Fandom Then/Now presents research conducted in 2008 and uses to facilitate fan conversations about fan fiction’s past and future. In my last round of posts I was focusing on things I noticed as I read different works of fan fiction and commercial romance. So far, I’ve touched on narrative arcs and world building and character relationship development (p1, p2). The last story elements I noticed were trends regarding seriality and narrative instability (p1).

Here are some of the differences I’ve been noticing in ways that commercial romance and fan fiction “do” seriality. What do you think?

Three: Seriality & Instability (p2)

Although the serial is seeing a rise in popularity in commercial romance today, this trend wasn’t as visible to me when I was reading popular commercial romances in 2008. At that time, the commercial romance stories I read seemed to focus more on creating a series of linked stories set in one story world. For example, at the time J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series was very popular. In this series, the stories focus on one couple at a time, one book at a time. This series more than serial approach seems to convey a stronger sense of stability and permanence to the relationship each book focuses on. Even if the characters appear again in a later story, their reappearance often takes the form of an update, rather than an entire revisiting of the relationship. The more serial works of fan fiction I read provided a significant contrast to this approach. Many of these stories returned again and again to the same set of protagonists, constantly building and rebuilding their relationship based on what challenges the source-text might throw at fan authors.

What’s your take on the different types of serial storytelling we see in commercial romance and fan fiction? 

What do you think of my findings? Read the full write up on fan fiction and romance here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here using the #fandomthennow tag.

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