Yesterday’s News – Fan Fiction

We interrupt this scheduled reading of “A Dance with Dragons” by George R.R. Martin for… this blog post… which will be short… then more DwD. More. MOOOOORRRRREEEE!!!!

So I had an interesting thought at my local board game night tonight, when the subject of fan fiction came up.

I have nothing against fan fiction at all. I’ve read some, and like any type of amateur (or professional) fiction, some of it is bad, some of it is good, some of it is REALLY good. I have friends who are actively involved in fan fiction communities.

But it has never really been something I’ve found myself inspired to write. Though I have no rational objections to it in principle, the idea of slipping into someone else’s setting or especially, someone else’s characters, has always felt a bit like sneaking into their house and trying on their clothes. You may go to great lengths to take good care of their clothes, and take care to put everything back where you found it, but it’s still weird.

Note: I don’t mean to imply any moral judgement there, just a personal ooky feeling. Even that is not really all that severe. I have no doubt that I could get over it if motivated to do so. However, I’ve not so far had the motivation, because usually the stories I write just come to me without me having to pursue them. (Getting them on paper is a separate question.) And so far, no fan fiction stories have come to me.

The closest I’ve come are things like parodies  or shared universe-type sketches, and those were frequently not full-fledged stories anyway. Then, there is my story: “Death Traps”, which features Dr. Mercury, a character created by JR Blackwell. I wouldn’t call that story “Fan Fiction” exactly, though there is no question that the line is a little blurry there.

But the discussion tonight just got me thinking about writing exercises and challenges and such, wherein you actively set out to do something different from your normal routine. In that context, perhaps I ought to, just for fun, try my hand at a little bit of fan fiction. Who knows, it might even help my original projects. After all, the addition of Dr. Mercury took a bare-bones story idea I had and turned it into one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.

How to start though? What fandom do I choose from? I could easily rattle off a dozen different universes that I feel like I know well enough to get started.

And do I want to write something faithful to the original? Something subversive? Cross-over?

Any of you write both original and fan fiction? Any pointers?



  • Noble Bear says:

    Just pick a universe your passionate about or just enjoy a lot and go for it.

    Most of what makes fanficton bad is the fact that its written by teenagers and is a combination of not knowing how to write at all and repeating certain tropes; stuff like:

    Character death or death of a character’s loved one to make the narrative “deep”

    Making all the characters high school classmates


    Having them all be in a band together

    IKEA erotica

    insisting on working in each and every catch phrase or classic moment from the original cannon

    The list goes on, but as an accomplished writer, you’d already either know to avoid them or wouldn’t go there to begin with. One thing I should point out are any time you focus on a close friendship or romantic involvement, that is called a “pairing” or a “ship”, while not necessarily sexual, the majority of them are with the sexuality being scaled to be age appropriate.

    If there is a particular relationship you like best, that is your OTP or One True Pairing; if a writer damages or breaks up the couple, they have “sunk” your “ship”.

    What makes it fun for many is getting to play in a playground that’s already built, like playing with dolls/action figures from an existing franchise and having them interact with each other and their play-sets. Some use fanfiction as a way of answering “what if…?” or by altering cannon to cause it to make more sense that what was provided for by the original creator(s)

    But yeah, there’s no real rules and no combination, idea or cannon is off limits. Just have fun.

  • Lee says:

    Because you asked…


    I didn’t want to comment on your blog post b/c I’m not an original/fanfic author, however, I do have an idea for you on an easy way to get started.

    You know how the ending of City of Angels pissed you off? Fix it.

    ^________^ You know you want to.

    Sometimes its that easy. When the original writers piss us off, we fix it.

    Or “for want of a nail”… this a common thread currently running through the community. Pick a series, any series, where for want of something, the characters nearly failed. Give it to them, then see what happens.

    For instance, in Phantom Menace, Qui-gon Jinn dies before really resolving the conflict with Obi-wan (they talked about it for two minutes on screen from what I remember, but I don’t personally think this was sufficient). This turns into a thorn in Obi-wan’s relationship with Anakin. What if they had been able to resolve the issues of Anakin’s training and Qui-gon’s belief that Anakin was the so-called “Chosen One” (which, for the record, I don’t think should have EVER been told to Anakin himself). What do you think would have been different?

    Or How to Train Your Dragon… what if Hiccup had hit Toothless, but had damaged his wing instead of his tail?

    Or Tangled… What if Mother Gothel hadn’t run into Maximus on her way to get the paints?

    I’m using movies because the intrinsic story is much more condensed and (except for Star Wars) not developed further beyond sequels or possible book adaptations.

    So pick a movie, any movie, and take that one pivotal plot point, and turn it on its head. See what happens!

    Welcome to the Dark Side!