(Almost) Everything I Know About Writing I Learned from Fanfiction

I spent a fair amount of my youth writing dense, novel-length, & character-driven fanfiction (henceforth referred to as fanfic) until 1am on a school night. After all my homework was done, of course. My fandoms were primarily Sailor Moon and Harry Potter, the former being the one I really dove into. And it was, perhaps, the best crash course in writing money could’ve bought me.

So for the newbie writer, here’re a few of those hard-won lessons:

1. Write. Write a lot. Write fast. Write slow. But get it down and let it go.

2. If you think your first draft is the Shit instead of just shit, you need to keep writing.

3. Read. Read widely. Read short fic. Read long fic. Learn what you love and learn what you’d rather avoid. Learn the signs; learn the tags.

4. Write because you love it. Write because it’s fun. Write because you just gotta get this scene out otherwise you’ll explode. Worry about editing it later.

5. Write for yourself – not for money and not for anybody else. Except maybe that one very devoted reader/friend whose comments fill you with life. Then write for them.

6. Be a part of the community. Give back by reading and sharing the stories you love. Be exuberant. Be kind.

7. Write to music. Set a scene to a specific song and pace the emotional beats along with the music. Rewrite it a hundred times until it’s perfect, even though no one else will ever quite understand the work you put into it. But they’ll feel it.

8. Set a schedule and stick to it. One chapter a week or a month or a year – it doesn’t really matter so long as your readers know when to expect it. And a surprise story in December will make somebody’s month.

9. Nothing is too wild or crazy a concept or idea and everything has been done before. So just write it and see what happens.

10. Getting to know a character as well as a close friend is more satisfying than any number of explosions or knife fights. Those are fun too, but the quiet scenes are just as important. AU coffee shop fic is a thing for a reason.

And above all: HAVE FUN.

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K.A. Doore writes fantasy – mostly second world, mostly novels – with a touch of horror and a ton of adventure. Now she lives in Michigan with her one (1) small human and one (1) wife, but it's been a long road across the U.S. and back again to get here. Her debut The Perfect Assassin, is the first book in the Chronicles of Ghadid trilogy and will be published March 2019 by Tor.

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