What is Fan Fiction -- and why is it making people nervous?

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Title: What is Fan Fiction – and why is it making people nervous?
Creator: Stephen Downes
Date(s): March 1, 2014
External Links: What is Fan Fiction – and why is it making people nervous? ; Wayback
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What is Fan Fiction – and why is it making people nervous? is a 2014 essay by Stephen Downes.

It has the teaser: "It has become an internet sensation over the last decade, but not all is as it seems in the world of Fan Fiction."

Some Topics Discussed in the Essay

  • "FanFic" is usually based on a "published author's" works
  • fanfic "embellishes, alters, or rewrites... with new storylines, characters, alternative endings, beginnings, and substitutes sets of morals, ideals or sexual politics"
  • fanfic "has become an internet sensation or the last decade"
  • the most prolific amount of fanfic is based on Star Wars, followed by Star Trek, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, and Dungeons & Dragons
  • "FanFic has become more than gameplay for adults, it has become a serious financial and creative engine driving the movie, literature and television business rather than being driven by it."
  • FanFic writers are evenly split by gender: sci-fi-fantasy is written by boys and erotic-paranormal-fantasy is written by girls
  • FanFic writers are alienated in school and escape into the fantasy worlds offered by writing fan fiction where they develop no social skills and waste their time
  • there is too much sexual fanfiction and "There are no controls as to who can read this material and also no controls as to who can write it; children are learning age-inappropriate terminology from reading each other’s work and the work of older, largely anonymous, authors."
  • FanFic writers aren't consuming enough "mainstream mediums" -- "FanFic’s impact on young people, in particular, is slowly rotating from the positive to the negative, as young readers stop reading, watching and learning from mainstream mediums and begin to solely enjoy and mimic FanFic. It’s a strange notion, don’t you think, that teenage authors are now writing FanFic homages to other FanFic writers; it will be an interesting journey to see where we end up when the author of a story featuring Captain Kirk has never seen Star Trek!"

From the Essay

Fan Fiction or FanFic can be defined in many different ways. There is no single agreed genre, so to add to the melee here is my own definition: FanFic is any work which embellishes, alters or rewrites the work of another (usually a published author) with new storylines, characters, alternative endings, beginnings and substitute sets of morals, ideals or sexual politics.

FanFic has become an internet sensation over the last decade, replacing or augmenting the Gamer subcultures that had grown-up around such titles as Dungeons & Dragons, WarHammer and Magic: The Gathering. FanFic numbers are staggering; the posts on dedicated websites for FanFic in general or Fan Fiction of a particular series of books, films or games, number in their millions. And it is not exclusive to the English-speaking world; Harry Porter Fan Fiction can be found in Hindi, Russian, Japanese and even in the made-up language of Harry Potter’s world, Parseltongue.

Neither is it unique to J K Rowling’s teenage wizard school – Star Wars, the most multigenerational franchise, is by far the most popular FanFic topic to-date, Star Trek, Twilight, Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons also feature highly on the list of most popular topics, with posts and readers numbering in their millions.

FanFic is split evenly between the genders, with just as many girls as boys engaging in writing (unlike the Gamer subculture which was dominated by boys), although popular topics are largely split between sci-fi-fantasy (boys) and erotic-paranormal-fantasy (girls).

More obscure and unlikely candidates for Fan Fiction can also be found. To name but a few here: the films of Disney, Manga Cartoons (from Japan), comic book heroes (from modern pseudo-heroes such as Preacher to classic heroes like Superman), the works of Jane Austen, Sonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Who, Bollywood Heroes (India), countless novels of Erotic Paranormal Fiction, and even characters from the Bible.

Those of us of a certain generation will remember loving Star Wars and if you loved Star Wars you might read some of the many official spin-off novels, you might collect the toy models, trading cards and comic books. As a fan you might even play the Star Wars D&D-like game, in which you assume the role of one of the lead characters for a few hours of gameplay. Haven’t we all done it at some stage as a child – assumed a character from our favourite show, film or book? But how many of us have brought that playground fantasy world into our adult lives? One million hits a week from adults on FanFic’s most popular websites suggest many of us have done so.

I see two bigger issues with FanFic which give me cause for concern. The first is the separation of young people from their own lives into the virtual lives of FanFic. One 13-year-old FanFic author I spoke to, in person, described himself as alienated at school; he was ignoring school work, shunning friends and all to produce vast amounts of FanFic for a particular site.

