I feel like you should know that this blog has come into existence because I watched the film ‘After’ (you know, the movie based on a hugely popular Harry Styles fanfic-turned-book) and now I can’t stop thinking about the days when I wrote One Direction fanfiction on Quotev and Wattpad.
And I can’t stop thinking about how fanfiction is still treated like an inferior form of writing, so here’s a full blog post to argue otherwise.
Taking inspiration from existing settings
Writing about an existing setting from canon lessens the burden of world building and encourages you to consider the finer details rather than the larger elements. Things that the creator didn’t originally address are now yours to experiment with. This allows you to get a sense for things that feel as if they fit well within the established setting. It will also encourage you to look for inspiration in other real world settings that you may or may not be familiar with. Once you’re more comfortable with ‘real’ settings, it’ll be easier for you to dive into fictional ones.
Capturing a character’s essence
It’s hard to perfect a character’s portrayal to begin with, but accurately portraying a ‘real person’ is even harder. Mastering someone else’s character is a challenging way to learn how to keep your own characters consistent, as well as shaping their personalities in a way that is believable.
Letting your imagination run wild
Working with a specific cast of characters and settings may seem as if it’ll restrict your creativity, but these restrictions actually encourage creativity, much like the restrictions in original writing (for example, what magic can and can’t do). The characters and settings may belong to someone else, but your interpretation of them is entirely your own.
How to write something you’ll enjoy
Also, how to write something you’ll be passionate about. One of the best ways to start doing this is to write about characters you aready know and have grown to care about. Thinking about how to tell stories with other people’s characters will eventually help you figure out the types of characters and corresponding tropes that appeal to you.
Critically evaluating casual relationships
One simple change to canon can make a huge difference, like a butterfly effect. Exploring how different changes to the plot will affect characters is a great way to experiment with looking at the bigger picture and considering all the options for your plots to take.
How to handle criticism
Readers and reviewers can be very nitpicky when it comes to franchises that they adore. As you receive feedback, you’ll soon learn what is useful and what you can disregard. You’ll also learn ways to deal with negative critics diplomatically: PR is hugely important for published authors, so getting some practice before you’re published is a useful learning experience.
But, above everything else, writing fanfiction taught me that practice makes perfect. The key to improving your writing is to simply just write, whether that’s writing original works or fanfiction or whatever else your heart desires. No kind of fiction is incapable of teaching you a wide range of things about topics you might not have cared about beforehand.
For some of us, writing fiction taught us a lot about every little detail of a band members personal life.