When I discovered fan fiction back in 1998 or 1999, around the time that FanFiction.net went live, I thought that it was the greatest thing in the history of man kind. The idea that people like me were out there writing free stories about characters that we knew and loved in situations they wouldn’t normally be in was the most astonishing thing.
It felt like someone had read my mind and composed my thoughts into an idea I couldn’t. Then they made a website.
I read and posted in the community for a long time. But fan fiction at its onset was telling stories about adventures that couldn’t or simply wouldn’t happen in the actual medium.
Sure this depends upon the genre and fandom of the fan fiction in question, but for the most part I was finding things I wanted to read. Romance wasn’t something I hunted out. This isn’t an attempt to sound like I’m too manly for romance. But the idea of romance in a lot of these stories was just badly written clichés. Even my junior high self could see this. I have nothing at all against romance or being romantic.
Flash forward to a time after I’ve been working on original fiction and I’ve spent years away from fan fiction. I come back after a few ideas pop in my head and they’re too good to leave alone. I felt that I had to post them somewhere. What I see when I come back is a totally different picture from when I left.
Pairings. Everything is about pairing and shipping. Shipping, for those who don’t know the terminology, basically means this: the belief that two fictional characters, typically from the same series, are in an intimate relationship, or have romantic feelings that could potentially lead to a relationship. It is considered a general term for fans’ emotional involvement with the ongoing development of romance in a work of fiction.
The word is derived from relationship and the above information was taken from Wikipedia. Fan fiction as it once was distilled over the years down to having shipping as its driving force. It’s the reason why a story gets written now. Plot is an after thought. I wonder what would happen if X and Y got together and this happened.
In these stories there are all manner of unsavory practices that come with the relationships that range from rape and abuse to things that border on the impossible like Vorarephilia.
All I really want to know is what happened to a time when people wrote huge sweeping epics about adventure, intrigue, and different takes on some of the ideas expressed in the original work. In some cases these stories were better written and longer than whatever spawned them. Sure there would be a little romance in most of them, but that’s the case in most fiction.
And I’m guilty, I’ve read the stuff when it pertained to couples I get behind. But I would also like it to have some story, a real conflict that’s not the kind you find at any high school dance. Those are so hard to find these days and hunting down a decent one?
Well good luck.
It wasn’t always like this and I think that its important to note. Things have really changed and fan fiction has become a pretty widely known medium. It’s a far cry from its humble beginnings in Star Trek fan news letters in the 1970s and 80s.
I just have to wonder what’s making it mature in this direction?