On Reading Fan Fiction

The last few months, I have been reading less and less books. I think I’m in some sort of a reading slump, and it just won’t go away. The only thing I’ve been reading consistently? Fan fiction. (Or fanfiction, whatever tickles your fancy). I started reading fan fiction in May, and I’m still doing so in August. So today I want to talk to you about it! 

So which fan fiction have I been reading the past few months? I’ve mainly stuck to the Harry Potter universe. I started out reading Remus Lupin/Sirius Black ones -or Wolfstar if you prefer that name. I thought it was a “safe” place to start because you don’t actually get to read about their years at Hogwarts. They’re already adults when you meet them in the original works. So these stories wouldn’t contradict anything I’d already read. 

I fell in love with the stories, and with Remus and Sirius. After reading so many of the stories, there is no doubt in my mind that these two were in love. That these Marauders belong together. I have absolutely nothing against Remus and Tonks, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just not the same. I adore the studious, quiet yet rebellious Remus and the punk, loyal rebel Sirius. I think these two work so well together. And they are now forever cemented in my mind. 

After reading copious stories on Remus & Sirius, I decided to venture into different territory. I started reading Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy fan fiction. This is a pairing I never really understood before, to be honest. Until I started reading the stories people have written about them. Now, I’m completely convinced. 

Afterwards, I ventured out of the Harry Potter universe fan fic. I also started reading fan fiction about Skam, The 100, Carry On and some Six of Crows ones. Now that I’ve been reading them for a little while, I wanted to talk about the reasons I love it -and why I think people should stop looking down on fan fiction. 

REASONS I LOVE FAN FICTION

  • It allows you to read about the non-canon pairing you love.

I think this is one of the most important reasons. For example, you might read a book with a love triangle, and your ship isn’t endgame. Where do you turn to for the stories you wanted? Other fans, who agree with your pick. 

But in my opinion, it also gives voices to diverse pairings who are so often lacking in books. My two favorite couples are still Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco (although I do love Ginny and Luna as well). And I think we can all agree that there is a disturbing lack of diversity in Harry Potter. That’s something we can never change. The books have been written, the story has been told. But in fan fiction, we allow ourselves to write a different tale. The story of LGBTQ+ characters, who didn’t have a voice before.

I love the fact that in almost every single story I’ve read with the pairings mentioned above, Seamus and Dean are together. So many of the fans agree that this should have happened. But it didn’t. So these stories allow people to see themselves in their favorite characters, when they couldn’t before.

  • It allows you to read more about your favorite canon pairing!

The direct opposite of the argument above, I know. I mentioned that I love Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco. Both pairings are definitely non-canon compliant. But I’ve also read a fair amount of fan fiction on pairings that are canon compliant. I love reading Simon Snow & Baz Pitch (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell) stories, and Isak & Even (SKAM) stories. There is so much more to their relationships that the stuff we get to see on TV/in the books and fan fiction allows you to explore that. 

  • It allows you to read more about the characters you love

This may seem like the same argument as the first one, but trust me, it isn’t. When I love a book, show, movie, etc. I tend to love the characters. After a while, they start to feel like friends or family because you know them so well. The easiest example to me is Harry Potter. Growing up with these books, they feel so familiar. Yet the story has been finished for a while now, and there is no new material for me to fall in love with. 

Fan fiction allows me to read more about my favorite characters. To read more about them, more new material that I haven’t read before. To read about parts of their lives I haven’t been privy to before, such as the Marauders’ era at Hogwarts, the Eighth Year at Hogwarts, or anything between the war and the epilogue. 

  • It’s a great way for people to start writing

I can imagine there are thousands of people out there who dream of being an author. And maybe you are just starting out on that journey. You want to write, but you don’t have any solid ideas yet for your own work. Maybe you’re having trouble create complex characters, relationships and/or plots. What better way to start writing and practicing than by writing fan fiction? 

The characters are already established. You have free reign to change the relationships to your liking. You can make it canon or non-canon compliant. There is so much you can do, but you can always fall back on the established world. I think it’s a brilliant way to start exploring your writing voice.

  • You can choose how much time you invest in each story

I’m not sure whether that truly expresses what I mean, but here we go. Fan fiction ranges from full on novel-length stories to one shots of maybe 100 words. The word count is always mentioned on websites like Archive of Our Own. So if you feel like you want to read a full story on a certain topic or relationship, you can. But if you don’t have much time, or you just want a quick story, that’s available too. 

  • Most stories have trigger warnings, tags and ratings

I think this is a discussion many people have had with regards to novels lacking trigger warnings. If that is important to you, then fan fiction is your friend. Most of the stories have trigger warnings either in the description or in the tags so if you see something you know you can’t/don’t want to read about, you’ll know to skip that story. That can go from mental health related content, to abuse, self-harm and even the level of maturity. All stories are rated so you know whether there will be any sexual content in it. 

I know many people think that fan fiction is just sex (or kinks) and that’s it. I can only tell you that is not true. There are many stories that don’t include sex -and Archive of Our Own has an explanation of their ratings on their website. There are many stories with platonic relationships, friendships and fluffy romance. There are stories of asexual characters. There is a story for everyone. So if you have never read fan fiction because you don’t want to read about sex, fear not. There are plenty of stories out there you’d love too. 

BUT…

It makes me sad to think that so many people are missing out on fan fiction. I think there are a few misconceptions about fan fiction out there, which prevent people from reading it. So let’s get these out of the way.

  • Fan fiction is not necessarily badly written

Of course there are stories with awful writing online. Then again, there are also plenty of novels with terrible writing. I can safely say that there are so many gems out there, and quite a few people whose writing I love.

  • Fan fiction is not just about sex

Like I’ve mentioned before, there are so many aspects to these stories. Friendship, love, family… There are plenty of stories out there without any sexual content, if that’s not something you like to read about. 

  • You can choose which relationship to read about, so you won’t feel uncomfortable

Bear with me here. There are A LOT of pairings out there, and a lot of stories written about relationships that make my skin crawl. Luckily, such things are personal. I, for example, don’t want to read anything that has Harry Potter/Severus Snape as a pairing. I know that there are definitely people out there who love them, I’m just not one of them. Thanks to the tag system on AO3 though, I can easily avoid those stories. Thus, I only read stories about characters that make me feel happy. 


So those are some thoughts I’ve been having on fan fiction lately! Do you read fan fiction? If so, what are your favorite pairings? I’d love to expand my reading. Also, if you use a different website, I’d love to hear about that too. I feel like I’ve explored AO3 quite well already, and don’t want to miss out on anything.

I’d actually love to hear some of your favorite F/F pairings! I unfortunately have read/watched more canon M/M relationships that F/F ones, so I don’t really know where to start. I’ve read some Eva/Noora ones from Skam and some Ginny/Luna and Ginny/Pansy ones from HP, but I’d love to read more F/F stories.

Do you agree or disagree with me? What do you think about fan fiction? Let’s discuss in the comments! 

Advertisements