The Incredible Unknown Power of Fanfiction

…or “How Fanfiction saved my brain”.

In the past years, I can’t count the number of times people (namely my family) have scolded me for writing fanfiction instead of continuing to write my novels.

Actually, they’re right. When I’m in the middle of some awesome project that I’ve been bothering everybody about with long monologues about my character’s conflicting desires and how this affects the story as a whole, people expect me to actually sit down and write what I’ve been ranting about for the past months. So I do, for a month or so, and then… I start to write something else.

For me, while writing is a way to escape from real life, it does get a bit stressful after a while. The characters start acting up, the plot doesn’t make sense, the story takes a twist you didn’t originally want it to take, and then you spend every waking hour worried about how you’re going to fix that and writing your novel stops being fun.

I can’t write if I’m not having fun with the story. It simply isn’t the same. So I need something else to consume my imagination, even if it’s only for a day or two. That is where fanfiction comes to save my brain, which is about to melt from the preoccupation my evil characters have caused.

It’s not always fanfiction, of course. Many times it’s actually very good, published works by authors who are so spectacular that my self-esteem is completely lowered while I kneel at their feet in awe. Such as “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak and “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. And of course, “The Lord of the Rings” (and “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion”,etc.) but that was implied the moment I said spectacular. But fanfiction is ideal for light reading for these reasons:

1) Some of the things you read are pure trash.

It’s badly written, with horrible grammar and it’s raining clichés, while the characters are drowning in a soap-opera-like atmosphere. It makes you want to tear your eyes out with a spoon. It makes you lose hope in the human race. It makes you wonder why, despite the horrible, senseless way this person writes, http://www.fanfiction.net has reviews saying “omg i love ittt!!!!1!! update pliz cant wait!!!!

Why is it good to read these things?

Because no matter what, you most certainly can write better than that. In fact, it’s probable that after reading a fanfic like this, and after getting a bruise on your forehead from banging your head repeatedly against the desk, you will read what you’ve written and your self-esteem will soar up into the clouds. This is the opportunity to take advantage of that feeling and write.

2) Some things are actually wonderful.

It can make you laugh, it can make you cry your eyes out, and in a good way. (see, for example, cupid-painted-blind‘s fanfics, which are seriously a work of art. Particularly the Harry Potter ones) It doesn’t matter if it has multiple chapters or if it’s just a one-shot. It has the ability to make you love a character that you previously hated with a passion, or make you hate your favorite character.

Why is it good to read these things?

Because a fanfic like that will inspire you so much, that you may even fall into one of those trances where you reconsider everything you’ve ever thought about that character when you read the book/movie/series he or she originally came from. You will understand what makes a real character, and maybe even re-read the original book. And you will start to shape one of your own characters to have a bit more depth than you had originally though they had. Because you’ve fallen into that wonderful state of writing where ideas just flow endlessly and you feel like you can finally understand the Universe.

You actually can’t, but it’s nice to feel that way.

3) When you read a lot, you end up writing a lot.

After reading something really good, or really bad, or simply reading a huge load of fanfics about the same characters, you will have your own ideas about them and you will want to write something of your own. Hopefully it’s just a one-shot, so that after you write it it’s over and you can get back to your novel, of course.

Why is it good to end up writing fanfiction?

Because it makes you write, and as any writer knows, writing something every day is good for you.

So even if you’re just writing fanfiction, you’re writing something, and you develop your talent just a little bit more. Plus, if you post it on http://www.fanfiction.net, you’ll probably get at least one review saying that you’re awesome and you write beautifully. It doesn’t matter how badly you wrote it. So you feel good about yourself, having some encouragement, and that will eventually, if not instantly, lead you back to the novel you were working on in the beginning.

Fanfiction was a great development for me. I actually started writing it without knowing there was such a thing as fanfiction. Of course, what I wrote when I was eight years old was absolute garbage, but it was good for me and I feel that it helped me grow as a writer. When I’m sick of writing serious, complex stories, I write something simpler, or something very short but emotionally charged. I actually wrote some stories that are among the best ones I’ve ever written, if I may say so myself. Here.

As long as you don’t get too distracted, fanfiction is good for you.

So, what do you think? Is it good or is it bad to read/write fanfiction? I would love to know what you think!

(and I apologize profusely for the delay between posts x.x )

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3 thoughts on “The Incredible Unknown Power of Fanfiction

  1. I agree on every point. I lot of people disregard fanfiction because they’re under some impression that if you’re going to write, you might as well write something that could be sold. But fanfiction is fun because it can be a quick writing exercise or an epic saga. And really, if you read enough of it, you DO start to understand what makes certain writing good. People always ask how it’s so easy for agents and publishers to read one page and dismiss the rest of a work, but if they spent sometime pursuing fanfiction.net, they would understand!

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  2. Okay, I can’t agree with everything because I’ve been awake too long and can’t read that much without having an aneurism at this point (theoretically … I haven’t tried, because aneurism is hard enough to spell, so I don’t know if I could handle having one on so little sleep) but YES. Crappy fanfiction that people love makes me feel so much better about my own writing … and also makes me worry that only a very small percentage of people will ever like my writing, because it’s not like anything popular I know of (or brilliant, amazing literary fiction that 1 or 2& of the population will love and hold in high esteem, because GENIUS!), but, oh well, I like it, and that’s enough for me. 🙂

    Also, sometimes there is nothing good to read, or you fall in love with something that’s one book long, a series that’s cancelled way too soon, a movie with no sequels, etc. and it just needs more story. When the world is great and the characters are awesome, there need to be more stories, and I don’t care who writes them as long as they’re good. (And if I have to write them, well, they won’t be as good, but there will be something, dang it. lol.)

    Oh, and any time you can get good (and amazing!) free stories legally, without even having to leave your house (!) … God bless the Internet.

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