What Does Fanfiction Achieve?


This essay resulted from a short piece of writing commenting on me researching what kind of fanfiction that the bestselling trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey has spun from. In reading several of these fanfictions, my conclusions are that it would be difficult to create a whole new story from the Fifty Shades of Grey fanfictions I’ve read.

I understand that some readers and writers have quite a huge disdain for fanfiction. From readers/writers comments I’ve read about fanfiction, my conclusions are these readers and writers view fanfiction as absolutely the lowest form of lowbrow writing and reading.

However, I argue, from my experience in participating in fanfiction that it helped me to reclaim control and confidence over my writing abilities. I’ve been writing for twenty years…and what fanfiction actually did for me is made me realize what kind of writer I am…and help me move past some old ghost.

I am including the short piece I originally wrote and how it led to the longer essay.


I can hear someone saying it now… “S, I need for you do better.”

In the case of doing all this research on Fifty Shades of Grey, it is not a matter of doing better. It’s a matter of needing to know what is going on.

Okay, Folks, I am sort of using that an excuse.

I have delve into the dark world of Fifty Shades of Grey fanfic to see what is out there.

And let me tell you, I’ve been shaking my head shamelessly at what has been written. This is going to come out snotty because I am a snotty person when it comes to degrees of how writers’ write.

I am not too impressed by what is out there.

There is one fanfic author actually EL James writing. The only differences are there are many run on sentences, there is not explicit sexual situations, and it just sounds really elementary. Don’t get me wrong. The fanfic author has great ideas, but the writing suffer.

Some of you may be thinking…what in the hell are you talking about you being a writing snot? You read Fifty Shades of Grey for goodness sakes! Well, what I will say about EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey is that it is decent high low brow fiction. Yes, it has annoying occurrences in the writing. A lot of repetitive language, and Ana’s first point of view could have been constructed better. However, compared to some of this fanfic I am reading, it is way better.

Listen, I participated on a soap opera fanfiction board several years ago. I wrote fanfiction for a Young and the Restless couple, Colleen Carlton and Adrian Korbel. I wrote a prequel basically about Korbel’s life because viewers didn’t know much about his life.

When I write something like fanfiction, I play writing detective…and I write about what isn’t really cover.

One of the Fifty Shades of Grey fanfiction writes about Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele Grey having four children instead of the two the readers know about at the end of the original Fifty Shades Trilogy (Fifty Shades of Freedom). Anyway, the writer throws out some good ideas, but the execution when it comes to having the writing technically smooth…it is rough.

It is a bit mushy story, but compare to what else I’ve discovered on that fanfiction forum, it is better than what I’ve read afterwards.

I was challenged by a friend to write my own fanfiction. I may do it still…

Hear, Hear to fanfiction!


The discussion continues about fanfiction. I received a great comment from a Proseboxer about, “How does one write fanfiction about fanfiction?” This particular example is from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

I answered the comment starting out with…how I view fanfiction writing functioning as:

1) Fanfiction writing can help existing writers who have long standing writer’s block.

2) Fanfiction can help new writers practice on their writing skills.

3) Fanfiction can help writers build up their confidence about their writing

4) Fanfiction can help writers learn how to revise a story (the fanfiction itself) and turn it into something completely different.

The reason why I made this point is because I was in this vote in 2006. For so long, I’ve been doing writing regular journal entries (actually keeping a physical journal ) and writing blog/diary entries (OpenDiary). However, I started writing creatively in elementary school, but like most adolescent writers, I would mimic my favorite writers. And I am astounded actually….looking back on it, I participated in some type of “fanfiction” writing. I am a huge horror fan; my mom turned me onto horror films and books as a kid. Anyway, my first “books” were about the Friday the 13th series. As a young writer, you are learning the ropes.

Anyway, 2006 and 2007, I begin to hit a slump while attending graduate school for a MA in English. I felt lonely even though I was in a relationship. Being I na relationship triggered an identity crisis…and I felt like I didn’t know who I really was. I participated in a soap opera forum where you could post critical opinions about the storylines. Well, a member of that soap opera forum actually invited me to a more exclusive soap opera board where a couple was the central focus.

