When I reread the Harry Potter series, it used to be like coming back home. Just as your body senses the familiarity of the smells and the space you enter as you walk through the rooms of the house you used to live in as a child, your mind recognizes the familiar sound and form of the words you’ve read over and over again. What kind of potterhead doesn’t feel a bit nostalgic when reading the first chapters of The Philosopher’s Stone? “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” They are words that bring you back to the moment you visited the wizarding world for the very first time in written form.
However, when you’ve revisited that moment so many times, when your mouth forms the words before you even get to read them, you end up getting sick of it. Everything’s the same. You’ve noticed every little detail there’s to notice; there’s nothing fresh in the story. It’s not like you’ve fallen out of love with the series; I still love the characters and go crazy every time someone as much as mentions Harry Potter. You just desperately need something new. Something as small as a scene you’ve forgotten or noticed for the first time. The fact is that even the best books can only be reread so many times before they become monotonous.
You can start a new series or novel, but even though they provide you with excitement and new characters to fangirl about, they don’t give you the feeling of coming back home (at least most don’t). What do you do then? How do you deal with this need of more potterness?
Okay, first I should probably clear up some of the misconceptions people have about fan fiction. Many immediately relate fan fiction with weird sexual stories where people ship Draco with apples. I admit there are plenty of those (I’m not criticizing or anything! It’s all right if you enjoy that kind of thing!), but there’s quite a big number of other more… normal (?) fan fictions out there for almost anything you can think of. They are simply stories based on published books, movies, TV series, mangas, real people’s lives, etc. written by imaginative fans. Harry Potter fan fictions are pretty popular. If you take a look at fanfiction.net, for example, Harry Potter is the book series with the highest amount of fan fictions with over 600,00. The variety of stories that can sprout from a single novel is amazing. And it’s incredible just how well written some of them can be.
I quite enjoy reading Harry Potter fan fiction, actually. It’s a good option for people looking for new material based on stories they already love. You get the familiar feeling of characters you’ve known for years, in a world whose rules you already know, but you get a new perspective. You’re able to see it through the eyes of another person, and you see the fantasies it has created in someone else’s mind. It’s also a positive experience for those who write them. You don’t need to create a whole new world around your characters or your story; you are able to construct a fantasy on a world you and your readers know everything about. Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments, began writing Harry Potter fan fiction, and now her series is one of the most popular among teenagers.
Many think negatively of fan fiction because they weren’t written by the real author and they tell a “false” story. I think fan fictions open doors the author chose not to or didn’t have the opportunity to open. They allow you to see how an infinite number of “what ifs” could have developed. These stories are definitely not the same as the ones written by the real author of the series, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be good. If you think of it, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games… they are all fantasies someone had and decided to write and share with the world. What’s wrong with wanting to construct new fantasies upon them? I’m not saying you should write fan fiction and sell it; that would violate copyrights, and it’s plain wrong to sell someone else’s ideas as if they were yours. I just think there’s nothing wrong with letting your inner fangirl’s imagination run free. It can be fun, and it’s a way to give new life to a story you cannot let go of.