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Paula Marie Celine Manliclic Molina English 12 R09 Fanfiction as a Form of Literature and Proposals for its Improvement Defining Fanfiction Fanfiction, by its very definition, is fiction written by fans and are meant to be read by fellow fans. Fanfiction is a product of the excessive love of fans for a particular book, movie or television show, otherwise known as a fandom. Normally, fics or fanfics are stories continuing, retelling, expounding or completely changing the plots of their particular fandoms. To both the readers and writers of fanfiction, it is an extension of the stories that they cannot seem to get enough of. Fanfiction helps an author to focus solely on the quality of their work, giving them the freedom they need rather than having the stress of creating something that has not been created before (Jessop 31). There are fanfictions out there that are just downright weird (stories like the love between Draco Malfoy and the giant squid come to mind) but the point of fanfiction is to bring stories to its readers that the originals simple could not. There are ten types of fanfiction. Recontextualization (storylines that were not included in the original text), Timeline Expansion (prequels or sequels), Refocalization (stories about characters that werent discussed in length in the original text), Moral Realignment (a change in the view of who is the hero and villain), Genre Shift (changing the genres of the original text), Crossover (placing the character of one story into the world of another) , Character Dislocation (a radical change in personality and history of a character), Personalization (placing of the author inside his/her story), Emotional Intensification (focusing on extremely emotional moments) and Eroticization (inserting romantic and sexual elements in the original text) or

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slash fiction. (McCudden, 19.) Here we see how broad the fanfiction world is. Each type of fanfiction has sub-types that have sub-sub-types and it goes on and on. The creativity of authors is limitless as well. Certain authors can come up with stories for each type of fanfiction.

A Brief History Fanfiction has been around for a surprisingly long time. The earliest being Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, and her siblings fantasy adventures about Arthur Wellesly the first duke of Wellington as well as his two sons. Technology plays an important role in the history of fanfiction. What used to be printed on fanzines (fan magazines) turned to electronic fan texts. Soon, carefully maintained archives were created for the ease of the readers (Santilli, 42.). Today, there is a staggering amount of fanfiction resting safely in the Internet. Fanfiction.net holds the largest number of fanfics than any other fanfiction website today. With technology advancing at an incredible pace, the world of fanfiction became available on podcasts of sites like portkey.org and mugglenet.com. The fact that fanfiction can now be heard is a testament to how important technology is in improving the world of fanfiction. In the earlier years, fanfiction writers felt the need to hide their stories due to copyright issues. These issues are still being debated on up to this day. Fanfics are made and posted daily and the number of readers and writers applying on fanfiction websites grow everyday.

Fanfiction Isnt Mainstream Despite its long history and current popularity, fanfiction still isnt considered as a part of mainstream media. There is hardly ever any mention of fanfiction in the news, on the radio and even on websites like Facebook. Lev Grossmans article How Harry Potter Became The Boy

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Who Lived Forever in TIME Magazine was one of the first mentions of fanfiction in the mainstream media. Grossman mentions in his article that Right now fan fiction is still the cultural equivalent of dark matter: it's largely invisible to the mainstream, but at the same time, it's unbelievably massive. (para 4.). Although fanfiction is more popular now than it was five years ago, there are still a lot of people who have no clue as to what fanfiction is. Majority of these people belong to the older generation. Those whose internet skills are only bound to Facebook, Yahoo! Mail and Google and fail to see what else the internet has to offer. Since fanfiction is mostly made and read by tweens, teenagers and the occasional adults, it is understandable that fanfiction still remains in the dark.

The Beauty of Fanfiction Becca Schaffner explains that fanfiction is a dream come true for librarians and teachers. It is a community that never stops talking, thinking about and sharing books (615.). In high school, teachers always complain that students dont spend enough time reading books. In fanfiction, however, teenagers spend countless hours reading stories that contain more than a hundred chapters and see it as a productive way of using their time. Fanfiction, for its history and growing popularity, should be considered as a form of literature in this day and age but it should, however, change some of its guidelines with regards to whomever can read and access fanfiction sites as well as improve its application requirements for authors and betas (fanfiction editors).

