The Off-Canon Approach is an essay by Kara Wild, written in February 2000.
The Off-Canon Approach was written during a time of repeated debates between "canon" writers and "off-canon" writers. Canon prescriptivists felt that every fanfic storyline must remain within the confines set by the show and preferably be written in scripted format. Off-canon encompassed everything from slightly off-canon to very off-canon. Wild's essay was a response to the canon prescriptivists, notably Daniel Suni.
Wild challenges the notion that only "like the show" fanfics are worthwhile, stating that limiting characterization or subject matter to what took place on the show can prevent characters from being explored to their full potential.
Many off-canon writers appreciated Wild's essay, and some used it as a rallying cry against the canon prescriptivists. However, Wild would come to regret writing The Off-Canon Approach. Although she never wavered in her belief that characters should be explored, or that even bad Daria stories were still fanfiction, Wild was not a great fan of off-canonism. She liked the tension and emotion inherent in every-day relationships, and felt that off-canon fanfics, too frequently, used external crutches, such as school shootings or supernatural events, to spur a plotline along.
While Wild read and enjoyed the works of authors such as Renfield, Yui Daoren, Nemo Blank, and so forth, it bothered her that more and more, far from being ridiculed for not following canon, their brand of dark, dramatic storytelling was being heralded as the epitome of Daria fanfiction. She came to believe that her essay was being used as a justification for writing fanfics in which the characters bore scant resemblance to the ones on the show, with too little of an attempt to explain the transformation.
Since writing The Off-Canon Approach, Wild has remained critical of fanfiction in which the characters and situation stray too far from their roots. She has toyed with writing a counter-essay, The Canon Approach.