With the sale of Anna Todd's Wattpad megahit After — a Harry Styles fanfiction that blew up — to Simon & Schuster, we had to ask ourselves why this particular fanfic was appealing to publishers. Traditional publishers purchasing fanfiction for publication is nothing new, but with so many fanfics being written, what makes After so special? We decided to ask One Direction megafan (protip: 1D fans are called "Directioners") Christin Gest to tell us why After was a hit, and to lead us down the rabbit hole of One Direction fanfiction.
Anna Todd, a twenty-five-year-old Directioner, has just made many One Direction fan dreams a reality. Ms. Todd has managed to score a six-figure book deal for her popular series After. After is published on Wattpad, which is a popular site where all things fanfiction, or just plain fiction, are published.
I did, however, ask myself what made After so popular as opposed to any of the other One Direction fan fictions out in the universe. For starters, the story centers on Tessa, a college girl with a perfect boyfriend, perfect plans and perfect everything, that is until she meets punk Harry Styles. The story embarks on a teen transitioning into adulthood, not really having life figured out like she thought she did and well, a lot of sexually explicit scenes, which let's face it, who doesn't enjoy dreaming of a hunky shirtless Harry Styles? The story is relatable to a plethora of girls who feel pressure to reach states of perfection in every aspect in their life, as well as knights in shining armor to save them from such constraints.
Although there are often some internal debates within the fanfic community of whether or not it is ethical to “capitalize” on fanfic (since, after all, some of these works are inspired by pre-existing works sans Fifty Shades of Grey and The Mortal Instruments) in the case of Anna Todd, I say, AWESOME.
Anna Todd is aiding in the legitimization of the “Directioner” fandom, which has faced harsh ridicule for their “chaotic” fan worship ways (see the Channel 4 documentary Crazy About One Direction for details). The act of Anna Todd taking her love for One Direction and punk Harry Styles (which apparently punk any member of One Direction is a thing in the fandom, who knew) and creating a story people connect to and admire is something, in my opinion, that deserves reward. Todd took the fictional dream of having a member of One Direction fall in love with you and made it a reality through the fan fiction universe.
In honor of Todd “legitimizing” the Directioner fandom with a major book deal and a possible movie adaptation, which is already in the works, I’m counting down my favorite One Direction fanfictions brought to you by Wattpad and Tumblr.
Note: These are totally just my favorites and in no way shape or form take away from the plethora of every single amazing Directioner fic out in the universe.
The Boy That Saved My Life is about terminally ill teen Emma having her one last wish of meeting Harry Styles granted. What ensues is a tale of two hearts coming together as one, and not just because of a disease that is limiting a life, but also because of support, friendship and ultimately, love.
Hide is about a girl named Avery falling in love with Harry Styles. What makes this fic one of my favorites was following it on Tumblr, and watching its growth before my very eyes. Various users are eager for more chapters, commenting on their favorite parts and creating images of what they think Avery should look like. Did we also mention that this fic is on the lemon-y side? Although sexually graphic One Direction fics are common, this sort of breaks the fourth wall of too hot to handle.
Babysitting One Direction is about 18 year old Anna babysitting One Direction. At first when reading this story I silently sighed and thought, “Really?”, but this story is upbeat and fun! Although it does have its more serious moments, such as the tumultuous relationship between Anna and her dad, this story chronicles Anna’s hardships and joyous moments babysitting boys that are well, her age.
1-800-Niall-Horan is about a girl named Mia dealing with being bullied and trying to make her way through college. She always knew she would be destined for greatness - getting a celebrity phone call from Niall Horan. This story leans a little on the heavier side dealing with family abuse, running away from home and the pains of being rejected.
Fading deals with Harry Styles who can see ghosts and communicate with them, and how he falls in love with the ghost of Louis Tomlinson. That’s right world, this is a Larry Shipper AU fic, so NO HATE PLEASE. The best part about Fading is the consistent changes in POV’s, which makes for a well rounded story. There are comedic moments and as this story was written towards the beginning of One Direction’s fame, it has quirks only those who have been with One Direction “from the beginning” would understand.
An honorable mention goes out to the onedirectionfanfiction.org website where stories are uploaded daily for fans to read, and anyone can contribute a story to the platform.
Have you read After? Or any One Direction fanfic? Spill in the comments! You can follow Christin on Twitter for more 1D ramblings — @shcoolchik69.