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Defining Literature Without primary knowledge about a fandom, it would be difficult to analyze fanfiction. The authors fandom influences their works. (Chandler-Olcott, Mahas. 558.) There is a reason why fanfiction is called as such. It was written by and meant for fans. This gives the impression that if you are not a fan of whatever show/movie/book/anime the author is writing about, do not read it. It will be difficult for a non-fan to understand a story filled with terms from that particular fandom and characters theyve never seen before and therefore cannot relate to. Fanfiction has taken its place as one of the ways that writers of all ages can express their ideas and imaginative leanings in creative writing. (Jessop. 29.) It is a place where authors evolve through time and effort. Some even make it all the way and become published writers like Cassandra Clare (author of the Mortal Instruments series) and E.L. James (author of the Fifty Shades Trilogy) who started off as humble fanfiction writers. Sites like fanfiction.net or fanfiction libraries are venues for authors to share and comment on each others works. (Andersen. 106.) Fanfiction.net and similar websites (portkey.org, quizilla.com, etc.) provide ways for authors to better their skills. By posting their stories here, they offer themselves up to every type of criticism. This results to a surge in confidence, helping them write more stories or an urge to better themselves in order to get better reviews the next time they post their fanfiction. As in folklore, the base of the story remains, but every telling reflects the teller. The urges behind both are the same: to respond, to express, and to give. (Schaffner. 616.). This is the beauty in fanfiction. Readers dont have any qualms in opening a fic because they know that the plot is essentially what they crave for and this gives authors an easy way of showing off their chops. Certain fanfics may have the same plot but the way each of them are told is undeniably different (unless, of course, they are being plagiarized from another fanfiction author).

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Fanfiction writers dont write for money. Its simply for the satisfaction of putting up your story online. These are the outspoken fans who cant have enough of what they already have. They know the culture of whatever fandom they are into, it speaks to them. And they talk back. (Grossman. How Harry Potter Became The Boy Who Lived Forever.) The feeling when someone gives a positive review of your fanfic is amazing. There is the happiness from the fact that you made others happy, theres pride in knowing that some people are awed at your writing skills and relief that no one hates the story that you worked so hard on. The reviewer is different from a beta-reader. Reviewers provide the author a comment on the story as a whole rather than in pieces or chunks and hardly ever state errors in grammar and spelling. (Black. 126.). Not all fanfiction writers request for a beta (a fanfiction editor.) Most fanfiction writers are confident with their grammar and spelling, which are what betas normally fix. Reviewers state what the writer has to work on as a whole rather than work on specifics which s/he can work on by her/himself. This is why one sees authors notes like Please review or Reviews are like cookies to me, etc. Reviews motivate writers to continue doing what theyre doing or fixing up their mistakes with regards to the plot and characterization to better themselves for the benefit of their readers. The awe that the writer feels when s/he receives a review along with the sheer love for writing is what drives fanfiction authors to continue doing what they do. Because of this, fanfiction should be considered as a type of literature. By its very definition, literature is the production of writing and this is exactly what fanfiction writers do, they produce writings. Fanfiction does not comply with the stereotypes for literature and the majority refuse to see it as such. (Schaffner. 613.) Being relatively new to the world of literature, fanfiction has not yet been able to be understood by the majority. It is different from what we are used to about

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reading. These are characters we are familiar with but are acting quite differently from what we are used to. And that scares the living daylights out of most of us. Reading online rather than real books? Outrageous! Unthinkable! However, the majority must learn to grasp the inevitability of fanfiction. Readers grow by number every day and hundreds of fanfics are written every hour. Teenagers can now actually allot several hours for the purposes of pleasure reading, which in years before, was absolutely surprising.

Fanfiction is not Stealing Fanfiction writers kept under the radar during the early years of internet for fear of litigation. Although legal action upon each individual writer is improbable, copyright still remains an issue. Today, fanfiction writers include disclaimers so that readers know that they do not profit from their writings. (Jessop. 30.) Disclaimers play a crucial role in the world of fanfiction. It is unacceptable for a fanfic not to contain one. This is because, fanfiction writers are very well aware that the characters and certain plotlines in the stories they are creating do not belong to them. They are simply borrowing them. When a published author gives away his/her blood, sweat and tears in the form of his/her book, it is giving the people who will read it a starting point because truthfully, books are just one part of the whole story. There are holes here and there, unexplained characters, settings or events and people should be allowed to play with these holes. There has always been a debate about whether or not fanfiction violates the copyright laws because this has always been an issue. This argument regarding whether or not fanfiction should be seen as "stealing" continues on to this day. Published writers are asked for their opinions on fanfiction of their works. Fay Jessop continues to tackle this concern in her article

