I was listening to a piece of fanfiction called "Kelly the Roman Warrior" yesterday, and it made me think about fanfiction, and what its point is.
A chapter of Kelly the Roman Warrior, as seen in the dramatic reading
I'll admit that I sometimes read, and yes, occasionally write fanfiction, but I've never really seen the point. The book was written. What happened in it happened. It feels kind of stupid to go back and publish an entire story on the basis of "what if" (when I write fanfics, they always have OCs as the MC, with the book characters way in the background). Sometimes interesting, yes, and it's fun to play with the characters. But publish? What's the point?
Then I realized that I was reading serious fanfiction. There are some good things in that category- take the Broken Bow series, by Xed Alpha. It can be funny, yes, but mostly it's a story, not a joke. But then there are the funny ones, the ones where the author wants to tell a story but thinks it would be more amusing with other characters. There are the ones that are so bad they have to be jokes, like Legolas by Laura. The author is just having fun there, moving the characters around for other people's amusement, and that can actually be amusing and fun to read/ write.
And now we get into what I really wanted to talk about- bad fanfiction.
Writing bad fanfiction is an art form, one which I am still saddened I can't do. There is some fanfiction that is so bad it's brilliant. The aforementioned Kelly the Roman Warrior is one (and the dramatic reading guy is amazing, too). Legolas by Laura it's hard to be sure of, and there are tons more out there (I recently read a blog post about a Harry Potter one, but I don't remember the name).
Some fanfiction is bad. Some is okay. Some is even good. But then there are the rare pieces which are so bad that they become famous, that people do dramatic readings. That is, in my opinion, the essence of fanfiction.
You have a story to tell, and you know you can't tell it well enough with just your own characters, and you can't write it well enough either. Most people would just either give up or write it and have it turn out mediocre. But the really great authors of fanfiction are able to take the fanfic to the next level, and write it so badly that your original message comes out anyway. Through mispellings and inconsistencies, deep messages and humor shine through in a way they couldn't have if you'd written it well.
It's not easy to write like that. I know that I can't (and believe me, I've tried). But when it's done well, there is a beauty there, the same beauty that is found in the best of books, and that is the knowledge that you've expressed your story in the best way possible.