Despite my distaste for and ignorance of fan fiction, I found the talk given by Ericka Ritenour quite insightful. I knew that the fan fiction community was rather large, but I never truly understood its attractiveness to the people who participated in it and, to some extent, I still do not. I always viewed the fan fiction community as a group of people whom had way too much time on their hands, an annoying inability to simply enjoy the text as it was written, and an insatiable desire to sabotage the literary works of other authors. Again, I must emphasize my ignorance of this particular community. After listening to Erick’s talk however, I have a better understanding of the motivation and attractiveness of such a community.

Erick’s emphasis on the role of the fan fiction community rather than on the writing itself helped clarify the preconceived notions I had about the point of writing fan fiction. First and foremost, I never considered the fact that it is much easier for a writer to tell a story when they do not have to first spell out all of the background information to the story, such as setting, character relationships, and, sometimes, the overarching plot of the original writing from which the new story is based. In the case of fan fiction, writers are often using background information from popular novels in order to either advance the current story or to further explore an aspect in the original story that little attention was previously given. Secondly, writing fan fiction, or even just online fiction, is beneficial to the advancement of an individual’s writing quality and to the writing process. By partaking in a community of writers such as this, a writer is able to get unbiased and unfiltered criticism from other writers about the quality of their own work, so that they may improve upon it. Not only can a writer improve their writing skills, but by acting as a beta for other authors, they can also improve their proofreading and editing skills.

Though Ericka was pretty thorough in her talk, I was left wondering about the social criticism she experiences, if any, when people (who are not themselves involved with fan fiction) discover that she is a fan fiction writer. Are there a lot of negative people in the world? To “outsiders,” there my be a sort of social stigmatism that goes along with people who are into fan fiction (among many other literary forms). And if, after hearing the many negative comments from others, has she ever considered leaving the fan fiction community. How does a writer, such as Erika or others in the community, justify their writings when many people appear to be against them? What is her motivation?

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