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Exploring Fandom: Teaching Narrative Writing Through Fanfiction: In fact, many published writers are unaware of or indifferent to fanction as a genre, and some seem amused by the practice. JK Rowling is reported to have been attered people want to write their own stories (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/3753001.stm) based on her characters, and, given that the Harry Potter category of fanction.net now runs to nearly half a million stories, such endorsement must come as a relief to the sites maintainers. However, there are those who would prefer the whole phenomenon to just slink quietly away. Ann Rice makes plain on her ofcial website that I do not allow fanction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fanction with my characters. (http://www.annerice.com/ReaderInteraction-

MessagesToFans.html) However, published writers should be happy that people make fanfics about their books. If people didnt then it means your book didnt really touch the hearts of the people who read them. Fanfics show how much readers understood the original text, how much they were able to relate to the characters and to the problems these characters were facing.

What Fanfiction Needs To Improve On Becca Schaffner explains in her article In Defense of Fanfiction that fanfiction is different, its uncontrolled and not traditional and that it should remain as it is (para. 4-5). The idea of fanfiction in itself should remain as it is. Pure, unadulterated joy from writings about stories one knows and loves. There are aspects of fanfiction, however, that must be changed. And fast. It is unsettling to know that 12-year-old kids can easily access stories that contain scenes about sex, rape, violence, etc. These fanfics are known as M fics. In sites like

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fanfiction.net, one only needs to learn how to use a site and you can read any story that takes your fancy. Stricter guidelines should be implemented about who can read certain stories so that the younger generation doesn't grow up too fast. One cannot deny that fan fiction contains sex. And a lot of it. Its being human. Some authors cant help but romantically, erotically or pornographically pair up characters they want to be together (Grossman. How Harry Potter Became The Boy Who Lived Forever.). This is probably the reason why there are so many people who dismiss fanfiction as written pornography. Yes, theres sex scenes in a lot of fanfiction but thats not just the focus of it. Like life itself, sex is just a fleeting moment in the grand plot scheme that one calls your life. The world of fanfiction is not perfect. Children shouldnt read certain works. The ratings and content warnings are there for a reason. Its almost developmental. As you grow older, the type of fanfiction you read is more mature and more difficult to understand and authors know what type of audience their stories are suited for (Schaffner. 617.). Having been an active member in the fanfiction community for almost five years, I can definitely attest to the imperfection of fanfiction. Theres writing thats just downright atrocious and reviewers that embody the word rude. And although rating and content warnings are there, some people seem to be blind and just trudge on despite the fact that they are twelve-years-old and arent supposed to be reading these fanfics. Fanfiction sites are known for their ease in navigation and accessibility and therefore make it easier for children to access materials that they shouldnt read at such a young age. Currently, all you need to have is the ability to read at a fifth grade level as well as an e-mail address and you can basically access any story archived in fanfiction.net without the administrators ever knowing whether or not youre under-aged. With this being said, better security measures must be taken in these websites to see and control the users they have.

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Fanfiction is about the respect and love of the fans towards the original works and so, when the writing no longer follows this respect and love, it loses the essence of fanfiction completely. The pride in fanfiction is that it is an extension of the original story and by losing this idea, fanfiction opens itself up to the insults that others throw at it. Beta-reader is the fanfiction term for a proofreader. Beta-readers are an integral part of the online fanfiction community.(Black. 125.). Beta readers are basically editors in the fanfiction world. They are hired by fellow authors to proofread their works (fix spelling, grammar, etc.). What makes them different, however, is that they also comment on the story itself, whether or not the characters are acting like they should or if the plot is downright terrible. It must be noted as well that not all fanfic writers acquire betas and not all of them can become betas as well. In sites like fanfiction.net betas must be a registered member for at least 1 month or more, have published at least 5 stories on the site OR have published entries totaling at least 6000 words and finally, accurately complete both the Profile and Preferences part of this beta section. This being said, not all betas are reliable. Just because someone has written at least five stories or have a story having at least 6000 words does not mean that s/he can accurately check your grammar and spelling, nor does it mean that s/he knows the fandom enough to comment on your story. The administrators themselves should personally see whether or not an author is competent enough to become a beta. They must read the applicants voice and judge for themselves if said applicant is able to discern what a plausible and respectable way of retelling an original work is from something that is garbage.

