This week I took my first foray into fanfiction. Or made it. Do you take or make a foray? Seriously, this is going to bug me.
I've never really been interested in fanfiction before. I never saw the point in reading something that was bound to be rubbish compared to the original, and as someone who wants to be a published author someday, it kind of bothered me that people could just take your characters and twist them to suit what they wanted.
Take the book I was forced to read a couple of years ago for Critical Reading. "Wide Sargasso Sea" by an author that I will not name because I object to the existence of this book, essentially tells the story of Mad Bertha from "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë. It's an incredibly dull book, which was my first objection to it, but then I realised that this woman is making money using characters that aren't hers. Storylines that aren't hers. And I object to that strongly.
Online fanfiction, however, I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, yes, people are using other people's characters and creating whole new backgrounds or futures or whatever for them. But they aren't making money from it. They're doing it out of their love for the characters and the original text, the original author should be flattered. I know I would be.
I still didn't really see the point of it, though. Why read a Harry Potter fanfiction piece when I can just read Harry Potter?
And then I stumbled upon a story (not using StumbleUpon) and started reading. I don't really know why I did, but I was hooked. It's really well-written, it's a believable premise, and the writer has been very true to the characters. I'll admit that she slips in a few places, but that's to be expected I think, and otherwise it's really very good.
I sat and consumed the story in a matter of days, and it's not a short story. There are 42 chapters. The average chapter is about 4500 words, which is around 9 A4 pages single-spaced. So it's quite an undertaking, especially since it's on a screen not on the page and that makes it much harder to read (because the website's formatting isn't exactly reader-friendly). And then it hit me.
I believe I've discovered the problem with fanfiction - it's unreliable.
And I don't mean in the sense that it deviates from the canon and can find Hermione falling in love with Snape (there is an ASTONISHING amount of these stories online). I mean that many of these stories are written as serials, with the author posting chapters as they write them. I just reached chapter 42 of a work of fanfiction, and discovered that it wasn't finished. Reading the comments, it would appear that between chapters 37 and 38, the author took a year long break. A year. This story has been in production for more than 6 years. And that is the problem with fanfiction. I have no way of knowing when I can finish reading it, and it is incredibly frustrating. All the more so because the writer left the last chapter on a cliffhanger.
Two months ago.