To Leave or Not to Leave: Tension in a FanFiction Community


This article is working to look into the questions of, "how do individuals and online communities use genres like blogs, social networks, and wikis rhetorically? How do they put tropes, rhetorical figures, appeals, and other writing “moves” to use, and to what effect?" Using the framework of Charles Bazerman's theory on genre and identity creation, I plan to look closely at how authors on are using blogs, rhetoric, and appeals to create new identities outside of the parent site because of the unwarranted changing of communal and individual identity.

Individual and Communal Identity Creation

Identity creation is one of the biggest factors associated with writing in general, but when it comes to digital writing it becomes an even bigger issue. When a person's identity relies entirely on what can be read and not what can be seen, more thought goes into what they are saying and how they are creating their identity. This is no different within communities. Communal identities and the identities of the individuals within the community are affected by each other. Charles Bazerman talks about this in his article "Genre and Identity." He writes, "Identities and forms of life get built within the evolving social spaces identified by recognizable communicative acts" (17). Here he is saying that not only do people identify themselves by how they fit into a community, but also that communities are built and change through how individuals use the community. This concept is one that I decided to apply to Southern Vampire Mysteries fanfiction.

What is SVM FanFiction?

Fanfiction in general is a community that is made up of super-fans of the specific work in question, in this case the Southern Vampire Mysteries novels. It’s usually something that is found when reading about a specific fandom online, and new members of the community usually spend their time reading first before they become authors. Some users are only readers and don’t venture into the authorial role at all. SVM fanfiction is usually centered around changing specific plot points that the fanfiction author didn’t like in the original, or there is a large group of authors that write alternative universe (AU) and all human (AH) fiction where characters of supernatural origin are changed into normal human beings. There are writers that dabble in both canon fiction and AU/AH fiction, but it seems that most of them stick to one or the other. vs. Blogs

SVM fanfiction pops up in a couple of different places, but the starting point for many authors and readers is is a minimalist site that has listings of fanfiction from genres ranging from Harry Potter to anime to Lost. Readers can peruse the site without having to become any bigger part of the site. Authors not only list their stories, but they also post profiles that work as a way for authors to link to each other and to places outside of as explanation or supplemental information for their stories. The other major spot to find fanfiction is the personal fanfiction blog. This happens when an author goes off on their own and creates a personal blog where they post chapters for their stories, things that are important to them, and give their audience a place to comment on their work. The tension arises in this community in the divide between these two forms of fanfiction posting.

The SVM section of has recently lost a large amount of authors. This hasn't been so much the complete deletion of accounts or people leaving the site altogether, but authors have been slowing the amount of updates to their stories to an almost hiatus-like standstill. Many authors including Lubadub, Ericizmine, Seastarr08, EtheHunter, and others have all done this slowing down their postings and moving toward their own blogs. What’s changed about the site that’s made them want to leave for their own place? And, how are they doing so? How are they using their writing to make this move? The answer to these questions lie in identity. I have found through personal use of the site and interviews with authors that the main problem and cause of leaving is the changes that are occurring to the communities identity and changes in their own identities that they don't approve of. Their solution to this unwanted change is to move to their own personal blogs, so that they can control their personal and communal identities the way that they see fit.

Identity in FanFiction

When we look at why these authors are leaving, a close examination becomes necessary because they generally don’t usually volunteer much explanation on their profiles. I interviewed Seastarr08, a SVM author who has been a part of the site since August of 2009. When I asked her about things that have changed within the site she began reading and writing she said,

“In the beginning, this fandom was much more of a community. We all read each other's stuff, offered support. Now, it's sprawled and is more and more like Twi, where there are pockets of people that are close, but groups don't often get along with each other, and seem to like to create drama for no reason. I'm not a target of any of the drama, but I see it happening and don't approve.”

Here she is using the comparison to the Twilight community of fanfiction to illustrate the differences between how the SVM community used to be and how it is now. The communal identity is changing because of how old users are changing and how newer users are using the site. This change is what is prompting authors to look at changing their writing space.

