The fandom began with Star Trek fans creating and exploring Kirk and Spock’s potential romantic relationship, and fanfiction has only further expanded into a vast, rich collection of ideas born from fan inspiration and desires.

Fanfiction has evolved, and how, over the past few years, since it started to emerge around the 1960s. Not only are these short pieces of fiction completely immersive, but also highly accurate in their new renditions of already well-established characters and settings created by authors and filmmakers. The fandom began with Star Trek fans creating and exploring Kirk and Spock’s potential romantic relationship, and fanfiction has only further expanded into a vast, rich collection of ideas born from fan inspiration and desires. While the process of pairing in fanfiction is massively popular and opens up unusual topics of discussion like a Hermione and Draco—a duo with opposing ethical allegiances—relationship like in Harry Potter, another type that exists is one where writers put out their stories on a particular site, like Wattpad, where anyone can access them for free. This type of fanfiction includes full-fledged, entirely original stories and characters of the writer’s imagination.

Fanfiction writers have the rare chance to interact with their readers before posting a single new chapter, while published authors don’t.

Invested readers even follow a writer’s story and wait for them to upload the next chapter and so on, just like how people wait for the next book of a published anthology to come out. There is also a marked difference between the releasing of new fanfiction chapters and that of published anthologies. Fanfiction writers have the rare chance to interact with their readers before posting a single new chapter, while published authors don’t. This successfully sprouts a fan base following the book, however small, and is one of the core ways to cultivate a wide reading audience. This is changing the nature of fanfiction, providing ardent fans—as well as the general audience—a type of fiction that is in some way influenced by fans, writers, and creatives alike.

The online interaction that writers have with their readers brings into question the ownership of the writing. The readers engage with each author in a friendly, comfortable, unique way, giving feedback on their scripts, such that the writing is no longer wholly the writer’s work.

The online interaction that writers have with their readers brings into question the ownership of the writing. The readers engage with each author in a friendly, comfortable, unique way, giving feedback on their scripts, such that the writing is no longer wholly the writer’s work. A perfect example of this is E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey which was originally published on a site in 2008 as a fanfiction based on characters Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from the Twilight novels. After receiving criticism, James amended her story to stand as her original work by creating new characters­ and settings, eventually going on to get it published as a novel four years later. The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey represents how fanfiction can evolve into renowned pieces of literature. If we look at other, slightly different ways in which this evolution is reflected, there are many other examples to think of.

Rowling wanted to maintain this interaction with her fans and keep giving them fiction to chew on so that they can enjoy the magical world at their fingertips.

Harry Potter is another case of how fanfiction can be used to create content even after great selling success. It is usually the most popular category on fanfiction databases—since the final book came out, fans almost instantly started speculating about the wizarding world of Harry Potter and this only further encouraged author J.K. Rowling to be in regular interaction with her fan base and release another book based on their fantasies about the series. This can be seen in the release of the Harry Potter and The Cursed Child almost nine years after the final book, and just five years after the final film. Almost instantly after the final film’s release was a diehard fan’s dream come true, that is, the wizarding world they love so much accessible and ready to be explored in the form of Pottermore. Described as the “digital heart of the wizarding world,” it houses online games, quizzes, trivia, facts, and more about the stories. Rowling wanted to maintain this interaction with her fans and keep giving them fiction to chew on so that they can enjoy the magical world at their fingertips.

Surprisingly, a small scene that focused on Jon finally petting Ghost had been added to the last episode—whether this was preplanned or had been added to the episode after seeing the uproar from fans has been highly speculated.

The most recent example of crazed fans constantly engaging with authors and writers is Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels called A Song of Ice and Fire. The T.V. series and books have various similarities and dissimilarities, but they have all centered around the fans’ interactions with and reaction to the show and books. There are discussions and theories constantly circulating the internet which are taken well into account by both the author and screenwriters. A particular instance is noteworthy when Jon Snow not petting his pet wolf Ghost towards the end of the series had sparked major disbelief amongst fans, because of their close-knit relationship. Surprisingly, a small scene that focused on Jon finally petting Ghost had been added to the last episode—whether this was preplanned or had been added to the episode after seeing the uproar from fans has been highly speculated.

The power of fans wanting fiction to play out a certain way is so strong, with the advent of the internet and inclusive interaction, that it is hard to separate published fiction from fanfiction today. It is definitely not the case that fictional written works are dominated by fan influence, but in one way or another this influence has managed to seep into the creation, evolution, and depiction of entertainment content and writing. While it may seem like a stretch to many, it can be safely assumed that Martin’s comments after the Game of Thrones series finale regarding the ending of the books being similar but also very different from the show’s ending is induced by the response received from keen audiences. The majority of fans reacted negatively to the final season, with even a petition that was started to remake the season with better writing and plot, eventually receiving more than a million signatures. This shows the newfound power that hands of fans all over the world share.

One might not read or write fanfiction, but almost everyone who reads, and watches adaptations of fictional works, is engaging with the fiction that fans create through discussions, interaction with authors, and their unbridled imagination.

The process of writing fanfiction, which is just one part of fan labour, has influenced fictional works to a large extent. An author like James was able to become quite popular by selling over 125 million copies of her books, Rowling still tweets out updates to fans about various scenarios in the wizarding world while releasing short pieces, Martin is yet to release the last two parts of this novel series eight years later. One might not read or write fanfiction, but almost everyone who reads, and watches adaptations of fictional works, is engaging with the fiction that fans create through discussions, interaction with authors, and their unbridled imagination.

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