There are many in fandom who start looking forward to Yuletide by summer. This tradition is, I think, one of the best open secrets in the fanfiction part of fandom. Here is the FAQ; the main thing to know is that participants wake up on Christmas morning with a story written in their favorite small fandom, just for them. You can request favorite characters, even the mood of the story.
Anyone may sign up. You just have to promise to write a story for someone else in order to get one.
For a week no one knows who wrote the stories—they are all anonymous. Once the stories are posted, it is expected that they remain in the A03 database for fans to enjoy over the years. It’s easy to download them onto your e-reader.
I’ve talked about Yuletide on panels, and as usual, hear the dissing of fanfiction, “Oh, it’s all slash and pwp (porn without plot)”—and there are those stories, but they are not the majority. The range of fandoms is far more wide-reaching than many would think, and so are the stories that communicate with them. Not just books and movies and TV shows and anime, but history, philosophers, songs, parts of songs, commercials. One of the funniest stories ever was centered around the Care Bears, years ago; this year, there were five stories prompted by a single XKCD panel. One of those is remarkable indeed.
And that’s before you get to the cross-overs, in which not only do characters from one storyverse visit another, but paradigm is in conversation with paradigm.
The Daily Dot watches Yuletide. Their callout this year is how fanfiction talks back to fanfiction, in this case a satiric look at “50 Shades of Grey” and the vapidness of the central character: “Three Shades of Steel.” They also point out an older fic, “The Journey West,”, which “is a brief and stellar example of how fanfiction can offer up a searing critique of a work by reinjecting what has been left out of it, in this case putting Asian-American immigrant voices back into Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.”
A few examples: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen via Regeneration.
The Mars rover. Places? Like Washington DC when magic begins to seep into the world.
One piece that I thought was especially evocative was a fictional reverie based on characters from Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
A crossover, The Muppets and The Twilight Zone.
If you have an ereader or phone, A03 is easy to access—the stories are free, and like anything, the quality ranges from beginner to sublime. (And not all readers will agree which is which.)
If you try any, feel free to recommend something you liked!