The plot thickens in fan fiction

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News Media Commentary
Title: The plot thickens in fan fiction
Commentator: Rebekah Denn
Date(s): 13 May 2003
Venue: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: The plot thickens in fan fiction (Wayback)

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The plot thickens in fan fiction is a typical 101 introduction to fanfiction article. It has the subtitle "Loyal followers find the Web a magical place to spin their own versions" and uses Harry Potter fanfic as a starting point to explain fanfiction to a lay audience.

Henry Jenkins is quoted extensively and two male copyright experts give their opinion on the legality of fanfic.

Fans say the rise of the Internet has increased the corporate crackdowns on fan fiction as well. The online distribution doesn't make the works any more or less legal, but "copyright holders are more concerned with electronic media, because it is easier to reproduce, distribute and broadcast," said Professor David Ensign, who teaches copyright law at the University of Louisville.

Corporations and authors also can get more riled up when the fiction takes an X-rated turn. For instance, according to, in 2001 Warner Bros. threatened sexually explicit Harry Potter sites (a particular concern because the heroes -- although imaginary -- are all minors), but has since backed off, at least publicly.Legal or not, a large percentage of fan fiction stories focus on romance and sex.
Fans get a word in about the appeal of reading and writing fanfiction and the article ends with links to a few websites and definitions of fanfic terms. Links: -- An exhaustive index with links to every kind of fan fiction from "Little House on the Prairie" to Shakespeare to Garfield. Separate categories for books, movies, anime and more. -- Bills itself as the largest fan fiction site in Harry Potter fandom, with more than 22,000 registered users. The thoroughly organized site also includes fan art, message boards and more. -- Includes descriptions of and links to dozens of Harry Potter fan fiction sites.

Want a guide to Harry fan fiction? Check out this hilarious encyclopedia, written by two University of Washington students:

Looking for a child-appropriate site for Harry Potter fan fiction? Join an online list-serve such as, which encourages parents to review content and mandates it all be rated G or PG. Yahoo Groups ( features hundreds of other list-serves for all varieties of fan fiction. -- Called a "comprehensive guide to fan fiction," it's apparently inactive now, but still archives useful articles and tips. A highlight: guide to which authors and corporations allow fan fiction and which threaten legal action. -- Tired of separating the fan fiction gems from the chaff? The Godawful fan fiction site provides the chaff for you, including a "Star Trek" fanfic that reads more like a Seattle-area travel guide.
  • Mary Sue -- An uncomplimentary term for a character based on the fan-fiction author, frequently a character who is gorgeous, saves the day, and/or has a romantic liaison with one of the fictional heroes.
  • Slash -- Homoerotic fan fiction (the phrase originated from old "Star Trek" works that were described as Kirk/Spock stories; that is, Kirk-slash-Spock). The lesbian version is "alt" fiction; the heterosexual version is "het."
  • Beta reader -- Like the beta testers of the computer world, a beta reader looks at fanfic stories in progress to offer constructive critiques.

Reactions and Reviews

  • "The primary impetus seems to be Harry Potter (with a few obscure fandoms for contrast value) and the impact of online discourse and internet-based publishing. There are some great quotes by Henry Jenkins, and -- this is a new one for me, at least in commercial journalism -- a surprisingly neutral acknowledgement of RPS. Good legal points and a creditable shortlist of sites to check out and fandom terms round out a fairly diverse and interesting article."[1]


  1. ^ Bennie Robbins. Metafic (Accessed 01 April 2012)