Why I don’t write fanfiction

The very first story I ever wrote was a Negima fanfic. I wrote it during an x-mas break many years ago, back when I still got holiday breaks, and by the time I stopped I had about 80 pages of unedited drivel, after which I scrapped the whole project and decided to write original material instead. I’ve never written another piece of fanfiction since. Here’s why.

If you’re writing fanfiction, there’s a good chance you’ll get at least a few readers from those who liked the source material. This makes the downside of fanfiction less severe.

If you’re writing original fiction, there’s a pretty good chance no one will read your work at all. The downside of original fiction is very severe.

But if you’re writing fanfiction, there’s a limit to how many readers you can get. You could consider the total number of fans of the source material to be your hard limit, though in truth your readers will only come from those fans of the source material who read fanfiction. The upside to fanfiction is much lower.

But for original fiction? The sky is the limit, and if you’re good enough, you could leave the atmosphere behind. The upside of original fiction is immense.

I have no problem with fanfiction. I’ve read it on occasion, and I hold a few especially well-written fanfics in high esteem. If I’m going to do something though, I’m going all the way. I may not reach the sky, much less become the kind of literary powerhouse who becomes a household name, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

To each their own. I like that there’s fanfiction, for those times when I finish the original and need more. I would just rather write stories that inspire fanfiction personally. That’s a challenge I relish.

5 thoughts on “Why I don’t write fanfiction

  1. totally agree.
    no problems with fanfiction. BTW, it’s a great method to start with in terms of writing.
    I think we’re doing it all the time. come on, never cross your mind about an anime/movie/book – “I would do this or this..I would continue..here is missing something”. that’s sort of fanficition. sure, most of the time you don’t go and write it. but we do it, even if it’s “lightly”.
    and as you’ve said there are limitation. not only in terms of readers, but also in terms of story (like the world and so. but let’s not get much into it, it’s not the point).

    If you ask me, most of the times, I think it’s better to write a short original story with your own touch rather than a fanfiction. yeah, even a fanfiction can be with your own touch. but it’s not completely. especially since your readers (of the fanfiction) are familiar with the original. a comparison is almost inevitable. you can’t run away from the influence of the original story that FF is based on. and most likely there will be refrences and so.
    that’s why I think a short original is better, it force you to think harder.
    but fanfiction aren’t bad or something. as a “once in a while” dash toward the world of FF has also some benefits.

    • Speaking of one’s own touch, that brings up another reason I don’t write fanfiction anymore – I find it frustrating to write other people’s characters. On that first fanfic I found myself enjoying the original characters I created far more than the ones from the main story because I knew exactly how my original characters would act and I didn’t have to worry about them going out of character (in the same way) because I got to dictate what their character was. Compared to the source material characters, where I was always worried about having them do something they wouldn’t…

      Eh, I’d rather just skip that whole rigamaroll and create my own, especially when the potential upside is a lot greater.

      • well, there is always what to do and a way to play with that. you can create your own characters in the FF. and it applies to almost (!) every parameter if you want to negate as possible the effects of the mother-story, and having your own touch. it’s possible.
        but there are implications and still limitations to what you can do, you’re somehow chained to the mother-story, for better but also for worse (and there are quite lots of them). however small it is, overlap is inevitable, it’s there.
        sure, an original story is always more welcomed IMHO,
        yet as mentioned above, FF are nice, and we do it all time without even notice in our head. and sometimes, being “chained” to other’s world, rules, events, history, characters and so, can be challenging (even in a good way!). keep open mind with that (:

        • I like the idea of “chaining” yourself to fanfiction only as an occasional writing exercise. I’ve also found that when the entire base of a story is already plotted out, my imagination is also limited to, “Is that even possible?” as Stilts said earlier. With personal writing, this is less of a problem. Lastly, from a readers point of view, I really enjoy reading well written FFs because I get to see how the writer, another fan, perceives the characters from that series/show and how THEY see that world.

          -a young writer

          • It’s often a good idea to limit yourself, it’s true. When you can do anything, people do nothing, because the possibilities are too mind-boggling. You can do this without fanfiction, though. Decide upon a certain genre, a certain feel, certain characters, that a certain event must happen, and suddenly you’ve constrained yourself to the point you can be very creative within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself…and all without running into the lower downside of fanfiction. That’s my preference, personally.

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