In the world of fan fiction, “shipping” is a term that is often used to describe putting two characters from a series together in either a romantic relationship, or a platonic one, with “shipping” being a shortened version of “relationSHIP.” Of course, shipping is one of the driving forces of fan fiction. I don’t have statistics, but I would guarantee that about 80-99% of fan fiction you have seen has some form of shipping. Let’s take, for example, the picture above…
(An apology to those in advance who are not Naruto fans. It is just an example, and there is a lot of Naruto fan fiction)
The picture above depicts Naruto and Hinata in a fan art shipping. Sure, they aren’t together in core series, but fan fiction gives everyone the opportunity to stick them together for just one night. Or for eternity, whatever floats your boat. There is an importance in placing two characters together which is different with each author and each series. For example, many NaruHina shippers would rationalize that they belong together through the cannon of the show. Cannon shipping arguably applies to SasuSaku (Sasuke x Sakura), ShikaTem (Shikamaru x Temari), etc. In these instances, if the fan fiction takes place in the same universe, then the characters aren’t altered much. The characters who are part of the shipping are placed in situations similar to the show, and the realization of love or friendship becomes apparent by writing the characters like they are in the series, but altered to fit the situation
There are some authors out there who ship two characters that never seem to show any interest at all towards each other for no particular reason other than they favor the two characters. From my experience, it seems that this happens often in Yaoi/Yuri (gay and lesbian fiction). For example, the incestuous shipping between Sasuke and his brother Itachi comes to mind. Not a fan of it myself, but many fangirls (and some fanboys) out there somehow find a way to combine the two brothers romantically in a very intricate, innovative, and sometimes intriguing ways.
Shipping can also be used to prove a point. For example, when I wrote fan fiction for Digimon, I was a fan of crossbreeding shipping between a Digimon and human. Now, I got ridiculed a lot for it back in the day, but I used that type of shipping to create a hybrid generation in my personal cannon world, because I wanted to write about discrimination and difference using fan fiction and my Digimon geekiness as my medium. It sounded very bold and challenging, and it was. Trying to prove a point through fan fiction often takes risky moves and breaking of the shipping norm. I suppose the same argument can be made with the Yaoi/Yuri fan shipping being used to prove a point, but it takes a lot of writing finesse to pull it off.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of fan fiction shipping. And this will not be the last time I will mention shipping. Hope that this little piece gives you a nice taste to the world of relation(SHIP) fan fiction.
Till next time, keep writing and keep reading fellow geeks.