"It makes you realize that not all of what you love about the characters has to come from the original creators," says an "X-Files" fan fiction author who writes under the pseudonym Jintian (she did not want her real name published). "It can come from people who love the characters just as much as you."
She discovered fan fiction while searching the Internet for information on "The X-Files." Do that today, and you might stumble on "Happy Generation," in which Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance of Santa Claus, or "The 13th Sign," a story envisioning Mulder and Scully living a quiet life with a baby and a Volvo. ("Scully would never believe it, but all he'd ever wanted to be was normal.")
Fan fiction goes much deeper than major franchises. The adventurous Googler will find stories set in the 'verses (fan fic lingo for fictional worlds) of My Little Pony, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Then there are crossovers, which merge two or more universes. "Pride and Prejudice" in Middle Earth exists, for instance. (Mr. Darcy is a hot elf.) So does a mash-up of "Lord of the Flies" and "Legally Blonde: The Musical."
Trekkers have been writing fan fiction since before the whir of a dial-up modem. They would type their stories up and share them at fan conventions.
"A lot of it was literally handed under the table from one person to another," says Katherine Larsen, who teaches writing at George Washington University and edits the Journal of Fandom Studies.
Making characters kiss isn't the only motivation. Many fan fiction writers want to fix what they see as problems in fictional worlds.