Fanfiction in English literature

A Sneak Peek at Fanfiction in English Literature

The longest piece of English literature is a multi-crossover fanfiction called Loud House  Revamped by James Dean.  As of March 2020, the epic story has approximately 1348 chapters spanning over 8,790,688 words and counting! That is long enough to lap the entire Harry Potter series almost nine times!

The previous record for the longest piece of English literature belonged to another fanfiction called Subspace Emissary’s Worlds Conquest, which has a total word count of 4,102,217 and initially posted in 2008.

Loud House Revamped, however, launched in 2017 and obliterates the previous champion twice fold! If we account for the average reading speed of 200 words per minutes for adults, it will take you 43953.33 minutes or 732 days of non-stop reading to complete the entire story!

Born on the 14th of October 1987, James Dean is autistic and finds it difficult to understand many things. However, he fell in love with fanfiction and is very proud of this incredible accomplishment! The project started as regular fanfic for the Loud House on Loud House Wikia, and then he never really stopped writing.

Dean has written six other projects, including The Little Mermaid Revamped, Rise of Angel Shinobi and A Disgraced Athlete – Seagull to NSL, to mention a few.

I thought it might be interesting to use Loud House Revamped as a vehicle to discuss the rise of fan fiction as a legitimate form of literature in this day and age. We will investigate what fanfiction is, where to find it, who it’s for, and the legal implications concerning copyright law. First, here’s a quick look at the inspiration behind the longest piece of English Literature:

What is The Loud House?

The Loud House is a Nickelodeon animated kids show set in a fictional town called Royal Woods. The story revolves around a young boy named Lincoln Loud, a middle child and an only boy in a family of 11 children. The series’ creator, Chris Savino, based the story on his childhood, and the animation derives from newspaper comic strips he read growing up.

Lincoln, The story’s protagonist, has to navigate life around his ten sisters, who all have distinctive personalities. He frequently breaks the fourth wall to explain to the viewers his relationships with his sisters and hatches brilliant plans to make his life a little more tolerable.

The Loud House became the number-one children’s animated series on television within its first month on the air. It also became Nickelodeon’s highest-rated program, beating SpongeBob SquarePants during its time on air.

What is fanfiction?

Fanfiction is a form of amateur writing by fans, often deriving from an existing body of work. The original composition can include written literature, films, television series or shows. The authors or creators of fanfiction expand the original’s narrative and share it with other fans predominantly for free.

Famous examples of fanfiction that you might have heard about include Sherlock, Naruto and 50 Shades of Grey, which started as a Twilight fanfic. Fanfics empower the readers and writers to reimagine their favourite characters and cast them in new scenarios limited only by their imagination.

Top fanfiction websites

FanFiction.Net is the worlds most populous repository of fanfiction. Founded in 1998, The Website now boasts an impressive 12 million registered users and hosts written literature in over 40 languages. The website allows writers to publish their work for free and primarily earns from ad revenue to maintain running costs.

Archive Of Our Own or AO3 is a non-profit and open-source archive of fanfiction created by its users. The website went live in 2008, and as of 2021, it has hosted over 7 million artworks. Other fanfic websites include Tumblr, Wattpad and Kindle Worlds, to mention a few.

Is Fanfiction legal?

The short answer is no; fanfics are not legal and should not be published without the copyright holder’s permission, although I should mention that copyright holders have varying attitudes toward fan works. 

Some copyright holders object laboriously to fan fiction based on their creations and will take legal action against fan authors/artists or host sites. The legality and enforcement of copyright law depend on the copyright holder and whether they feel the need to act or not. 

Other copyright holders, such as J.K Rowling- author of the Harry Potter franchise, are flattered by the fanfiction and wholeheartedly embrace its existence.

Do fanfiction authors get for their work?

Fanfiction is a derivative work under US copyright law, and one cannot publish the work for-profit without a copyright holder’s permission. Some platforms like allow writers to earn through advertising income on submissions on their website.

E.L. James’ wildly successful 50 Shades of Grey, her Twilight-inspired fanfiction, reportedly netted her over 80 million dollars. However, she had to drastically change the characters and the plot to avoid any legal complications with the original authors.

Amazon has teamed up with specific companies – owners of several copyrighted titles – to allow fanfic writers to base their stories on their original works. Those prices are about $0.20 per short story, $0.70 per novella, and $1.40 per novel sold.

Some people may regard fanfiction as the ultimate form of reader engagement, and I firmly believe this literary form will continue to inspire avid writers for many years to come. In closing, I should highlight that some of the most well-known and successful authors out there today started in fanfiction. Perhaps the next best-selling author will emerge from this controversial playground.

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