Fanfic: A Niche Genre No More

The canon of literature has changed considerably in the few past decades. First Hobbits supplanted Hamlet and Gatsby and now dystopian lovers take the top spot. These changes have expanded what literature encompasses.

One innovation is the  Fan-Fiction genre, known colloquially as fanfic. Fanfic is about more than just a heroic story arc with a resolution; it’s an opportunity to explore the emotions and hidden plotlines of stories, reprising them to make something new. Originally a niche style for fans to write spin-off stories about works they enjoyed, fanfic has ballooned into a popularized form of writing.

“Fifty Shades of Gray” by E.L. James, an international bestseller, is perhaps one of the most widely read works of fanfic. The book stems from a fanfic involving Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from the popular series “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer.

Though an increasing number of works of fanfic garner large readerships, many works remain niche. Because of this versatility in scale, many novice writers are able to get their start by writing fanfic. Platforms like Tumblr and Archive Of Our Own have provided a space for these communities to practice their craft and share their work. Increasingly, these platforms act as a launch pad for writers who are published by major publishing houses.

Wattpad, is one of the most popular of these platforms, and currently has over 65 million users. The website provides the opportunity for reader comments and critiques. This aspect of Wattpad is strenuous to some writers, but to writers hoping to wrack up reads and popularize the work, the flow of feedback is a tool for improvement. Nevertheless, the website is still used by many as an opportunity to write for fun.

Different things bring people into the Wattpad community. For one user of Wattpad,  whose goes by Lina, writing on the platform has been something of an outlet.

“It really helps me escape from my own head. I have my own mental health issues and writing is a great coping skill,” said Lina. “I think I realized that I like it in around 5th grade. We had a short story unit and I wrote a story that my teacher gave a lot of praise to and I realized that it was lots of fun.”

For a Wattpad writer, the process can be both frustrating and relieving. There are times when the stress to produce the next chapter or the comments they receive weigh down on the writer. But when people leave supportive comments on a chapter or compliment a writer’s work, the experience is fulfilling.

Platforms like Wattpad provide writers with the opportunity to express themselves while delving into the stylistic form of fanfic. As the number of readers and curators increase, the genre’s prominence does as well.