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Date Posted: Tuesday, February 07, 04:47:39pm
Author: sk
Subject: some not-very-rigorous statistics about fanfiction

Mousing around on the fanfiction.net website I noticed some interesting statistics. They list the number of stories per fandom on their index page, and I started to keep track of the shows that had more than 1,000 stories. Some of them weren't too surprising -- they're series or programs that seem to pop up all the time in discussions about fanfiction (JAG, Stargate, Pretender, X-Files, Farscape, the Buffy programs, Pirates of the Carribbean, and of course the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises). But others were much less familiar or expected (Scarecrow and Mrs King, Third Watch, Degrassi -- at 8,154, Gilmore Girls has more stories than Angel, Smallville, X-Files, and many others). And some series that seem to get a lot of fannish attention, like Battlestar Gallactica, didn�t even break the 1,000 stories line.

And of course, our feral little fandom doesn't come close, at 191.

I realize that this is a highly skewed piece of research -- many of the popular fandoms don't post much on this site (though there are almost 230,000 Harry Potter-inspired stories), but it did make me wonder a bit about what kind of shows foster fan writing.

Originally I thought you needed a large-ish set of well-defined characters, which should favor soap operas, but only Passions had more than 1,000 stories. (I don't know the show, so can't really say anything about the characters or situations) Then I wondered about shows with a clear formula, like police procedurals, that might be easy to work with. This category seemed to be more successful -- the original CSI has over 10,000 listings, and its Miami spinoff has 1,204, but the original Law and Order doesn't qualify (only the SVU version breaks 1000).

So in this hardly valid, late-afternoon analysis, out of 500+ television shows represented, 40 of them generated more than 1,000 pieces of fanfiction. Almost half of those could be categorized as science fiction or fantasy (more, if you include the Buffy world and Xena), with personal drama (like OC or Gilmore Girls) and police procedurals lagging behind, and medical programs (ER, MASH) even further back.

So what makes a good fanfiction-able program, and does this have any connection to LFN?

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