A Guide For Those Who Want to Write Fanfiction

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?”

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) The best Harry Potter fanfictions
. 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.

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.

Start by asking “what if?” This is an easy way to begin any story, including fanfiction. What if Charlie was changed into a vampire? What if Harry and Hermione made out? What if Charlotte died and Mary Bennet went to be Mr. Collins’ housekeeper? What would vampires do in the event of a biological weapons attack? Go crazy with it-you don’t have to write every crazy thought you have.

Don’t be afraid of hard topics. The fanfiction world is largely made of adults, and has a sophisticated ratings system in place. So don’t be afraid to ask, “How would Edward react if Bella got raped?” “How would Harry and Ginny deal with infertility?” or any other sensitive topic that real life presents.


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