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The deep fan fiction origins of Fifty Shades of Grey

This morning I was doing my usual perusing of Reddit and came across a link on /r/DepthHub about how Fifty Shades of Grey went from the Twilight fan fiction community to a best-selling novel and movie deal.

While it's widely known that FSOG started as fan fiction, what's not particularly well understood is how it made the leap from online message board posts to a publishing best seller. User Hurricangst helps to connect the dots.

Of particular note is that the fan fiction community surrounding Twilight created an "Alternate Universe" ("AU" as referenced in the post) that was largely devoid of anything from Stephenie Meyer's books besides passing references or character names.

So Twilight All-Human AUs were ultimately invented. There were stories where vampires didn’t exist (like FSOG). They got CRAZY popular within the community because they were essentially just generic romance novels with characters we already knew (made it easy to write and consume, as we already liked and cared about the characters). Though there were always nods to the original Twilight series within them, you didn’t even have to know Twilight to enjoy an AH-AU. I’ve gotten tons of reviews on my fanfic where readers say they’ve never even picked up the book.
— hurricangst

The lengthy (by Reddit standards) history does a good job of showing how EL James was able to take popular elements from other fan fiction works along with her own marketing prowess and generate a lot of support and interest in her work.

Even if the result was a rather dubious work of emotional manipulation and abuse masquerading as a novel about a BDSM relationship, the origin of this popular novel from the quiet online community of Twilight fan fiction is an odd and interesting history.