” And just look at the messages we’ve taken to heart: don’t get too big for your britches, everything has to be accurate and realistic, no one the reader is supposed to sympathize with should be within shouting distance of “problematic.” We’re writing about these larger-than-life characters whose lives are full of over-the-top, implausible events, and it’s like we’re afraid that if we handwave or take narrative shortcuts or spin crazy yarns about their adventures or don’t treat Bad Shit Happening with the expected amount of solemnity, somebody’s going to call us out for not doing our due diligence.

In fact, the one “yes, you are allowed” message we’ve taken to heart is that we’re not beholden to the original canon, which is a phenomenon I… have mixed feelings about. But the point is, that message combined with the fear of fucking up, of writing “unrealistic” or “problematic” stories about monsters and aliens and superheroes, means that mundane AUs and domestic fic are the path of least resistance. And not only is fic being pushed towards the generic, the moral pressure that drives fandom SJ makes it feel almost… risky?… to stray from the fanon status quo. Breaking the mold, instead of being a sign of creativity, increasingly feels like a sign that you’re Doing It Wrong and may in fact be a bad person. I have seen people say that they want to write about post-CA:TWS Bucky but don’t, because they don’t want to slog through dealing with the “obligatory” recovery issues. Or that they’d feel guilty, like they were committing some sort of erasure, if they wrote pre-war fic without Queer Brooklyn and The Docks a bunch of romanticized-poverty porn.

For the love of God, fandom. You are allowed to come up with whatever fictional means you feel like to undo the Winter Soldier’s fictional (and almost totally unspecified) brainwashing. He’s an amnesiac cyborg assassin hopped up on a knockoff version of the super-serum that lets Steve Rogers get flung off a freeway overpass hard enough to overturn a bus and get up with barely a scratch. He starts getting memories back whenever they leave him out of cryo long enough. If you want the serum to heal his brain damage and leave him twitchy, angry, and guilt-ridden, but more-or-less compos mentis, so that he can go face down his demons without spending months on Steve’s couch eating soup and relearning how to be a human? YOU CAN. YOU ARE ALLOWED. THAT IS A STORY YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TELL. The “it was the super-healing” handwaving already puts you about fifteen realism steps ahead of the comics, where Steve used a magic monkey’s paw ex machina to bring back Bucky’s memories with the power of his love. And then a bunch of stuff happened and Bucky wrestled a bear in a Siberian gulag, okay, and this is the level of Srs Bsns we’re starting from.

You can do whatever the fuck you want. If you want to dwell lovingly on all the interpersonal issues and mental scarring that resulted from that time aliens made them do it because they got fake married in space, go for it. But do not pull out the DSM and start checking off PTSD symptoms out of a sense of duty if what you actually want to write is banter, UST, sarcasm about absurd situations, reckless displays of loyalty, and porn where they realize the depth and true nature of their feeeeeelings about each other. Both of those things are okay things to want.

tl;dr Internal story logic > realism. Write whatever ridiculous tropey or out-there shit you want, and use exactly as much judiciously-applied realism as you need to sell the story.

Please read the whole damn thing, because I feel like this is super important for everyone to hear.

Fandom is a meme, and it has its fads, mostly borne of emulation. Before the advent of SJ, there was a time where there was a “realistic sex” diktat, and there were posts going around with instructions like “use condoms, water-based lube and nothing else, cleaning up after sex with a damp towe is The Most Important” and other stuff about “realistic” sex practices that should be used in fanfiction as well. (And – it’s fine, you know, if people who don’t know anything about sex want information and want to give a realistic to their fics, but if you want to bypass that entirely, “yes you are allowed”.)

So anyway around that time I wrote this threesome fic in the Sherlock fandom and I remember someone reblogging it and commenting “it’s a great fic and the sex is pretty realistic, except they don’t clean up with damp towels at the end” and I was like “what the fuck is wrong with you what is this damp towel business and how on earth is it a bad thing that I haven’t added it in my fic” and then I remembered all the fics that I had read at that time which had dutifully incorporated The Damp Towel™ and I realised that it was merely the fashion of the times. And after that it was the advent of Omegaverse so no one gave a shit about damp towels anymore

Like, I guess it’s always a cycle, you get a certain type of fic everywhere, then someone tries for something a bit different (like realistic sex at a moment where unrealistic sex abounds) and then all the cool kids want to do it as well, and then it becomes The Law, and then people get fed up and go 180° at the other end of the spectrum

Right now I’m kind of bored because recently a majority of the fics that I read are very prim and proper, with disclaimers that are kilometers-long if the fics ever venture into something even remotely shady morally speaking, and I have a marked preference for fics that explore stuff that’s not Healthy or Sane or even Consensual, because to me fandom and fanfics are this big laboratory that really should allow you to delve into the unconventional and the morally grey (oh, the Golden Age of the Sherlock fandom… the amazing fics I read back then…)(not necessarily all the time, though. I mean exploration and pushing the boundaries of what is philosophically and ethically acceptable or not are definitely cool, and then sometimes you want all the fluff and the safe, sane and consensual. I’m just saying, a little bit of everything is good)

So I hope that the dam will crack soon, as it always does, and I’m interested to see what monster will come out of it

I know I’m like, #1 cheerleader for realism in fic, but I’m in agreement with this: Internal story logic > realism.

If it makes sense in the context of your story, and it’s consistent throughout, the reader will handwave right along with you.

Natasha, man!  Remember Natasha!  “The last set of wings is at Fort Meade, behind three guarded gates and a 12-inch steel wall.”  Natasha: *shrugs*  

I think I needed to read this today. Thank you, @shinelikethunder  ❤



So I’m on AO3 and I see a lot of people who put “I do not own [insert fandom here]” before their story.

Like, I came on this site to read FAN fiction. This is a FAN fiction site. I’m fully aware that you don’t own the fandom or the characters. That’s why it’s called FAN FICTION.

Oh you youngins… How quickly they forget.

Back in the day, before fan fiction was mainstream and even encouraged by creators… This was your “please don’t sue me, I’m poor and just here for a good time” plea.

Cause guess what? That shit used to happen.




It’s okay if you write fanfic as a way to hone your skills until you are comfortable writing original fic.

It’s okay if you write fanfic because you love fanfic and don’t intend to ever write something original.

It’s okay if you only ever write one fanfic to work through some problems in your real life.

It’s okay if you write fanfic your whole life because you just can’t help falling in love with characters.

There’s no wrong way to write fanfic. THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO WRITE FANFIC. Write what you love. Love what you write.

Be proud of your accomplishments, not everyone could achieve them.

It’s okay if you STILL write fanfic once you’re comfortable writing original fic.

It’s okay if you like coming up with fic ideas but never actually write them.

It’s okay to play and write the bits you like without making it a long, comprehensive epic. 

It’s okay to write a long, comprehensive epic.

And the best part is: no matter what you like to do, there will be someone out there who loves to read it.