The wordage produced by some young FanFic authors/contributors is staggering. To give you some idea, an average published novel is 95,000 words, a saga novel can be twice or three times that and can represent three years’ work for a professional author. It is not uncommon for dedicated FanFic writers to produce 300,000 words of FanFic a year. Truly, 300,000 words is a monumental amount of time and effort, and sadly most of it is wasted as the vast majority of FanFic authors will not go on to write in any professional sense.

Additionally, the cost to their private lives, their social development and their social interaction skills outside of internet forums can only be detrimental, not to mention the diversion from study, which could have a huge effect on their college and career prospects.

My second concern also involves younger writers, who of course make up the majority of FanFic users; the sexualisation of fictional works written originally for children is currently one of the most popular genres of FanFic.

Explicit heterosexual, homosexual and violent sexual versions of books such as Harry Potter, Alice Through the Looking Glass, films like Star Wars and The Hobbit, as well as TV shows from sitcoms to Star Trek are all being shared in the fantasy world of FanFic. There are no controls as to who can read this material and also no controls as to who can write it; children are learning age-inappropriate terminology from reading each other’s work and the work of older, largely anonymous, authors.

Unlike the pornographic sites on the internet, FanFic sites are regarded as ‘literature’ and parents either cannot block them or are unaware of the sub-thread genres they may contain (not all FanFic sites contain explicit material, and some have recently banned erotic work, but they are a minority).

FanFic is a complex web of millions of contributors, readers and critics and I believe its positives only just outweigh its negatives at this moment in time, but that will not stay the case. As FanFic becomes more and more influential on the mainstream, legal and moral battles may mar it beyond its original form. FanFic’s impact on young people, in particular, is slowly rotating from the positive to the negative, as young readers stop reading, watching and learning from mainstream mediums and begin to solely enjoy and mimic FanFic.

It’s a strange notion, don’t you think, that teenage authors are now writing FanFic homages to other FanFic writers; it will be an interesting journey to see where we end up when the author of a story featuring Captain Kirk has never seen Star Trek!

Excerpts from the Comments


“Truly, 300,000 words is a monumental amount of time and effort, and sadly most of it is wasted as the vast majority of FanFic authors will not go on to write in any professional sense.”

By this rationale, it is a waste of time and effort to join your local pub football team and knock a ball around with your mates every weekend, because you’re never going to be headhunted for the Premier League; a waste of time and effort to experiment with delicious new recipes and feed them to your friends and family, because you’re never going to open a restaurant; a waste of time and effort to flirt with a pretty girl if you know you’re probably never going to see her again; a waste of time and effort to run a marathon if you’re not going to win any prize money; a waste of time and effort to take pictures of your child’s first faltering steps if you’re never planning to become a professional photographer; a waste of time and effort to join a choir or play the guitar on the beach if you’re never going to record a number one album; a waste of time and effort to learn how to thoroughly blow somebody’s mind in bed if you don’t plan to become a sex worker.

The point of such pursuits sir, is that, in and of themselves, THEY GIVE YOU JOY. They enrich your life. If you genuinely find value only in those things which can be leveraged into making money – well, that’s truly tragic.

Fanfic is the 21st century iteration of that oldest of human impulses: a group of friends sitting in the dark, taking turns to retell stories around a fire. Before Pacific Rim coffeeshop AUs, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies or The BBC’s Modern day Sherlock AU, we had Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Wide Sargasso Sea, West Side Story, Ivanhoe, basically everything Shakespeare ever wrote, Gawain And The Green Knight, The Aeneid…thousands of years of transformative works in poetry, drama and prose. The narrative tradition of every culture is a palimpsest of myths, legends, fairytales, anecdotes, jokes and daydreams endlessly rewritten, reshaped, rebuilt atop one another. Fanfic. This is what we do, and what we’ve always done. Fanfic communities are united by their love of storytelling, and by their fascination with source texts; instead of passively consuming media, we actively engage with it – questioning, critiquing, disassembling, poking it with a stick, flipping gender or sexual orientation or ethnicity, swapping the setting or the goal. We recognise tropes, archetypes, flaws, virtues. We embrace our quirks and our bullet-proof kinks. We use story as a lens and a window and a mirror. WE HAVE FUN. (A fair number of us also write original stuff, and DO move into getting published – but that is not the point of fanfic, any more than becoming a pro ballet dancer is the point of going out clubbing with your mates on a Friday night. Fanfic is an end in its own right, not the means to an end.)

