Fan fiction has a bad reputation on the Internet. It’s usually looked down upon as a pass-time of rabid fangirls living out their fantasies with or between their favorite characters. Poor spelling, poorer grammar, Mary Sues, and slash abound.
I’m not saying that fan fiction doesn’t have these elements because I’ve seen enough to know it exists. What I am saying is there is a lot more to fan fiction than just that.
I used to think that fan fiction was the last resort for people who couldn’t write. A cop-out for people who weren’t original enough, creative enough, or talented enough to be “real writers.” Ironically, no one had defined fan fiction or even explained it to me at that point, so I had only the vague image of teenagers with no lives mangling someone’s characters because they couldn’t make their own. What I didn’t realize was that I had been creating fan fiction ever since I could read. I just didn’t know that’s what I’d been doing.
How do you start writing your story? What creates that spark of interest that makes you commit your time and energy to a project? Every writer has their own peculiar modus operandi. Some free-write while others outline, some write chronologically while other start at the end and work their way backwards. The genus of an idea and how that idea is developed is also unique to each writer. However, I have noticed a general trend among my friends who write and authors who discuss their creative process. I speak in generalities and understand there are exceptions to every rule, but, in my experience, this trend creates two groups of writers: Plot Writers and Character Writers.
What is your favorite genre? What kind of story inspires you, intrigues you, appeals to you? Do you seek the spine-tingling screams of Horror? The alien worlds and high stakes of Science Fiction? The head-scratching maze of Mystery? The depth and realism of Historical Fiction? The pounding pulses and happy endings of Romance? (If you would like a full list of the main genres and sub-genres of fiction, I highly recommend reading “Writer’s Digest Sub-Genre Descriptions.”)
I think everyone has a favorite genre or kind of book or story that they seek out over the others. Some people like a wide variety of books while others are very particular about what they read and specialize in only a few types of books. Some even focus on only one kind. I don’t think one way is better than the other, although it is good to be at least exposed to other works and genres even if you don’t read them on a regular basis. My personal area of expertise is the wide-eyed wonder of Fantasy.