Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit Author

How I Got Started Writing: The Fanfiction Route

on January 25, 2014

I did an interview recently where I was asked about how I got started writing and I said I began writing fanfiction.  This is fiction based on someone else’s work – TV shows, films, book, comics… anything really.  You take the established characters and/or settings and make up your own stories about them.  It’s a really great way to get into writing fiction, for several reasons:

1. You Don’t Have to Do Everything
If you struggle with creating characters or settings, you can borrow existing ones while you work on your ability to plot, write dialogue, describe scenes etc.

2. People Already Care About the Characters
Half the battle is getting readers to care about the world you’ve created.  With fanfiction, they already do.

3. There’s Plenty of Feedback Available
If you are writing in a ‘world’ that’s active (i.e. a book or show that’s popular right now), you can find a lot of other people who are reading fanfics based in it.  I’ve found those on fanfiction.net fabulous at leaving reviews and encouraging each other to keep going with their stories.

4. There’s No Minimum Length
Not only are there no official limits, but, with the settings and characters already established in readers’ minds, there is much more scope for short ‘drabbles’.  Some collections of these are extremely popular.  So if all you can manage right now is the odd 100 words, there’s an audience for that.

Bialar-CraisI actually began by joining a forum.  I got very into a TV show called Farscape, in particular a supporting character by the name of Captain Bialar Crais (for purely artistic reasons, of course ;-)).  I can’t honestly remember how I came to join, but I’m glad I did.  There I met a group of wonderful women, many of whom are still friends today.  I even went out to stay with one in the US (exactly the way you’re not supposed to do with people you meet on the internet).

Many of us wrote stories.  We posted them in the forum and encouraged each other, especially when writer’s block came to call.  Some of them turned into series – in fact one particular series stretched to several novels’ worth of story.  The author later had it bound into a book, in the days before CreateSpace when that meant considerable expense.  She is now a professional writer.

My first fic must have been a few thousand words long.  It was mostly dialogue, with a dramatic plot and not much else to recommend it.  If I read it now, I’m sure I would cringe.  But it was a start.  My fellow forumites found nice things to say about it and so I kept writing.  And got better.

That kind of community is invaluable in encouraging a writer who is still finding their feet.  Your work does not need to be polished to find fans.  I’ve followed stories which were very far from perfect, but still caught my interest.  As long as you have something to offer, you can find some fans to support you while you become a better writer.  And you will, as long as you keep writing.

If you would like to write, but are having trouble getting started, I recommend that you try fanfiction.  Pick a world you love and write something.  Then post it for other fans to read.  Then write another.  Some writers have accidentally written novels just working chapter by chapter.  Some have even written epics…

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4 responses to “How I Got Started Writing: The Fanfiction Route

  1. Hi there, You’ve done an excellent job. I will
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  2. […] started properly at around 17 when I joined an online message board about the TV show Farscape and, along with many of the other members, started writing fanfiction. My first story had little to […]

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