How to Write Fanfiction
How to Write Fanfiction

Fanfiction has exploded in popularity, especially among imaginative teens. This genre of fiction writing allows you to immerse yourself in a fantasy world already familiar to you and others. Writing fanfiction provides a receptive, built-in audience for your work as you hone your craft. Massive movie successes, like "Fifty Shades of Grey," a steamy fanfic inspired by the "Twilight" book series, have origins in fanfiction.

What Is Fanfiction?

Fanfiction, also called fanfic, is produced by ardent fans who unapologetically attempt to change an original work by adding their own spin. Fervent fans of a book, movie, television show, song or other creative work join fan forums where they post their writing and invite critiques. Previously, fanfiction was the mainstay of an underground community of Trekkies who swapped photocopied stories and published in 'zines. Now fanfic has gone mainstream with thousands of fanfic internet sites, such as fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic helps students comprehend literary concepts, like plot, character development, climax and resolution. Some writers even turn themselves into a specific character and live vicariously through this literary avatar.

How to Write Fanfiction

Choose source material that is very familiar to you – other fans will expect you to know what you’re talking about. Include small, but interesting, references that astute readers will pick up, but don’t detract from the story. Determine where your story is heading and choose a time frame. Placing your story in a time before the original work can offer context and explanations for what readers know happened later. Alternatively, you can continue the original storyline and speculate on what you think would happen next.

Be true to your characters. For example, Gandalf isn't going to try to resurrect Sauron for fun. Analyze the characters’ motives and means for achieving their desires. Identify a setting, plot twists and intended outcomes. Write for yourself and for the sheer fun of it. You can go back later to revise, as needed. Browse the internet for fanfic websites dedicated to everything from anime to zombies and share your work with like-minded fans.

Is Fanfiction Legal?

Fanfiction flourishes unabated because most of it consists of fun, noncommercial writing, which is considered a fair use of another author’s original material under the U.S. Copyright Act. Rather than retelling a story, fanfic writers strive to transform the work by inventing new characters, settings and storylines. Disclaimers are usually included on fanfic internet sites attributing copyright and trademark protections to original sources.

Help protect yourself against accusations of plagiarism, along with lawsuits for copyright infringement, by researching the author’s stand on fanfic. For example, J.K. Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" books, permits reasonable derivatives of her work. However, some authors emphatically state on their websites that they don’t want their work being incorporated into fanfic. Celebrities may also object to being named in fanfic stories and can take legal action to stop it.