Wednesday, August 27, 2014
5 Ways Writers Can Use Fanfiction
From what I have noticed, fanfiction tends to be looked down upon by the majority of writers. I suppose this is understandable. A lot of fanfiction is exactly what the stereotypes say it is: poor writing, poor characters, poor plot, poor everything... but it doesn't have to be that way. Writing fanfiction has helped me become a better reader and a better writer. Here are 5 ways it has helped me.
1. It helps me focus.
Let's be honest, writing is hard. Writing requires you to be constantly creating, but also constantly critiquing. It requires constant thought, yet you also have to simply feel and not let your thoughts get in the way. And sometimes, it's just too overwhelming. That's when writers get writer's block. Yet, everyone says that the best way to break out of writer's block is to write. However, my writing during writer's block is always terrible. I don't want to write words I will just delete on an original work. So I don't write. Which just prolongs the block. It's an unending cycle...
...until fanfiction, that is. When writing fanfiction, I don't have to be as creative or thoughtful. The worlds and the characters are already there for me. That doesn't mean I get to be lazy though. I have to work my mind in another way. I have to think critically about the characters, setting, plot, and original author. And yet, there is no stress because I'm never going to attempt to publish this, I might not even edit it, it's just relaxing. Yet, I'm still practicing my writing and I'm still thinking. Now, my writer's block disappears in no time!
2. It makes me a better reader.
I touched on this in the above paragraph, but I would like to emphasize it. To be a writer, you must also be a reader. And not just a casual reader, you have to read lots and lots of books from many different genres. You have to be critical reader, so you can learn what you should and shouldn't do in your own writing. Yet, you also have to imagine yourself as a reader reading your book. It's a lot to remember.
Writing fanfiction has helped me be a better reader because I have to dig deep for answers. I have to truly think about the characters. Why would he do that? What made him say that? Why does he word his sentences that way? In my fanfiction, I try to emulate the original author's writing style while still staying true to my own. For example, J.K. Rowling has an obsession with adverbs (the only aspect of her writing that bugs me). Should I use more adverbs when writing my story or should I not? I choose to not, because it irritates me. However, she also has a simplistically beautiful way of describing people. I try to incorporate that into my fanfiction. I might not have noticed either of these details if I weren't paying extra close attention to her writing because of fanfiction.
3. It can get instant feedback from readers.
I don't know this one too well because I have only published a fanfiction one-shot. However, I have seen it be true for other writers and it did happen for me, though on a much smaller scale. On fanfiction sites, there are usually ways to instantly comment on a story or chapter. Many readers give helpful and kind critiques that focus on simply one aspect of your story- like your writing, or plot, or a single chapter. This can be an invaluable resource for writers looking to improve. Of course, like all critiques, you ought to think about what the readers say and decide whether you believe it or not. Just because someone on the Internet said it doesn't necessarily make it true.
4. It can be a great marketing tool.
This one goes along with my third point, but fanfiction can be a great marketing opportunity. If a reader enjoyed your story, they might go and check out your original work. Many sites won't let you promote within your story, but they don't usually have a problem with you promoting your original work in your profile. If your story is good enough, readers will click on your profile to find more of your work and who knows? They might become your new biggest fans!
5. And finally... it's FUN!
Fanfiction is just fun. It's sad to me that so many fanfiction writers simply re-write the same old stories. It's sad that fanfiction has become a place simply for fans to vent or change the story to fit their whims, without paying attention to the depth and complexity contained within that story. It's sad that many writers look down on fanfiction writing. Because not only can it accomplish the four points listed above, but it is also extremely enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, writing my original writing is the most amazing thing in the world, but then, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it gets stressful and annoying and hard. That's fine. It's an aspect of it. But I prefer to keep it fun as much as possible, and relieving some stress into fanfiction writing helps with that.
So that's my two-cents. What do y'all think? Have you ever written a fanfiction? Would you ever write a fanfiction?