Like on the general soap opera board, I participated with my own thoughts about the characters and storylines. There was a section on the board called fanfiction. You could write fanfiction about the couple. It was a challenge because I was studying a graduate degree in English. What I read all the time was highbrow literature—maybe sometimes middlebrow…and at rare times lowbrow depending on what literature courses I signed up for.

I wanted to see if I was able to mix a low/middlebrow genre (soap opera shows) with highbrow writing. I also wanted to explore how good I was as a writer. I wanted to test my confidence with an audience to see how good I was writing fiction. For so long, I’ve been in the zone in learning how to write critical papers about literature.

I was one of the first ones on the board to really delve into writing fanfiction…and taking it somewhere different. Through the process, I learned a lot about myself as a writer, and I actually learned to become a better writer. You had other writers on the board who were professional writers telling me that my story was good but giving me constructive criticism in how I could improve it. The couple broke up on the soap opera…and slowly, I lost interest in writing fanfiction. Why?

Because writers who are interested in storytelling will always return to being interested in telling their own stories. They want to tell their own stories and create their own universes and their own characters. Sure, I can take what I’ve written from the fanfiction and heavily revise it. Even though I used both fo the characters as a base, what I did was extended the storyline and made it into a prequel. Yet, for years since, I’ve thought about taking the entire story, revising it entirely, and finishing out the own story and make it my own story.

What I am saying is that if done correctly, fanfiction can help you cure your writer’s block, but I also have touched on point 3: “Fanficton can help writers build their self-confidence about their writing.” Writing fanfiction on that soap opera board helped me realize that I can write, and I should keep on writing. Even though I’ve been writing for over 20 years, it also helped me to self-edit my work, practice self-constructive criticism, and made me realize a true writer’s work is never done.

What it also proved to me is that I can take an idea…write it well, but I also have the power to create stories myself well. And that is the true wisdom I learned when I was writing fanfiction. I want to tell me own stories…and revise someone else’s. I want to create my own work. I’ve always been searching in how I would do that…and now, I can do it.

However, some people do take advantage of fanfiction writing in such a way that…it ends up not being great writing. As I’ve been thumbing throw the Fifty Shades of Grey fanfiction…as this Proseboxer inquired, “How does one write fan fiction about fan fiction?” The several fanfiction I’ve read or read through so far haven’t been that great. This is how I responded on that:

“Yet, I will also say that, as being a seasonal and experienced reader and writer, it is rare to turn something, I believe I would coin, low, lowbrow into something high-middlebrow or highbrow work (if that’s what your aim is). No, I don’t look down on low and middlebrow literature or culture for I read across genres and dread different types of writing. However, from what I read with these Fifty Shades of Grey fanficitions, I am not too impressed because I don’t think you can turn these fanfics into workable writings. They lean too much on the original story.”

This is a problem. I would categorize Fifty Shades of Grey as high lowbrow or low middlebrow fiction. I mentioned some of the reasons in video blogs when I started critiquing the first book what problems I see with the first book…and with the trilogy itself. Basically, the male character who is dark knight type hero is more interesting than the actual main protagonist who is telling the story. Overall, the language is low quality due to a lot of being repetitive which makes it easy to read if you have an open minded to this type of reading. There are also holes in the story that need to be developed as well—major holes like we never see Christian Grey and Dr. Flynn….an actual therapy session with them discussing questions problems. We never see Anastasia actually address herself esteem issues again with Dr. Flynn.

There is much more improvement in the story. However, due to the nature and how the story is setup, it is difficult to produce even a good fanfiction from it. A lot of it has to do with how the story is structure. Yes, one could go in the story…and rewrite it filling in the holes…or writing a short piece on what I mentioned above. Some of the examples. But how much time and value is that worth to you when you could probably logistically work through a story with just that and craft something entirely new.

From my own personal experiences and reasoning, I didn’t like how Ana got pregnant in the third installment because if EL James were to write another installment, she would have to write about Christian’s and Ana’s life as parents and how they balance that. For a reader/writer like me, I would read that book just to see how she deals with it, but personally, that’s not what I like to write. I am more like Toni Morrison in the fact that…if I haven’t read it yet, then, I should write it or want to write it.

To me, transforming a fanfiction into a revised, different story from a fanfiction that was transformed from an original story…I would say would be absolutely difficult but not impossible.


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