Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How Can Fan Fiction Help You?

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

I was at a writers conference a few months back and a writer confessed to me that he didn't like his own stories all that much. He liked writing. But he got bored quickly. So he had a vast collection of started stories, and none were complete. He wondered what he could do to stay interested in his stories.

I've been there. And, for me, I had to make myself keep writing until I finished the book. Then I had to rewrite those boring parts into something interesting. And it was very hard work. But I learned and became a better writer because of it.

But that isn't always the best answer for every writer at every time. This was a very young writer. And I sensed that this young man was extremely discouraged. And I didn't want him to get burned out and quit just yet. Yes, writing is really hard work! But it should also be fun. And sometimes young people put way too much pressure on themselves to be perfect before they've been terrible. And we all have to start out at terrible so we have somewhere to grow from.

So I suggested he try writing some fan fiction. He hadn't heard of fan fiction, so I had to explain it. But I hoped that fan fiction might be a little less daunting for him to tackle at his age and that it might get him excited about writing.

Fan fiction is huge. I've never written it. But there are tons of fan fiction communities out there for just about any famous story. These are places where people can go and read stories written by fans or post their own stories that they've written in their favorite author's storyworld and have them read by fan fiction, well, fans.

For example, click here to visit HarryPotterFanFiction.com. This site has over 35,000 authors writing Harry Potter fan fiction. That's a lot of authors. Is it legal? Sure. You can't publish and sell your book. That's illegal. But fan fiction sites are just for fun. Now, there have been authors out there who started in fan fiction, wrote complete novels, then changed them so that they were unique and sold them to traditional publishers. Cassandra Clare did that with her City of Ashes story. Other authors have dabbled in fan fiction. Meg Cabot wrote fan fiction as a teen. And author R.J. Anderson posts her fan fiction stories on her website!

Why do people do this?

1. It's fun.

2. Fan fiction has an established cast and storyworld. You don't have to explain everything to the readers because everyone already knows how the world works. They already know the characters and love them. All you have to do is write.

3. There are readers out there already. You don't have to convince readers to be interested in your subject matter. That work has already been done. You can just write and readers will read.

How can fan fiction help you improve your writing craft?

1. It gets your creativity going. You already love these characters. You already love the world they live in. All you have to do is send them on another adventure. You can come up with your own episodes. Think about some of the minor characters in the series, bring them back and start new plot threads. The possibilities are endless.

2. It lets you write the story the way YOU wished it would have gone. This makes you a stronger writer as you analyze plot holes and character behaviors that didn't seem believable and come up with a way to fix them.

3. There are huge fan fiction communities out there with very honest readers who will give you feedback on your writing. This can hurt. But it also can be invaluable to helping you see where your writing needs improvement.

One thing to keep in mind.

If your dream is to be a published author, don't get lost in fan fiction forever. Come back to us. Come back to your original ideas and do the hard work of creating your own completely unique story. Who knows? Maybe someday you'll have readers writing fan fiction about your characters.

Have you ever written fan fiction? If so, tell us about it. How did it help you grow as a writer? And if you've never written fan fiction, what storyworld would you write in if you had the time? I think I'd write about Doctor Who.

68 comments:

  1. I haven't written fan fiction and really didn't know what it meant before this. :)
    If I have the time and am not too scared to use somone else's great characters, I might someday write Anomaly (by Krista McGee) fan fiction. Hers is a great story world. :)

    http://teensliveforjesus.blogspot.ru

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  2. I have written fan fiction and it is actually how I found my love for writing. My first full stories I have written (of which one over 50.000 words) were fanfiction. What I also like to do in fan fiction though was take the already existing world and one or two existing characters and then mix them with some I made up myself.

    It is whet kept me writing in the beginning and am really glad I have done so or I might have never ended up where I am right now: writing my own novels with 100% my own ideas.

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    1. Cool, Arlette. What kind of fan fiction was it?

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    2. I started with fan fiction in the world of Harry Potter, and then did one in the world of Twilight and eventually moved over to a couple of them in the world of The Vampire Diaries. I guess you could say I had a bit of a vampire phase going on.

