Writing Techniques

The Writer’s Guide to Fan Fiction

How to Use Fan Fiction to Sharpen Your Writing Skills

I would classify myself as a fangirl.

(Image courtesy of TBS via

But for a long time, I refused to write fanfiction.

I used to think fanfiction was something only angsty teenagers wrote. I thought it was just a bunch of cheesy shipping and bad grammar. (Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ship. But I don’t love every ship. Not all ships are created equal.)

But one day, my friend asked me to read some of her fanfic. And it was really, really good. It piqued my interest.

So I looked up how to write fanfiction, and dove in.

Here’s what I learned along the way.

What is Fanfiction?

Fanfiction (or fanfic) is a story that uses characters or settings from other stories.

For example, some of the most popular fanfics are Harry Potter themed. Naruto (anime), Star Wars, Supernatural, and Twilight fanfics are also very popular.

Fanfiction can follow the rules of the original story, or it can happen in an alternate universe (AU).

Also, fanfiction can be any length, and in some cases, it doesn’t even need a plot.

Fandom Terms and Abbreviations

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what the different terms and phrases meant. So I compiled a list to get you started. Here’s some of the basic terms and phraseology that you might find in the world of fanfiction.

ShipA couple of characters you believe should be together in a romantic relationship
OTPOne true pairing (similar to a ship)
NOTPNo OTP, the two characters you never want to see together
MCMain character
OCOriginal character that you created
CrackA fanfic that is crazy/wacky/weird and meant to be funny
FluffFanfiction with cute and romantic content (i.e. cuddling), but no sex
Smut/LemonFanfic with explicit sexual content
DrabbleSuper short fanfic, usually under 500 words (the equivalent of flash fiction)
One-shotFanfic that is only one chapter (the equivalent of a short story)
CanonAny events that happened in the original story
Headcanon / FanonScenarios made up by fans that could easily fit in the original story (i.e. Tony Stark adopting Peter Parker)
AvatarWhen the author includes themselves as a character in the story

Of course, there are many more words and abbreviations that people use. If you want to learn more, here’s a list I found to be super helpful:

So Why Should I Write Fanfiction?

A lot of authors I know have told me that they have no interest in writing fanfiction.

However, they might be missing out on the perfect opportunity for writing practice.

Fanfiction is great for writing practice because:

  • You can use characters or worlds that are already developed
  • You can put your OCs in a different story world (like Hogwarts or Narnia) and see what happens
  • You don’t have to be tied into a long story
  • If you don’t like how a story ended, you can write your own ending

Think of it as a place to practice. No pressure. None of this is going in your story, and you don’t even have to publish it online (unless you want to).

Struggling with character development? Write about your favorite movie character, and practice walking around in their shoes.

Struggling with your story’s plot? Come up with a new ending for your favorite book.

In a recent WIP, I had a hard time writing a romantic relationship. The romance felt cheesy. So I looked up some fluff prompts online and wrote some fluffy fanfic, and it helped my writing skills a lot!

Posting Your Fanfiction

If you want, you can post your fanfiction online and ask for feedback.

Getting feedback from others can be a huge help as you improve your writing skills.

If your writing is good, you can build up a large following of fans. And some books, like Fifty Shades of Grey, started as fanfiction and evolved over time.

Some of the top websites to post fanfiction are:

  • (also known as AO3)
  • (for anything related to Asian entertainment, especially anime)

To Sum It Up

(Image courtesy of PBS on

Whether or not you’ve “done the fanfiction” before, fanfiction can be a great place to get some practice and hone your writing skills.

All you need is someone else’s story and your own imagination.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back with a new post on Sunday!

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7 replies on “The Writer’s Guide to Fan Fiction”

I had no idea there was so much to fanfiction! I’ve dabbled with it in the past, but not very seriously. You’re right though, it is an opportunity to develop your writing skills by using already established characters and worlds!

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for your comment! Yes, it was a bit of a shock to me when I realized it was a whole genre of its own. I hope this post was helpful to you and good luck with your writing! 😁


This is a great intro to fanfiction! I write original fiction atm but have written some fanfic in the past and plan to write fanfic again someday.

Liked by 1 person

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