What Attracts Female Writers To Fanfiction?

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The fanfiction authors mentioned in the following article are not approved female writers.


Fanfiction is a fictional text derived from previously established characters, settings or other intellectual property. It enables both author and reader to delve further into the fantasy that the book, film or literary text provides. However, fanfiction is more than that. It is a way to seek refuge in a fantasy-filled environment where the only limitation is your imagination. Fanfiction also serves as a means of progressing a story when you are left craving more. This begs the question, what allure does fanfiction have for female writers?

Belle at the library, emphasizing the presence of female readers and possibly writers.
Credit: Beauty and the Beast; Walt Disney Pictures, 1991.

The First Story For Most Female Writers

The story most female writers grow up hearing is the prince saves the princess and they live happily ever after. Nevertheless, with so many stories ending the same with girl saved by boy, wouldn’t female writers be eager to write an alternate ending? Picture this, say your favorite movie is The Princess Bride. Similar to other princess films, it does feature a happy ending for the two main characters. However, unlike those other movies, The Princess Bride has a villainous prince and the two main character’s love story comes to a supposed abrupt end during the beginning of the film. Thus, after being continuously fed the happily ever after ending story, they can more easily employ fanfiction to do as they wish with the alternative Princess Bride story.

Westley, delivering his iconic phrase "as you wish."
Credit: The Princess Bride; Act III Communications, 1987.

Another example of why female writers are attracted to fanfiction is because they can alter the story to verbalize their own desires with stories that are primarily made by men and cater to male demographics. Fanfiction provides the opportunity to further the emotional development of a character, something that is at times ignored in favor of furthering the narrative. A popular alteration in fanfiction is romanticizing two characters that did not get together in the original film, series, or other. For instance, female fanfiction writers have romanticized the friendship between Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers. They have a relationship that has a beautiful foundation with which to build a romance.

Re-imagining Fiction

Lord of the Rings is a pillar of fiction in both literature and film. Tolkien is a fiction fan favorite that created various cherished characters such as Legolas, a Sindarin Elf of the Woodland Realm. Although the LOTR trilogy is a work of art, complex yet intrinsic in every way imaginable, it can still be reconstructed with fanfiction to explore new situations. A female writer who does so with Legolas is inuchick22 who rewrites the journey to return the Ring to Mordor and incorporates a new character into the plot. The new character, Adette, is Aragorn’s sister and Legolas’ wife in this story. She re-imagines an already fictitious world and adds angst, romance and action into a story that others are familiar with. This provides fanfiction readers with a chance to fall in love with something old whilst exploring something new.

Legolas Greenleaf wielding a bow and arrow, one of the characters used in inuchick22's fanfiction.
Credit: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; New Line Cinema, 2013.

Another reason female writers are attracted to fanfiction is because they can give life to that which has already passed. There are various shows that have impacted viewers emotionally only to be canceled and left with an anti-climatic ending. One show that exemplifies this is Netflix’s Anne with an E. Fanfiction author Emmy Peters wrote a charming romance about Anne of Green Gables (the novel that inspired the Netflix series) that gave fans of the red-headed girl from Avonlea a glimpse into Anne and Gilbert’s future. She furthers a love story that had just begun to scratch the surface of romance (in the Netflix series).

Gender-bending

A trend in fanfiction is changing the character’s gender to better suit the edits you are making to the story. This attracts female writers because it enables them to forge something unexpected from the already developed story. Take for example a male version of Esmeralda, a character that already has its own allure with its mysterious yet optimistic behavior. By turning her into a man, you would have altered his relationship with Quasimodo. Perhaps the tender hunchback would have acquired a sense of brotherhood after meeting the emerald-eyed gypsy.

Male Esmeralda and female Frollo. Two genderbent characters used in fanfiction.
Credit: The Hunchback of Notredame; Walt Disney Pictures, 1996. Edits by lettherebedoodles (tumblr).

A Female Writer’s Fanfiction Favorite

Admittedly, as a female writer, there are many things that attract me to fanfiction, and numbering them would prove as futile as counting how many stars adorn the night sky. Fanfiction allows you to fall in love with things all over again. It is an irreversible interaction between your heart and words that leaves any writer breathless. Writing fanfiction allows your words to impact someone so profoundly it can bring them to tears. Similar to a cover artist singing their soul into worn-out songs, writing fanfiction creates something new from something loved. There are fanfictions that stay with us forever, beautiful pieces of art strung together by courage, hate and love in a method so unarguably magnificent, every writer aspires to do it.

Italy, Japan and Germany ready for battle.
Credit: Hetalia: Axis Powers; FUNimation Entertainment, 2010.

Fanfiction has the ability to make you fall in love. One of my favorite fanfictions is from a series I have yet to see known as Hetalia: Axis Powers. Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart by George DeValier is a story that will leave you enraptured. Set in Italy during WWII, an unlikely romance blooms between German fighter-pilot Ludwig and shy country boy Feliciano. It is a riveting tale that tests the boundaries of love, loyalty and courage. Check it out here!

Fanfiction is a beautiful haven, not only for its readers but for its writers as well. It reminds us that we are not alone. We all love and hate and laugh and cry. It is through these small acts of creation that we find unity and understanding. Female writers are attracted to fanfiction because it is where our hearts lie.