As of late my mind has been drifting quite a bit to fanfiction. I know a lot of people frown on it because it is not 100% original but those people don’t know the great benefits that come with writing fanfiction. To me it is a great start for writing, it is a safe environment with which to play and write. It allows you to exercise certain writing muscles at certain time. It also gives you the opportunity when posted to the internet to get experience with feedback and even criticism. While fanfiction was not my start as it was for many writers I know it was a great growing and learning experience. Thus I want to share with you the 6 things I learned from fanfiction.
- The importance of plotting – With fanfiction a lot of times you write the first scene/chapter and post it and then write the next and post, writing then editing a little at a time rather than writing the whole story then editing. With this format there were many times not a lot of pre-plotting of the whole story I would write as the words came to me and more than once I wrote myself into a corner. If I hadn’t published I could back track and change a thing or two to keep out of the corner but sadly couldn’t because I had already published. So I learned to plan ahead and be sure that things were not going to blow up in my face. It still happens today but a lot less and fortunately because I don’t publish before completion I can tweak things.
- How to write an ending – This is a rare thing for some people to learn in the world of fanfiction as there are a lot of incomplete stories out there. I have a lot of incomplete stories myself. However, it was in the world of fanfiction that I wrote my first short stories which are a whole different beast than novels. Unfortunately, I have fallen out of practice with short story writing but the skills were still learned there in fanfiction.
- Beta Reading – Fanfiction is where I learned about beta readers and the need to get some people you trust to read your work and offer critiques to make your story better and verify that you have comma’s in the right place and aren’t missing words. (Something I fail to do on my blog.)
- Reviews and Criticisms – When you post your fiction for the world to see and leave things open for comments you learn how to take the good and the bad when it comes to your story. You have people pointing out mistakes, telling you what they liked, what they didn’t like and even some people who will dump a can of hate on you. It helps you develop a bit of a thick skin sometimes and judge what you are good at and what you are not.
- Confidence – This one kind of ties into the whole reviews thing but for me fanfiction was where I built my confidence. I was always scared and shy to share my works and what I had written. While it seems weird at the same time it is true, it is easier to share your stories with complete strangers than it is to share with those you know. I learned how not to be scared to share my work. I learned what I was good at who my style of writing mirrored some and that I might actually have some good ideas and stories in me that people want to read.
- What not to do – In my experience doing fanfiction I also learned what not to do, I saw and read more than my fair share of really bad fanfiction. I experienced more than most as I worked for a fan fiction site for a time validating stories to make sure they met site rules for publication. I cannot account for the horrors I read some of it sadly published and some of it not. There can always be something said and learned from reading poor works of fiction as much as from good works of fiction.
Over all fanfiction has been a great experience for me and I don’t regret my time spent writing it. I don’t write it much anymore but I have had thoughts of dabbling in it once again, a break from work and a chance for my subconscious to chew on my original works. I’m not sure though, as a lot of spare writing time goes role playing which has its own merits and can potentially be a form of fanfiction writing but the merits of role playing will be saved for another blog post.