Fanfiction gets a bad rep. Sure, some of the accusations levelled at it – overly smutty, badly written – can be true, but that shouldn’t put you off. Used well, fanfiction can be both a fun hobby and useful tool for a writer of any experience or ability.
Here are ten reasons why you and fanfiction are a perfect match.
- You’ll be good at it. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already a writer. Perfect – you already know what to do. If not, don’t worry. Plenty of people start out like this. You’ll get good at it.
- You love stories. If you’re a writer, you’re a reader and if you’re a reader you’re going to be a fan of something. There’s a story you love and you need more of it. Fanfiction is how you get that.
- It helps develop your skills. Every time you write, you’re improving. Writing fanfiction is a low-pressure way to do that. You’re free to experiment with no negative consequences if it doesn’t work out, but plenty of benefits if it does.
- Less planning required. The world and characters are already there for you. You can change as much or little as you like. No need to sit around for hours world building – you can jump right in.
- Easy feedback. Most sites will have some form of a ‘like’ button and comment sections for your work. Leave a note at the end asking for constructive criticism and someone will respond. Often, people will leave comments simply because they enjoyed it. Easily find out what people did and didn’t like, without having to recruit any beta-readers.
- Instant gratification. Post something and it could have hundreds of reads within hours. Working on a manuscript for months without anyone seeing it can be disheartening. Fanfiction is a quick boost to your morale. You write something short, you post it, people like it, you feel good and you go and work on your book feeling invigorated.
- Someone, somewhere, wants to read it. There’s no need to worry if anyone will like it or not. Trust me. It might not be many people, it might take a while but whatever you write, it will be someone’s favourite. Example: I found a fic about one of my favourite games from the perspective of a background fish and it made my day.
- Grow your popularity. Write enough fics and you’ll get people following you just for them. Tell people who you are in the notes at the end. If you have a blog or a social media account, provide a link. Get your name out there. Just don’t use it to try sell anything. That’s illegal.
- Copywriting practice. If you post a fic, many sites will require a blurb. What a fantastic opportunity! Here you have a playground to experiment with different styles of description and you’ll have the stats to see what difference they make. Writing a description for a self-published book is unexpectedly hard, but fanfiction lets you get some practice in so when it really matters, you’ve got an advantage.
- New stories. The scope for fanfiction is infinite. A much larger infinity than there is in traditional writing because not only do you have every character and location your mind can conjure you also have every character and location every other writer ever has created. Add in the potential for self-aware fics, parodies, alternate universes and the thousands of tropes waiting to be turned upside down then you’ve got one of the largest fictional infinities you can imagine.
I won’t post my own fanfiction here for the same reason I wouldn’t post a first draft – most of it is simply not good enough. And that’s okay. I write it for fun and if anyone enjoys the results, that’s great. If not, I still enjoyed myself. There’s always another fic.
Do you write fanfiction already? Do you think you might try? Tell me about it, or leave a link in the comments. I’ll be happy to take a look and give feedback if you like, especially if it’s your first time.