Why Fanfiction is the Highest Form of Art

Ria Mitra and Namita Pise

Fanfiction - the age-old art that brings to light the hidden corners of the human condition. And no, that’s not at all sarcastic. Though it may not often be taken seriously, we are here to convince you that fanfiction should be considered great literature and treated with the same respect as the likes of Hemingway and Austen. For those of you who don’t know, fanfiction refers to the fiction, usually published online, written by fans of a certain franchise and featuring characters from that said franchise. It has seen a meteoric rise in popularity this past decade; the most popular fanfic publishing site, Wattpad, now has almost 500 million stories for audiences to browse. Fanfiction is an art in its purest form, and here is why.

First of all, fanfiction is a gateway for fans to not only express their love for a certain book, TV, or movie franchise but also to express themselves creatively and share their literary talent with the world without the constraints of traditional publishing methods. There is no bias in fanfiction; anyone can be an author regardless of whether they have the means to actually publish a book. This is a massive benefit of the art form, and it means that more and more people of a younger and younger age have the opportunity to cultivate their creativity and love for literature in an environment that is non-judgemental and inclusive. Before the rise of fanfiction, it was difficult for young people to find a community that would enable them to write about what they love and improve their skills organically with an audience who are willing to connect and criticize constructively.

Also, no fanfiction writers are in it for the money - their motives are pure passion. Unlike literary authors or well-established novelists, fanfiction writers do not get paid for what they create. Their dedication has absolutely no correlation to monetary incentives. It comes to light therefore, that fanfiction stems from genuine ingenuity. In fact, writers choose such mediums because of the limitless independence they get as artists. They have the freedom to write without any deadlines, update their work as per their personal schedules, and ultimately, build their own talents without any secondary intentions. The goal is neither money nor fame. Rather, it is the joy and accomplishment they get from producing fanfiction. Writing gives millions of people a sense of solidarity and expression. By using their voices, writers can connect with those sharing similar interests, or can develop their own interpretations of a given franchise. All in all, fanfiction is an exquisite form of art; it is obscure to some but original for all.

The fundamental aspect that makes fanfiction stand out is its equality. No matter your race, gender, profession, popularity or expertise, fanfiction will welcome you with open arms. And thus far, the genres have been endless. Writers can work under anonymous usernames to post their work online, allowing others to read, comment and provide constructive criticism. We can draw parallels to a peer feedback mechanism; fanfiction lets writers improve their skills and grow as artists. Yet, there is a stigma associated with this medium. Like all other forms of art, fanfiction suffers the wrath of cynics. People claim that ‘real’ writers cannot write fanfiction. We beg to differ. Art, after all, is a unique relationship between beauty and the beholder. Each of us has different opinions as to what constitutes art. But that’s the beauty of fanfiction; we can all find a story that speaks to us - whether we write it or not.

Fanfiction is where many people find themselves and find somewhere to belong, and we hope that the genre will continue to gain the recognition it deserves. We need to keep the art form alive so that aspiring writers can benefit from the wondrous merits that fanfiction provides.