Why You Should Consider Writing Fanfiction

The term “fanfiction” can make others gag, and some giggle like crazy. Whatever the world thinks of fanfiction, it can’t be denied that it’s such a huge part of pop culture, of the book and film industry.

Generally, fanfiction is, of course, fiction (poems/stories) done by fans. Before Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, fanfiction existed mostly on Fanfiction.net, Archive of Our Own, and LiveJournal pages (Now it’s quite popular on Tumblr).

Fanfiction from different fandoms fill the webs of cyberspace, from TV shows like BBC Merlin, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to movies like Marvel’s Avengers, Les Miserables 2012, to Anime shows (especially Anime) like Fairy Tail or Naruto.

So why shouldn’t you join in the fun? Rainbow Rowell’s already written about it in Fangirl, and even the Graham Norton show is notorious for pulling up fanart to show their guests.

fangirling-JLaw

This is us.

Reader Feedback

Before Wattpad came, fans took to sites like Fanfiction.net to write about their versions of the stories they love. On such platforms, they could upload a chapter every week and get feedback from readers. The fan writers would know – did the readers like their version? Was the characterization spot on? Was it well-written? What needed improvement?

And the thing is, it’s good practice! Every writer will receive negative reviews. Writing fanfiction is a way to practice it, a way to thicken your skin against criticisms. It’s a sad reality that many writers take umbrage at any negative review they encounter (Book reviewer Aria wrote about one such event on her blog).

Trust me, it can be intimidating to put up your work for people to read and take apart, but that’s the thing with fanfiction – it’s not really your characters or world. You’re just “borrowing” it. It’s not for sale (unless you do that Kindle Worlds thing, which is for limited universes only, thank God), and getting positive feedback from readers is such a great feeling. It can add to your motivation to write. I know the community over at Archive of Our Own is strong and supportive.

Constant Writing

You must write constantly. Especially if you want it to be your job, your bread and butter, your livelihood. One of the things you need to do is to write EVERY DAMN DAY barring injuries of course.

Updating a multi-chaptered fanfiction story is pretty great, as it keeps you constantly writing. Never stop. It’s like a bike that hasn’t been used in a long time – once you oil it, use it. Keep using it so it doesn’t gather dust and rust.

Plus, the more you write, the more you discover your voice, and you get to see your writing process develop, expand, and improve. It’s a good process to undergo.

Irene Adler - Sherlock's #1 Fangirl

Damn right.

Take a Break

There are times when you feel bored with your current WIP. You need to rethink some scenes or redo your outline. Writing even just a short fanfiction story can be a breath of fresh air. Instead of despairing at your lack of motivation to continue your WIP, write a short fanfiction.

Why not an original one?

Well, there’s no rule that says you can’t. But fanfiction stories are easier in a sense that you don’t need to start from scratch. You already know the characters, their backstories, and how their world works. You can just dive write in. Write one “deleted” scene from the Prisoner of Azkaban. Just one, and you’ll feel the juices flowing again. It might even give you better ideas for your WIP.

Develop Characters and Plot

With fanfiction, you can use the characters from the story, with minor changes, or you can create your Original Characters. You can use the same plot, with slight deviations, or make an Alternate Universe (modern? supernatural? college student Pride and Prejudice? Star Wars themed? Rom-com?).

Thing is, if you plan on doing a novel-like approach to fanfiction, you can practice your own planning process. Not sure what story you want to write and publish? Write a fanfiction story and see whether you prefer to write in 1st or 3rd person POV, whether you really want to do a dystopian or urban fantasy, or learn how much you tend to use purple prose (yes, I know some fanfiction works evolved into best-selling books, but that’s a different topic).

Some fanfiction writers, because it’s well, fanfiction, make the plot as they go (ehem over here), but others take the time to make even a very simple outline to get their thoughts in order. See, it’s great practice! Because you’re not over-thinking an utterly new story with new characters in a new world, you get to go to the more exciting part quickly: writing! (and getting positive comments)

Let Your Hair Down

With fanfiction, you can go crazy. Yes, some people will complain and wonder why there are so many m/m pairings of the main characters, why can’t they be friends, etc., but you can’t control fanfiction. It’s like telling nightingales not to sing. Unnatural.

That should be the title of the show Not Natural

Supernatural’s fanbase (ehem over here).

Also, it’s a venue for all your guilty pleasures (and really, it’s why we’re also glad that most fanfiction stories will remain fanfiction stories). Something you’ll never write under your real name or even a pen name that you want to market or earn from? Try it out with fanfiction, see if it works for you. Or not, consider it a one-time thing, because writing fanfiction entails the next one here:

No Pressure

One of the really great things about writing fanfiction? There’s no pressure. It’s fanfiction. And even fangirling fangirls (I’m sure there are fanboys, too, though) know that it’s just fanfiction, i.e. they will not kill you or riot if you don’t finish your work because they didn’t pay for it anyway. And trust me, they know that not every story they read will be finished by the fan writer. They might be sad about it, but they’re not as crazy as people think, and they’re pretty understanding. These people love to read and read and they might beg, but they won’t scar your reputation with negative reviews or suicidal notes (I mean, not really).

So, really, there is no pressure about it. You don’t have to stick to one pen name and market the hell out of it. You don’t have to worry about things like cover design and formatting and marketing. You just write.

It’s good practice, and honestly? It’s really good fun.

Merlin stop it

Come on, you know you want to…

 

 

 

 

 

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