Writing, like every other active hobby, is an activity in which one can improve, often due to experience, passion, and appropriate work ethic. For writing specifically, there lies a lofty goal of honing one’s craft, as well as finding one’s writing voice. Conceptually, the writing voice is a particular style and tone in one’s writing that stands out; it’s the unique voice that pops into people’s head when they read those particular words on a page, computer monitor, or tablet display.
While it might take quite a bit of time to establish a writing style that reflects that singular tone in writing, it’s a lot easier to notice than you would think. It comes up in the tweets you make, in the comments that you write in blogs and messageboards, and even in text messages that you send to people that you know in real life. The challenge, then, is to harness those natural occurrences into a controlled narrative environment, and to stretch that voice from 140 characters to thousands of words.
The best (though probably most difficult) way of grabbing the lightning of your natural typing voice and shoving it all into a literary bottle is through repetition. Like the heavyweight boxer that heaves punches at a sandbag day and night, even you need to relentlessly punch those keys, toning your mental muscles, and simply drilling the right writing habits in so that you can focus less on annoying tidbits like spelling and grammar, and focus more on your message, your presentation, and most of all, your storytelling ability.
So why not do it by writing fanfiction? Fanfiction is, for all the flack that it gets, a great way to practice writing. There are a lot of benefits to writing fanfiction that you can’t get through dealing with your own stories. Here are a number of them:
1. Fanfiction helps you cut down on planning time by providing pre-created characters, settings, and plot.
When writing original fiction, perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of crafting a story is planning out the content that occurs within the story. Characters, settings, and the events that occur within a story, have to be baked from scratch, and putting thought into creating your own ideas is time consuming, and takes away from actually writing words.
Using pre-existing characters in your writing practice allows you to focus mainly on execution. You’ll still have to spend time planning some things out, like the actual plot of whatever original story that you decide to write, but even that can be skipped if you’re simply re-telling the plot of the series in your own style. I would go as far as to simply focus on transcribing the existing plot, so that you can focus just on writing mechanics and getting the feel for story structure, as Komachi mentioned in the picture shown above.
2. Fanfiction helps develop the ability to adapt different mediums.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Fanfiction gets as much flack as it does is due to the fact that most of it is mostly romance-oriented and focuses extensively on shipping, with most of those fics are essentially outlets for fans to live out their fantasies. As I mentioned in the previous point, focusing on simply adapting the franchise to your own style and interpretation allows you to develop your own tendencies towards certain aspects of writing, whether it be prose, theme, symbolism, or others.
Unlike Original Flavour fics, which aims to capture the exact feel and message that the original creators intended for the new story, adaptation is the exact opposite, which instead takes the original creator’s voice and warps it to the adaptor’s voice. By adapting different stories to your own, you’re exposed to the voices and messages of other creators and helps you see what makes those individuals stand out from others.
3. Fanfiction connects you to a network of people who are ready to provide feedback.
Fanfiction does not exist without fans. A fanbase that exists for a particular franchise can make for a natural source for feedback for the work that you do. What draws those individuals to the franchise in the first place is a love for the franchise, meaning that they are readily willing to read your work, since it pertains to something that they’re heavily interested in.
However, your mileage may vary with regards to the usefulness of the feedback. Some fandoms are notorious for focusing mostly on shipping of characters within a franchise, and less on the actual story itself. General fanfiction that does not involve romance in some way are often skipped over, and sometimes shipping goggles can get in the way of getting realistic feedback. Someone who does not approve of whatever pairing that you mention in your story (even if the pairing is canon) will harshly and often unfairly bash you as a writer.
And that’s ok. It’s just fanfiction. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean anything. Negative feedback, even if unwarranted, is part of the business of writing, and petty comments like those on fanfics are great practice for developing that toughened shell for when you receive criticism that actually counts. Either way, the availability of other like-minded individuals makes fanfiction a worthy pursuit when you’re still developing your craft.
4. Fanfiction is pretty damn fun.
Because of the legal rammifications behind fanfiction, you can’t really do anything with it other than put it online and wait for the money to not pile in. Most people write for fun anyways, regardless of what they write, but there are others like myself who do eventually want to get published. Either way, fanfiction is a pretty fun way to do some writing. There’s next to no risk involved in writing a bad fanfic, but writing something gets you closer to establishing your style than simply writing nothing.
As the old adage goes, write what you love. Writing fanfiction is for those who not only love to write, but also love what they’re writing about. If it gets you to start writing, then all the power to you.
The Friday Fridge
If you haven’t done so already, I highly suggest following 2DTeleidoscope on twitter. He used to write a fantastic blog, but has since retreated (retweeted?) to the twitterverse, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t stopped writing. He has a weekly writing prompt going on for people in the anime blogosphere. He probably has one today, so why not try it out, and not only follow the prompt, but also incorporate it into a small little fanfic piece? Restrictions breed creativity, so by imposing another limitation such as writing the prompt as fanfiction, it would be even more interesting to see what the responses are. I’ll be writing a response here on this post, so keep an eye out!
Have a great weekend, writerly friends!