Now you might be asking yourself, what is fan fiction? It's a story, regardless of length, whether a drabble, ficlet, or full length novel or epic, written by a fan, where the characters and/or setting are taken from a television series, movie, comic, game, or novel, with the intent of sharing with others who also enjoy that particular genre. Wikipedia describes it as:
A broadly-defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work's owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published. Fan fiction, therefore, is defined by being both related to its subject's canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside the canon of that universe. Most fan fiction writers assume that their work is read primarily by other fans, and therefore tend to presume that their readers have knowledge of the canon universe (created by a professional writer) in which their works are based.
We writer’s of fan fiction think of it as a labor of love, continuing stories of our favorite characters or answering questions unresolved in the novel, series, or movie. Critics complain they think it’s easy, because the characters and plot are already established, but it’s not easy. Our toughest critics are other fans, because they are familiar with the characters and story line and will crawl the writer out on the carpet if they think they are wrong with characterization, plot, or setting.
Not only am I a tough critic of my own writing, but also on others. (Not saying I write nasty reviews, but I know what I like and what I don’t like). I'm a purist, I ship (which is the shorted word for relationship and if a fan ships it just means the really like the characters as a couple) Lee and Amanda on Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Chuck and Sarah on Chuck, their relationship progressed in a certain order, and that is the way I want to read it, but I'm not totally against alternative universe, if it's a good story and the situation and characters are believable. Alternative universe, unlike canon fan fiction, generally does not remain within the boundaries of the universe; i.e. Lee does not pass the package to Amanda on that fateful October morning, but meets 20 years later, or whatever. I tend to enjoy stories more that stay in canon, although there’s a great parody by Karen “Staying Within Canon,” and I really enjoy Ann’s "False Start" Universe.
I enjoy reading angst, especially Mary’s "With Or Without You" Universe series. That said, I don’t enjoy angst, because the author thinks there needs to be angst for there to be good drama. I also don’t like to read stories where there is so much angst, the reader loses a sense of what we knew and loved about Lee and Amanda, the lightheartedness, the comedy, the romance. Again, I’m talking Scarecrow and Mrs. King, because those are the fan fiction stories I have read the most and have written. I have only read a handful of other fan fiction genres and categories, so I feel I can’t comment on them.
The whole reason I became interested in reading fan fiction was I was hoping to find stories that revolved around Lee and Amanda following the end of the series, because I seek closure. Not having a season five or even a series finale has left me with a sense of feeling incomplete, not whole, as I search for the perfect story that gives me euphoria, “Yes, that was how I see a season five episode or finale.” Alas, I have yet to discover it. Several "after the series ended" stories I have enjoyed, but most leave me unsatisfied or in disbelief. “No, I don’t see Amanda doing this or Lee saying that.” So the search continues.
I rather read stories that have the happy ending, but don't mind being taken for a ride to get there. Nonetheless, I recently read another story about Amanda being sexually assaulted. I'm not knocking anyone's story, because the story was well told, and grammatically and structurally correct; however, I have an issue of losing the original "feel good" and lightheartedness about the characters and situation that was SMK, and although, towards the end of the series, the show attempted to focus more on drama and less on comedy, I could never visualize an episode being aired that discussed this issue. That is my gripe.
Another gripe I have about fan fiction is some of the reviews. I appreciate good reviews. Hell, who doesn't? But sometimes I read an awful story with bad dialogue, and bad grammar and spelling, or an unbelievable plot, and see 20 or so reviews telling the author how wonderful the story is and I just scratch my head. A good example was a crossover story I read few months ago. The story itself was okay, but it was chuck full of spelling and grammar mistakes, Los Angeles was misspelled throughout the whole story and not one reviewer pointed that out. Crazy! Now, I don't like people who flame another person's story, but still I think there should be a balance between good criticism and corrective criticism.
I still love to read a good fan fiction story, and really enjoy the one's that are well written, have a good plot, believable dialogue (where I can hear the characters talking in my head), and obviously someone has taken the time to either have their work beta-read or self-edit before posting. There really are some great writers out there, in whatever fan fiction category you like to read. Happy reading!