Friday, February 9, 2018

Adding Fanfiction to Your Writing Tool Belt

Image by Lexi on We Heart It
Pick a fandom, any fandom, and there’s probably a community of fanfic writers and readers camped out there and having fun.  For those that haven’t heard the term before, fanfic is short for fan fiction and refers to written stories of any length inspired by books, movies, video games, television programs, music and/or celebrities. That’s a broad spectrum of fiction and the internet is riddled with it.

But why would an author writing original fiction want to consider reading and writing fanfiction as well?  Fanfic is actually a useful tool you can add to your arsenal. There are two broad areas where fanfic is useful: first as a creative catalyst and second as a research tool.

Fanfic And Creativity

Almost every writer has had moments when you hit a wall on your work-in-progress. Call it writer’s block, call it brain fog, call it a momentary blip in your creative genius. Either way – the words aren’t flowing the way you’d like them too. Fanfiction can be a great way to take a break, but still flex those writing muscles.

Pick a fandom you love, or even better, one your target readers also love, and write a flash fiction piece. Write a short story. Have fun! Indulge every ship, every pairing, every dramatic or romantic or ridiculous thought and potentiality that you like. Write until you’re smiling so big your cheeks hurt. Then take a step back and read over your work. What about it makes you happy? Yes there are characters and worlds that you love in there, but beyond that – what themes do you see? What situations? Would any of those work in your original writing?

You can use fanfic as just a break, a chance to blow off creative steam. Or you can use it to find what sparks might reignite your passion for your own work-in-progress. Either way, if you’re having fun, it’s worth every moment. Just make sure you do get back to that work-in-progress before too long!

Fanfic As Research

As of this article, An Archive of Our Own (one of the largest and most active fanfiction communities online) has close to 25,000 fandoms represented, over 115,000 users and over 300,000 works posted. More are added every day. That’s a lot of information in one place and if you know who your target readers are and the fandoms that appeal to them, it’s a great way to get a peek inside what they’re passionate about!

Head over, pick any fandom you like, and sort the results by the most popular. Look for common themes. Go read the comments on a few of the most popular pieces – what are the readers saying? What are they most fired up about? What storylines seem to get the most interest? Why? What do you think makes those stories stand out (beyond good writing)? Read a few fanfic pieces and see if they spark any ideas for your own work.

Whether you use fanfic as a way to shake off the writing-blahs or as a jumping off point for your next big idea – it’s definitely worth having a look!


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