Why Fanfic is Literature

Welcome to Fanfiction Friday, your passport into the world of fanfiction! This week, we’re learning the simple reason why fanfiction is literature—it’s pure creativity, just like any other kind of writing. Read on to learn all about it!

As a reminder, if you’re just joining us now, you’ll probably want to pop over to the introductory vocabulary post first, unless you’re already a fanfic veteran.

Last week, we learned why fanfiction will not, in fact, rot your brain—namely that fanfiction is a type of literature just like any other. People may look down on it (and they do), but that doesn’t change the fact that it remains literature.

However, those not familiar with fanfic may wonder what makes it literature. After all, it’s just people writing with other people’s characters, settings, plot lines—all the various bits and bobs that make up a story. Surely there’s no creativity involved in taking that and making a new story out of it. It’s just cut and paste, right? Right?


Creating fanfiction (a derivative work) is no more simple “cut and paste” than creating a collage (literally cut and paste) or translating a work from one language into another (also a derivative work) are simple “cut and paste”. It takes a very specific kind of creativity to take the characters, places, and plots created by someone else and weave them into something new while maintaining the flavor of the original.

Sure, there are works of fanfiction that are not great examples of writing—but that is also true of published works. You can’t judge a genre by the poorest examples of it. There are also fanfics that are easily the equal of some of the best genre fiction and even literary fiction currently being published. All you have to do is give it a chance.

That concludes this week’s edition of Fanfiction Friday. Happy reading!

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