There’s more to writing fan fiction than Fifty Shades of Grey.
As soon as I finished Mass Effect 3 and all of its DLC, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of denial. I couldn’t accept the fact that Shepard’s story has come to an end. I spent quite some time speculating on what surviving characters in my canon would be up to if the game continued. It progressed to telling my friends and discussing the ideas we had until our brains couldn’t handle any more plot points. It ended up being on several pages of Microsoft Word and it seemed like there was only one logical thing to do: upload it to FanFiction.net. Other works based on video games followed after that as my hobby turned into a learning experience.
No, I didn’t become the sensei of writing smut stories nor sold an erotic best-seller based on something I wrote. All of my stories don’t even have gratuitous sex scenes. The intimacy in my stories are often teased and very subtle. I did become a better writer thanks to the Fan Fiction community. A lot of people in the outside world think that the community is mostly filled with people who want to see the most obscure pairing ever bump uglies. While that might be true, there are stories that exist that are completely devoid of romance. There are also folks who simply get excited by reading simple romance with so much cheese that a lactose intolerant person could die.
The best part about the community is that they know their stuff. These are people who are informed of almost every minute detail in a video game. This is particularly helpful with improving your consistency in fiction writing. I remember receiving feedback that I was using a different measuring metric for distance as opposed to what was actually used in the Mass Effect series. It might be a trivial detail for some, but if inconsistencies like this stack up they make a difference. I also wanted to portray different races properly so keen fans were a big help in addition to checking the game’s wiki. My goal was to create new stories that was still within the universe and characterizations featured in the game.
A lot of people see fan fiction as a way for fans to do whatever they want with characters. On the other hand, I use fan fiction communities for an entirely different purpose. As I’ve said, it’s a way for me to practice consistency and train myself to pay attention to keen detail. Readers would point out scenes I wrote they thought would go against a character’s previous statements and/or actions. They’ll back it up with sources too! It’s really amazing knowing what they know. While there are a lot of people who would write glowing reviews for anyone who would write fan fiction for their OTP regardless of quality, there are those that’ll take the time to provide substantial criticism.
Writing fan fiction for video games also taught me about sticking to deadlines and not letting other people down. Sometimes I still can’t believe how often I get e-mails from FanFiction.net with requests from users asking me to update my stories. Admittedly, it has been nearly a year since my last update so you might wonder if I learned anything at all. I’ve been in their position countless of times. A well-written fan fiction is like finding a needle in a haystack and it sucks when you’re cut off mid-story once you do find it. I realized that creators have a responsibility to the people who enjoy our work. It’s not just yours once you release it. It becomes theirs as well. You wanted feedback, now they want more material.
It’s also a good way to get over your nerves of letting folks see your work. I was always scared of putting my work out there because of the scathing criticism I might get even if I knew that was better than being stuck with mediocre material. I spent about 20 minutes debating on publishing the first chapter I’ve ever written for a fan fic. The funny thing is that a friend of mine IRL figured out that the story she was reading was written by me since my username was basically my favorite character’s name and she knew my writing style. Once you get it out there, you’ll get used to praise and criticism from all kinds of folk.