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Avril Brown Presents:

I have a confession to make: I am addicted to fan fiction.

For those of you who do not habla uber-nerd, ‘fan fiction’ are stories authored by fans of a particular movie, television show, comic book, novel, etc. There is fan fiction devoted to pretty much every fanciful world under the sun, from ‘True Blood’ and ‘Harry Potter’ to ‘Sailor Moon’ and ‘Wuthering Heights.’

Fan fiction is an outlet for those of us who wish to see more of our beloved characters in a variety of settings, doing or saying things we wanted to see or hear but never happened. If you want to read more about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy’s married life, fan fiction is where ‘Pride and Prejudice’ never ends. If you were pissed Wash was killed off at the end of ‘Serenity,’ fan fiction is were he lives on, cracking jokes and flirting with his wife. If you want to know how Laura and Remington’s first night in bed together turned out in the series finale of ‘Remington Steele,’ fan fiction is where you can find all the steamy details. Fan fiction is fantasy, custom built for you.

There are G rated stories of friendship and family, and there are erotic stories that could make a porn star blush. There are continuations of movies and cancelled shows, some written in script format, some in narrative form. There are funny fics and depressingly tragic ones. In the wild, wacky and continuously expanding world of fan fiction, there is something for everyone.

Years ago when the internet was just starting to stretch its legs, I was becoming a comic book fan. Wanting to know more about my favorite X-Men, I turned on my dad’s computer, listened to the familiar sound of my dial up modem sputtering to life and waited impatiently for an open line. Once granted access to the magical and intangible world wide web, I searched for Rogue and Gambit and began exploring the hits I received, one of which was the home page of a fan fiction author. She wrote stories about characters from ‘X-Men,’ ‘Gargoyles’ (another fantastic animated series), ‘Star Wars’ and a few other worlds, and I was completely blown away. What a concept! Same great characters in new and improved situations! I was a goner. Sophomore year in college I started watching ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ and I remember exactly what was running through my head when I made the decision to search for ‘Buffy’ fan fiction: “Well, there goes my social life.”

For a devoted fan with an eager and active imagination, fan fiction is just so much fun. Anything and everything is fair game, and the numerous dedicated authors will go all out. For those brave and obsessed souls interested in entering the world of fan fiction, here are a few basic translations:

Shipper fic - A shipper fic is a story centered on developing a relationship between specific characters. For certain pairings in popular genres, typically the first names of the characters are spliced together, creating a title for the couple. Personally, I ‘ship’ Spuffy (Spike and Buffy, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’), LoVe (Logan and Veronica, ‘Veronica Mars’) and Romy (Rogue and Remy, ‘X-Men’), to name a few. In many stories there are pairings of characters who never shared a romantic history, like Hermione and Draco in ‘Harry Potter’ fics, or Allison and Bender in ‘Breakfast Club’ fics. Odds are if you can think of it, someone has shipped it.

Crossover fic - These are stories which combine two separate worlds into one fic. One of the best fan fiction stories I’ve ever read was a ‘Firefly’/‘Doctor Who’ crossover, a real challenge for a writer given all of the different accents the characters have, from London Cockney to Futuristic Space Cowboy.

AU - Alternate Universe. These are fics which star familiar characters but something has been altered in the world they occupy. Examples of such are ‘Veronica Mars’ stories where her best friend Lily was never murdered (which changes the entire premise of the story and how the main characters develop), or ‘Buffy’ stories where there are no slayers, demons or magic.

R&R - Read and Review. People pine for praise, and for most writers comments are fodder for their personal muse. Even a line or two pointing out a favorite passage or just saying you enjoyed the story can be enough to bolster someone’s spirits and help then churn out another chapter.

NSFW - Not Safe For Work. Generally speaking most authors will rate their fics to give readers a heads up of what they are getting into, but this acronym is another way of conveying that information without the tell-tale NC-17, which can be spotted on a screen from twenty feet away.

Yes, I am a complete and total nerd and yes, there are probably more constructive things I can do with my time, but when I want a smile, a laugh, an unrealistic and sickeningly sweet happy ending, I have fan fic to turn to. Reading fan fic helps me exercise my writing muscles by inspiring me to work on my own stories (which are coming around slowly but surely) and given the right author, reading fiction can expand my vocabulary as well (a few chapters ago in my favorite ongoing Spuffy story I learned what a triptych mirror is). As with any nerdy endeavors, reading and writing fan fiction is not for everyone, but thanks to many creative and passionate people, fans who seek a different kind of fix can always get high with fan fiction, and the sky is the limit. 

Avril Brown 

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