Welcome to Fanfiction Friday, your passport into the world of fanfiction! This week, we’re exploring the topic of all the places you can find fanfiction on the world wide web.
There are many places to find fanfiction, and everybody has their favorites. The nice thing about the internet is that if you don’t like one site, there’s three more you can try. It’s like an extreme version of Goldilocks.
Like last week’s vocabulary post, the descriptions here are not exhaustive; they are subjective and based on my own experience.
Archive of Our Own
Archive of Our Own (also known as AO3) is my personal favorite source for fanfiction. It’s operated by the Organization for Transformative Works (mentioned in last week’s post) and is completely non-commercial (no ads!). The interface is very detailed, including features such as tags and warnings in addition to the title and summary, all of which make it easy to find what you want and filter out what you don’t. If you create a user account, you can even bookmark all your favorite fics (and, obviously, post your own).
Blog sites such as LiveJournal and Tumblr are another popular place to read and post fanfic, as well as engage with other fans. LiveJournal (also known as LJ) is a blogging site that was popular in the early 2000s and is often presumed dead by the larger world, but it’s actually still alive and kicking—and a thriving hub for fan communities. Tumblr is another such hub, although many fans have left the site after it revised its policies in 2018 to ban all adult content. On both LJ and Tumblr, searching the sites via tags is the best way to start looking for fan communities and locating fanfic from there.
DeviantART (also known as dA or DA) is an online community for artists and art enthusiasts, and it is a hub for art of basically every type there is, including fanfiction. All of the fanfiction is lumped into one big category (the fanfiction category) in the literature section, so there’s no way to sort by fandom, which is massively inconvenient. DA does have a community feature called Groups, where you can join groups based on interest and these groups can gather works based on those interests, so if you can find a group based on your fandom, then you might be able to locate fanfiction more easily. Overall, DA is probably a better choice if you’re looking for a community than if you’re just looking to find fic. Also bear in mind that DA seems to have pretty much passed its heyday. Wix.com acquired it in 2017 but many users of my acquaintance had already left for LiveJournal or Tumblr by then.
Fanfiction.net (also known as FF) is an automated fanfiction archive site. It’s commercial (=ads) and it’s been around what seems like forever. It’s the second most popular source for fanfiction on the web—#1 being Archive of Our Own—and it’s anyone’s guess as to why AO3 beats out FF in the fanfiction site popularity contest. It could be AO3’s lack of ads, AO3 being more permissive in the types of content allowed, AO3’s better interface, or all of the above. Still, FF is a place to check if you’ve exhausted everything on AO3—you might find something, you might not, but you won’t know unless you look.
Some people post their fanfiction on their own independent site, like the site you’re reading this post on right now. That makes it a little harder to find those stories, but you can do it with a bit of Google-fu! Just pull up Google (or whatever search engine you prefer) and try searching for something like “(your fandom) fanfiction” or “(your favorite character) fanfiction” and see what comes up. Don’t be afraid of going past the first couple pages of results!
Wattpad is an interesting site that I haven’t personally had a chance to try out. Wattpad’s slogan is “Where stories live” and it seems to be a platform for users to publish their own stories and read the stories written by others. There is both original fiction of many genres and fanfiction. As with deviantART, the fanfiction is all lumped together in its own category, making it difficult (if not impossible) to search for and find what you want. People obviously use this platform for fanfic, but it does not appear to be the most convenient.
The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is probably not something that comes to mind when you think of searching for fanfic, but it’s actually an incredibly useful tool! AO3 and the Organization for Transformative Works has really stepped up to the fanwork preservation plate, but unfortunately not all fanfic makes it onto AO3. If you’re longing to reread a fic you read years and years ago (perhaps on an independent site, for which see above) but now that site no longer exists, you can try to find it using the trusty Wayback Machine. As long as someone had the foresight to archive the site the fic was on, you should be able to relocate it.
That concludes this week’s edition of Fanfiction Friday. Good luck in your fanfic hunting!
Until next week!