Who doesn’t love a good Fanfiction? I’m a big fan of Dermione love stories and pretty much any crossover imaginable. I spent countless hours as a preteen writing Harry Potter/Twilight crossovers where Harry kills Edward Cullen, and I probably read more Fanfics than I read original published novels. But is Fanfiction a waste of time? Is it for a certain age group. or less talented writers? Is FanFiction immature, less creative, or lazy?
Psh, don’t be silly.
Repeat after me: Writing is never a waste of time, no matter what you write.
Practice is practice. It’s that simple. Ruling out FanFics as a waste of time is ruling out a great method to becoming a better writer.
Here are 5 Ways FanFiction Improves Your Writing Skills:
1. Flex your muscles stress-free | Everyone needs practice, and sometimes the fear of starting something from scratch keep us from starting at all. Writing FanFiction is a stress free way for you to get your gears turning. No worries about publishing or getting everything perfect. You’re provided a structured template to bend and mold as you wish. It’s a lot like this new adult coloring book craze that surfaced last year. Writing Fan Fiction can have the same stress relieving effects for adults that coloring does.
2. Get comfortable with your personal style and genre | To figure out what kind of music you enjoy, you listen to different genres of music. You don’t record a song without hearing others sing first. Most artists start out their careers by covering other artists. So what’s the difference? FanFiction is just a cover of a song that you enjoy, and you’re putting your own personal twist on it. Rock on! This will help you get a feel for which genres you enjoy writing the most, and give you a feel of your personal writing style and pace.
3. Memorize the equation | So what’s the equation to a really great book? What do the characters of your favorite novel feel and sound like? What makes them amazing? There’s no better way to answer these questions than to write with them yourself. I wrote a lot of Harry Potter FanFics when I was in middle school. It allowed me to feel out JK Rowling’s methods for creating addictive plots and complex character arcs. It was almost as if, at twelve years old, I was using FanFics as a method of studying the original story.
4. Dodge writers block | A few months ago I got really caught up in my self-doubt, and writers block hit me hard, cutting off my creative flow and pausing the progress on my novel. When I’d finally had enough, I pulled up a blank document and just started typing. I’m a huge Doctor Who nerd, and I’d missed my FanFic days, so I decided to write about the Doctor. I threw an extra curve ball at myself from the beginning: I wrote about the main character from my current work-in-progress calling on the 11th Doctor for help.
Here’s an excerpt:
Ava combed the heavy skies above her, searching for a glimpse of blue and gold. The sound is what made her shutter; a scraping of metal on metal, of time against time. The sound of power spinning and whirling through the early morning and into the trees. Ava took off running again, following the golden beams of light springing from the clearing ahead. She burst out of the trees just in time to see it materialize; a large blue police box. Bigger than the stories had ever mentioned. It instantly took her breath away, like staring at an ancient monument or watching the sun rise. To Ava, this was it. This was the beacon of all her hopes and dreams. The beginning and end to every childhood story. This was it, the TARDIS. The man. Ava took careful steps closer to the doors, laying her hands down flat onto the wood. She felt a heartbeat within it, the hum of the engines like a purring cat against her skin.
Her hand hesitated for a moment, but decided on a gentle knock. Her knuckles hit the wood and the door fell open for her. A warm yellow glow spilled out onto the grass.
“No, she’s not.” A man appeared in the doorway. At the sound of his voice, her breath caught in her throat. It lodged there like rocks. She peered up at a long slender shadow figure, with shaggy hair and a long face. Ava couldn’t help but shutter again, standing here, in the shadow of the most powerful man in the universe. She couldn’t see his expression, but she knew he was smirking down at her.
She bowed her head slightly, “Doctor.”
“You know my name?”
The Doctor stepped from his blue box, protectively closing the door behind him. He was taller than she imagined. Not a large man, but great. He reached his slender hands up to his neck and straightened his bow tie.
“You are a myth.” he said, his eyes hard and calculating.
“As are you.” she replied.
Obviously, none of this would make it in the final draft, but it was so much fun to write. I assumed Ava knew the legend, because if they were in the same world, it is very likely they would know of each other. The Doctor is cunning and perceptive of people, so he was able to point out things about my character that I couldn’t see before. It was also very obvious to me that Ava would admire this man like an aspiring astronaut would admire Neil Armstrong. They share a passion for protecting people, and above all, evading death. I also new the Tardis would likely open for her on its own, but that’s for…other reasons. 😉
5. Bring the fun back to writing | Like I said above, writing the piece with the Doctor was so much fun. When I was young I wrote stories because I enjoyed writing them. There was no other reason driving me to add words to the page. I wrote fearlessly, with no expectations or restrictions. Sometimes letting our childlike ambition take over can increase the flow of our creative juices, and make this hobby/career/lifestyle fun again.
My suggestion for you is to write a Fan Fiction. No need to post it anywhere, this is for you. Include original characters from the story you’re covering, and some of your own creations. Don’t worry about anything. Just let the words flow and enjoy yourself. Make the characters do things they normally wouldn’t, and watch the inevitable discomfort or frustration ensue. Fan Fiction is an amazing practice at becoming better authors. Don’t hold back.
And as always, happy writing! 🙂