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Joined 10-18-09, id: 694102, Profile Updated: 09-04-20
Author has written 2 stories for Manga. birthday is on July 31, 1991. I'm from the Philippines, and I read. A LOT. I hope I don't piss anyone off! God Bless!

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Appreciating Fanfiction through the sights of some classical concepts

Fanfiction is commonly defined as “a broadly defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator”. A product of the enthusiasm of the people who wholeheartedly love twice removed imitations for reasons of their own; it is looked down upon by many other writers as a threat to their income (i.e. Orson Scott Card and Anne Rice) or a burglary attempt of the world they have laboured to deliver into this world (i.e. George R.R. Martin). Defenders of fanfiction however, say that fanfiction is good for various reasons of their own. Some scholars say that it is a social medium in which fans of various fictional worlds communicate and encounter each other (Schaffner; Chandler-Olcott; Thomas). Frequent internet users and one scholar theorize that it is a ‘training wheel’ for writing fiction (Thomas). But fanfiction authors themselves say only one thing: It is fun (Chandler-Olcott; Schaffner; Thomas).

I would like to present my own interpretation and defense of fanfiction. It is the constant reinterpretation of a fictional setting by its enthusiasts (individually or communally) because of wish fulfillment (the desire to change something in the setting, introducing a ‘what-if’ to the original setting to make it more interesting) and a desire to commune with others of like tastes, in the tradition of classical and renaissance poets. To show this, fanfiction will be seen through a framework of applicable concepts from Aristotle and Sir Philip Sydney, two thinkers from 2 different ages.

Aristotle has stated that the art of poetry started in the first place because of two traits that are present in humans. First: That representation is natural to human beings from childhood. Humans even learn through representation. Second: Everyone delights in representation.

Sir Philip Sydney has three applicable concepts in his ‘An Apology For Poetry’. The first is that it is only the poet, of all users of the different arts, that tries with his own imagination to make things better than nature, or even invent new and unseen things. Second is that there are three kinds of representers, and the third kind are the right poets, the ones who strive to imitate to teach and delight, and who borrow nothing of what is, had been or shall be, but considers only those of the ‘what may be’ and ‘should be’. And last of the applicable concepts is that all of those who have misgivings about poetry are being ungrateful in that they are attacking the very thing that helped give birth to the desciplines of nearly all modern arts such as philosophy, history and politics.

Seen through these five concepts, we see that fanfic writers are traditional writers in their own right. They make fanfiction because they have a natural delight in seeing the representation of nature that they like, the fictional setting, and yet they see some things where the author of the original imitation could have done better. As this pondering goes deeper, the desire to represent things BETTER than the imitation’s nature increases, until the person gives in to this desire and writes a fanfic story. The stories produced, while they can’t avoid borrowing partly because of their very nature, are all possibilities of what may be and should be. And all of this is done without any disrespect for the original stories and of the larger field of literature. In fact, fanfiction stories are a celebration of the EXISTENCE of the original stories and of literature itself. And as the authors post more stories, they will eventually meet others of the same interests, interest referring not only to the fanfic author’s chosen topic but also of the category in which his topic is included. This creates communities that are larger than expected with just one topic, and communication with as many people who like or hate the stories the author is making and the topics they belong to.

To give an example of my interpretation, I would like to present the case of two fanfic stories on the internet as of now, ‘Hill of Swords’ and ‘In Flight’, written by fanfiction author ‘gabriel blessing’. The two stories are called crossovers, where characters from two different topics that have no references to each other in their original format interact in a fictional setting the author reinterprets. The protagonist of the two stories is from ‘Fate/Stay Night’ while the setting he is interacting with is ‘Zero no Tsukaima’ for ‘Hill of Swords’ and ‘Sekirei’ in ‘In Flight’.

Before gabriel blessing made his crossover, there is a lack of stories about Zero no Tsukaima, since many who watched it or read it hated the two main protagonists. Only after blessing made ‘Hill of Swords’ did interest in Zero no Tsukaima as an ideal setting for wish fulfillment. This is because of the plot in the story of ZnT has such a convenient device to introduce another character of your own choosing. This excuse served to draw in enthusiasts of many other topics into the umbrella of ZnT crossvoers, even if they only voice out suggestions, something I have personally seen in the explosive and still running growth of two particular threads and various crossover stories such as ‘Unfamiliar: A ZnT and Prototype crossover’ and ‘Summoning the Sun: an Okami and ZnT crossover’, in (the most active sci-fi website recently).

After finishing ‘Hill of Swords’, gabriel blessing went on to make ‘In Flight’. In his first chapter, blessing revealed that he got the idea for the story by noticing that one of the main characters of ‘F/SN’ has the same hair as that of the protagonist’s mother in ‘Sekirei’. In this case, the delight of the readers are so enthusiastic they made their own reinterpretations of ‘In Flight’, in the process making up a whole new stories while submitting them to the review of fellow enthusiasts.

The two examples and their history validates my interpretation of fanfiction. There is both an individualistic and communal delight in reinterpreting the topic to ones own tastes, which can only be done by inserting a ‘what if’ that is not present or known before into the topic or the story. And each new reinterpretation only adds to the popularity of the topic, in effect celebrating the existence of the topic (and of literature, because of the need to write to show ones representation to strangers and friends in far away places). The presence of these classical concepts in plenty therefore gives fanfiction credibility and could allow more traditional readers to appreciate them in this light.

Works Cited
Chandler-Olcott, Kelly and Mahar, Donna. "Adolescents' anime-inspired 'fanfictions': An exploration of Multiliteracies." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (April 2003): 556-567.
Schaffner, Becca. "In Defense of Fanfiction." Horn Book Magazine (Nov/Dec. 2009): 613-618.
Thomas, Angela. "Fan fiction online: Engagement, critical response and affective play through writing." Australian Journal of Language & Literacy (Oct. 2006): 226-239.

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