After last Friday’s post, a friend reached out to tell me that she understood my point, but loved fanfics too much to agree with me. It made me realize that I had never actually talked about fan fiction in that post, and that made me question why.
The first and obvious reason is that I don’t really read fanfics. I know a lot of people who do, I am aware that there exists some great literature in that community, and I am familiar with the tales of great commercial success that originated as fan fiction (though, sadly, when the first example that comes to mind is 50 Shades of Gray, I struggle to feel very appreciative about it).
However, it has just never interested me. To me, the “canon” is always what the creator of the work says, and nothing else. Even in superhero comic books, where there are so many authors and artists working on the same characters, I will still almost never read “what if” or alternative reality stories, because they just detract from the “real” thing (please, don’t take this as snobbishness, it’s far more obsessive-compulsive than it is pretentious, I promise).
With that said, fan fiction has also never bothered me, and I do see a firm distinction between that and author tweets or fan theories. See, fan fiction is actual fiction. Good, bad, brilliant, or atrocious, it is a dramatized experience of the characters of a given work. A story. It treats them the same way the original author does – as creations to be put through their paces in an isolated frame.
Fanfics don’t treat people or events as any more “real” than the work that inspired them. And this is why, while not for me, I have great appreciation for the form. In the end, fans want more or different adventures (or, yunno, crazy naked sex) for the characters they love, so they create them, or go read the works of others who have created them. It is ultimately a positive and constructive act on both the creative and reading end.
Tweets about the characters, providing “information” about them that does not exist in any kind of work, be it original or fan-made, are not the same thing. Neither are theories that presume material that does not yet/will never exist. And, as I said last week, I am not in any position of authority – legal, moral, or otherwise – to tell you how to enjoy the things you enjoy.
But if I am going to learn about pooping wizards, I want to learn it from a work of fiction, not social media. You are not your characters’ town crier. You are their creator. And as far as I am concerned, you should always act like it.