Today I’d like go over when it is important to transition away from fanfiction and into the realm of original fiction.
There is someone I know who loves fanfiction–we will call her T. T calls today and tells me she has this epic fanfiction going on, that she has thousands of comments and that it’s 1,000+ pages–and she is just done book one.
I asked her why this wasn’t cut up into series and she stated it was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction.
At that point, the woman could have written a series and started putting this to a developmental editor to try to revamp the fanfiction elements out of it. I have not read the story but in cases like this, any author should be trying to break out of fanfiction at that point.
That is what happened to me. I used to write fanfiction and role play stories for video games until I started writing 200 page stories. At that point several friends suggested to try writing original fiction and take out those elements.
It is hard to do, but it CAN be done.
Here are some ways to transition from fanfiction to original fiction.
1. Relearn how to write.
You do need to do this step simply because in fanfiction, there are a LOT of mistakes. There are typos, grammatical mistakes, poor paragraph structure (I’ve seen like 15 line paragraphs) and awkward sentences. The difference is since it’s not an novel, they don’t look for quality before putting it up on fanfiction.net or whatever personal website they use to host their stories.
2. Learn to world build.
This is so important. You can use real cities and landmarks or make up your own. However you need to be realistic in how you world build. There are many posts about this. I refer you to RJ Blain’s post about world building here.
This page has SEVERAL entries that are brilliant about world building. Please read them and refer to them when you draft or outlink your characters.
3. Make your own characters–your OWN.
Yes, you read that right. Make them unique, not part of a fanfiction world. I had so many characters I did that with but that were part of another universe. I had mad scientists, I had mages–I even had a Locust defect to a COG at one point from Gears of War (my nerd moment of the day).
But I found more sastification in my own characters. Aviere was a brilliant example. The first time she was created I knew two things: she was a cat anthro who loved racing. That was the basis of this character. I’ve done a lot of things since then.
To make her more realistic I have taken out the magic powers she had, I changed her spelling, changed a little bit of her fashion sense and made her mindset different. Originally she was a ditzy moron. When rereading and through betas, they didn’t like her but the male character. That wasn’t what I wanted and in the last draft I completely changed her mindset.
Instead of magic, she now has weapons in her skillset. Instead of being ditzy, she is cool and calculative. Lackidasial went to being on edge and cautious. There were other things that changed, but those are the main things.
It’s okay to have some different elements as long as you know what will work for your world. In mine, I know I can’t take a rip off of X-Men when the goverment has seized all technology after 2002 for their own. I can’t make miracle cures when making their own medicine is an illegal offense. You know, certain things like that.
4. Make your characters unique.
This ties in with three, but I needed this to be seperate. Look at some of your favorite characters, whether they are in movies, games, tv shows or books. Then try to write down what you like about that character other than how cool they look. Are they unique enough that they stand out from other characters?
You want to do that with your own as well. Make them memorable and make them that either people hate them or love them. In book one, every beta hates the same character and that makes me squee with glee. It’s a character I personally love because I know what happens to them later on.
When you get to that point, you know you are at least doing one thing right.
5. Learn to summarize.
For self publishing and for traditional, you need to summarize the back of your book. You need to send a synopsis of your novel, telling it in a few paragraphs what your book is about.
Learn to do this. Your editor will thank you 🙂 I promise.
6. Also learn to not take it personally when someone critiques your work.
Your book is not set in stone. I believe I’ve said this before. Please realize that at the end of the day, your book needs to be good enough to get in people’s hands. It needs to capture their interest.
If something needs to be changed, change it. If you don’t want to change it completely, talk to your editor about a compromise. But taking it personally is not a step that will lead to publication.
7. Practice writing.
You can’t get any better if you do not practice. It really is that simple. Even if it sounds horrible the day you wrote it, you can use that as an editing excerise later to see how to improve on your style.0