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Is fanfiction a waste of time?

I used to write fanfiction a LOT back in high school (including a novelized version of Ocarina of Time) but these days I don't get the itch to write it.
Sometimes I have a fanfiction idea that I can file off the 'serials' and make it an original work. which is fine, and works most of the time.
Other times, not so much, those times that particular story idea only works in that fanfiction setting (whatever world it is) and I'm not entirely sure when or if I should bother writing them.
 

Rexenm

Inkling
Fan Fiction can break your heart. I had one about Garland, from final fantasy. Hey can get huge. I read The Deathly Hallows, before release, and they - a Fan Fictio. How would you really understand a world, without hundreds and hundreds of examples, nothing like the true original, or mistakenly so.
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
No writing is a waste of time. You just have to be real with yourself about what skills you are and aren't practising. When you have a whole word and characters, with motivations and personalities, ready made for you, you don't get practise developing those things on your own from scratch. But you do get writing practise, developing a plot, moving characters through a plot, keeping characters consistent through a story, etc.

At the end of the day, legalities and publishing goals aside, all that matters is you write what you enjoy writing. If that's Fanfic, then knock yourself out. If it's something you create from scratch, then do that.
 
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Why do people do anything they enjoy? Why do people grow plants or climb rocks or whatever? If you enjoy something like writing fanfiction then why would you avoid doing it?

As for its appeal for readers of fanfiction places like Wattpad have a thriving scene for it.

In general though fanfiction has entered the mainstream for years and years. I’ve read books that are Shakespeare retellings, Jane Austen retellings etc. what separates them from Harry Potter or Legend of Zelda fanfic? Probably just copyright laws. I think there’s also a snobbery about fanfiction, like it’s not worthy of entering the ‘hall of esteemed literature’ or something.


I would say something along the lines of ‘just write what you enjoy’.
 

Fyri

Inkling
I used to write fanfiction a LOT back in high school (including a novelized version of Ocarina of Time) but these days I don't get the itch to write it.
Sometimes I have a fanfiction idea that I can file off the 'serials' and make it an original work. which is fine, and works most of the time.
Other times, not so much, those times that particular story idea only works in that fanfiction setting (whatever world it is) and I'm not entirely sure when or if I should bother writing them.
No. All writing is useful. Fanfiction can be a great place to experiment. It is also a release and a place to stave off writer's block if you don't let the fanfic become like a job. All writers are thieves and fanfic can also be a place where you can steal from yourself later, as I think you indicated you do.

In the end, writing shouldn't be only about products and money. Fiction in general is first and foremost an art. If you are inspiring yourself and enjoying the process, than it is worth it. If you are giving others something to enjoy, then it's worth it. If people are finding you through fanfictions that don't work anywhere else, then it is worth it.

Life is full of enough pain and suffering. Art is meant to save us. It is only a waste of time if you aren't benefiting at all from it. If you're not inspired to write something anymore, and your future doesn't depend on it, you don't have to follow a hobby you're not into at the moment. One day, your itch for writing it may return. Don't force yourself to do something you don't enjoy anymore, it will usually backfire.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
There is nothing wrong with writing fanfic. It's where many, many young writers turn to cut their teeth. Some stay there, and that's fine. A lot will move up the ladder and graduate to writing in their own worlds. There is a lot to be learned from writing fanfic. And~ I know a few writers who've gone on to be successful authors who still write and post fanfic fairly regularly. You do whatever is going to make you a better writer. Everyone comes at this a different way. Only you can discover the path that's right for you.
 

Mad Swede

Auror
There's nothing wrong with writing fanfic, many writers start like that. One example would be Harry Turtledove, who originally wrote what became the Videssos Cycle as a Lord of the Rings fanfic. Then he want to university, studied Byzantine history, and then re-wrote what had been a fanfic to be something quite different and a lot more original.
 

Fyri

Inkling
Side Note: I am so hopeful that people will write fanfictions about my story and characters. I think it can be a beautiful way for authors to get to know their readers and continue to have fun seeing their world or characters outside of canon. Even if it is awful, readers know it is fanfic and it is great to laugh at yourself sometimes (I'm talking about when reading a fanfic about your characters that completely butchers the characters, but this is true in other ways too)!

Plus, being in the fanfic community can help you network with other writers and readers. Wherever you can build an audience, you have gained some marketing opportunities. ;)
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Side Note: I am so hopeful that people will write fanfictions about my story and characters. I think it can be a beautiful way for authors to get to know their readers and continue to have fun seeing their world or characters outside of canon. Even if it is awful, readers know it is fanfic and it is great to laugh at yourself sometimes (I'm talking about when reading a fanfic about your characters that completely butchers the characters, but this is true in other ways too)!

