Foundations of Fan Fiction

Last week, I’ve written about what fan fiction is, and why it attracts people. If you haven’t read those, you could click Shedding Light on Fan Fiction and Understanding the Allure of Fan Fiction. Now, it’s just fitting that I ask and answer the most practical question for people who want to write some for their favorite movie, comic book, or TV series: how do you write one? According to my sources, Moviebuffgirl and Ingenious Macabre, writing good fan fiction all boils down to faithfulness, originality, and letting loose.

Being faithful to the original material is the life blood of fan fiction since it is what the writers and readers of the genre want to see. According to Ingenous Macabre, it’s all about knowing the source material by heart. Moviebuffgirl explains this in depth:

I watch the movies the characters are in again and again. If I don’t have the time, I consult their Wiki pages (if they have one). But for the three fan fictions that I have that are all in the Left 4 Dead fandom, I play the game multiple times just to see how they act, speak, talk, walk, react to certain situations, etc. I even downloaded an audio from YouTube that has a compilation of their lines and dialogues, so that I can listen to the way they interact with each other.

It looks like a lot of work, but you’re not a true fan if you aren’t willing to do the research, right? Itemizing the elements of what Moviebuffgirl shared, it’s basically the principles of characterization: name, age, appearance, role, personality traits, motivations, and even style of speech. All these are laid out in the canon – or original work – which an aspiring fan fiction writer should watch out for.

Of course, faithfulness to the original should be balanced by originality since everyone in a fandom knows the story by heart. In Shedding Light on Fan Fiction, Moviebuffgirl says that her main tool is to use original characters or OCs, which she says is a gamble because they’re generally disliked by readers. She explained, “I know most people don’t like OCs in fan fiction, because of the author’s tendency to make them into Mary Sues (imagine a perfect character whom everyone loves and can do no wrong), which is why I do my best to make them as realistic as possible.”Additionally, she says that she thinks of new challenges or events for the characters. When I went to Ingenious Macabre’s answer, she offered a different way for me to look at the genre and the writers:

I think anything written from the perspective of a fan is most likely very different from the source origin already. Fans are crazy (including myself), and we tend to get a little imaginative. But as for originality, the real trick is to separate oneself from the rest of the other fanfic writers out there, who were privy to the same source material.

She refers to little headcanons or each fan’s personal interpretations of how the original is like and should proceed. It reminded me of the time I read one of the Star Wars novels, which was written by someone who’s not George Lucas. I could tell the difference, even if the characters, dialogue, and settings were the same, but again, I wouldn’t have read that book if it was just a text version of the story.

The third element – the element of letting loose or having fun – is my synthesis of certain parts of their answers. Ingenious Macabre goes directly to the point: “Have fun. You’re not writing if you’re not having fun. Live through your fiction, and your readers will be able to tell that you’re enjoying it. They’ll enjoy it, too.” The other part of it came from their answers when I asked about their inspirations. Moviebuffgirl’s answer implies that she welcomes elements from other creative works. She gave an example story, “Stark Contrast,” which she said was inspired by a part of Nickelback’s “Far Away”: “Cause with you, I’d withstand all of hell to hold your hand.” Moviebuffgirl then added that “after hearing the song, I had most of the plot in my head.” If that’s not fun, I don’t know what is!

After reflecting on the interview notes, it sounds to me that writing fan fiction is not as hard as it seems. Keeping up with the original could be done by observation; adding a piece of originality can come from different sources like original characters, headcanons, and even the writers’ personalities; of course, there’s letting loose, having fun, and welcoming inspiration. Hopefully, this three-part discussion about fan fiction can inspire you to write your own, and if so, feel free to share your fan fiction in the comments section!


About My Sources

Moviebuffgirl

is a 23-year old movie fanatic who has spent most of her life in front of the typewriter (and now, the computer) churning out stories by the dozen. She likes nothing better than watching a good movie, listening to music, and playing with her dogs. Now, her attention is spent on creating interesting fan fiction and improving her writing craft, writing stories based on Charmed, Underworld, Twilight, Phantom of the Opera, 300, Dawn of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Resident Evil series, Walking Dead, Tudors, Left 4 Dead, Thor, Avengers, and Borgias. To check out Moviebuff girl’s stories out, click this link.

Ingenious Macabre

says that she doesn’t write as many fan fics as much as she reads them. She’s not afraid to share the love by victimizing others with her incessant fangirling. She currently has two stories for based on the fandoms for Pitch Perfect, and she is part of the Sherlock (BBC), Doctor Who, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Suits, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, and Cover Affairs fandoms. You could read Ingenious Macabre’s stories by clicking on this link.

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