One of my favorite articles to share with people who are up in arms over the quality of fan fiction is this old great one about the beginnings of the Daily Prophet.
Harry Potter created something of a sensation in that children who previously wouldn’t read or write were suddenly doing both. Anime, movies, and many other books have spurred on fan fiction, but nowhere near the quantity that was developed after Harry Potter was published.
For these young writers, fan fiction is a very important thing. Some of them insert themselves into the world to interact with the characters. Some explore giving the characters alternate personalities, or allow characters to explore another book/movie/anime’s world. Some more intrepid writers even attempt to write stories that keep the characters completely true to themselves and to the world. A few even try to imagine alternate endings or what happened after the story ended.
They’re building and exercising their creativity. They’re meeting like-minded people. They’re reading and writing, the hallmarks of literacy.
They’re also learning to be critical, sometimes overly so. They’re learning how to give and receive criticism, even if it’s not handled gracefully on either side. They’re learning to edit, to ask others to help them edit or brainstorm ideas.
It’s an incredible phenomenon, and one that I’m glad to take part in, both as a writer and as an editor who tends to include a lesson or three in her reviews.