Today I’m going to tell you several stories about how a lot of my own original stories first started out as fan fictions, along with how me and my best friend ended up deciding on combining our story universes together into one huge series after we were on a fan fiction writing splurge together.
First of all I want to address the fact that it seems like a lot of fan fiction writers get a lot of flack and are generally looked down upon. Why is that? Well, it’s because a lot of fan fiction is just seen as self-indulgent garbage that’s not written well and is generally just a terrible idea. Well, that’s because the majority of fan fiction is like that, at least what most people have seen. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good fan fiction, and in fact I’ve read a lot of it myself that’s really great. You just have to know what you’re doing when writing fan fiction, because it’s a completely different style of writing all on its own.
A lot of writers look down on fan fiction writers because “you should be doing your own original content” or because you’re not being original enough and therefore you’re not creative enough. That’s really not very fair. Different people get inspired in different ways, and if you’re writing a fan fiction that’s just showing a particular source of inspiration. In my case, I never really wrote fan fictions so much as got story ideas from things that were so close to the original thing you could almost consider them as being fan fictions to some extent.
When I watched/read Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time, I got the idea for my fantasy story with magic and demons and stuff in it. The scenarios and premise were rather similar to the original inspiration, and even the characters to some extent, but as I worked on it more and more, it’s been molded into something entirely new, with wholly unique characters, and there’s next to nothing left of what it used to look like or any trace that it might have been inspired by Howl’s Moving Castle other than a few base elements. The same thing happened with my vampire stories and Hellsing, and my newer fantasy story and Undertale.
What I want to say about these is, though, that some people might initially think, “Well, this sounds too much like this thing that you were inspired by, so clearly it’s just a terrible rip off, or a terrible fan fiction and you should just not.” They just criticize it for being similar to something else, even when you’re still working on it. But like I said, the longer I worked on these things, the more they transformed into their own, unique identity. So it’s okay to make a story that started out as something resembling a fan fiction. As long as you give it space and allow it to change and grow, you may have something great on your hands.
Now I want to talk about how my splurging on fan fiction with my friend basically got us into writing our joint series. Both of us are huge fans of the show Lucifer, and we kept going on about how similar it was to her archangel stories (which she had come up with before the show had ever aired). At one point I was trying to encourage her to write again because she was in a creative slump, but instead of writing her original fiction, we just both ended up writing tons of fan fiction instead. Then I asked her for a particular fic which involved one of her own characters coming into the universe of the show. She wrote 14k words in about four days, which was an amazing record.
And as we continued to discuss these fan fictions and headcanons and all that, and at one point I had thrown out the idea of just inserting some of my own characters into the universe for fun, something happened. We also like to role play with our characters, as it’s fun and helps with character development. Through all the talk of doing these fan fictions, one of my characters got curious about one of her characters and they began interacting. And that never would have happened were it not for all the fan fiction planning.
Cut to four months later and we have a series blog with 24+ novel length stories planned out for it and so much more. So while this series does not and never has resembled a fan fiction of any kind, we still have fan fiction to thank for it happening the way that it did.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. So what if your inspiration just happens to be in the form of a fan fiction. Maybe it’ll just be a one off-thing that wouldn’t go anywhere and isn’t even particularly good, but it still makes you happy. Maybe it’s a big project that you want to work on until it becomes a great big story that turns into something more original. Or maybe you’re just writing fan fiction that will end up inspiring other work you already had planned, and then you can think of nothing else but that because you’re so excited about it.
Or maybe you’ll write something like Fifty Shades of Grey, in which case you’ll be shunned for all time to come.