As I’ve mentioned before, I have many fandoms that I adore. I write and read a huge amount of fanfic, something I love with a huge passion. I prefer certain types of fic about certain characters, something that seems to be common in fic readers and writers. Romantic pairings / angst / romance account for about 3/4 of all fanfiction, with slash pairings making up a very large portion of that.
I’ve heard people say that fanfiction is just gay porn. Which shows how uninformed people can be.
Obviously the slash element is massively popular in fanfiction, but we have to look deeper than that to see WHY certain pairings remain popular among the fan community, despite what the creators of the original piece intended.
Now, I’m not saying that fans always have other ideas, or that we are all rabid for some m/m action among our favourite characters. No. Instead it’s simply a case of exploring the chemistry between certain characters that just seem to work. Sometimes they are m/f, sometimes m/m or f/f and sometimes they are even canon!
It’s not always about what is there, sometimes it’s about what could be there, or pairing up characters who actually have very little interaction with each other, but who individually have a chemistry and a personality that readers and viewers can see would work very well together in terms of fic.
To try and explain it a little better I’ve tried to break it down into the various pairings:
This one is pretty self explanatory. It’s where characters who are involved in the original work are involved in the fic. Examples are Jack and Ianto, Veronica and Logan, Ron and Hermione, Connie and Guy, Bella and Edward, Katniss and Peeta.
Little interaction characters
There are some characters who don’t really interact with each other all that much, but who seem to be paired up a lot by fans who can see something in them that they like and think would work well together. Often there seems to be no reasons for this, but many fans seem to be instinctively drawn to pair these characters together. Examples would include Ginny and Draco and Mac and Dick. These characters will often be polar opposites of each other, but will commonly have a shared issue or trouble or experience that only the other can relate to – these experiences are almost always canon but are pulled into a fic.
High interaction characters – no romantic hint
These are the characters who spend a lot of time together but with whom there is no hint of romantic feelings in the original work, not even flirting. But who fans pair up, very often these are slash pairings. Examples would be Dean and Castiel, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon. They tend to be very close friends, or occasionally enemies, like Clark and Lexx. The pairing here is usually built around a friendship / relationship so close that in other circumstances, with other people, it could easily spill over into a romantic or sexual relationship.
High interaction characters – romantic hint
These are the pairings who are usually wither very close or who seem to hate each other, but still have a friendship / relationship that contains an element of sexual tension, flirtatiousness or who are skirting around the edges of a relationship without ever really getting there. Daryl and Carol, Daryl and Beth (he’s a busy boy), Chloe and Clark, Mulder and Scully (back in the day before they Became Couple – see below). They are usually the characters that the fans really want to see together, and that the creators are almost putting together.
These are the pairings who tend to be high interaction characters, usually after skirting around each other and producing reams of fanfic, end up together in the end. Examples would include Buffy and Spike, Max and Liz, Joey and Pacey, Mulder and Scully, Bones and Booth. Jack and Ianto. John and Aeryn. The issues with these couples is that the fans have spent so long imagining it and hoping for it, that by the time it happens it can seem to be a bit of a let down. The sexual tension goes out of the relationship and the characters you loved and their relationship and chemistry changes. Fans understand that. It can be very hard to maintain that chemistry after what often seen as the conclusion to a love story. Often this is the point where you see fans actually drift away from fandoms if the transition isn’t handled well enough. The key, it seems, it to provide the characters with enough continuing tension to keep their relationship interesting. Logan and Veronica, Lois and Clark and John and Aeryn do this very well. Their relationships being together are just as simmering as they were beforehand. On the other side of the coin are the couples who manage to pull off the ‘contentment’ factor and just seem cute, able to separate their relationships from the drama going on around them rather than let their relationships become the plot, Chianna and D’Argo, Jack and Ianto, Willow and Oz, Ron and Hermione. These tend to be supporting cast rather then main cast, and their relationships are usually an aside rather than a plot point that the creators dwell on for too long. You usually won’t see these characters having a lot of angst in terms of their relationships, at least not to the level of the main cast, and it’s often played down or played up for comedy effect.
The Controversial Couple
There are always couples in fanfic who, even if they are canon or hinted at in canon, are very controversial. I’m not talking about slash here – after all, slash is wholeheartedly embraced in the fanfic community. No, I’m talking about those pairings that can often make people feel uncomfortable because they push the boundaries of what is usually considered acceptable in the real world. Incest and underage are the main two. Strangely, some fanfic communities have a lot more of these fics than others. Dean and Sam (brothers) have a huge amount of fanfic written about them, and their fandom even has a name for it – Wincest. More recently, in the last year or so, and seemingly a huge explosion of it in the last couple of months, has seen The Walking Dead fanfic community really going into overdrive with Daryl and Beth fanfic. On the face of it this doesn’t seem too controversial, but bear in mind he’s in his 40’s and Beth is 17, so, despite the 25 year age gap, she’s underage too. To be fair though, the creators haven’t helped matters with all the fan fodder they gave us in season 4.
The pairings fans hate
Okay, sometimes you get a couple, who may often be canon, that fanfic writers don’t really take too all that well. There will always be some fics about them, but they are very much in the minority. Often this is when two characters don’t really seem to have a lot of chemistry, or when the relationship (if canon) feels forced by the creators. Case in point is Veronica and Piz. No one likes Piz. No one. So, despite it being canon, fanfic writers and readers have replaced Piz with Logan and carried on as it was before. Harry and Ginny have a minute fanfic base because the community has recast Harry with Draco. So, when fans don’t like canon, they rebel and recast.
So, that’s the types of pairing in a nutshell.
One thing that I really want to explain is why people write and read fanfic. It’s not because we want the creators to change and create out plots or characters as we like them, after all, Harry Potter wouldn’t have been Harry Potter if Ginny had been with Draco – They would have killed him in his sleep and we’d have had a whole different story with a whole different dynamic that would never have led to us loving those characters and seeing them in the way we see them.
Instead it’s simply a case of putting down our wishes, daydreams or random thoughts onto paper. We’ve all, at some stage in our lives thought, ‘I wish X would end up doing BB with Y and then-‘ but in reality we really don’t want that, because then things would be different. They would change and it wouldn’t be the stories, the characters and the personalities we love. It would be something else.
Fanfiction is for the fans – they understand it.
If you haven’t tried it, give it a shot. There are loads of great writers out there who really capture the feel of the original works and characters while giving them a whole new story. http://www.fanfiction.net is one of the biggest resources out there, and there are apps you can get like Fanfictiondownloader which will download whole fanfics direct from host sites onto your computer, tablet or e-reader.
Stay tuned for upcoming discussions on slash and jumping the shark.
Have a good Tuesday folks.