If you want to spend more time in your favorite story-worlds, all you need to do is go online and search for some fanfiction. Or, if you prefer watching rather than reading, some fanvids or fanart. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last few years, fanfiction, fanvids, and fanart are stories, videos, and images created by fans of certain works using elements of those works. So, for example, a fan of Lord of the Rings writing a version of the trilogy in which Frodo is female or a fan of Twilight writing a story about Bella and Edward in a BDSM relationship (and if you’re E.L. James, making millions by changing the characters’ names and publishing the story as an original trilogy). In the case of fanvids, there are many different types of videos including those that tell alternate stories, those that focus on a particular [relation]ship, those that compile favorite clips, and more. Finally, in fanart, fans can create new visual scenes between characters, change characters’ identity markers (like race, age, gender), or recreate iconic images from the source material using their own artistic skills and media. If you’re not familiar with basic fandom terminology, check out this link before continuing.
As part of my blog, I’d like to have the occasional “fandom spotlight” post. In these posts, I can recommend some of my favorite fanfics (I’m not much of a fanvid or fanart person), talk about trends that are happening in my favorite fandoms, and potentially interview some of my favorite fan writers. Before I experiment with these spotlights, though, I thought it important to share with you the current fandoms that I spend most of my time in. I’ve been reading fanfic for more than 15 years, so I’ve been a part of many fandoms in the past. For this post, though, I’m going to focus on my current top five fandoms and the particular elements of them that I enjoy the most. I thought this short intro would help give readers a sense of whether or not they’ll be interested in my future fandom spotlights.
5. Merlin (BBC, 2008-2012)
This show ended 5 years ago, and yet I still regularly check to see what’s new or go and re-read some of my favorite fics on fanfiction.net (FF.net) and archiveofourown.org (AO3). As this show ended a while ago, I hope I’m not spoiling anyone by saying that I hated how the series ended with Arthur finding out about Merlin’s magic in the same episode that he dies. The friendship between these two characters was so interesting, and yet they killed off Arthur right when he finally found out Merlin’s biggest secret. Because of this issue with the TV canon, my favorite fics are those in which Arthur finds out Merlin has magic (hence, Reveal!fic) and they have to navigate this new knowledge in their relationship (platonic or romantic). And while my favorite Merlin fanfic series is a Modern AU, for the most part I prefer to read Merlin fics that keep to the canonical setting.
4. Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011-)
With season 7 having finished last week, I’m once again immersing myself in the online fandom. It’s been a while since Gendry appeared in the show, so his entrance into Jon Snow’s plotline has rekindled my interest in the Arya/Gendry relationship. But while these two are my favorite potential ship, I also love reading really long and politically complex GoT fics. Luckily, there are plenty out there, including my current favorite that’s still a work in progress (WIP). I don’t tend to read fics in this fandom year-round, but I do catch myself strolling through YouTube and checking out fan theory videos and fan scene compilation videos. Season 7 ended on a really interesting note, and from what I’ve seen in the past few days, there are plenty of fans interested in writing their own versions of season 8 before it airs in late 2018.
3. The 100 (CW, 2014-)
This fandom is really active when it comes to fanfiction, which makes it an easy one to be a part of year-round rather than just when the show airs. I’ve had my issues with multiple plotlines that have occurred on the series, so I actually stick more to reading fanfic than regularly watching the show. My feelings about some of these show elements is one of the main reasons that I love fics that diverge from the show canon and provide an alternate version of the canon timeline and events. My favorite fics, then, are those in which a major plot line has been altered. For example, the 100 land somewhere completely different, the Mountain Men don’t exist, or the 100 are sent down because they have powers that the council fears. Like all my fandoms, though, I still often enjoy fics with non-canonical settings, especially if it’s an AU written by Chash. While I enjoy reading about other ships, like Linctavia and Minty, I love seeing fan interpretations of Clarke and Bellamy’s complex relationship and how they imagine them getting together. If the fic also heavily features politics and world-building, then there is little that can stop me from enjoying the fic.
2. Harry Potter (Rowling, 1997-)
This books series is the reason I got into online fandom and fanfiction in the first place. Waiting for Order of the Phoenix to come out was a struggle, so I turned to online fanfic for the 3-year waiting period. At that point, I was all about finding stories about Harry and Hermione falling in love. Now, though, I love reading fics that include Snape as a mentor to Harry, and many of those feature a Harry sorted into Slytherin. While I still think Harry and Hermione should have gotten together in canon, for years now, I haven’t needed them to be together in the fics I read in order to enjoy the stories. Like with my other fandoms, I love finding fics with interesting societal depictions and conflicts. With so many canonical gaps in the portrayal of the wizarding world, it’s so easy to find really great fics that add more detail about the running of wizarding society and Hogwarts. And if Harry is a cunning Slytherin in these fics, then all the better, even if he usually ends up with Draco rather than Hermione.
1. Shadowhunters (Freeform, 2016-)
Basically, the only reason I watch this show and read its fic is because of this ship. I haven’t read the book series (I stopped after the first book), but I’ve heard a lot of fans talk about how Malec’s relationship is much healthier in the TV version. While I don’t consider this show high quality TV, I do think it has a lot to offer as far as LGBTQIA representation goes (an asexual Raphael was a really pleasant surprise this season). Magnus and Alec’s relationship in particular is interesting to me because it is actually canonical (unlike all the other ships I ship in the fandoms listed). While this relationship isn’t the main one in canon (book and TV), it’s by far and away the most popular in fandom (on AO3, it’s included in over 8,000 fics, while the next popular couple is included in less than 2,000). This high representation leaves me with plenty of opportunities to enjoy fan versions of their relationship while waiting for new seasons to air.
These are just a handful of fandoms in which I spend time reading fanfics. There are plenty of others I pass by when the mood strikes me (Arrow, NCIS, MCU, and Teen Wolf to name a few), but I’ll focus on these five for my first few spotlights. Fanfiction has been receiving a lot of attention recently, so it’ll be interesting to see what changes in fandom culture might occur in the near future. I want to discuss fandom on my blog, not just because I enjoy it and teach it, but because I want to be able to go back and see how my relationship with it develops over the coming years and how it changes itself as it becomes more mainstream.
In the comments, let me know, which of these fandoms are you most interested in my spotlighting?