Fanfiction is underrated as a writing form. It has been around for years, providing entertainment for fans of all means of media. It fails to get the credit it deserves. What is fanfiction? To make it as simple as possible, fanfiction is a genre of writing, where the fans themselves create stories about their favorite characters and worlds.

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The subjects, the characters, and worlds used in the stories will range from movies and TV shows of all types to video games and literature of all sorts. In fact, fanfiction even exists based on living musicians and actors. For this article, however, I will be discussing examples and possibilities of Marvel fanfiction.

These fan-generated stories provide what is a widespread hobby, especially among nerds. The only problem with fanfiction is that it often does not get its due credit. As both a form of writing and as a nerdy hobby, proper credit rarely comes its way.

The Seemingly Endless Subgenres

If there’s one thing neglected in discussions about fanfiction, it’s the capability of fanfiction to evolve. Fanfiction has diversified itself so much over the years. There seems to be an infinite number of different possibilities for stories provided by an enormous availability of subgenres.

Word graphic of "Keep Calm and Write Fanfiction"

In fact, almost any decision made by a fanfiction writer could, possibly, cause the fanfiction to be included in any subgenre. It could cause the creation of an entirely new subgenre. These subgenres are varying in character traits, settings — both geographic and temporal, plot details, and even possibly references to other media sources.

Crossovers

There are fanfictions, as well as entire groups of fans, dedicated to one subgenre: crossovers. Crossovers are essentially when two or more media sources collide. A somewhat cluttered example of a crossover is the ever popular SuperAvengeWhoLock. This is the merging of the AVENGERS, usually from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, BBC’s DOCTOR WHO, the CW TV show SUPERNATURAL, and BBC’s SHERLOCK.

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This crossover employs elements from several different realms of nerdy subjects.  In this case, superheroes, science fiction, mystery (a classic being somewhat modernized), and, well, the supernatural.

Universal Conditions and Settings

A change of universe, such as bringing characters to a different historical setting, proves another subgenre altogether. In this particular example, characters from media sources find themselves placed in different historical settings. For instance, a story might place Captain America in the Medieval age. I have yet to see the fanfiction that does place Cap in the Dark Ages, but I’d be open to it.

This kind of change of in setting, in my experience,  occurs less commonly in superhero fanfiction as in other subjects, such as anime and manga. That being said, each subject of fan stories varies so greatly that new subgenres develop from even deciding to use one version of a character over another.

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The Fanfiction and You

Since this whole article is about fanfiction not getting the credit it deserves, let’s talk about reader inserts. Reader inserts get very little credit. In fact, I’ve only seen them appreciated by those who either read or write reader inserts. Stories are written in the second person narrative point of view fall under the category of reader inserts. That is to say, you, the reader, are the one performing the actions within the story.

This is a challenging thing to pull off in creative writing, yet so many writers do just that in their writing. It’s so difficult to pull off because you must make it believable to the reader. You must also make it so that the reader feels like they’ve turned into the narrative character.

Here’s a Skill for You

Aside from diversity concerning writing, the actual craft skill behind writing fanfiction is quite impressive. Plenty of different fanfictions use creative writing skills at a fairly advanced level. These writing skills are undoubtedly used in the creation of the given story, despite the fact that many writers may not have taken creative writing classes before. Whether this skill is characterization, plot, or even some other advanced skills, it is very clear within many a fanfiction that writing skills are necessary.

Fanfiction

Characterization for Perspective Purposes

The biggest trouble that I find with fanfiction is that I already know most of the characters, and, thus, I feel I don’t need a description. Quite a few examples present themselves where the writers seem to balance out where description proves necessary and where not. Of course, where there is good writing, somewhere else, there must be bad writing.  I can’t tell you how tired I am of reading “his [color] orbs stared intensely,” and other things like this.

Despite this, as I said, there are still quite a few amazing writers. These writers also manage to contribute new perspectives to what description is provided as a necessity. When this description is provided to add perspective, I find that it often makes me rethink a character. Often I see this character in new and interesting ways, ways I might never have thought of on my own.

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Loki Re-Examined Through Fanfiction

For example, in the fanfiction written by user Alheimurinn on ArchiveofOurOwn.net, the user describes Loki as a caring person rather than a purely evil character. This evil characterization is a rather one-sided view that used to dominate the opinions of fans. More recently, Alheimurinn wrote in the first chapter of the fan story Nightmares (Loki Fanfic Short), “Loki continued to whisper words of comfort,” rather than Loki merely continuing to be evil.

The entire fanfiction shows Loki as caring for his partner as they have nightmares (the author notes that PTSD causes it). In fact, this chapter of the story doesn’t mention Loki’s evil side at all. We know Loki as a big-time evil villain. Unfortunately, this view of him only as evil and angry erases his humanity. We sometimes know the cause to Loki’s anger, but not how he processes it, not how he struggles internally.

If we had seen this other dimension to Loki’s character as fanfiction shows it, that would make him a far more interesting character to see. Having these extra aspects to Loki would make us understand him more. It would possibly even make us question what the superheroes are doing, in terms of ends justifying means. Seeing this provides an interesting perspective and more possibilities for the character overall.

Oh, The Plot!

Aside from characterization, the plot of fanfiction can be quite good as well. Plots can and have contained romantic or even comedic elements, in addition to, or in lieu of, elements of action and adventure. I’ve read fan stories that have tugged at the heartstrings and left me on the edge of my seat.

I once read a Marvel fanfiction that depicted Captain America struggling to adjust to the modern world, as well as adjusting to not having Peggy. This fanfiction, by Doughnutswilderness on fanfiction.net, showed Cap’s struggle to move past his old life and love, through him developing a smoking habit.

All of his feelings were present in the simple act of smoking a cigarette. Captain America we know as a man of action. Even in the Marvel cinematic universe, we rarely get to see him struggling emotionally. Almost all of his struggles translate into immediate physical action. This fanfiction shows how some struggles can’t be avoided by getting into a physical fight. It also shows how Captain America’s humanity still remains.The avengers fighting a creature within the fanfiction that Kamala Khan is writing.

Ms. Marvel does write fanfiction… why wouldn’t you?

Now You Try!

Ultimately, fanfiction writers can be described as the talented outsider artists of the literary world. Unfortunately, these writers don’t always get the credit they deserve. Some people, fans or otherwise, will belittle their work. They may claim it isn’t a valid writing form.

However, fanfiction is coming into recognition. We can see through things like the inescapable fact that Ms. Marvel is a fanfiction writer herself. It’s things like this that are teaching the world the validity of writing these types of stories.

Fanfiction is even a beneficial way for burgeoning writers to practice their craft, whether it be through reader inserts, crossovers, or some other subgenre. It is also a good way for readers to try something different. Using fan stories as a nerdy hobby has gained appreciation more and more every day. This gives everyone all the more reason to start or even continue reading it!

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