      And I actually still like writing fantasy most, so they were excellent exercises up forehand

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  3. I have written a little Harry Potter fanfiction when I was younger, and it was very fun and interesting. It made me have ideas that couldn't be done in the Harry Potter world, so I had to take it else where, which lead t other stories and book ideas. I would reccomend it highly! And thank you for the article.

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  4. I am absolutely obsessed with writing fan-fiction! I have written 3 or 4 about Lord of the Rings. My main character is my own creation and he/she is thrust into all of the action. I am actually in the process of writing one now. :) Its over 20,000 words (my record!).

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    1. I am totally going to write LOTR fan-fiction! It's my favorite series. :)
      Do you know if there is a good website for that?

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    2. Sorry, Elisabeth, I don't. I just write it and let a couple of people read it. I actually started writing one after watching The Hobbit (before I knew anything about LOTR). That one was...interesting. :)

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    3. It's not solely for LOTR, but Fanfiction.net is a good place to write any fan fic, Elisabeth. Good luck!

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  5. I haven't written fan fiction, but it seems like a great idea! I'll think about it.

    arendedewit.blogspot.com

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  6. The thing I love about my ever-expanding Fan Fic folder is that it's always free. I can write what I need to say and not have to worry about every plot line lining up or every consistency answered. It's a really great way to experiment with all different kinds of styles and choices, and I certainly enjoy it.

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  7. I don't so much get stuck writing fan fiction as I do READING it. :) I don't let myself read Divergent/Hunger Games fanfiction anymore because it was so addicting. (Hunger Games fanfic is the best. Just...wow.) That's a cool idea, using it to aid your writing skills, though. I might have to try it.

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    1. That's fun, Anastasia. I wouldn't have guessed it would be so addicting. Good to know. I'll have to steer clear! LOL

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  8. Fanfiction! I love fanfiction, though I haven't written it in a while. It was mostly LOTR and Star Wars fanfiction at first, though I did branch out. I actually wrote a Hunger Games fanfic that lasted the whole Games and turned out pretty well. Though usually I start fanfics and never finish them . . . like my Blood of Kings fanfic/Sleeping Beauty remake, or all the Berinfell Prophecies fanfics I've tried.

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    1. you should finish your BOK fanfic! id defininetly read it ;)

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    2. Thanks! I'm thinking of focusing on sequels and fanfiction this summer, so maybe I'll pick it up again.

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    3. Sarah! You wrote a Blood of Kings fanfic???

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  9. I avoided fan fiction for a while... I felt like it would be cheating. :-) I realized a few of your points in this post a few weeks back and considered writing some of my own fan fiction to keep me at least writing something. I haven't started any yet, but if I did I would probably be drawn to doing Lord of the Rings fan fiction.

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    1. That would be fun. There is so much to work with in that storyworld.

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    2. I love LOTR! Can't wait to write some fan-fiction for that. :)

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  10. What are the 'rules' of fan fiction, if any? Is there a way I should specifically state whose world I'm writing in so no one mistakes it as mine? Can I just write fan fiction on my blog?

    Another question (sort of related:) ) - if I want to make up a script for a book trailer, do I need permission to post it on my blog?
    Thanks!

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    1. There really aren't any rules, but you should say what your fanfiction is on, if only because people will probably only want to read your fanfic if they like the thing it's based on. You can post it on your blog. Just make the heading be "Full Moon Rises - a Hunger Games Fanfic" or whatever your title and work your basing it off is. I'd advise to post any fan fictions you write on Fanfiction.net, a site for every kind of fanfiction - it will be easier for fans of your base story to find you. You're only allowed to join Fanfiction.net if you're 13 or older, though. I don't really have any qualifications for answering your second question, but if I understand what you mean I don't think you need permission.

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    2. Thanks for answering that, Lydia!

      As to the book trailer question, are you talking about making a book trailer for your fanfiction? Or for a book that already exists? Or for your own story?

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    3. Sorry I didn't make that clear. If I want to make a book trailer of a book that already exists. :)

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    4. You don't need permission. People make fan trailers all the time and post them on YouTube.

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  11. I used to write Gilmore Girls fan fiction as a teen. I was smarting from a friend who said something nasty about one of my stories, and writing fan fiction really pulled me through it. I loved the instant gratification of it as well as the community aspect. I completely agree, Jill. It can be a great tactic for making writing feel fun again - but don't get lost!

