Have you ever dreamt to read a certain fanfiction but couldn’t find it anywhere? No fear, folks. You can always try sharing your prompts and wait for someone to pick them up. But… what exactly is a prompt?
Those who still believe fans are isolated and lonely creatures should probably take a look at the last 30 years of scientific studies on fan culture (starting with Henry Jenkins’ ones, because you don’t simply ignore the King of Fans if you want to learn something about our culture).
We already talked about the collaborative processes that characterize the production of fanworks. To make things simpler for those who aren’t familiar with the concept: any fanfiction, fanart, fanvideo created by a fan for other fans is never the result of a single person’s work. Yes, it may be written, drawn, shared and published by a single fan, but it is inspired and developed under the “influence”, we may say, of the whole fandom community that fan belongs to:
Every element (and there are more!) mentioned in the previous image would be worth of a deeper analysis, but for today let’s just stick with one: requests.
What are prompts?
A prompt is exactly what it sounds like: a request by a fan to other fans to create a fanfiction, a fanvideo or some other fanart with a specific content. In other words, a prompt is what a fan would like to read or see but doesn’t have the time or the competence to create on their own. It can be made up of a whole plot, a single scene or a dialogue, but even a simple and immediate mental image that got stuck in that fan’s head could be enough to create a prompt.
A prompt can be shared with the whole community (mostly through social networks like Tumblr) or sent to a specific fan who is particularly well-versed in that kind of request – an appreciated fanwriter for example – or has openly asked for them.
The fact that fans can look for ideas and materials to write about is probably one of the most interesting aspects in relation to prompts. While it’s certainly understandable that someone, for example, may express their desire to read something they haven’t found online yet, it seems more peculiar to find someone who asks other fans for what they want to read and offers to write it for them. Then again, it’s not dissimilar to what happens in book publishing, a field that’s not exempt from following market logics.
But why, you may ask, are we talking about prompts today?
In the past few days a great, absolutely amazing movie was released in theatres. Its title is The Nice Guy and has become in two minutes one of my favourite movies of all time.
This film already has its own fandom but unfortunately this fandom isn’t big enough to be able to answer fans’ requests for stories and arts. And it’s quite the sad thing for a fan not to be able to express their devotion towards a movie or a series with fanarts. Especially when the prompts and ideas that are born inside this fandom would all be worth to be replied to.
That’s why we decided to present you our 10 favourites “fans’ desires” of the past few months: to honour all those fans, no matter the fandom, who’ll never get to know “what would happen if…” and the fanartists who are doing their best to keep even their smallest fandoms alive. Prompts that are specifically defined as such, and others that are just ideas or inspirations shared online that hide the secret hope that one day someone, out there (even the original authors, maybe), will find them and decide they are worth to be taken into consideration.
10. Almost Human/Common Law crossover
9. True Detective Undercover Mission
8. LOST/Person of Interest Crossover
7. Bagginshield Reincarnation Fic
6. Black Sails Plot Twist
5. Valvert AU prompts: 1
4. Valvert AU prompts: 2
Versione gifset qui.
3. Captain America Civil War AU
2. Desde allá sequel
1. The Nice Guys (angsty) sequel
At this link you’ll also find an example of a prompt that someone took the time to answer to.
What would you really like your favourite fanartists to write or portray in their fanarts? Let us know with a comment on Facebook!
May the fandom be with you! In this case, quite literally, too.