I'll try to make this a short-ish story:

I've always loved the idea of cosplay. I was an actress all through high school and the idea of dressing up and pretending to be a well-loved character is great. I was always too self-conscious to do it until I made these new friends who also think that it's cool. Hence, I now do cosplay (I'm working on one right now and it's epic).

HOWEVER, I have always looked down on fan-fiction. To me it was the "lesser art" meant to be sneered at. Creepy, anti-social nerd-geeks in their basements wrote fan-fiction. (How many of you have I offended yet?) BUT, these same friends are writers of fan fiction. And... after a little bit of persuasion I tried my hand at it.

It's. So. Fun.

Do I still think of it as a "lesser art"? Heck yes. The majority of the people who write fan-fiction have very little talent. But there are gems hidden within the dreck. But the real magic in fan-fiction is how easy it is. I recently posted on twitter: "[my] fan-fiction is now over 3000 words. Why am I so much more motivated to write this than my current WIP?"

Two which a very wise person (who will remain unnamed since I didn't get his/her permission) responded: "Because there is no pressure and you love the characters, of course."

And that got me thinking. Fan fiction is the perfect stepstool to original story writing. The world and characters are already there, and so it's just an exercise in creating true characters, interesting plots, and engaging dialogue. There's no pressure to come up with something totally new and original.

Of course, this is still coming on the heels of this post over at WORD for Teens, which I totally agree with. I do not believe that fan fiction should be published. I just don't. But, at least for me, it has been very eye opening.

I have often convinced myself that I'm just not cut out to be a writer because I don't have the passion for it. But this has showed me that I DO. I'm writing a prequel right now, and with some idea of where the story should end up, I get SO EXCITED to write new things! In the past three days I have written FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED WORDS. In THREE DAYS.

(For your comparison, my original WIP (which I started in January 2012) is currently 9,400 words long and I haven't written anything since July.)

Needless to say I'm now conflicted. I used to think fan-fiction was a dark pit where characters went to die. But now... I kinda like it. Writing it, at least. I'm still warming up to reading it.

So how do you feel about fan-fiction? 
Do you read/write it? Do you ignore it? Are you passionately against it ? I want to know!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012


  1. I normally say that I don't write it and don't read it, but am not opposed to it because, as you say, it's all in good fun and is good writing practice.

    But then I remembered that my BA thesis is kind of like Shakespeare fan fiction...

  2. I haven't written any. I have read some. I don't mind it.

    I think it's intriguing. I can see why it might be considered lesser, especially when the characters & world are already built. BUT there are some fantastically written AU ones, or mashups.

    If you enjoy reading, writing or both, I say have fun!

  3. +JMJ+

    Hi! I follow your blog and when this post popped up in my reader, I just had to comment. =)

    I started writing FF seriously last month, when I challenged myself to come up with stories for Are You Afraid of the Dark?. (Do you remember that show? I loved it!) And two things about the exercise surprised me: how much dang fun it was to do, and how much pressure I still put on myself to do it well.

    For me, the pressure of writing FF is coming up with something plausible. I personally don't like it when canon characters are made to behave in ways they never would in the source material--and so I did my best to avoid that. At the start of the month, I told myself that I'd watch a few AYAOTD? episodes, just to get some ideas and a "feel" of the characters again . . . and I ended up watching several series of the original run! =P

    There's another interesting angle to writing stories for AYAOTD? that I did not anticipate. I chose it because it was what I had written my first ever FF for (back when I was twelve years old and had no idea what I was doing), but it hadn't occurred to me--until I was on my fourth story of the month--what a great format the show offers for those who also want to write something "new and original." I may have tried to stay true to the recurring characters' personalities, but when it was time for one of them to tell a story, I had to make everything up from scratch anyway. (In a strange twist, I discovered halfway through writing that part that my "new and original" characters were actually younger versions of the protagonists from a novel I had attempted almost a decade ago! The subconscious is strong and persistent!)

    However, I don't think of FF as a step stool to anything. I'd agree that it's a writing exercise that strengthens the writing muscles, but I personally prefer to keep my FF and my original stuff separate. So skimming the WORD for Teens post you linked was a surprise. I hadn't known that these worlds have been overlapping in very significant ways, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

    1. Yes! I totally agree with you, especially where you say "I personally don't like it when canon characters are made to behave in ways they never would in the source material." That's one of the things I love about fan-fiction. It forces me to stay true to a character, even if it's not the typical kind of character I write. It's a great exercise and challenge!

  4. Only one of us (Kristan) has personal experience with reading and writing fanfic, but we all agree on principle with both what you and Nicole at WORD for Teens has said: FF can be great fun, and a useful tool for young writers, but it is not meant for commercial sale.