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    1. I love that you wrote Gilmore Girls fanfic, Steph. That is so fun.

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  12. I started to write a LOTR fanfiction, but then I stopped. It was the fellowship, plus a girl named Miluiel. she was Legolas's little sister. I would love to write Doctor Who fan fiction! It would be the 10th doctor, and he and rose would be together :)

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    1. Legolas's little sister! Love that. :-)
      Legolas is my favorite.

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    2. I had a dream one time that my name was Eliann and I was Legolas's little sister. Yeah, I have some weird dreams. I think I died in the end, it was all very noble and sad. ;)

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    3. I wrote one about Legolas' twin. I don't think I finished it though. Legolas is definitely the best. He's an elf and shoots a bow. Perfect combination. ;)

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    4. My sister thinks that Aragorn is better. We have some disagreements on that...

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    5. That's better than having the Witch-King of Angmar as a favorite character. Elijah, my older brother is trying to decide which is his favorite character: the Witch-King, Aragorn, or Sauron. :)

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    6. Wow. I think that is better. :)

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    7. How do you have the witch king as your favorite character, lol!! That sounds cool, an sad, Elizabeth. People who shoot bows are AWESOME. ;) (for instance my awesome FMC Amity) I personally like Faramir the best :)

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    8. I pity Faramir more than I like him, but I still like him a lot. All of the characters are so awesome!

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  13. I write fanfiction on the Warrior cats forums. I've noticed it's a great way for people to work on their writing, to get noticed for it, learn how to take criticism... I love reading the fanfiction on there. It's a great way to tide over until the next book.

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  14. Mmm, I LOVE writing Goldstone Wood fan fiction. There's an absolutely endless supply of things to write about there! :)

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  15. I started out writing Lord of the Ring fanfiction. If I hadn't started there, it would have taken me much longer to get to the point where I am now. It was definitely an invaluable experience.

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  16. I love hearing about all the different types of fanfiction you guys write. It's very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  17. Hi! I write a couple guest posts on Caitlyn Hensley's blog on Fanfiction. :)

    Some of you might enjoy them.

    http://authorcaitlinhensley.blogspot.com/2013/06/fan-fiction-facts-part-1-drabbles.html?m=1

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  18. I used to write in the Star Trek: TNG field. Also some TV westerns. The fan fiction helped me to learn how to tell a story. Now, I'm learning how to write my own worlds and stories.

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  19. I am definitely in the realm of "Obsessed With Fanfiction". :P XD I've found that it has helped me develop my writing style, try different types of writing, how to handle different types of characters and how to get into their heads, as well as a lot of other things. I've written quite a few fanfics, from a few one-shots or short stories in all sorts of fandoms (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Iron Man, and many more), a full length Sherlock fanfic, quite a few full length ideas for a bunch of fandoms including Star Wars, Thor, The Avengers, Doctor Who, and more. XD And a nine-book series for How to Train Your Dragon (Don't judge me! XD) I also love crossovers, and exploring how characters in completely different worlds than their own interact.
    So yes. Definitely love fanfiction, and definitely would say it's helped me, but I also must echo what you said in your last paragraph. Don't let it be what you only write. I've been thinking I really need to start backing off on the amount of fanfic I've been writing and start working on my own original stories. In some ways, I think fanfiction is easier to write. Which at some times is okay. There have been times when I was just feeling really discouraged in my novel writing, so I took a break and write some fanfiction instead, and it started helping me feel more inspired again. But be careful not to get caught in the trap of writing only fanfiction.
    Great post! Thanks!
    ~hannah!♥

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    1. Good advice, Hannah. It sounds like fanfic has been a really great experience for you.

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  20. Fan fiction is a lot of fun. I'm certain it can help writers and thanks for sharing.

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  21. Fan Fiction is one of things that first really started me writing. I'd been kind of interested in writing before, but hadn't seriously thought I'd actually write anything substantial. Then I discovered fan fiction and decided I loved the idea of writing and wanted to try it. Those early attempts can be described in one word: yuck. But that's when I realized I actually liked writing. I realized I could maybe actually write something that was NOT short when my friend (who was really into writing long before me) introduced me to NaNoWriMo. But I can still say that fan fiction really helped set me up for that. :)

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    1. It seems like a great way to get started writing, Wynne.

