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What is Fan Fiction?

By Mavis Brown

Fan fiction or fanfiction is fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator. It is a popular among fans, particularly since the advent of the Internet.

Fan fiction is not often commissioned or authorized by the original work’s creator or publisher, and is rarely professionally published. It may or may not infringe on the original author’s copyright. Attitudes of authors and copyright owners of original works to fan fiction have ranged from indifference to encouragement to rejection. Copyright owners have sometimes responded with legal action.

Fan fiction is defined by being both related to its subject’s fictional universe while also existing outside of it. Most fan fiction writers assume that their work is read primarily by other fans, and therefore, expect that their readers have previous knowledge of┬áthe basis for their works.

A review of the two largest sites, FanFiction.Net and Archive of Our Own, shows that firstly, a large percentage of the efforts are ‘crossovers’ where one or more book-based universes or characters are conflated; secondly, an even larger number are very short; thirdly, a significant number of the larger works are incomplete; fourthly, that the readership for many genres is extremely low.

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