That aside: colour me curious as to where the devil you found evidence that fanfic is created and consumed by men and women in equal numbers. In 15 years I’ve encountered fewer than half a dozen men (including transmen) writing fanfic; by contrast, I’ve encountered hundreds upon hundreds – if not thousands – of women.

Another pro tip: for all that the geekboys in gaming try to insist gamer culture is some pitiful No Gurls Allowed clubhouse, 47% of gamers are actually female. Girl geeks are definitely a thing.

ANOTHER pro tip: this girls=erotic paranormal fantasy, boys=scifi/fantasy notion? That might reflect the way publishing houses are marketing their books, but it’s got sod all to do with the creation and consumption of fanfic. Women write filthy hardcore porn, cheesy romance, swashbuckling action adventures, thrilling whodunnits and any other genre you might care to think of, and they do it for every kind of text. Police procedurals & hard SF are particularly popular, but pretty much you name it, and my people are out there somewhere writing fanfic about it.

On another note: “There are no controls as to who can read this material and also no controls as to who can write it; children are learning age-inappropriate terminology from reading each other’s work and the work of older, largely anonymous, authors.”

Oh, Stephen. As soon as kids board the puberty train, they’re going to go looking for porn. Technology facilitates this, sure – but step into a bookshop and you’ll be SHOCKED to discover that children can buy a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey over the counter without anyone leaping forth to protect their sensibilities. A million years ago, when i was a wee thing, we were stuck with the oldskool approach of reading our Mums’ Jackie Collins books, or nicking our older brothers’ skin mags. Kids today have instant access to a plethora of porn videos and images online at myriad free sites. In comparison to the gonzo misogynistic gangbang DP jizzfests available at the touch of a button, or memes like goatse and two girls one cup, I really don’t think kids are going to be psychologically scarred by reading or writing 200k of Thorin/Bilbo tentacleporn, or whatever. (it is notable that when Reading or writing about intimacy, the participants are subjects, not objects; reading is an act of empathy and sympathy, not an act of objectification.)

As to age-inappropriate: prepubescent kids have no interest in sex, and if you’re worrying about them being exposed to confusing and distressing materials, it’s images and videos you should be fretting about them stumbling across, not NC17 Harry Potter slashfic. Sure, teens are reading, writing and posting explicit fanfic; a couple of generations back, Stephen, kids that age were STILL writing explicit fanfic (and original fic); they were just keeping it in their notebooks in their bedrooms where you couldn’t see them, and feeling ashamed and worried that they were sluts and freaks. (Except for the ones who stumbled across fellow fen and set up Kirk/Spock fanzines and Blakes 7 Slash Conventions and the like.) Now they’ve got one another’s backs, and as they grapple with the everyday horror of transforming into women in a world saturated with rape culture, they can explore concepts of desire, and power, and consent, and agency, and gender, all within safe and supportive fanfic communities. This is AWESOME, Stephen.
[Danielle Wells]: Bless you and bless this comment, [Fly]. Clearly they should have hired you to write the article about fanfiction because you’re a thousand times more articulate and well-researched than the author of this article.
[Aoife]: Speaking as someone who has occasionally delved into fanfiction, this piece is full of the hilarious awkwardness you get when someone has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about (and are terrified that it might involve sex).

Personally, I think fanfic is fantastically beneficial – as Ciarán pointed out, it encourages teenagers to practice writing (and I’m equally confused as to why that’s a bad thing). There’s a very supportive proof-reading culture where writers correct each others’ work which, again, can only improve knowledge of grammar, spelling and syntax. There’s also often a good community aspect where writers critique, build on and react to each others’ work, which can turn into far more sophisticated literary criticism that you’re going to get in the average secondary school. I don’t see how any of this could be bad.

As for the rest of it – 13-year-olds feeling alienated is not something new; it’s called being a teenager. I’m bemused to hear that fantasy, as a genre, is split between “sci-fi fantasy” written by boys and “erotic-paranormal-fantasy” written by girls; this completely ignores epic fantasy (as LOTR is generally classed), sword-and-sorcery (D&D and its ilk), steampunk, urban fantasy and Harry Potter (can’t really think of a sub-genre for that one) and far more. You’re also wrong completely on the gender divide – 78% of those writing on fanfiction.net are female: http://ffnresearch.blogspot.ie/2011/03/fan-fiction-demographics-in-2010-age.html. As for the sexually explicit stuff that you’re trying to protect young people from seeing – that’s the very demographic that’s writing it. In short, you really don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

Also, you’re a writer – what’s with the unnecessary capitalisation? It’s “fanfiction”, “manga”, “Bollywood heroes”, “erotic paranormal fiction” and so forth. It really detracts from the piece.
[Aisling Ni C]: The gender divide thing is baffling - six or so years in various fandoms and I genuinely haven’t ever encountered a fella who was involved? Compared to what most be hundreds of women. So I don’t have a clue where he got that from, other than possibly 4chan or a dream.
Jane Davitt:

This is so wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to start. And I’m not talking about fic, but your article.

