A Guide for Those Who Want to Write Fanfiction

When readers first discover the existence of fanfiction, their first reaction is often, “You can’t be serious!” That’s pretty understandable–what kind of people spend their time reading and writing about other writers’ characters? Well, to tell the truth, slightly obsessed ones. We know it; we don’t apologize. And we understand-that was probably our first reaction, too. It’s often followed by the second reaction, some variation on, “This is amazing!” or “Why didn’t anyone tell me this was out there?” Find more

Fanfiction is the ultimate tribute to our favorite writers and their compelling characters. It’s not the provenance of 13-year-old girls with “I Heart Edward” drawn in glitter pen on their notebooks (though there are certainly excellent teenage writers in every fandom). It’s a creative outlet for people of every economic and educational level; the Twilight, The Office, and Harry Potter fandoms, where I hang out, has lawyers, doctors, professors, and other professionals with PhD’s, Masters’ degrees, and other significant accomplishments.

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So, if you daydream about Edward, Harry, Clark, Wolverine, Mr. Darcy, or any of the hundreds of characters that capture our imagination, why not try writing your own fanfiction?

Here are some tips for getting started.

Know your canon! Canon is the official story, the book, TV show or movie created by the writers. The whole point of writing fanfiction is to spend more time in this world, with these people. Don’t break the rules of the world that the author set up. For one thing, it will be extremely distracting to your reader to be constantly thinking, “But you can’t Apparate inside Hogwarts!” or “But Jasper’s older than Edward!” There are ways to break canon, and we’ll get to those, but be familiar with the world you want to write in.

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