Fan-Fiction: Stepping Stone or Cop-Out?

Double_slip_at_Munich_central60sSo, as I procrastinate from my own (hopefully) original stories, I start thinking about fan-fiction.

Here’s my question: is writing fan-fiction a good starting point for writing your own stories?

I think the quick answer is probably, yes.  But when I think on it a little bit more I wonder if it is also just the avoidance of one’s own ingenuity?

In my own stories, I’ve been working on the world and society building stages, also character development – as far as one can go without having the fully realized story right in front of you.  Stories have to evolve along the way for them to have a real feel.  But sometimes I get so consumed by the creation, I become completely dumbstruck when it comes to writing the prose.  A rich world with rich characters seems to fall flat on its face.

So, is fan-fiction a good way to step out of your own head (to a certain extent) because you already – theoretically – have a lot of the background in the world, even if not the specific character you’re planning the focus on?  Is it a fruitful way to focus on developing prose rather than an entire world?

I personally haven’t sought out a lot of fan-fiction – with the exception of some professionally published stories – and I’m sure I’m missing out on some great tales, but frankly, it’s so hard to know where to start.  I love reading, but I’m a slow reader, and with the masses of options out there I just get lost…and frankly, a part of me doesn’t want original characters being messed with needlessly.

Let’s be honest, I also fear the soul-crushing discovery my ideas have already been done…I know, it’s all a part of the process.

Maybe it’s something I just have to get over…what do you think?

Photo Credit: Björn Laczay aka dustpuppy (modified) via (CC BY-SA 2.0)



7 thoughts on “Fan-Fiction: Stepping Stone or Cop-Out?

  1. The first thing you need to remember is, everything’s already been done, so I wouldn’t put too much worry in that.

    Stick to your own works, and if you HAVE to delve into the dreaded fan-fiction, then don’t fear doing so. But I would try to stay the course of your own originality as much as possible.


  2. Do you own thing always. Fan fic might be a good way to build your muscles, but definitely a side gig to your own work. Write on!


  3. I’ve never been able to write fan-fiction because I’m terrified of doing other people’s characters wrong. However, I’ve read some beautiful, moving, jealousy-inspiring prose in fan-fiction, so I definitely recommend looking for well-regarded pieces to try. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of fan-fiction focuses on relationships more than action, or world-building or such — the nebulous and personal areas that the original writers often haven’t delved into. It’s not a bad practice in terms of character study and unpacking what someone else has put into a story, but I don’t know that you’d get much valuable experience in shaping a wider tale beyond that.

    Frankly, I am sometimes tempted to fan-fiction my own writing. Do a few what-ifs, maybe throw some characters together who would never otherwise cross paths. If you don’t want to fanfic someone else’s work, why not do it for your own? Flesh out a bit more of the world and the characters for yourself, even if it’s not canon, and stretch your writerly muscles.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. had to look up ‘fan fiction’. Been a writer wannabe since my late teens. Seems to me that fan fiction, to some extent, might be useful in that the story’s universe is already created. Adding to it would seem like a useful exercise as long as the process is well defined in advance; ie. this character given traits, strengths and and weaknesses portrayed by the original author would have dealing with a controlling personality or some other sort of character. I can see where that might be fun and instructive to explore. Wouldn’t want to spend too much time on such things, particularly if it was keeping me away from my own original work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • (it’s the Mighty Mitchell! ) I was thinking along those lines, too. Maybe the key to using it as a tool – rather than as an ‘escape’ from one’s own project – would be to do it in the form of a short story, just to get the exercise in prose.

      Liked by 1 person

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