Last weekend, Hanna and I found ourselves having a lovely chat with our friend Minerva about the pleasures of the fan fiction created around BBC’s Sherlock. This post was inspired by that conversation.
Despite being a copious fiction writer when I was young (as are many homeschoolers; haven’t you always wondered what we did with our time?) I am a relative newcomer to the wonderful world of fan-created fiction, or “fanfic” as the online short-hand has become. I had friends who participated in online fan-fiction communities as teenagers (this would have been in the early-to-mid 1990s) but my family didn’t have internet access until I was a bit older. And I wasn’t very brave about online communities until I discovered the feminist blogosphere post college. I know: I was a teenage fogey. So the upshot was that what fiction writing I did, I did without a community of folks to write for.
Then I moved to Boston and met Hanna. While we were courting (yes, I know, but that’s really the best word to describe how two extremely shy, cerebral people dance around each other) she used to send me fic at the end of the week or when I finished with homework assignments, as a reward for getting through frustrating or tedious times. Sometimes links to her online faves; sometimes (oh the deliciousness!) stuff she’d written herself. I was entranced.
Why entranced? Well, I’d suddenly found entre into what had been (to me) and invisible network of writers and readers of amateur fiction writing by people who love to create stories about the characters they love … just for the sake of it. For themselves, for each other. Anything from single-paragraph gobbets, little gems of an idea, to novel-length sagas shared chapter-by-chapter through blogs and livejournals. A cornucopia of alternate beginnings, u-turns, intercises, revised endings. It’s a fascinating and (from my perspective, joyful) form of conversation between fans of a particular imaginary world, be it a novel, series, television show, film, or video game. Fans actively generate narratives concerning their favorite characters: back stories, romances, humor, revised endings to stories they felt went badly. This was something that I had always done, since early childhood, but only in isolation. Suddenly, with Hanna as a guide, the doors opened to a whole community of folks who were engaged in the same practice … and willing to share.
There’s a lot of analysis to be done of fanfiction as a phenomenon … the gendered dimensions, the erotic dimensions, the literary dimensions, the demographic characteristics of fanfic authors, how fan writers relate to the original works and the creators of the original works — and how they should relate to them. It’s a fascinating topic. But for now, as this is a Friday Fun Thread, I thought share a few of my favorite fics with y’all, share a few “if you’re new to the genre” tips, and then invite y’all to share your own favorite fan-created fiction, artwork, videos, whatever you like in comments. This is a space for celebrating the creative pleasure of being a fan.
So a quick glossary of fan fiction terminology for those unfamiliar with the genre (compiled with assistance from Hanna):
Slash (/): The first thing to know about fanfiction is that it is often highly erotic (and overwhelmingly homoerotic) in content. Frustrated that your favorite characters won’t get together, or that your favorite show just won’t write satisfying same-sex pairings? Chances are, someone in the fanfic universe has done it for you! This is knowing as “slashing” characters, for the simple reason that folks indicate what pairings will be in a story by placing a / between the names. Depending on fandoms, other forms of shorthand or nicknames are used. Examples: Jack/Ianto (Torchwood) or 1x2x5 for Heero/Duo/Wufei (Gundam Wing).
m/m and f/f: Should speak for itself, really … indicates the gender of the pairings in certain stories. Sometimes also identified using the Japanese-language terms yaoi (m/m) and yuri (f/f).
Hentai: Be prepared for sexually-explicit stories. Hanna says she’s always thought of this term meaning something along the lines of “dirtyminded.”
One True Pair(ing) or OTP: This is shorthand for indicating that there’s a particular pair (or, at times, more than a pair!) from a universe that is just really the only way to script it. No other pairing really works at the same level as the “one true pair.” Example John/Sherlock
Plot? What Plot? or PWP: Stories that are primarily an excuse for getting characters naked and enjoying sexytimes. Any fic labeled “PWP” is guaranteed to be all about the sex.
Canon: Identifying something as “canon” indicates that the fic-writer is not contradicting the central facts of the story or characters as established in the original text(s). Example: In the Doctor Who universe, the Doctor is a Time Lord, non-human. If you wrote a story in which the Doctor was human, that’s not canon.
