Writing: Fanfiction is Awesome! (But I can’t read fics for my own stuff)

So, as a writer, I actually love fanfiction. For those ignorant about what that is, it’s when you write a story about another’s work, basically playing with their toys, sometimes with your own thrown in for funsies. And there is a rule about it. Eighty percent of it, if not more…is crap. Pure and simple. But the other ten percent is usually just as rewarding as the original medium, if not more so (spoken as someone who used to stroll through the Twilight fanfiction sites until the fourth book came out and ruined any tolerance I had for the series). Fanfic can be written about almost anything, from books to tv shows to movies to plays. The sky is the limit.

What is it about fanfiction I like so much? Well, some of it is a personal thing. I like cute fluff, and most writers don’t indulge me with enough of this. For completely understandable reasons, of course. You have to keep the plot moving, even in romances (which is usually sex, but that’s another need entirely), and in other books your romance is very much a subplot. Sometimes, writers frustrate the tar out of me and I want to read more about the characters and the world without their personal quirks or writing style frustrating me (Hello, Butcher…). In some cases, the series ends and I need more for resolution (Hello, Blood +).

But the biggest reason is because of what it does for aspiring writers or even people who just write for a hobby. I was almost completely self-taught until my junior/senior year of college, and fanfiction writing was really the best practice I could have ever asked for. I didn’t have to try and world-build, which is something that really takes practice and time that when I was first starting, I didn’t have the patience for. Learning how to write a character (even if they weren’t mine) and keep them consistent with their already determined personality, how to plot a story from beginning to end (admittedly not the best of plots at times), and even how to write believable dialogue, were all skills I developed when writing fanfiction. I also learned more about fleshing out original characters to match the ones in the fanfic (and developed my hatred of the term “Mary Sue,” but see this post for that.)

I honestly think there are some real gems out there, even for series that I might hate for some reason. For example, Naruto about drives me nuts in the series (and I hate the couples revealed at the end, or at least some of them). But House Calls is amazing and full of fluff and squee. I write fanfiction myself, at the moment mostly whenever something in the original series starts frustrating me (Dresden and Sly Cooper) rather than out of practice. I always encourage beginning writers to start with fanfiction before tackling their own stuff. It helps them get some basic tools before they tackle the huge amount of work an original novel, or even an original short story, can be.

The strangest part of the fanfiction world, at least in my opinion, is writers who take extreme steps to make sure that no one writes fanfic for their work. it blows my mind, if only because… Well, first off, it’s going to be written regardless. It’s a pointless fight to pick. And for another, it’s really a compliment, if you think about it. Someone loves your characters or world enough to write stuff about them. Take the compliment and enjoy it, really. But I can respect some writers feeling like it’s a back-handed compliment (remember why I’m writing it right now?).

That all being said, I have policies about writers and fanfiction. It’s actually one of my Cardinal Rules. (I have three of them.) It’s a big one. It’s simple really. Writers can’t read fanfic for their own stuff. Seriously. No. I have a couple of reasons behind this. For one thing, while there is no such thing as a completely original idea (and there isn’t), reading fanfic could give you ideas you wouldn’t normally have. Or even if you don’t have the same idea, just reading any fanfic gives someone who does have same idea as you the grounds to claim you read their work and stole it. It’s a giant legal nightmare. On the other side of it…remember that first paragraph? Eighty percent. It’s almost impossible not to cringe when it’s characters you love. If it’s characters you make? Oh lord, that just makes me shudder.

So I gave one of my favorite fics a shout out. Anyone have their own to call out?

As a bit of news, I will be changing my posts to Sunday, and maybe a random one in the week. I’m just stupid busy the rest of the time in the week right now with fair coming up.

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About Rebecca M. Horner

A spinner of yarns (of the story sort, though I do crochet...and sew, and learning to make armor...) View all posts by Rebecca M. Horner

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