Seastarr08 also points to the how the community has become more segmented, and that as a result, there is more high school-esque clique “drama” between readers and writers than there was when she first started using the site. An example of the “drama” that she is citing here is a personal message that was sent to Kjwrit that she later posted for her readers to see. The anonymous messenger wrote,

“I understand you are busy. You were almost a nothing one year ago. We all supported you. You think you are better than us? I have taken authors to nothing to something with an idea. Go back, go way back and look at your first story. (Bringing Pam back when you killed her off?) I was there for you on your first story and gave you that idea… please do not forget that. 'Too Big For Her Britches Woman Can Not Now Be Bothered With Peons!' Typical you. Such a shame. Do not get too comfortable. You will be knocked off your little perch. I know, it gets to your head. Geez, now maybe because I was a bitch you might respond? Such a shame. I had high hopes for you that maybe you could be different. But, get over 4K reviews, you think you are God,…well, think again. There are some authors with over 400K reviews, and don't ask me how they do it, but they always respond to reviews, they do not let it go to their head. I never thought you could be that different. Such a shame. Cuss me out, call me stupid, but I will stick to this review. I thought you'd be different. I will never disrespect you in public, so that is why I'm sending this as a PM. For Your Eyes Only. It's my story and I'm sticking to it. You have changed.”

The messenger is using an accusatory tone to get Kjwrit to answer her comments that she leaves on the author’s stories. Although she is trying to use facts about other authors as a way to legitimize the argument she is trying to make, the tone and the pathos that she creates for herself as a result make her look like she is just trying to start the drama that Seastarr08 referenced before. She is not only creating her own identity within the community as being a "drama"-starter, but she is also contributing to the communal identity changing to become more high school-esque and is driving authors from

Communal identity change is a major factor in the tensions on, but individuals personas are also changing without their permission. One of the main factors in this unwarranted change is the removal of stories from authors profiles. I had been noticing stories that I had already read or that I was currently reading that had all the sudden disappeared with little or no explanation, and one of those stories was one authored my Seastarr08 titled The Expert. So, when interviewing her I asked why she was asked to take down the story she told me that she wasn’t asked to take it down and that she did it of her own accord for her own reason. But, she did say, “ doesn't ask you to remove things, they just remove them, and you're notified later.” This was something that even as a reader I didn’t understand, and I realized that most writers would not probably know until one of their stories was taken down. This lack of writing and rhetoric, of letting an author know that a story isn’t to be on the site, is another thing that is prompting writers’ exodus from the site because they lose their control of their profiles, their stories, and their identities.

Once their identities have been altered without their consent, the issue becomes how they manipulate their identities so that their readers will follow them to wherever they plan on moving to with their writing. I looked at more than one profile, and the majority of the authors post links to the other places that they post their stories on those pages. The author Lubadub, for example, has a section at the bottom of her profile that has always listed the other places that she posts, but more recently she put a notice at the top of her profile stating,

“Author Update: It's been a long time coming, but I'm officially off this site. All of my stories are posted on my WordPress page and those that are in progress are still in progress. I might still post the rare contest entry here, but if you want my stories, you'll have to check out my own page. Subscribing there is simple, all you need is an e-mail address.

Thank you for your continued support,

In this notice she is using phrases like “It’s been a long time coming” to create logos for her decision to move sites. She wants to create an ethos of a credible person that has come to a decision after much debate and thought. Once she has created this credible ethos it is easier to tell her readers that she will no longer be posting, and they are more likely to follow her to her new home, her Wordpress. Most of the authors that I have looked at use this same type of rhetoric to elicit the desired movement to their new homes. Most of them also keep the same pen names that they used on in order to create the feeling that they are still the same person and have the same identity that they created fro themselves there on their blogs.


Once I had looked more into and the authors that have been leaving the site I came to a conclusion about how the changing of their identity within the community and the identity of the community itself is what is prompting them to make the move. In his article “Genre and Identity,” Charles Bazerman talks about creating an identity within a writing community. He writes,

“You [the participant] develop and become committed to the identity you are carving out within that domain. Further, the particular ranges of feelings, impulses, and stances that you adopt in orienting to that world develop in interaction with the people and activities within that world” (14).

When looking at the authors on you can tell that these they are attached tremendously to the identities that they have “craved out” for themselves in this community because even when they leave they keep the same penname that they created on that particular site. The problems start when the community’s identity itself changes like Seastarr08 mentioned in our interview, or when other participants in the community try to change the identity of the author like in the personal message that Kjwrit posted at the end of one of her chapters. The “feelings” that these authors are getting from this change or potential change in the identity that they have created for themselves within this community is why they are leaving and going to their own personal blogs. There they have more control over their identities because they are not associated with the SVM community in the way that they were before, and they are more comfortable posting their writing on their own terms. The “interactions” between the authors, other users of the site, and the community itself are changing the stances that the authors previously had of, and this combination of interactions and changing of stance is what is prompting them to seek alternative ways to post their writing.


  • Bazerman, Charles. “Genre and Identity.” The Rhetoric and Ideology of Genre. New Jersey: Hampton Press Inc, 2002.
  • Seastarr08. Personal Interview. 2 November 2011.