As a reader and as a writer I have faced a lot of strongly mixed reviews about fanfiction. On the one hand, many of my high school writer friends have published and regularly read fanfiction on the Internet. On the other hand, many of my college writer friends scoff at fanfiction as “fake writing” because it’s “illegitimately published.”
I think that no matter what kind of a writer you are (or how experienced of a writer you are), you should write fanfiction.
Fanfiction is writing for fun
People like creative writing because it allows them to explore different aspects of life, to travel to places they’ve never been (or could never go), and to meet different kinds of people. In a word, it’s fun.
In our world, where most writing is about business or direct communication, there’s something incredibly freeing about writing something just for kicks. Freeing as in it’ll increase your productivity, allow you to think more creatively, and it just make you happier.
And you can write about literally anything. Any world, any character(s), in any way. You can play pranks on your favorite TV characters, put the main character with their true love interest (because you know most of them choose wrong), or just have them hang out and do something hilarious.
Fanfiction is often the product of dissatisfied fans writing a prequel or sequel or alternate ending that satisfies. If you’ve ever been invested in a story and had it turn awry, fanfiction is the perfect place to set things right in your head. (Plus, if it bothered you, I guarantee it’ll have bothered someone else.)
Fanfiction is a great writing exercise
So, you want to work on your prose? Dialogue? Describing non-verbal communication?
Go ahead and use “stock” characters and worlds from your favorite novels and TV shows, and practice your writing skills. Practice writing characters that are consistent with who they “really” are. Practice creating interesting plot-driven stories. Practice writing action scenes, death scenes, love scenes; whatever.
Experiment with different genres of writing. Fanfiction for writers is a low-stake kind of writing: because it’s fanfiction, any details you get wrong are just considered part of the new world you’re building, and any inconsistencies are part of the story instead of detrimental to your intelligence.
If you notice a weakness in your normal writing, whip up a quick fanfic to practice and explore the style you want to incorporate into your actual writing. It’s a super-effective way to work on your writing without having to work as hard with your imagination.
Fanfiction is a free way to get feedback on your writing
If someone is invested enough in a series or a TV show to look for fanfiction, then they are avid readers. If you want solid feedback on your writing, ask avid readers.
Fanfiction gives you a free base of readers to review your writing. Now depending on how big the fanbase you’re writing for is, you may or may not have a large base of readers which means your writing may not get any reviews.
Reviewers probably won’t provide feedback on your writing unless you:
- Ask for it
- Write exceptionally well
- Write exceptionally poorly
But having laymen’s perspectives on your writing can be as helpful, if not more helpful than having a fellow writer or professional review your writing. After all, if you’re writing creatively then your average reader is probably well represented in the realm of fanfiction.
And if you’re just writing fanfiction for fun, it’s always satisfying to see your growth as you write. Reviewers tend to pick up on writerly growth as well.
Do be warned: unless you specifically ask for it, you probably won’t get especially helpful feedback in terms of your craft. But you might get some nice heart-warming reviews that make you feel a little bit better as a person. And if that’s not worth writing for, I don’t know what is.
Some fanfiction resources
If you’re just getting started and don’t know where to begin, I’d like to offer a brief list of resources that I wish I had when I was having fun with fanfiction.
Websites to post on
- FanFiction.net (for original work see FictionPress)
- Quotev (you can also post original work)
- Gender-bend characters
- Crossover with different genres/stories
- Adapt the POV or plot
- Prequel or sequel to original piece
- Set sail with a different ship
- Tell the untold story of a minor character
- Place the characters in a different setting
- “What if…”
So what do you think? “Should” you write fanfiction? Why have/haven’t you written fanfiction to date? What platform do you post on/read most? What creative takes do you wish authors would take? Share in the comments!