My first forays into writing were writing fanfiction. The quick and dirty definition is that it is a fan-written story involving characters or setting of the original work. They are often posted to people’s blogs or to archives such as The Archive Of Our Own or FanFiction.net. I wrote fanfiction for twenty years, but I’ve been telling myself stories about missing scenes or making up little ‘what if’ scenarios in my head long before that. I no longer write fanfiction, but occasionally I do read some from various fandoms.
I’m sure some people are wondering why I’ve “wasted my time” writing fanfiction for the last twenty years, since I can’t publish it for money. (With the advent of Kindle Worlds, that is changing for better or for worse. That is another post.) I don’t see writing fanfiction as a waste of time. I wrote what is referred to as an alternate universe fanfic. Instead of sticking with a strict interpretation of the show’s universe, elements are added. For an example add magic to a police procedural. I spent time learning how to create rules for ‘my’ world, as well as create characters and plots. At the same time, I couldn’t stray far from the original show’s premise or characterization. It is a tricky tightrope to walk.
There are also bad habits that I am in the process of breaking. Because my fanfic readers have at least passing familiarity with some aspect of the show, I could get away with short-hand descriptions of the setting. As an example, if I were writing in the Star Trek setting, I did not have to describe the bridge of the Enterprise beyond specifying if it was the NC-1701, A, B, C, D, or E. Once I say those words, the physical layout and design style of the conn, tactical station, science station, navigation all spring to mind. The compliment of crew members, tactical abilities, uniform styles, and the species of those on board are all implied. Canonical past events can be implied, or reminded of with a one sentence summary. What I remind myself is that I need to include those types of details and learn how to properly describe them. Otherwise, my setting, my plot, my action all takes place against a white wall.
My policy, at this point, is that I’m not going to erase what I’ve posted off the Internet. (As if anything can truly disappear once posted. But like I said earlier, that is another post.) I will not deny it’s mine if someone asks if I have written a specific story. But I am not going to go out of my way to promote it.
Do I plan on converting my fanfic into original fiction? At this time, the answer is no for stories that are on the Web. I have had people suggest I do so long before Fifty Shades of Grey became a phenomenon. Later on I may put in the research and rewrites that are required. I do have a story that has never left the confines of my hard drive that I am figuring out how to convert into something original. I’ll look harder at that once I have my first novel completed.