Alternate Universe or AU: When a story is tagged as taking place in an alternate universe, that means the author has appropriated characters from a story and moved them into, well, an alternate space. This often also indicates you’re going to deviate from the canon truths. Example: Take the character of the Doctor and make him human, have him marry the Master (also human) and settle them in Manchester as parents of boisterous triplets :).
Spoilers/Warnings: Many fics will provide up-front disclaimers indicating any plot spoilers to be aware of and anything else the author feels are important. This is a good place to look if you’ve only seen, say, two seasons of a series and want to make sure you don’t read anything that takes place during following seasons.
Final note … you don’t necessarily have to know the original canon of any of these fics to make the stories pleasurable. Sometimes it makes them more fun — but I only saw episodes of Gundam Wing after Hanna introduced me to the boys via fic … and I’ve never played Final Fantasy. Doesn’t stop well-written fic from being a good read anyway.
A Few Faves to Get You Started
Joined at the Hip by Spurglie. 3-part, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander, Season 7, NC-17. After a mishap, Spike and Xander find themselves handcuffed together for three days. Leaving them with the opportunity to learn more about one another than they ever expected.
Xander has Kittens also by Spurglie. 9-part, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander, Season 4 (-ish), R verging to NC…? The author only rated the first chapter and didn’t revise the rating based on…ahem…later occurrences. If you like this one, there’s a sequel out there called Xander’s Kitten has Kittens. Spike, Xander and an apartment full of kittens. Fairly self-explanatory. With sexy times.
Correlation Conjunction Juxtaposition Admission by ClarySage, 1-part, Gundam Wing, 1×2, R. A truly lovely and quiet Heero and Duo AU fic. Everything ClarySage does, really, is for the win.
Lollipop by ClarySage, 1-part, Gundam Wing, 1×2, R. One of Hanna’s favorite single-part fics of all time.
Blue-Bottled Belly Dancers by ClarySage, 12-part (with sequel, Seeing Love Dogs, and PWP outtake, Seeing Love Dogs Outtakes), Gundam Wing, 1×2 (the outtake is 1x2x3x4), R/NC-17. Some of the smuttiest smut that ever was smutted. Djinns, bottles, Heero, Duo, and lots and lots of lovemaking.
TBA by blooms84, 1-part (very short), Sherlock, Mycroft/Lestrade, PG-13. In which plans are made. [shout-out to Minerva for the link]
The Heart in the Whole by verityburns, 14?-part (currently listed as Work In Progress), Sherlock, Sherlock/Watson, R/NC-17 (depending on chapter). [all hail Minerva for this gorgeous piece of pic] some of the best “hurt/comfort” fic I’ve read. Love the way the author writes Sherlock navigating his growing awareness of his feelings for John.
My Phone’s On Vibrate For You by Miss Lucy Jane, 4?-part (currently appears to be a Work in Progrss), Sherlock, Sherlock/Watson, R. Sexting! Brought to you by Sherlock and John. Also handcuffs. But playful ones.
Lightning by KittyMeowMaxwell and Hicky, 60 chapters plus epilogue (pour yourself a drink first), Final Fantasy, …actually, it’s too nice to spoil the pairings, R/NC-17. What can I say, folks. It’s a saga. No background in FF needed.
5 Kisses Owen Doesn’t Talk About by pocketmouse, 1-part, Torchwood, Owen/Torchwood Team, Season 1, PG. Actually debatable whether this is smut or not, since most of the kisses are quite platonic. Missing Owen now!!!
and one that might just be my personal favorite of all time, The Night That Never Was by X-tricks, 1-part, Torchwood, Jack/Ianto, right after “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” in Season 2 Torchwood and “Last of the Time Lords” in Season 3 Doctor Who, R. A little jewel of a fic that sometimes makes me cry.
Oh, and if you’re the audiovisual type and you’re also a fan of Dr. Who, do wander on over to seduff’s YouTube channel and check out her fanvids.
Recommendations? Emendations? Observations? Queries? Leave ’em in comments!