Fanfictions are, in a basic sense, a nerd's ultimate outlet. When you love something so much that you are willing and wanting to write a story based on your obsession, it's called a fanfitction. It's not your original work, but you don't claim it to be. It's just you spending more time with your favorite characters, exploring new story lines, or even changing some things. Basically your telling the original author, "I loved your story so much that I'm adapting it."
I love fanfictions. Sometimes I'm disappointed in a show's ending or wish a movie had been longer or just wanted to spend more time with a character, so when that happens I either write a fanfiction or look for one (the latter usually happens). Mostly it happens when I just can't get enough of a story that I have to look to someone else's adaption.
There are many, many types of fanfictions out there, but a lot of them just follow the line of continuing a certain story. This makes perfect sense, as the readers, being fans themselves, are familiar with the characters, settings, the storylines, etc. An example would be what had happened after "Ella Enchanted" ended; without the curse, how is Ella's life now? Simple things like that.
However, there are also other fanfictions out there as well that are just as popular as a usual processors. Although I can't name them all, the ones that come to mind include alternate universes (AU), shippings (ships), and crossovers.
Alternate Universe fanfictions have the same characters, usually, but they;re in a different setting. Some alternate universes are parallel universes, in which a character starts off the same as the universe the original author created (this is known as "canon"), but along the road something changed. This can also be known as a "What If", in the sense that a character made a different decision and it changed the course of the canon An example would be a story in which Anakin Skywalker didn't turn to the dark side. However, alternate universes may just completely different setting for no particular reason, such as if "The Hunger Games" characters didn't live in Panem and were in a more modern society.
Shipping Fanfictions are simply a paring between two characters. They may already be together (like Lois and Clark), or they could involve characters who never got into a relationship in the regular universe. For example, there are pretty popular shippings for Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy. So basically, it's just a romantic story between two characters.
Crossover fanfictions are when two universes crossover with each another. For instance, a crossover fanfiction with "Sonic The Hedgehog" may include him meeting up with the "Mario" characters. They may just have one universe's characters entering another universe, or the universes merge together (i.e. The Mario characters live in the same universe as Sonic). It's basically combining two fandoms together and seeing how the characters would interact if they were to meet each other.
Of course, there are thousands (maybe millions) of fanfictions out there, but I'm just choosing the ones that I come to mind. My personal favorite type of fanfiction is a "What If" AU, simply because I love exploring what could have happened to a character. Haven't Potterheads ever wondered what would have happened if Harry's parents hadn't died? If he had been raised by Sirius instead? It just expands your imagination of the world you knew.
I also enjoy crossover fanfictions from time to time, wondering how certain characters would interact if they were faced with each other. Ever since I watched "Lost" and "Hereos", I wondered how it would be if the could crossover-I usually picture the Heroes characters on the island. I also wonder what would've happened if "The Hunger Games" was just Katniss' fear stimulation during her Dauntless initiation.
Fanfictions are a great creative outlet for me and thousands of fans out there. We love our characters, we love the stories, so why not expand on that? We would love to meet the characters, perhaps, or re-imagine them in the sense of making them go through some growth or whatnot. We'd like to see more of their universe, perhaps, or even change it.
In spite of all my praise for fanfictions, I must say that, like everything in entertainment, not all are appealing to me. I have nothing against the writers, of course, but I'm often turned off by grammatical mistakes to the point where I cannot understand the story, sexually explicit content ("lemons"), or just making a kid story adult (granted it could be funny, but sometimes it's just too weird).
One of the worst things, I believe, you can do to a story is to make someone act out-of-characters (OOC); this means they act nothing like the original character. Just picture Harry Potter joining Voldemort and using dark magic! I understand how an alternate universe character may act different, especially in a "What If" case scenario, but they need to be basically the same. The only time I tolerate OOC-ness is in the case of a parody.
But, I digress. Those are just the things I don't like abourtfanfictions. As long as it's well-written and doesn't drift away from the characters or overall storyline, fan fictions can be some of the greatest pieces of literature I've ever read. I honestly spent most of a day looking up "Star Wars" fanfictions and even thinking some were better than the originals! I'm also on the hunt for some prequels to Harry Potter, particularly about Lily and James and possibly Snape's life before the books, and I read a really good "Hunger Games" fanfiction about Finnick Odair's life.