I write fic (no one writes it as Fan Fic by the way; it’s fan fiction, fic, fanfic…). Have done for over a decade. I’m also a published author with seventeen novels currently in print. Are the two connected? You bet. Writing fic gave me to confidence to take the next step and turn pro with my original writing. But if I hadn’t, if the millions of words I wrote prompted by nothing more than a love of the source materials (TV shows; I don’t write movie or book related fic often) remained my sole literary works, that would’ve been fine.

Writers write because they want to. Have to, even. It’s addictive. I’m not saying getting paid for it now isn’t nice but the sheer joy at telling a story is the same in both cases. My two teenage daughters are both involved in fandom; they vid, they do fan art — and they write fic.

I couldn’t be prouder. They’re intelligent, creative young women and they’re sharing their love of something with the world and expanding their horizons.

And to return to your article, it’s not a 50/50 split of male and female writers. Most fic is written by females in my experience. It’s a female-dominated activity.

Maybe that’s why it’s been ignored for so long (which most of us preferred) and then treated with ignorance and scorn when it went public.

Which brings me to my last point. Your article title is akin to asking ‘What is the internet?’ it’s that behind the times.
[Rainne Cassidy]: VIOLENT SEXUAL HARRY POTTER FIC OH NO WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHYYYYYLDRUUUUUUUN I’m dying over the idea that ficcing is exclusive to teenagers. Forgot I was 36 for a minute LOL.
[Ciarán Keane]: I think it’s fascinating how a man who presumably makes much of his living from writing can fail to see how enormously beneficial this culture of written word could be. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to skip formal education in favour of it, but if you write over 300,000 words a year( of whatever genre) you’re doing wonders for your education. To say that hours spent writing are a waste if the author is never published is simply wrong.

Language is key to human intelligence, and practise is practise.That a huge culture based on the glorification of the written word has emerged and is constantly growing is an amazing thing to happen. FanFic is the folklore of the internet age. Humans love to tell stories and hear them being told. Sometimes people tell nice stories, sometimes people tell bad stories, scary ones, raunchy ones. Human nature. No different from the visual media save for one thing, it encourages reading and writing.

Lastly, I’d comment that every fiction is Fanfic to an extent. How many of our heroes on tv and in the cinema have been, say, the character of Hamlet, albeit with a new name and setting? How many have been Jesus or Judas? No story is truly original because every author is influenced by the authors they read. Fan fiction is simply more honest about where they draw their characters and plots and tropes from.
[abm mcmahon]: Ah here, why didn’t you just title the piece ‘Think of the Children”? Seriously, there an awful lot worse things that teenagers could be doing other than reading and writing.
[Lindsay Fink]: I think we are all ignoring the most important aspect of this piece: this man is clearly a Time Traveler. He has come from an alternate version of the 90’s in which Fan Fiction is a Dangerous And Alienating Game and the grammatical rules of Capitalization have been completely rewritten.
[Perchy Mare]: We could totally write fic about that, Lindsay. This corrupt, dystopian AU from which the author hails? Has its terrible roots in the Great Dungeons and Dragons Wars of ’84. One fanficcing Dungeon Master wrote a crossover slash AU with the Star Trek mirrorverse, and the damage was done: two worlds, not just one, and in the alternate world, Spock and Kirk were getting it on. This sort of tragedy is what can happen when we fail to Think Of The Children.
[Fiona O'Brien]: The author here had just managed to offend fanfiction writers and readers and gamers in one foul swoop. Also lacks the knowledge to point out 50 Shades of Grey started out as a Twilight fanfic
[Kindra Gresham]: Is there anything funnier than a stodgy middle-aged person finding a subculture he’s not familiar with and banging out a column based on ten minutes’ poking around a few old LiveJournal communities? It couldn’t be more obvious that the writer of this column knows exactly _nothing_ about fan culture.

