The Pros and Cons of Fanfiction for Writers
I don't write fanfiction. If I'd had access to the internet at a certain age, I most definitely would have, but the fact remains that I discovered fanfiction at around 20. By that stage I had already muddled through about five first drafts of my first original story, and then four sequels, and then two other original works.
The mere idea of using someone else's character's terrifies me. I don't know them. Not like I know my own. I could probably give it a go, but honestly, I feel like I should leave it up to those who are already good at it.
I do, however, read a lot of fanfiction. Namely because I find the dynamics between characters within interesting. There is some excellent fanfiction out there. I've read fanfiction that I enjoyed more than published and paid for stories. In fact, there was about an 8 month period in which I read nothing but fanfiction.
Why? Because I knew exactly what I was getting into. Twists related to the plot and the worldbuilding, not the characters. I read primarily for the characters. Your plot could be amazingballs and spectacular and be shooting rainbows out of it's third eye and if I did not connect with your characters? I would stop reading. On the opposite side of the coin, I've been known to ignore gaping-size-of-the-pacific-ocean plot holes if I like the characters in something. All is forgivable if I'm in love with your characters. Except the worst of prose. Or racism and sexism. That tends to send me running.
So what are the pros and cons of fanfiction for writers? Obviously, this is only my opinion, but it's something I've thought about a lot, especially as there are writers who make the transition to original fiction, some who don't, and some who just want some good old fashioned respect from the rest of the world. Fanficition does tend to get waved off as teenage girl crap (which is an issue in and of itself - who the hell made "teenage girl" synonymous with "no cultural or story relevance"?)
- The Sandbox Argument
- Narratives outside the male, white and middle aged
- Less set-up required
On the other hand, this also means you don't get much chance to practise weaving exposition into narrative. You also don't get much chance to world-build or create original characters. Like anything, these things take practise to do Fanfic skips this set-up and exposition for the large part.
As such, there's not much in the way of constructive criticism. If a person doesn't like a work, or how it's written, they tend to just click on or not comment. No-one wants to be the wet blanket. (And by constructive critique I mean a line by line - this sentence didn't work for me because of a, b or c reason sort of thing). This is partially made up for behind the scenes with beta readers and the like, but not everyone has a good beta reader.
- Bad reactions to cannon events
So yeah. Fanfic can be awesome, it can be difficult, it can be a useful place to learn, it can be overly hand-holding, it can be a way to express yourself when you don't fall into the dominant narrative space. If I ever do decide to write it, I will be joining a cohort of people who write primarily for fun, and that's not necessarily a bad thing
1) Sourced from: http://freerangestock.com/details.php?gid=&sgid=&pid=2913 Attributed to: Bradley Strong