How Writing Fanfiction Can Help You Create Better Original Fiction

I am a huge supporter of writing fanfiction. Fanfiction can be an end in itself if you use it to explore characters in new ways and extend your stay in the fictional world. However, it’s also an invaluable tool in developing your writing abilities with the intention of using them for original fiction. It gives you a chance to practice your writing without the pressure of creating a world from scratch.

My tips for getting the most out of your fanfiction:

  1. Create an original character (OC) as your protagonist. It’s one thing to get into the mind of a character that someone else created (which you can definitely do with your secondary characters), but it’s an invaluable skill to create your own character and get to know him/her. See my post on Mary Sues as well.
  2. Speaking of secondary characters…use them! Secondary characters are underdeveloped to make way for the main characters, so they provide you with a perfect chance to write backstory and explain how they came to be who they are. They can be a lot of fun for your OC to interact with.
  3. Do what you can to change the plot of the canon world.
    1. If you’re setting your story in the time line of the movie/book/show/etc., what impact will your OC have to change events? You can explore secondary characters in the story to get their side of things, giving readers “bonus” scenes and background material.
    2. If possible, try creating an original plot within the world you’ve chosen. For example, I have written fictionalized episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. I use the pre-existing characters and setting, and I use the established template for an episode to create an original plot. This gives me the opportunity to practice creating the kind of stories I love watching.
  4. If you’re just writing this for yourself or other fans, you don’t have to start from scratch by describing setting or objects (eg: in Star Trek, describing the different technologies like tricorders and com badges). However, if you want practice describing settings and odd objects, go for it! This might give you some ideas for crafting your own world.
  5. This is the most important one: Use the same level of craftsmanship as you would with original fiction. Don’t get lazy because the world has already been created. You will gain nothing if you put a sloppy story together.

Because it’s fanfiction, there’s little to no possibility you could get paid for your writing—but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it out there for people to read. I highly recommend posting your work on fanfiction.net. It’s a great, safe site for reading and publishing fanfiction. This gives you a chance to get feedback on your writing from people who already love the world. It also gives you a great esteem-boost if your story gets a lot of views and comments. There’s lots of fanfiction out there, and lots of it isn’t great—so you’ll contribute a lot to the fandom community by creating a brilliant fanfiction story.

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