Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fan Fiction's Muse

Jennette McCurdy—Fan Fiction’s Muse

by: DwynArthur 

w/D.C. Miles

I write fan fiction for a kids show.

Saying that feels like standing at the front of a room and admitting a dirty secret. Dirty to everyone else, but not to me. Most people that I know are alternately shocked, curious or outright confused by why I do it. The rude ones smile, nod and then talk about it later after I've left. But the brave (and less rude) usually ask me why. What is it about a kids show that has you up at night, hammering away on your laptop. Generally, I begin my argument by saying how great fan fiction writing is as a practice exercise for my ‘real world’ writing, but in the end, I usually punctuate my argument with the same phrase: “It’s just a really good show!”

And it is…at least to me and the thousands of others like me who spend their evenings indulging in their guilty pleasure – writing and reading iCarly fan fiction.

‘There are lots of good shows out there’, people say, and they’re right. There are lots of shows. Shows with more grown up actors and with more grown up storylines. So what is it that consistently draws me and my writing colleagues, back time and time again to a kid’s show. Well, I told you before.

It’s just a really good show.

But that’s not the only reason. In today’s post my writing partner and fellow iCarly fan (and popular fan fiction writer) Dwyn Arthur has agreed to share with us a little of what makes this show such fertile soil for our writer brains.

Dwyn…take it away!

Most fans closely follow the actors they like as well as the characters they play.  But as fanfiction writers, we separate the characters from the actors.  Unlike a show’s writers, we are writing scenes that we never intend for actors to perform. 

But there are exceptions.  Jennette is one of the few actors, I think, who has a personal impact on the production of fan fiction.  iCarly is one of the smaller fanfic communities, but the authors who write iCarly are active and dedicated to the show, participating in many cases in the wider fandom along with writing their own storylines.  The iCarly fanfic stories disproportionately center upon Sam Puckett, even though she is technically a supporting character.  (By our count, 77% of the iCarly stories posted to feature Sam or Sam/Freddie as the main character, compared to 16% for Carly or Carly/Freddie.)  This is a direct outgrowth of Jennette’s portrayal of Sam and her ability to make her audience fall in love with a less than sympathetic character.

Let’s add to this Dan Schneider’s decision to create a supporting character with such a rich backstory, something we’ve identified in earlier blogs as an important fanfiction prompt.  On top of that, Jennette’s other minor character, Sam’s twin sister Melanie, frequently appears in fanfics, typically as a central character, despite having appeared in just one episode in “canon.”  

Then there is the Seddie factor.  iCarly fanfiction, unlike the show, focuses less upon comedy upon character relationships, particularly romantic pairings.  For lots of us, it is about the shipping.  And we basically ship Seddie, and have done it through several seasons of Jennette and co-star Nathan Kress giving us numerous scenes where they convey unspoken romantic tension.  Seddie fanfics are an outgrowth not just of canon plot, but also the value that Jennette and Nathan have added on screen.

Just as Jennette’s acting has influenced the fanfiction output, she has also drawn vocal support from viewers who are not fanfic writers or readers.  While her fanbase is a bit smaller than that of some of her Nickelodeon/Disney peers, she still has more than a million followers on both Twitter and Facebook, and her fans are very enthusiastic, often using the internet to organize offline promotion of her work.  Sam’s domination of iCarly fan fiction is just one illustration of Jennette McCurdy’s ability to carry a show, and fans are anxiously waiting to see her play the central character in her new show.  That includes those of us who can’t wait to meet her new character and start writing away.

Dwyn Arthur is a contributing writer on the You Write What?! staff. His stories are Seddie centric and according to many female Seddie fans he writes 'the best Freddie ever'. He is a self-proclaimed 'Grammar Nazi' (no adverbs for you) and his fan fiction stories can be found at


I completely concur on the "shame" factor associated with this. I recently gave a reading of my fiction in my "true identity" at the local state college. During Q&A I admitted that I wrote FF. No biggie. People were intrigued. When I copped to writing _iCarly_ FF the front row of faces visibly looked like I'd pulled a rotten fish out of my shirt. There is a stigma associated with this that I am not sure how to remove. But then Henry James was reviled for writing novels, an inferior form of expression at the time. So I'll wait a hundred years.


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