What is a fanfiction?

If you’ve been on the internet for long enough, you might have stumbled across the term fanfiction multiple times already. But what exactly is a fanfiction?

Fanfictions, as well as fanart, cosplay, fan films or fangames are commonly referred to as forms of fan labour. In general terms this means a fan of a fictional piece takes said fictional piece and creates something new out of it. In the case of fanfiction, this means someone is writing something that is associated to an already existing fictional piece such as a book, a TV show, a movie or a (video) game. Some fanfictions also take existing people such as celebrities and create something new out of their lives, but this form of fanfiction seems to be less popular.
As fanfictions take characters and content from (mostly) professionally created content, copyright infringements might occur occasionally. Some creators do not want anyone to create fanfiction based on their original works, others don’t really mind and some do encourage the creation of fanfiction. Due to the characters not belonging to the author of the fanfiction, most fanfictions are not published professionally but rather appear on websites dedicated to content only created by fans.
The most popular example of a fanfiction that ended up being published professionally is probably 50 shades of Grey as it was originally thought of as a fanfiction to Twilight. It was rewritten before it was published as an original work and stands as an example for how far an author of fanfiction can come with their creation.

Still not clear what a fanfiction is? Here’s an example.
We all know Harry Potter, don’t we? So let’s say we wanted to write a Harry Potter fanfiction. What could we do? We could write about Harry’s kids’ time at Hogwarts, continuing the story we all love so dearly. We could also interrupt the story in the Order of the Phoenix and change it so that Sirius doesn’t die, continuing our very own version of the story. Or, we could write about the Marauders’ time at Hogwarts. We could also write about how Quirrel and the Dark Lord met, or we could write about the exciting adventures of the Potters’ cat. We could make up new spells on the way, new characters or even a new school for wizardry and witchcraft, perhaps in a new country as well.
All of these ideas could be turned into a fanfiction - a story written by a fan of an already existing work of fiction, taking characters or simply the universe the original story was set in to create a new story.
Everything the original creator said happened in the original story can be referred to as canon, whereas theories which were created by fans and are widely accepted by most of the other fans (thus being seen as likely to be true by most fans) are commonly called fanon.
Most fanfictions are written by fans for other fans, so most authors assume that readers know the canon, which is why most characters aren’t properly introduced and canon-specific terms aren’t explained as they were explained in the original work already.
The group of all fans of a certain fictional work is called fandom. One person can be part of multiple fandoms, and some of the bigger fandoms do have their very own names. The fandom of Harry Potter can be referred to as Potterheads, whereas fans of The Penguins Of Madagascar can be called Fanguins. However, not every fandom does have such a name - some are just the fandom of something.

Fanfiction can have very many different forms. There’s poems, stories, short stories, and a variety of terms that might sound rather confusing to everyone who runs across them without any context. They can also be sorted into different genres, some of which are just like regular genres of literature, but there are some genres that are used for fanfictions exclusively.

For a list of all important tags and terms you might want to look into, check out the Tags and Terms!

Do you write fanfiction or do you want to get started? Leave your profile of the page you’re uploading to in the comments down below so that we can check out your creations!

Also, which fandoms are you part of? Make sure to tell us down below!