To start with, fanfic is hardly a new trend. People have been writing derivative works of other stories since Ancient Greece, and fanfiction in the ‘modern’ definition has been around since at least the late 1960s, since Star Trek gave birth to many of the things we now consider standard about fandom in general. Second, it’s not just something for young people. There are girls in their early teens who are just starting to write, and there are writers who have been writing fanfic for longer than I’ve been alive. I just wrote a 12000 word short story for a fanfic challenge being run by a woman who’s in her mid fifties and recently became a grandmother. And I specify “girls” there, not “people”, because for the most part, the fanfiction community belongs to women. In the dozens of fandoms I’ve been active in, I’ve read fanfic by hundreds of different authors, and I know of only two of them who were men. There may have been a few more scattered here and there, but they are by far a minority, so this idea that the genres are somehow split down gender lines is frankly insulting to me.

This writer saw something he hadn’t encountered before and didn’t make any kind of effort to understand it, just wrote a condescending, fear-mongering, and wildly inaccurate article. Research, research, _research_, man! They should have drilled that into your head back in your _high school_ English classes, and you didn’t even do enough to figure out that “fanfic” is not a proper noun, and doesn’t need to be capitalized in every sentence.
[Anne]: I wonder where the author got the idea that fanfic is somehow a young peoples’ game. At nearly 60, I’m by no means the oldest person I know in the fic writing community. Fanfic writers may start out in their adolescent years (yes, even in MY adolescent years: Monkees fanfic, anyone?), but we don’t magically stop loving it at 21. Readers AND writers of fic come in all ages. And guess what? We come in all sizes, shapes, genders, ethnicities, languages, physical abilities and walks of life, too.

This is…kind of hilarious, really. You clearly didn’t do much more than cursory research into the communities and history that fanfiction is built from. There are essays on it by people that actually know what they’re talking about that already compiled the information, so it’s not like you’d have to do it all yourself.

Fanfiction started in fanzines before the internet, mainly for Star Trek, where a lot of the fanfiction lingo comes from (a lot of other fanfiction lingo comes from Japan where fan comics are pretty big). So, really, this stuff…isn’t new. As in, this stuff was around for decades. Started by women. Still remains mostly women, except in specific fandoms.

To say fanfiction can impede social growth is the kind of stuff I heard in the early days of the internet. A lot of people are more social on the internet than person-to-person because they have the whole world to find people with the same interests and viewpoints that they have. Likely stress in said 13-year-old elicited a need for escapism, and that took the form of fanfiction. If it wasn’t fanfiction, they would probably escape into something else like a book, video game, or movies. Again, this isn’t new or shocking. As far as writing goes…currently, some of my favorite professional writers developed from writing fanfiction in their early writing years. It’s part of the developmental process for some people, like the kid that draws Bugs Bunny in class that later moves on to original stuff. Some kids never get out of drawing characters that already exist, some do. Some fall out of it.

Finally, so address the erotica aspect. Ever wonder WHY there’s so much erotica on the side of female writers? Perhaps it has something to do with the majority of other sexualized media being very much from the male gaze. Even lesbian porn is for male consumption most of the time. Teenage boys looking at porn mags as an outlet for sex is often a given and girls are…what? Supposed to wait for marriage or something, I guess.

Really, next time interview more than one teen, and not only teens. I have friends in their mid-twenties that are second-generation fanfiction writers. Also, perhaps consider what makes a fanfiction different from an adaption of something(like Sherlock or Alice in Wonderland or Shakespeare or Count of Monte Cristo). Is it budget? Who’s writing it? Being published? What’s being written about? The audience? Certainly something to consider.

Fandom is fascinating in that it’s an active dialogue with our pop culture…and this piece hardly does it justice.
[Kayla Knutson]: You know I have never heard a professional writer encourage aspiring writers to NOT WRITE. Also, engaging in an activity that brings you happiness is not a waste of time, no matter whether or not you intend to go pro. That’s basically saying that anyone that likes cooking, sports, weightlifting, martial arts, paintball, painting, drawing, sewing, or any hobby or activity in existence is wasting their time unless they are intending to go pro. Also, what makes you think that nobody that writes fic will ever be published? Clearly you never did you research as evidence by the fact that you have one testimonial from an unnamed and questionable source, use improper terminology, and completely missed the fact that the overwhelming majority of fic writers identify has female.
[yes, THAT Tom]: Oh my gods, 1996 called, and it wants its RPG panic back.

Haven’t we heard enough yet about how the fantasy genre “causes” alienation in kids rather than giving already-alienated kids a means of making social connections with others who’re suffering similar feelings of isolation? Fanfic isn’t the cause of isolation. What an irrational, buffoonish thing to say. By its very nature it’s a means of reaching out to others.

