I read romance novels for a lot of different reasons. Escapism. A chance to live vicariously in dream-like situations. Just plain fun. They introduce me to new characters, new people to invest in and see the whole arc of their love story. But sometimes, instead of picking up a romance novel, I’ll go online and find a favorite fan fiction (fic). Not because I don’t love romances—I most certainly do—but because I want something different.
For those of you less obsessive about your TV, movies, or books, fan fiction is exactly what it sounds like—fiction written by fans about characters or settings already established in another media. It’s usually romance (because isn’t that what we’d prefer to read about our favorite characters?) and often very erotic; on ArchiveOfOurOwn, one of the biggest fan fiction sites, the tag “Porn with Plot” gives 16,094 hits, and “Porn without Plot” only gets 2,000 less. Some of it is as well written as published novels. Most of it, like many things on the Internet, isn’t.