I Heart Fanfiction
I love fanfiction. It’s a giant, time-sucking, never ending black hole, but I love it. As a fangirl, I love to read it; as an editor, I love writers who write fanfiction; and as a reader myself, I love books that include or are inspired by fanfiction.
There’s something amazing about getting to revisit characters and worlds that you already love and have more adventures. Fanfiction writers do a great job of filling in plot holes, or “fixing” things that annoy the fans. Often, they will explore a different side to a character than is normally shown on screen, or make logical leaps based on existing information that are too much fun not to cling to. Head canons galore! Or they will merge two different shows together to create something amazing. I mean, who doesn’t want to see what their favorite characters would do if they went to Hogwarts?
As an editor, I really appreciate writers who know their craft, and honestly, all classes and writing courses aside, the only way to get better at writing is to write, and, more importantly, to let people read what you write and give feedback, so you can see your missteps and the places you need improvement. Fanfiction is a GREAT place to practice your craft. Think about it… First, it’s a relatively safe space to make mistakes in. There are always going to be a few trolls, but most of the fandoms I’ve been in have been welcoming and encouraging. We want you to love the thing that we love!
Secondly, while writing is hard, writing fanfiction is a little bit easier. After all, part of the work has already been done for you… You already know and love these characters or this world, so you don’t have to make them up from scratch. You can just take the pieces and play with them! If you, as a writer, are unsure of your world-building skills, that’s okay. J.K. Rowling has already created Hogwarts for you. It exists, and it gives you a place to start. Or conversely, if you just want to practice your world-building skills, but aren’t quite ready to invent your own characters, you can take characters that already exist and put them into an alternate universe of your own making. (And THIS is the kind of fanfiction that you might be able to turn into something more. See Fifty Shades of Grey. Although that’s a topic for another post!)
Which leads me nicely into… As a reader, I love books that include or are inspired by fandom and fanfiction. Not only are there a TON of great writers out there who honed their craft writing fanfiction before branching out with their own original works, including Marissa Meyer (Sailor Moon), Cassandra Clare (Harry Potter), Naomi Novak (Supernatural), and our own Sandy Hall (Glee), there are also many writers who were inspired by the concept of fandom and fanfiction and include it in their books. This can be as simple as having your heroine read or write fanfiction. For example, in Sandy Hall’s new book Signs Point to Yes, the heroine Jane reads and writes Doctor Who crossover fanfiction, which gives her mad internet skillz. Or the fandom can take over and be one of the core parts of the book, as it is in Danika Stone’s All The Feels. Or you know, both, as Rainbow Rowell does in one of my favorite books ever, Fangirl. (I’ve read most of this book from the Kanye Dance Party to the end like 8 times already.) And what’s really, really amazing about Fangirl is that the story doesn’t end there.
In Fangirl, Cath writes Simon Snow fanfiction. (Savvy readers can tell that Simon Snow was inspired by Harry Potter, but Rainbow has included significant changes and differences – which is very important from both a creative and legal standpoint!) And, for most of the novel, she is desperately trying to finish her masterpiece, Carry On Simon, before the author releases the 8th and final novel in the Simon Snow series. Rainbow includes passages from both the “original” Simon Snow books and from Cath’s fanfiction in the book. And reader’s LOVED them. Not only did the fans create AMAZING fanart for the books (I REALLY covet the pink edition with the fanart included.) but they kept asking her to write more Simon Snow fiction.
And eventually, she did. On October 6th, St. Martin’s Press is publishing Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. A book that was inspired by fictional fanfiction of a fictional series, which has now become canon. I think that’s amazing, and I CAN’T WAIT to read it!
Fanfiction, whether you are reading it, writing it, or writing and reading about it, comes from a place of excitement and passion and love. Love for a book or a show or a world or a set of characters that just NEEDED to have more stories told about them. You can feel it. And that’s the kind of passion that all writing should have.
Do you read or write fanfiction? Any recommendations for me? What about books that include Fandom? I ALWAYS need more of those. Let me know in the comments!
Preorder Carry On and submit your receipt to win a party kit that includes a color-your-own dust jacket! Kits are limited to the first 1,000 readers who submit their receipts, so shake a leg! For more details about the kits and to see the official rules, click here.