    On a more personal note, we're glad that you've connected with something that sparks your passion for writing! We're sure that spark will catch and grow into a larger fire to help fuel you through original work too, if that's what you desire. (And if not, that's totally cool too.) :)

  5. I've been reading fanfiction for almost 3 years. It is a lot of fun! The opportunity to go looking for those gems you mentioned, it can be a great experience. It also allowed me the chance to meet a lot of people who are fans of the same reading as me. We discuss fanfictions we like and even branch out to discuss books. Now I have friends working on their own original work, which is exciting because I already know a bit about their writing style. I don't read it as much as I used to, but I still like the occasional ease of simple turning on the computer and opening a website to browse for new reading for characters I already love. :)

  6. I've never written fan fiction. I have too much of my own stuff to write and it feels awkward to be in someone else's head instead of my own.

    But I think a lot of published books are fan fiction in one way or another--Peter Pan in Scarlet, Star Wars books, books based off movies, tons of Jane Austen fan fiction, fairy tale retellings, Shakespeare retellings, movies based off books, etc. etc.

    1. There is a fine line between fan-fiction and retellings. And I'm not sure what the line is...

    2. After discussion, it appears that most published "fan fiction" is based off very old stories. Peter Pan, Brothers Grimm, Shakespeare. Whereas what we now think of as "Fan fiction" is much more modern.

    3. Star Wars Books, like most tie in works, are licensed and go through an exhaustive review process by the creators. They are not fanfiction, no more than a TV episode written by someone other than the creator of the series is fanfiction. Movies made from books are adaptations (and also licensed). The only adaptations/retellings not licensed are ones made from source material so old there is no license.

  7. I love when people link to WORD. I get all cuddly inside.

    And while I don't think it should be published, I used to write it all the time - it helped me figure out how to stay in character and develop my writing skills, and I now actively roleplay in guilds online as original characters in the Pern world. It's a lot of fun, and for somebody who likes to write, it's a way to do it with no pressure. I definitely think it helps enhance writing skills if you're really working at it as well. It's a good thing! (Just, you know, not published.)

  8. I discovered Fan Fiction back in 2008 during my Twilight Phase. I started writing a story which I just finished a few months ago. It's a 42,000 word Twilight fanfic (about Jasper and Bella) and it averaged about 4500 views a month. The stats with fanfiction is crazy. I'm hoping that I can somehow grab my fanfic viewers and get them to read my fantasy when it's published next year.

    The only downside to my story is that the beginning chapters aren't always grammatical correct. During that story, I grew as a writer. If I had time, I would go back and fix all my previous errors.

    1. (I love how I make a grammar comment when my post has a ton of errors--face palm)

  9. I'm around the same opinion as you on fanfic. There's a lot of very badly written stuff, but I really love finding well written stories that place the characters in new scenarios or deal with "what if"s. I've actually written a story myself, and I think it can be really good writing practice.

  10. I've seen fan-fiction done very well, and I've seen it done very poorly. My first exposure to it was when it was done very well. One of my very best friends wrote several beautiful, moving pieces of fan-fiction based on a Disney movie. She wrote so much of it that she started creating her own characters, and then entire stories based on these characters without using any of the original Disney characters. She used these writing experiences as reassurance that she could write her OWN original stories, and now she's a published writer. I think that experimenting with fan-fiction was essential to her journey in finding herself as a writer.

    I've written a piece of fan-fiction once. I had the idea and the urge to write something, and I went for it. The outcome was pretty terrible, but it satisfied a need that I had. And when our needs aren't harming anybody, we probably shouldn't suppress them. We need our creative outlets, after all.

    I agree that fan-fiction shouldn't be published. It's something that his its place, and it shouldn't be for sale. As for retellings of fairy tales and other classics, I don't think I consider those to be "fan-fiction" once the original pieces are in the public domain. I think if a work still retains its copyright, and someone uses it a basis for their work, then it's fan-fiction.

  11. I've tried a few times to read fanfic and it was so bad I had to stop after a few lines even though I loved the characters but I've always thought it sounded fun. From a music perspective many very awesome bands started off as cover bands or buy playing a lot of covers, it's good practice I'm excited that it has given you the spark you needed. And as a side note, I love that you're into cosplay!

  12. i love fan fiction.. im a reader, and writer, and love it. i read it all the time, as much as possible. i do have a life, i just do this on the side, and in to the dark unholy hours of the night of course. ive seen alot that were badly writes, in so many ways, but ive also seen so many that deserve to be actual books and to be praised by all i love it.


Thank you so much for commenting! I read each and every one.

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