It’s only a “recent” phenomenon on the internet because the internet itself is a recent phenomenon. Fanfic as we know it today – the sort you’re making some attempt to discuss here – predates the internet. That’s an extremely basic fact that you should have caught while conducting research for this ridiculous essay. Fanfic in a more general sense is one of the oldest forms of literature. Surely you’ve at least heard of The Aeneid, AKA fanfic of the Iliad and Odyssey. There is AU (Alternate Universe) slashfic based on Pretty Woman, a movie based on the movie My Fair Lady, which is a move based on the musical by the same same, which is based on Pygmalion, which is a play based on the story of Pygmalion and Galatea in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, which is an ancient Latin epic poem based on Roman beliefs (what we now call myths), which were based on ancient Greek stories.

And yet somehow, even though “Walk On By” exists, people still read ancient Greek myths.
[Danielle Wells]: I started out writing fanfiction when I was in my early teens and I can genuinely say that I would not have graduated highschool at all were it not for the support of the friends (almost all of which I’m friends with fifteen years later) that I met through writing and sharing fanfiction. I’m now a published scifi – short fiction – writer working on my first full-length novel and the confidence that I’ve found to write professionally came from the support of my avid readers and friends. Not only that, but the research I have to do on a daily basis to write better fanfiction – because I primarily write historically-based fiction – has made me an all-around more intelligent person. I chose my major at university – anthropology – because fanfiction gave me a passion for comparative mythology, religion, and cultures.

And even if fanfiction wasn’t a warm-up or a stepping stone for me to publishing original fiction, I’d still write fanfiction because it’s fun. Considering the things that kids could be doing these days, I’d say that staying at home reading and writing is a hobby that should be encouraged, not condemned. I shudder to imagine the trouble I would have found myself in if I didn’t have something to occupy my mind in my teens.

The first rule of the internet tends to be “don’t read the comments”, but I proudly read the comments of this piece because I knew that you’d have writers and readers coming out of the woodwork to inform you how poorly researched and downright incorrect your article is. This isn’t a bunch of defensive people getting bent out of shape about someone insulting their pastime, these are people who know what they’re talking about better than you could hope for in years of research, because we have lived this intimately, and passionately, every day of our lives for years upon years. It would do you well to read each and every one of these comments and re-evaluate not only your initial conception of fanfiction but also where you’re getting your information from.

I’m sure if you bothered to look at all, you’d also find a heck of a lot of people who could say that fanfiction, and fandom, saved their lives. I’m one of those people. And I can’t think of anything more noble than something that brings people joy and gives them something to get up for. I feel sorry for you if you disagree.
[Suzanne Barnes]: Oh… wow. This is so very, very much like a cloistered virgin trying to describe sex that the second-hand embarrassment is nearly overwhelming. Honestly, did this man do more than talk to maybe two or three people who had read a few fics or articles about fanfiction? The level of ignorance shown here is appalling. I’ve been writing fics since pre-internet days; my first one was published in an amateur Dr. Who ficblog (print copies only; you had to order them or buy them at SF cons) in about 1985 or so. I honestly have no idea how many hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written to date, but I have two novels being worked on at present and every hope of becoming a published author.

Writing ficcage has built my confidence, taught me to grow in my writing, given me strength during bad times by reminding me that I can *do* this, I’m *good* at it– I wonder some days what kind of person I’d be now if I hadn’t started writing. Friendships have been born over sharing my fics; there are people I know now and have known for over a decade, all because we met online and shared what we were working on for critiquing, for company, for the pure pleasure of discussing the stories we loved. Any fanfic writer out there knows the inner glow of writing something that rings right, and the utter thrill of posting what you’ve written where friends and strangers can read it.

And this bozo thinks that it’s, what, a waste of time and effort?

Well, to continue my ‘virgin’ analogy….. You can pull a muscle during sex, and if you’re not trying for a baby I suppose that nothing solid comes of it. But procreation’s not the only reason to make love, and if a few muscles complain afterwards? Gee, I don’t see that stopping anybody any time soon. So maybe you should try it, Mister Downes; you might be surprised at just how much you enjoy yourself.
[vulgarshudder]: “as young readers stop reading, watching and learning from mainstream mediums and begin to solely enjoy and mimic FanFic.”

Heaven forbid people doing something outside the mainstream, not relying on the capitalistic populist traditional mass media!

This article is click-bait trash, a representative of the traditional publishing machine very worried about the future of their job.
[Kita]: Old Man Discovers The Internet