Love it or hate it, fan-fiction is omnipresent in the writing community. Whether it’s Harry Potter or Twilight, the popularity of fan-fics in recent years has exploded. Unfortunately fan-fiction has gained a bit of a stigma in recent years, especially with its rise in popularity. This stigma has come from the purely erotic content of some fan-fics, writers using any excuse to bring two ‘ships‘ together and the claims that fan-fic writers are too obsessed with their respective fandoms.
Considering this stigma, how exactly is fan-fiction helpful for budding writers? Here’s three reasons:
It Gives You an Existing Setting
Ask any writer what the hardest part of writing a story is, and they will tell you that it’s either creating the setting, creating realistic characters or creating the title. With a fan-fiction, you have all those already. Even if you haven’t begun writing your fan-fiction yet, you already have the characters and story ready-to-go; it’s just a matter of molding them in your way.
Just remember to keep the characters ‘in character’ and you’ll do fine.
Inspiration For Later
Once you’ve been twisting the original story around for your fan-fic, you’ll probably start to wonder how just far you can twist it. Twist it far enough and you’ll begin imagining original characters from the story’s cast and putting these characters in different settings. Before you know it, you have the bare bones of an original work.
This method of creation is a bit controversial in the fan-fic community, but you’d be surprised how many popular authors started as fan-fiction writers. One good example is E.L James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s common knowledge that the popular lit-erotica series is actually a Twilight fan-fic that James originally posted under the pseudonym ‘Snowqueen’s Icedragon’. When you compare the two stories, the similarities are obvious:
– The heroines are new to something (Bella to Forks and Ana to her journalist career)
– The male protagonists both have a tragic, emotional backstory (Edward Cullen lost his family to Spanish Influenza and Christian’s mother was a drug-addled prostitute)
– The heroines are naive and know nothing of the world they are introduced to (Bella never believed that vampires could exist and Ana was too prudish and innocent for BDSM)
You could make a whole article on the similarities. But the good news is that people will be engrossed in the story before they look for (much less realise) the similarities. It might seem sneaky, but it works!
Polish Your Writing Skills
When you read fan-fics, you’ll probably notice that some of them aren’t that well-written in terms of description and dialogue. This is because most fan-fics only focus on setting a couple up, blending multiple stories together, or exists as pure fan-service, so description and grammar are not a major concern for the authors.
But this lack of interest in description and grammar is what gives you the freedom to experiment with your storytelling skills. Until I wrote a fan-fic my descriptive writing was about as fleshed out
as dry skeleton. So I’d use every chapter in an original story as a way of playing around with different descriptive styles. I’m confident that I’m a better writer because of it.
I’ve been writing fan-fiction for almost a year now, so I’m certain it can help you too. Last March I joined the popular writing site Wattpad to help get my name out there as an author. In a bid to attract readers, improve my writing skills and just because I love Young Justice, I decided to write a Young Justice fan-fic Young Justice: The Mimic Contingency as well as an ongoing sequel Young Justice: The Titans Convergence .
I must have done something right, because now I have 384 followers, two stories with more than 10,000 reads and 900 votes between them. Most importantly, my descriptive skills have become so much better. Like E.L. James, I’m now able to use my fan-fics to build original novels.
So if you ever find yourself stuck writing a book, just remember how invaluable fan-fiction can be. Stuck for plot ideas? Write a fan-fic. Storytelling skills need a little TLC? Write a fan-fic. Want to improve your story quality, but hate fan-fics? Get over yourself and write a fan-fic!