How Fan Fiction Helped Me Become a Better Writer

We’ve all got notions about this thing called “fan fiction.” You know that saying, ‘if it exists, there’s porn of it?’ That’s true for fan fiction, too, which is what most people think of first when they think of fan fiction: poorly written smut.

That’s true… it does exist. But there are so many other stories out there that aren’t.

Before I wrote a “real” novel, I started writing fan fiction. I’m not going to tell you from what fandom because I don’t want you to go looking for it. But, writing those stories helped me become a better writer.

How? It’s easy:

I already had a world laid out and readers who knew that world. I had characters already made up with different personalities. I already had villains and stakes. The only thing I had to do was mix them up a bit and regurgitate it into a story – and it worked. Writing those first few stories helped me to understand how a story worked. It got me to thinking about how chapters flowed, how each scene supported the larger plot, and how to thread all those scenes together.

Sure, even with all that practice, my first novel wasn’t that good. But it’s better now. Each story I wrote got better. Each one is getting better. Yeah, that’s right, I’m still writing fan fiction. It’s great fun and great practice of character, plot, pacing, and all those fun story mechanisms, not to mention exercising grammar, syntax, and proofreading. I think I’m starting to get a handle on this comma business.

And, a cool bonus, my fan fiction fans are more likely to become fans of my own works. I know a few than have read Devil’s Blood.

Being a writer is weird. Well, I don’t really know because it’s all I’ve ever been. All career-hobbies might be as weird. For me, writing is kind of like pouring myself into word form. My characters are extensions of me. The world is of my creation and therefore of my mind, of me. That’s why when someone doesn’t like my book, it feels like they are saying they don’t like me. It’s my soul they’re pushing away.

I know it’s not really like that. To a reader, the book is separate. It’s the book they dislike, not me. It’s taken a while to convince myself of that.

Do you have something that helped you become a writer? Maybe a school newspaper, an encouraging teacher, or a blog like this one – there’s not really a “wrong” answer.

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