Reading is not typically a guilty pleasure, but if they are fan fiction stories then reading takes on a whole different meaning.

When you think guilty pleasure, you probably think of things that might be expensive, or time-consuming. You do not necessarily think of reading, but when it comes to the field of fan fiction, reading can be a truly guilt-ridden pleasure. Few people want to admit that they read stories about their favorite fictional characters doing things that are completely out of character, but the fun of it is that it is like borrowing a book from the library that you already know a little something about. Instead of the first couple pages of wondering “am I going to like this book, these characters, this setting” you know that you’ll at least recognize the basics of the story and not have to travel anywhere to check out the book from a counter.

The Guilty Pleasure of Fan FictionCredit: Big Stock PhotosThe Basics of Fan Fiction

Fan fiction is pretty much just what it sounds like – fictional stories written by fans of previously created content. This means fan fiction can be based on television shows, books, movies, graphic novels and more. This genre of writing follows the main media trends, meaning if the series of Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling is huge, then so is fiction written and posted online surrounding the stories. Because writers “borrow” many aspects of the content their story is based on it is key that all such fiction be posted with disclaimers that the writer respects that they do not own the original story.

The beauty of this genre for the reader is that you get to read a huge variety of stories for free online. You can pull the webpages up on your Kindle, smart phone, or a traditional computer and read them at your leisure. You can also explore alternate worlds for your favorite fictional characters, all created by others with the same favorite original stories.

Most authors make a point to rate their fan fiction using typical movie type ratings. Due to the nature of the stories, often times they will get an R, or even an M rating meaning it is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18. This means if you are a parent of young teens it might be wise to monitor your children’s web time closely and not simply think that they are reading a harmless story online.

Readers love that many fan fiction stories are updated often, meaning you get new chapters of those stories on a daily or weekly basis keeping the content fresh and entertaining. The other beauty of this type of reading is that you can seek out stories that are marked as “completed” which means you get the entire story, from beginning to end and you can read it at your preferred pace not having to wait for updates. As long as you have an internet connection you can keep on top of your favorite story lines simply and enjoy the exploits of this version of your beloved characters at any time or place.

How to Find the Best Fan Fiction

Anytime you are surfing the web you notice there is okay content, better content and the best content. That content can be a website itself, articles written like this one, or come in the form of things like fan fiction. Anyone just starting out reading fan fiction will notice that there are a huge range of levels of quality when it comes to these stories. To weed out the best of the best, find review sites for your favorite original story, like the aforementioned Harry Potter series, or Star Trek and see if they have any recommendations. You can also do a simple web search for “best xxx fan fiction” and see what you get. Once you find a story you enjoy, look for it on if you did not find it there in the first place. In the story on the website you can click on the link to the author’s page and follow the author’s favorite authors and stories to find others that will be of a similar quality. By going from author, to recommended author, to the next recommended author, you end up with endless options.

Fan Fiction Becomes Fifty Shades

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyers is a worldwide media phenomenon that is perhaps the biggest thing to ever influence fan fiction. The stories spun off of the Twilight franchise are countless including one that started out called Master of the Universe, clearly marked and rated to show that it was appropriate for adults only. That original story, Master of the Universe, eventually became the next huge media phenomenon, the Fifty Shades series of books. Shortly after Christian Grey and his Fifty Shades became huge, large media outlets started crying foul about how many similarities there are between Twilight and the newer hit series, but that is because it originally started out as a fan fiction based on the Meyers series. If you have read both the Master of the Universe story and the Fifty Shades series you notice subtle changes, like the main character’s eye colors, and other things that distance it from the Meyers media monolith, but you also notice intrinsic similarities. It is clear that E.L. James’ story was brought to life on paper just different enough from the Meyers characters that there would be no copyright infringement.

Needle in a Haystack Success

The success of E.L. James is nearly one-in-a-million. The author showed distinct talent in crafting a popular story online in the fan fiction world, then that story was translated over into a more individualized format for greater public consumption. The moral of the story here is that if you choose to start creating your own personal type of fan fiction, do not expect success like James has seen. Write for the pleasure of the task, for the fun of the topic, and because it is always exciting to take characters you love, whether their name is Sulu or Edward, and put them into situations and experiences you created and crafted yourself.