Having spent a decade or two writing, Britta's spent time honing her craft writing through fanfiction as well as on her own original stories
What Is Fanfiction?
When it comes to the written word, there are many avenues of love and adoration at hand. Fiction is a branch of creative passion that has much love and countless fans. Many of those fans show their love through artwork and something called fanfiction.
This odd corner of the world, where writers create stories centered around worlds others had made, isn't new or unusual. Many artists draw sketches of some of their favorite anime and Disney characters. There are some who cosplay, dressing up as the people they adore. In some corners, some people will take on the personality of the people in their favorite shows and act out an entire day in their life for fun.
Fanfiction is much the same. Instead of dressing up, or drawing, a great many people take the stories they loved and reinvented them on paper. It is an expression of love, one that translates over written words. These stories, created out of love, are open to any who wish to read them when posted online (Fanfiction.net being one such site). Many Fanfiction writers are famous in their respective communities, their stories have hundreds, if not thousands, of followers and comments.
Some of my writing is somewhat popular, though I don't write as much on Fanfiction.net as I once did. I wrote mostly for Harry Potter, and, in my time of excessive creation, I made quite an impact. I do have a story or two I update on, but it was my love for the original stories, and my thoughts on how things could change if one element or three changed, that drew me to fanfiction and Fanfiction.net.
Why Write Fanfiction?
Thousands of people, all around the world, make illustrations and statues of their favorite characters from games, movies, and books. They create art featuring their favorite quotes, paint out some of the most notable scenes from their favorite stories, and some even go to the locations a movie was shot at to feel the imagined world for themselves. Humans, as a species, show their appreciation for the things they love and care about by giving up their time for the things they adore.
Others spend long hours with a box of paint, with blocks of wood, with clay. Then there are the individuals who spend countless hours writing, their time spent away hunting down facts and information about the original story before they make changes to suit a different version of the tale. This process of creation is the same as the other forms of art.
Most individuals who write fanfiction don't make money off it (unlike the others who make art and photos and wall-hangings). They write their stories because they love the world and the characters they stumbled upon. Exposed to new worlds have a way of leaving an imprint that will color the way they see life.
They write their stories because they don't want the story to end. So, it doesn't fade away.
It is, in a way, a noble cause. People who love a story so much they can't bear the thought of it vanishing make new stories, free and open to everyone. They might expand on the world itself, think up new cultures, and how they might work in the original world, the author imagined. They could introduce aspects not formerly in the author's story, such as politics or religion, or how the world came to be.
There are countless reasons why someone writes what they write.
The Benefits of Fanfiction
There isn't a doubt that the only way to get better at writing is by, yes, writing. There is no getting around that fact. The only way to improve is through practice, which is a piece of information any teacher will tell their students. However, it can be difficult to gauge how well we are improving. Fanfiction becomes an invaluable tool, one that every aspiring writer should use, for this very reason. It's an excellent way to learn the basics and to develop a voice of our own.
Writing fanfiction has many benefits. I've been writing for close to twenty years, doing all I can to learn the ropes and improve my skills. It wasn't until I came across that I began to develop my skills. This was roughly fifteen years ago. I would have been around ten when I came across the site.
FanFiction.net was my introduction to fanfiction and its wonders by people who love, and enjoy the stories and games. It wasn't until around 2003 that I came across the site, and it was around this time I had my first big, massive, bulky computer that looks like an eyesore today compared to what it was then. I was an avid reader, in my youth. Still am, today, but when I was a kid, I spent so much of my time, late in the evenings, reading fanfiction—mostly about InuYasha, which was my favorite show my mum had not realized I was watching.
It was around 2007 when I made my own story for InuYasha. It was short, it was fumbling, and it was horrible.
I got a lot of encouragement, and plenty pointed out my atrocious grammar and too-long paragraph blocks. There were others who encouraged me, told me my ideas were good, but I needed to learn how to format the story.
In light of this, I began researching how to write. I hunted down books on Story Structure, on transitions, on World Building and Character Creation and the Hero's Journey. I read and read. I wrote and kept on writing, never stopping as I drove myself, headfirst, into the world of writing I had adored since my early childhood that started with pictures of squirrels and their families.
I learned so much from writing fanfiction.
- I learned how to write well. I asked for critiques, and a few were always happy to offer them. I took everything to heart, jotting notes to myself as I went.
- I learned how to build tension in chapters through conversations or through just by using the environment itself
- I also learned that every chapter doesn't have to have heart-stopping action.
- I learned how to pay attention to details, to bring the world the story takes place in and put it into the story.
- I learned how to build histories for the characters and settings, giving them a life of their own (and sometimes using these very things to add conflict or hint at an upcoming danger or issue)
Fanfiction has a lot of uses. It's a training tool for writers. We can see how well we do by how well read our stories are, know the love and admiration other readers have for the world the original author created. Fanfiction is about love and dreams, about possibilities the story could have taken if the main character in the story had responded just a tad differently.
I merely said, 'Nope, not happening. Have a nice day.'
Fanfiction also teaches us other things:
- Cliches and why they work (or don't)
- Common themes in stories (love saves all/good vs. evil/ etc.)
- Why Mary Sues are the bane of all literature
Above all else, fanfiction teaches us the fact that we have to enjoy what we write to make it any use to anyone else. If we don't like what we're writing, the story suffers. When it comes to fanfiction, this dislike, this awkwardness, translate even further than usual because fanfiction is about writing what we love.
In some cases, the chapter or scene a writer forces themselves to write comes out poorly. It can be boring. It can be awkward. It can just be wrong, plain and simple. Those are chapters that get skipped.
A Parting Word on FanFiction
When it boils down to the heart of writing, it's about love.
With fanfiction, these people write what they love. Some of it may be slightly erotic, but that may be because the characters never had 'their moment' in the story to make their relationships believable. Perhaps the fans think two different characters have chemistry, or they work well together, and want to see, or show, how well they can come together.
Some write because they like to write, and fanfiction is an excellent way to hone the skills so they can become better at what they do. By using the stories and movies made by someone else, a lot of the groundwork is done—the character, the world, the events. All of it's already put down. All the fan has to do is work with what there's, create a new path, and then play around.
It is, in a way, a grown-up version of imaginative role-playing children partakes in.
Not everyone will agree that fanfiction has its uses. Every person is different. Every person can, however, agree that it is love for a story, or a character, which sparked the work the fan makes. The drive and determination to create new content, to make a new story and build on the original, is a feat worthy of respect.
After all, through love anything is possible.
© 2018 Britta Nicole Miller
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on February 11, 2019:
I’ve never seen anyone actually take the time to explain what Fanfiction is. I truly appreciate your article.
Britta Nicole Miller (author) from Earth on November 28, 2018:
I've read a few stories that feature a romance between Harry and Draco. It's easy enough to accomplish, once a few events are changed in the story to fit the narrative the author is trying to create.
I've also read some very good stories between Harry and Voldemort, though those stories can go any direction anyone can imagine. I enjoy reading in general and, as long as the plot is good, I don't really care who the paring is. For the most part.
Thanks for dropping a comment!
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 28, 2018:
I've only ever written one fanfiction. It was called The Cure and it was about a character in the Fallout universe trying to find a cure for ghoulism. It happened alongside the events of Fallout 3, so you can see how long ago it was.
Fanfiction does help improve your writing and it's fascinating to see how fans can add or change elements of an existing story and still keep the lore intact. The weirdest one I came across (completely by accident) was a romance between Malfoy and Harry Potter.
Thank you for sharing.