On edging away from fanfiction to original works

I’m writing less and less fan fiction lately.

Obviously. I mean, I went from writing dozens of pieces of fan fiction a year (I went from writing 400k words a year to less than 70k) to less than twenty in 2015.

Something’s changed.

Part of it can be that fandom, the ones I write for at least, has changed. Many of the people who read the stuff I write aren’t there anymore because they’ve moved on to other fandoms or they’re just too busy. The new folks maybe aren’t interested in what I write or they don’t feel up to communicating as much, so if they’re there, I don’t know it.

Maybe it’s because my ships, tropes, or kinks aren’t super popular anymore and people just aren’t reading the type of content that I’m putting out so I’m putting out less content in response.

Either way, I’ve noticed that I don’t really even think about writing fan fiction lately outside of commissions and the rare burst of creativity.

I’m starting to wonder how much of that is because it’s across the board easier to get tell yourself to write what you want when you’re writing original stories.

I went to pick at this pre-series Alfred Pennyworth/Thomas Wayne/Martha Kane story I jotted a loose outline for back in September. It’s set in the sixties, a work of historical fiction with a triad relationship, love found and then lost. You know, my kind of thing.

But I’m looking at it and going “hm, maybe I could do this as original fiction instead”.

Because fandom is great and all (some of the time), but I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to rework AU ideas to original fiction rather than deal with the hassle of writing these stories out for fandom.

Most people aren’t going to read a story about Alfred falling in love with Thomas Wayne and then them both falling for Martha before Bruce is born. But there are definitely people who’d buy a book or story about the son of a butler falling in love with the heir to the estate and the young man’s fiancé falling in love with both of them. There’s a market for that and if I ever get off of my ass and write the story, it’ll probably do decently.

Because while fandom thrives on being this welcoming space where you can write what you want (my thoughts on that notwithstanding), that doesn’t mean that anyone’s going read what you write. It’s weird, but I’ve found that within fandom people tend to read what they like and stick with it. If they don’t trust a ship or know an author, they’re only going to dip their toe into the metaphorical fannish waters.

People don’t really read stuff that they don’t know in fandom. I know people who refuse to touch a story because their NoTP is in it. It could be top recced by all of their friends and full of cute scenarios but the presence of that ship’ll render it unreadable.

And honestly, most of my ships are definitely that for other people. When they’re not, they’re usually out in left field of random ships and people kind of write those off as crackships.

I get it. I don’t like it very much, but I get it.

Original fiction kind of erases that boundary because fandom and fan fiction can be kind of limiting because people have so much stuff that they won’t read that are directly tied to fandom. (I do this too, mind you. There are things I won’t read in fic, though not many things, that I’ll read in original fiction. Like cheating or major character death. It’s weird.)

I’m still picking at fic that I’m writing, but it’s far more likely for me to come up with original ideas these days or look at something I’m writing and decide that it would be better as original fiction. I don’t even get to the “filing off the serial numbers” part because in the planning stages my mind leaps to how I can get a novella out of it. Never mind that I am a hot mess when it comes to writing and sticking with anything because I already have like three fantastic novellas in progress that aren’t going ANYWHERE.

I’m actually a little bit unsure what my original train of thought was. I think it’s derailed by now. However, I’m looking forward to finding the time to write more. Maybe it won’t be a lot of fan fiction, although I’m grateful to the readers I’ve had for giving me my start and helping me evolve as a writer, but it’ll be something and that’s cool.

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About Zina

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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