5 Ways FanFiction Improves Your Writing Skills

5 Ways FanFiction Can Improve Your Writing by Nicole Lautore

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:


giphy (3)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.

Ava ran a hand down the side of the door, speaking to the time machine directly, “I don’t think you’re tumblr_inline_mjokoxjF6U1qz4rgpsupposed to do that, love.”

“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! 🙂 

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  1. Yes! Yes! So much yes! I love writing and reading fanfiction. I have a separate Wattpad account solely for this purpose. When I’m working on my novel, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself and usually need to dedicate a whole day to working on it (I go for Sundays). But with fanfiction I can toy with an idea and some characters and pop out a short story in no time. It’s a great way to keep me writing throughout the week and stretch my creative muscles by writing in a different genre than I normally do. I still get a lot of great feedback on my fanfiction and learn so much from it.

  2. I adore what fanfiction is able to do for wroters; I’m a particular advocate of stretching your muscles. Personally, I think that the ability of fanfiction to let you explore elements of writing that you may be weak in is one of its best factors. It’s also a fantastic way of getting used to the type of feedback you can get from random strangers on the internet, which can be a painful experience just as much as it is useful.

    1. All such good points! I hadn’t even thought about the Feedback aspect. That’s so true!

      Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment, I really appreciate it! 🙂 <3

  3. I love this! I don’t write fanfics anymore, but I do roleplay often on Tumblr. It gives me continuous writing practice (it was even how I became a natural at touch typing!) and I have fun creating stories with other roleplayers. I always feel like an interaction with another roleplayer is like creating a chapter in the story and finishing a roleplay starts the next chapter.

    Though I have to admit I have been feeling a little stuck lately. I recently learned all these great writing tips, but it takes sincere effort to implement them into each reply I do (like deep POV). I love how it makes my writing better, but it makes roleplaying (something I love) feel tiring and less fun. I also worry that I’ll disappoint my followers who like my new writing style. What do you think I should do to get the fun back?

  4. Welp, I guess it’s time to carve out some schedule time for fanfiction. I’ve already got that one short story that turned into a fanfic about the Seventh Doctor and Ace, but I’ve got so many more. Sara Lance and the Winchesters hunting an ex-League of Assassins shifter, Hermione traveling with the Tenth Doctor, Captain America and Indiana Jones keeping a monster-making codex (borrowed from Marvel canon) out of the Axis’ hands. If I’m feeling up to a challenge, I might even tackle Jessica Jones staying with Killgrave and teaching him to use his power for good while also overcoming her own damage. I might be just a little excited for all this.

    1. Oh my gosh, those are all gold! I really love the Hermione/Doctor crossover. I would totally read that. And I’m glad you’re excited about writing fanfics again!

      Thank you for commenting, see you on Twitter! 🙂

  5. I absolutely agree: writing is NEVER a waste of time! Especially not if you want to learn how to write better. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction, your own stories or fanfiction, novels or short stories or poems – just write! 🙂

    1. Exactly!

      Thank you so much for your support and commenting, I really appreciate it! 🙂 <3

  6. Agh, reading this just makes me really happy. I read enough about fanfiction being “not real writing” to last a lifetime. I like to think of fanfiction as a sort of writing exercise. And if it weren’t for fanfiction, I might have never got into writing (which has become my entire life now :p).

  7. This was a wonderful article, thank you! I’ve been writing fanfiction for 4 years in The Hunger Games fandom and just writing consistently, learning to revise, edit, take feedback svhedule updates, beya other writer’s work and work within the constraints of another universe has definitely strengthened my writing. I am now working on original fiction and I credit my time as a fanfiction writer with learning the habits of writing. Thank you for a great read!

    • Honorat
    • September 18, 2016

    I am a university professor, and I teach a senior level course in transformative works of fiction. I also teach creative writing and allow (occasionally require) my students to write fan fiction. Before the age of copyright and the commodification of ideas, most authors riffed on other authors’ works and universes. If borrowing characters and plots isn’t real writing, we’d best dismiss Chaucer, Shakespeare, Tennyson, and most of the rest of the English Literature canon. I have written two novel-length works of fanfiction myself, and that experience was such a gymnasium for my craft. I loved the instant feedback that helped me fill plot holes and keep things in character and even understand more about my own literary analysis.

    1. Exactly! I’m glad my point is being backed up further by an educator. It’s such a great way to flex your muscles and get your feet wet!

      Thanks so much for your comment!! 🙂

    • Brad
    • September 18, 2016

    Another thing I have found in my own writing where fanfic helps is the characters themselves.
    Sometimes I get bogged down in building my original characters from scratch. Who are they, where did they grow up, what happened in their life to bring them to the beginning of this story? Writing fanfic you can skip over all of that because others have done that heavy lifting for you. Plus it serves as a shorthand between you and your readers. You don’t have to spend time explaining all those things about your characters because readers already know the moment you tell them which characters are in your story.
    It lets you focus on the story you want to tell.

    1. Exactly! That’s why I love it so much. You’re given characters to work with, you just have to fabricate the plot. Which is a task in itself!

      Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

  8. I’m sold! Now which fandom to write in, there’s so many good ones!

    1. True! I am all about Harry Potter…but my guilty pleasure is Buffy the Vampire Slayer! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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