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  22. Fanfiction? Yes! When I was thirteen I started writing it, and it was the thing that launched me into serious writing since I felt I needed to update for my "fans." It also helped me with many things! I learned about proper paragraphing, quotations, etc. all from helpful folks on fanfiction. It was probably one of the greatest things to help me in my writing. I think it's a great starting off point. I mostly wrote Narnia and Newsies fanfiction, but I dabbled a bit in a Doctor Who/Hunger Games crossover. I recommend fanfiction.net.

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    1. I love that you learned from the fanfic folks. I think that's awesome, Bethany. And, Newsies fanfic? Coolness.

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  23. I write fan fiction all the time! It's really fun and a lot easier to write. Sometimes I start a story out as a fan fiction and then I change it into something original.
    Fan fiction has helped me grow do much as a writer. It gave me practice on writing description, trying to stay in character (people know if you don't), and I also get immediate feedback from readers.

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  24. I used to just dabble in fan fiction, but right now I'm on my first in-depth work -- a Narnia movie fanfic. It starts in Prince Caspian, but I'm planning to take it past Voyage of the Dawn Treader into made-up territory. I write fanfic because I still feel the drive to write, but sometimes my own stories are stuck or I'm just plain sick and tired of them, so I find an easier outlet in fanfic.

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  25. I am a huge fanfiction fan! I have fanfics on just about everything I've ever read/watched and enjoyed, though I've only posted a few stories. Fanfiction was the first thing I really got serious about writing, and it's partially because of fanfiction that I'm a writer now.

    Alexa Skrywer
    alexaskrywer.blogspot.com

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  26. I've always enjoyed writing fanfiction and it's my go-to thing for when my own writing gets me discouraged. As of late, I haven't written much of it, but when I first decided to get serious about my writing, fanfiction was there to teach me some very important lessons.

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  27. I loooove fanfiction! My main fandoms I write for are Star Trek and LOTR/The Hobbit. I've also written a series of stories based on Owl City songs. Whenever I'm stuck on one of my original writing projects, I always turn to fanfiction to get my creative juices flowing again. Fanfiction has also taught me a ton about character creation both from the canonical characters I was writing about and from the original characters I added into the stories. And, of course, it's a ton of fun to write as well! :)

    ~ Kayla

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  28. I actually have fanfiction stories set up for when I become burned out from writing my own world. They don't require the same mental stimulus for me that my novels take, and so its a break from writing that keeps me from becoming derailed from any pattern or rhythm I had going.

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  29. I've wrote many fanfictions, but only have published one of them. It allowed me to work on the things I need to, like using a better range of words, rather than things that are easy, but still take time (character building).

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  30. This post is so true!!! My friend convinced me to write a Star Wars fan fic with her. We both wrote separate series and emailed the chapters to each other. She only ended up writing a book and a half, but I ended up writing an entire trilogy and would read it to my brothers. It helped me learn how writing worked and I was able to test out emotions and extreme drama to see what was cheesy and what was good. After that, I started writing my own originals. :)

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  31. I LOVE fan fiction! Not as much as original fiction, though. Fan fiction can be kind of addicting, lol. I write fan fiction about my favorite TV shows such as chessy 90's TV shows (Full House, Saved By the Bell...sounds familiar?). However, I never wrote fan fiction about my favorite books, though...I don't know why, lol. Maybe I should get started on one...

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  32. I write tons of fan fiction!! Mainly in the Lord of the Rings fandom, but several others, as well. My writing has improved so much from the amazing feedback I get from other authors on the site I use, many of whom have become very dear friends. And it's a great way to relax when you're stuck in your original novel. :)

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  33. I write Percy Jackson fanfiction. I love the demigods. I can't help it. I like to make original characters in the demigod world or I play around with already existing characters. I find it really fun. I'm actually working on one right now, but I always keep my stories separate from places like wattpad until they're finished, because I don't like updating deadlines (I procrastinate on internet stuff D:))

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    1. That is so cool! I love Percy Jackson fanfics (good ones, anyway). Have you finished and posted any of yours?


      Alexa S. Winters
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

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