In the previous article in this series on fanfiction, I discussed the relationship between Storytelling and Fanfiction, and noted that the two are intricately entwined. As opposed to being the 'red-headed step-child' of creative endeavors, fanfiction is, in fact, a natural outcropping from the innate human desire to tell stories. In addition, fanfiction in one form or another has existed for centuries, and can even be seen among published works labeled 'derivative' works.

In this article, it is my intention to explore the various reasons people create fanfiction. What is it that would inspire someone to take the characters and setting created by someone else and weave a unique tale for them? Read further to discover the top ten reasons people write fanfiction!

  • The Unfinished Story:
    Everyone has encountered an unfinished story. Perhaps the TV show you absolutely adored was canceled mid-stream. Maybe the author of your favorite book or anime series died or simply stopped writing. In either situation you are left feeling unfulfilled. Questions linger in your mind such as 'How was it going to end?' or 'What was going to happen next?' Fans of anime are intimately acquainted with this phenomenon since more often than not, anime comes to an abrupt end without an actual closure to the story. Fanfiction writers are the ones that jump headlong into the morass of confusion and lost hopes, and use their own imaginations to craft an ending. Their efforts helps keep the rest of us obsessed fans sane.
  • The Sucky Ending:
    Sometimes the ending we are given is absolutely terrible. Maybe everyone dies horribly, or the guy doesn't get the girl. Perhaps the main plot points aren't resolved at all or end up so convoluted you are left scratching your head. This sometimes happens with TV shows where time limits and threats of cancelation can cause a writer to try and wrap up the story quickly before the entire story is told. Bad endings are also rampant in anime, the classic example of this being Neon Genesis Evangelion. Fanfiction writers respond to the abundance of crappy endings by writing fix-it fics to satisfy themselves and other fans.
  • The Massive Plotholes:
    Let's face it. When writers shift from writing for themselves to writing for publishers and production companies, their creations are subjected to external pressures. Plots and characters can be warped in order to meet the demands of those who produce the works and issue the paychecks. As a result, stories can end up with a lack of continuity, details might be changed mid-stream, and plots might be developed and then dropped before being resolved. Such external demands upon a writer might also result in personality transplants for some of our beloved characters and annoying out-of-character behavior. The good news is that every dropped plotline, every mistake in the details, and every out-of-character moment can inspire a fanfiction author.
  • The Desire For More:
    Everything eventually comes to an end. When it involves characters we have grown to love and appreciate, sometimes we like to live in denial. We've enjoyed the story and we don't want it to end. Writers of fanfiction turn that into a reality and continue to provide further adventures for the characters we love.
  • The Challenge:
    Despite what some might claim, it is actually harder to construct good fanfiction than it is original fiction. Putting yourself into the heads of characters you did not create and managing to portray them adequately is far more challenging than creating a character whose thoughts and motivations you already understand. Sometimes writers like a bit of a challenge, a way to flex those creative muscles, and so they turn to fanfiction.
  • The Experimentation:
    Experimentation goes hand in hand with the challenge. Fanfiction provides writers with a relatively safe medium in which to test new styles of writing, different types of characterization, and just explore the possibilities. Maybe she has never written a romance before and wants to give it a shot, or has always admired those who craft exciting adventures and wants to try it herself. If the experiment fails, there is no harm done. The author can either try again and again until the new technique is mastered or decide to try something different.
  • The Feedback:
    Fanfiction provides a unique pathway for gaining feedback on the style of writing, on the characterization, on the plot development, and even the pacing and flow of the words. Feedback in invaluable to any author - without it, it is impossible to improve. But any writer of original fiction should be rightly wary of posting their new and unpublished work on the internet for review. While plagiarism is a universal bad thing, if someone steals fanfiction it is not likely to hamper a later effort to get published.
  • The Timeliness:
    Writing original fiction is a time consuming process. An author slaves over a story for a very long time, doing his best to make it as good and tight as he possibly can. Once he is satisfied with it, however, the process has only just begun. There will be editors and publishers and deadlines and it could be years before he finally sees his work on the shelves. With fanfiction, a story can be published as soon as the writer thinks it is complete. Criticism, reviews, feedback, and commentary all quickly follow, and that can be quite satisfying and immediately gratifying.
  • The Attention:
    While not what I would consider a 'good' quality, some people write fanfiction for the attention they receive. Good stories receive plenty of praise, and bad stories receive a lot of criticism. Either way, the author gets what he or she wanted, attention.
  • The Community:
    Fanfiction writers are, at heart, social creatures. No matter what the fandom, fanfic authors will find a way to gather. Finding people that share their love of a specific fandom can be a powerful motivator. They commune together and discuss the show, critique one another's works, and cheer one another on.

What other reasons for writing fanfic would you add to the list?

Category: Writing