Plus, being in the fanfic community can help you network with other writers and readers. Wherever you can build an audience, you have gained some marketing opportunities. ;)
It can, but I'm going to add a caveat to proceed with caution. Most authors don't read fanfic about their work because it's far, far too easy for aspects of them to appear in the canon. There's a lot of concern about the legality of it and how copywrite would work. And this super sucks because we all really want to read it. We love and appreciate the writers who are so involved in the worlds we create that they want to play in our sandboxes, too. We support our fanfic writers and encourage them to keep at it. But we can't read it and that's just a shame.

Fan art, on the other hand... We can look at that all day long. ;)
 
Good for practice, bad for sales.
I'm not sure my fanfiction would be good enough for sale anyway.
Heck, I'm not super confident my original stories will be good for sales. (course I'll only find out once I craft something worth publishing)
Fan art, on the other hand... We can look at that all day long. ;)
I'd be cautious of fanart, too honestly. Especially if your fanbase develops the more 'unhinged' shippers. (depends on how wholesome your fanbase is overall I guess) I've had several first impressions of characters 'ruined' for me through 'art' of them. The actual character turned out better than I pictured when I met them in game, but fanart can be quite goofy sometimes.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I'm not sure my fanfiction would be good enough for sale anyway.
Heck, I'm not super confident my original stories will be good for sales. (course I'll only find out once I craft something worth publishing)

I'd be cautious of fanart, too honestly. Especially if your fanbase develops the more 'unhinged' shippers. (depends on how wholesome your fanbase is overall I guess) I've had several first impressions of characters 'ruined' for me through 'art' of them. The actual character turned out better than I pictured when I met them in game, but fanart can be quite goofy sometimes.
Very true. And our readers are all perverts. Every single one. Rabid, fanatical perverts, and we love every one of them, because we are, too. It's a match made in Hell. lol
 
Very true. And our readers are all perverts. Every single one. Rabid, fanatical perverts, and we love every one of them, because we are, too. It's a match made in Hell. lol
Honestly the best thing to do if I ever do have those kinds of fans would be to have the characters themselves call out the fanbase doing that shit.

It's pretty funny when done right (especially if you somewhat lean into the joke), and can be a way to engage in a civil discussion with the audience. But when done poorly it can feel like a personal attack. The writers of Helluva Boss did this during one of their scenes, and that scene is hilariously on point, but it also wasn't insulting the people they were calling out. It was basically the writers going 'we know what the internet is like' lol

I think the best kind of artists are the ones that make that sort of stuff, while still keeping the character in question in character, if that makes sense?
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
It does make sense. And the best way to make this tactic work with your readers is to include yourself in the group of perverts. lol You want to make the 'we're all in this together' vibe a thing, and they'll not only love the community feel, they'll love the joke. I know because our readers still think I'm funny.
 

Fyri

Inkling
Oh yes. I think you have to be prepared for the worst if you engage in looking at fanmade stuff of anything. Rule 34 and all that.
I think of all the weird stuff the HP community has come up with over the years. XD

It can, but I'm going to add a caveat to proceed with caution. Most authors don't read fanfic about their work because it's far, far too easy for aspects of them to appear in the canon. There's a lot of concern about the legality of it and how copywrite would work. And this super sucks because we all really want to read it.

I'm a little confused, though, about the legality comment here. Meaning the authors are worried that it wouldn't be legal for them if they wrote something in canon that happened to also appear in an earlier fanfic? I haven't heard of this concern yet!
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Oh yes. I think you have to be prepared for the worst if you engage in looking at fanmade stuff of anything. Rule 34 and all that
I think of all the weird stuff the HP community has come up with over the years. XD



I'm a little confused, though, about the legality comment here. Meaning the authors are worried that it wouldn't be legal for them if they wrote something in canon that happened to also appear in an earlier fanfic? I haven't heard of this concern yet!
Meaning that it's possible that story features can be ripped off from fanfics, and that can result in being sued. You can't copywrite ideas, but you can copywrite the details.
 
It does make sense. And the best way to make this tactic work with your readers is to include yourself in the group of perverts. lol You want to make the 'we're all in this together' vibe a thing, and they'll not only love the community feel, they'll love the joke. I know because our readers still think I'm funny.
Ye, I know I'll be taking this approach if one of my stories ever gets that big of a fandom. If it ever gets so bad that I can't address the topic via self aware humor, I'd probably make some kind of author video about it. but until then I'm just going to be like 'you know what, let's roll with it' and just not worry about it cause all fandoms have that issue, especially sonic. for some weird reason. And don't get me started about minecraft monster school.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
I don't think I would be upset with fan fiction, but I am not sure I would feed it either. Kind of seems a foray for a younger crowd to me. But, it would be nice to know you had permeated enough of the culture to get people writing ships and stuff.
 
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