How to Write Your First Fanfic
Want to try your hand at fanfiction, but don't want it to end up too cringey? Follow this step-by-step guide for writing your first fic.
1. Find Your Idea
Maybe you already have an idea in mind, but if you don't—that's okay! For your first fanfic, don't try to hard to stick to canon, just let yourself explore as a writer and a fan. Here are a couple questions to help spark your creativity.
What canon scene frustrated you or made you mad? How did you wish it had gone?
What canon moment changed everything for the characters? What would things be like if that hadn't happened?
Was there a moment they didn't show on-screen or on-page? How do you imagine it went?
Which canon scene do you wish you could have another character's perspective for? What do you think was going on in their head?
If there was a canon villain, do you think they were truly evil? How would they have told their story?
When in doubt, there are also a lot of go-to options to try, like...
Put characters in the modern/real world
Give an existing character a backstory
Write an epilogue to a finished canon
2. Make Character Sheets
Choose the characters you want to include in your story and make character note sheets for them. You can find them with a google search or try these sheets from My A-muse-ing Life. You'll want to note the basics you may already know (like their eye color, height, etc.) and the more creative stuff (like phrases they use and their favorite color). Having these details prepared will make the writing process a lot easier.
3. Make an Outline
You don't have to have a full outline ready to go, but just write down all the things you know you want in your story first. Then, put them in an order that makes sense. If you don't have a clear ending, come up with a plan for how you want it to end. Having the ending in mind before you start writing will help you avoid writing yourself into a corner that you can't get out of.
4. Make Realistic Goals
This is the point where you start writing. Don't pressure yourself to write everything in one sitting. Write a scene at a time and aim for a shorter story. It can be just a single page or a few chapters.
5. Show Don't Tell
"Show don't tell" is classic writing advice, and the idea is simple—describe things using your senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell). So instead of saying "it was cold", talk about seeing someone's breath in the air or shivering or hearing the howl of wind.
6. Get Dialogue Tags Right
If you've never written dialogue before, do some quick research on using dialogue tags (eg. "he said" or "they asked"). Jericho Writers has a great guide on their website that covers the basics.
7. Don't Start Posting Yet
You started writing and you're ready to share with the world, but our advice is simple—wait. Don't start posting until after you’ve written at least half of the story. Once you start posting, it's easy to let the competition for reads and comments distract you from actually completing your story. Make sure you're on track to complete your story before sharing it, or you risk losing your momentum.
8. Watch Your POVs and Tenses
It's easy to get your point of view (POV) mixed up when you first start writing, so pick one and stick you it. If you're writing in the character's mind (aka "first person"), stay in their mind. If you're writing in a narrator's perspective, make sure you're not suddenly switching from he/she/them to I/me.
You'll also want to pay attention to your tense. Present tense means the action is happening right now (eg. "I open the door."), whereas past tense means it has already happened (eg. "I opened the door.").
9. Don't Apologize For Your Writing!
If you're adding author notes or engaging with your fans, resist the urge to say things like "Sorry it's no good." If you want someone to read your work, don't talk them out of it by saying negative things about it. Let your story speak for itself. It may not be the best thing you ever write—it probably won't be—but that's okay! Fanfiction isn't supposed to be perfect, it's just supposed to be fun.
Have you written a new fanfic? Share it with us in the comments...