Exploring the world of e-fiction

Feedback and frequent updates are major draws for both the writers and readers of blog fiction and fanfiction

Abbey Stansfield, ArtSci ’09 and a fanfiction writer, says even though fanfiction writing is just a hobby, it’s nice to know it’s not a complete waste of her time.
Abbey Stansfield, ArtSci ’09 and a fanfiction writer, says even though fanfiction writing is just a hobby, it’s nice to know it’s not a complete waste of her time.

In today’s fast-paced world, where the Internet has the capacity to distil everything from daily news to health information to stock market analysis into bite-sized episodes, it seems only logical that someone take a crack at the novel. Enter blog fiction.

Dustin Mineau, who runs two blog fiction websites, told the Journal in an e-mail that there are multiple ways to define blog fiction.

“Some people use the term as a synonym for online fiction or any fiction published on a blog,” he said. “I define it as a blog written by a fictional person.”

Mineau runs two websites: blog.blogfiction.org and blogfiction.org. Not just a publishing tool, Mineau said, an increasing number of writers are seeing the Internet as a completely separate creative outlet.

“Most normal blogs are written by a real person,” he said. “A blog fiction is written by a made up person with their own personality. Unlike a typical blog, a blog fiction will use its format to tell a story. Usually, blog fiction sets itself apart from a normal blog by containing all of the elements of a typical novel: A story (with a beginning and a climax, conflict, character arcs, themes, etc...). It has to be serialized.”

Mineau said his blog and forums aim to form communites—places where writers can share tips and meet potential readers and where readers can give feedback of the blog fiction sites.

One of the draws to blog fiction, Mineau said, is the potential for feedback.

“It is satisfying to a writer to know that their work is being read and enjoyed,” he said, adding that interaction between reader and writer is a large part of the format’s appeal.

“When watching a scary movie, how often would you like to yell at the character to ‘not go in that room?’ When reading blog fiction, you can do that.”

Mineau said another example of this is when reading a blog fiction romance story.

“You can tell the character that the person she’s with ‘is a dweeb and needs to be dumped so she can get with a new flame’ or tell her the opposite,” he said. “You can even get into arguments with other readers about what she should do next. This interaction is something that no other modern storytelling medium allows.”

Another style of Internet fiction is fanfiction—online communities that involve writers taking pre-conceived plotlines and characters. TV shows and movies often form the starting point of fanfiction sites and fans add their own twists and turns.

Abbey Stansfield, ArtSci ’09 and a fanfiction writer, said she enjoys the community aspect of fanfiction, where authors discuss each other’s work and even collaborate. “Fanfiction is about more than the fiction itself,” she said. “It’s also about the bonds that can be formed and the people you meet. You all have one common link … It’s a community at the heart of it. I know some people who have met their best friends online and write together.”

Stansfield is currently working on two stories in the Harry Potter fanfiction universe.

She said she was looking online for rumours about the next Harry Potter book when she stumbled across fanfiction. She said she reads Harry Potter, House, Grey’s Anatomy and Twilight fanfiction. But, she said, quality fiction doesn’t necessarily lend itself to quality fanfiction. “It depends how taken I was by the characters in the book,” she said. “There has to be strong characters to actually warrant fanfiction … It has to be good quality to make it believable.”

The appeal of fanfiction, Stansfield said, is the speed with which new instalments are released. Sometimes a new chapter is a available every day or every couple of days. “It’s a way of filling in the time before books,” she said.

Many of Stansfield’s stories are posted on harrypotterfanfiction.com, which hosts thousands of stories based on a multitude of characters and plotlines. She said the site has recently started a new podcast where writers can read their fanfiction out loud through the site.

Stansfield said she judges the quality of her writing by what her readers say.

“I decide to post on how much feedback I get,” she said. “If nobody’s reading it, I see it as something that I’d have to go back and change. Feedback tells me people are reading and what they like and don’t like. Even though it’s just a hobby, it’s nice to know I’m not wasting my time.”

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