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In the Philippine Context There is no shortage of young writers here in the Philippines, in Fanfiction.net alone, there are thousands of Filipino authors under the age of 21 and as a way of moulding these fanfiction writers into becoming better ones, we may use fanfiction. Teachers could ask the students to write a short one-shot fanfic about their favourite fandom as a project or a homework. And while majority of the fanfics are ones that are globally popular like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, Filipino fandoms like Encantadia and Mulawin have also found their way into the world of fanfiction. The Pros of Fanfiction Fanfiction writing also helped develop and solidify relationships with various friends, online or otherwise. (Chandler-Olcott, Mahas. 560.) Fandoms and in relation to them, fanfiction creates relationships unlike any other. There is a unique joy in talking to someone about something you are particularly passionate about and internet helps aid this. Today, teenagers can make friends from all over the world by meeting online and talking about their particular fandoms. What makes fan fiction unique is that its a very diverse world. Name any race, religion, age, sex, etc. and youll find it lurking in the fanfiction world (Grossman. How Harry Potter Became The Boy Who Lived Forever). Through fanfiction and fandoms, fans have m et fellow fans they wouldnt have under normal circumstances. The fanfiction world doesnt give importance to the color of ones skin or whatever God it is that you believe in if you do in fact believe in a God. As long as you are under the fandom, you are a friend. Fanfiction is where authors are at their freest. They are unbound from any rules whatsoever. They no longer have difficulty in coming up with a story from scratch. In this world,

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characters from published writers, movies or television shows can be whatever you can imagine them to be. They can do whatever the writer thinks they ought to be doing. Its thinking outside of the box at its finest.

The Cons of Fanfiction Fanfiction is ruled by what is called as canon. Canon is the dictator. It gives the laws to what you think youre supposed to follow. Initially, it looks like it has an iron grip but youd be surprised at how creative authors can be that they can break the rules but still remain under canon (Grossman. How Harry Potter Became the Boy Who Lived Forever.). To the majority of the people in the fanfiction community, canon is something to be frowned upon. It is seen as something that only the close-minded readers follow and so the majority decide to break it or play around with it. The majority follow fanon which is basically canon for fans, here they are happy with the result of the pairings (or ships as they call them) or the plotlines of the story. Fanfiction is always associated with the terms copyright and theft because it is assumed that fanfiction steals the ideas of published writers when in actuality, it is simply fans playing with stories and trying to make their marks as authors. Fanfiction still isnt known in the mainstream society nor is it considered as a form of literature even though it fulfils the requirements for literature. Finally, the world of fanfiction, although diverse and ideally perfect, has much to improve on with regards to who is able to write as well as read the stories in its online archives.

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Works Cited List Andersen, N. Media Literacys Gifts to Literature Study. English Teaching: Practice and Critique. 9.1 (2010): 106. Print. Black, R. Access and affiliation: The Literacy and Composition Practices of English-language Learners in an Online Fanfiction Community. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 49.2 (2005): 125-126. Print. Black, R. Convergence and Divergence, Informal Learning in Online Fanfiction Communities and Formal Writing Pedagogy. Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education. Ed. Bekerman, Burbules, Giroux, Silberman-Keller. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, 2008. 135. Print. Chandler-Olcott, Mahas. Adolescents Anime-inspired fanfictions: An exploration of Multiliteracies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 46.7 (2003): 558 & 560. Print.

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Grossman, L. How Harry Potter Became The Boy Who Lived Forever TIME Magazine. 27, July (2011). Web. Jessop, F. Exploring Fandom: Teaching Narrative Writing Through Fanfiction. English Drama Media. October Issue (2010) 29-31. Print. McCudden, M. Degrees of Fandom: Authenticity & Hierarchy in the Age of Media Convergence. Diss. 19. University of Kansas, 2011. Santilli, N. Online Publishing: (Anime) Fan Fiction and Identity. Journal of Digital Research and Publishing. 3.1 (2010) 42. Print. Schaffner, B. In Defense of Fanfiction. The Horn Book Magazine. November/December Issue (2009): 613-617. Print.

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