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Can Writing Fanfiction Have Benefits?

While writing fanfiction can be time better spent on one’s own original creative endeavours, are there benefits? I’ve read fanfics that have elevated original works in interesting ways, showing a deep understanding for characterisation, narrative structure, and significantly, the pitfalls those original works might have fallen into. So, can writing fanfiction teach us to be critical and inventive in *what* we write, therefore benefiting how we construct our own original works? Or can its normalisation of appropriation do more harm than good? (Then again, what goes in a post-modern society?)

  • I get that you're referring more to "artistic benefits" than "financial benefits," but the author might find this helpful nonetheless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsTN5ZUnypQ – ProtoCanon 3 years ago
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  • When writing on this topic, it will be helpful to think about how writing fanfiction is a stepping stone to becoming a real author, if that's your goal. Although one does not have to create their own characters or setting, the story line is completely up to them and by having already existing characters, it helps the writing to narrow down exactly what the fanfiction will be about. – Mandymay123 3 years ago
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  • Like many things, FanFiction does have benefits, but when writing on this topic, make sure to emphasise how some negatives can impact the writer and how the writer can improve on them. For example, FanFiction writers generally forget to describe the character in detail - and if you plan to write your own work in the future, getting into the habit of skimming your writing isn't great. Make sure the reader is aware of the negatives and in turn knowing the negatives can be beneficial. – DylanThomas 3 years ago
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  • I think Fanfiction is a very helpful way to step into writing for those who don’t know where to start however, there are negatives: ie. using other people’s characters and settings can detriment creativity to an extent. – AshTrenwith 3 years ago
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  • This is a really interesting question and it actually falls in line with some research I'm currently doing so my PhD. I think to just tack on to what the previous people have commented, pros and cons are key. It can certainly help people develop their own skills, researching and developing characters, practicing structuring stories, experimenting with styles etc. I think it might be helpful also to think about how AUs allow fanfiction authors some real creative freedom to take previously existing characters into whole new worlds of their own. And note how many ideas that originated as fanfiction have gone on to be successful. Dare I say Fifty Shades of Grey? Its not a great example but its there. Plus, a number of published YA writers have started as fanfiction authors. (Cassandra Clare for instance has at least three successful series and a popular tv adaptation now). However, of course I think it's important to note its limitations. As someone already noted, in your own work you can't take the readership's existing knowledge of the characters or worlds for granted. The question of whether people get stuck into certain fanfiction tropes might also be interesting (how many coffee shop AUs are there?). Also, and I don't know if this would be too much of a sidetrack, but perhaps it may be worth thinking about the ethical issues with some fanfiction - real person fiction for instance can be a bit of an iffy thing. – BethLJones 3 years ago
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