We all have fictional characters and worlds we know and love, but what about reimagining them with different plots and genre-bending crossovers to create a whole new story? You might not know this, but one of the first genres to take off on Wattpad was fanfiction. And as a category that ignites inspiration and unbounded creativity, it’s popular for a reason.

What is fanfiction?

Fanfiction, also known as fanfic, sees fans borrowing stories or characters (and sometimes both!) from an existing novel, TV show, or movie, and using them to create an entirely new story.

While the origins of fanfic are, well, fictional, the genre has grown to include real-world people, like celebrities, being pulled from pop culture and written into stories. It’s one way for fans of these characters, worlds, and people to play out their stories and lives in different scenarios. It’s all about self-expression, and it’s about as close to roleplaying as you can get.

Here are 5 types of fanfiction to help you get started:

  • Canon fics: These types of stories keep as close to the original story and plot line as possible, while taking other liberties like telling the story from the perspective of a different character.
  • Crossover fics: Multiple existing worlds come together to create an entirely new story in crossover fics.
  • Original characters: In this form of fanfiction, the original setting and storyline are the same but a brand-new character is added in to provide a new point of view.
  • Alternate universe: These stories see existing characters moved into a new world or scenario.
  • Slash fiction: This is one of the most popular types of fanfiction, in which the writer mashes up two characters (sometimes from different worlds, but not always) together romantically.

Start small

While most works of fiction require long outlines, drafts, and rounds of editing, fanfiction is a little more loose—and that’s part of the appeal. Start with a small idea and don’t feel pressured to write too much. Maybe you want to see your favorite K-pop stars join a group of superheroes from a movie you love, and have an idea of how they discover their powers one afternoon. Your story doesn’t have to be an epic length. It can be a few sentences or a couple paragraphs (known in the fanfic world as drabbles or oneshots) to get your feet wet and give your readers a taste of this unique world you’ve built.

After by Anna Todd - fanfictionBut plan for the long run

We’re willing to bet that once you’ve written your short story, you’re going to want to keep it going. Inspiration will take hold and the scene will grow into something bigger. Take this moment to outline where you want your story to go, thinking about specific events to get your characters there. Consider making biographies of all of your characters, including things like hair and eye color, what their demeanor is like, who they’re friends with, and anything from their pasts that could be useful in the story. Knowing your characters well will help your piece of fanfiction flourish.

Make storytelling friends

Even the best storytellers have editors. Instead of isolating while you work on your story, make some friends in the storytelling world who can help edit and proofread your story as you write. They can also help you brainstorm, come up with new ideas, and see plot holes where you hadn’t. Being a helpful proofreader to other writers like yourself will also help improve your own work, and may even spark some new ideas. Need help connecting with other writers? Find them in the comments section of some of your favorite stories or explore resources from Wattpad Ambassadors in your preferred genre.

Remember: Stay safe by always using caution when connecting with people on the internet. Use our new Block feature to restrict anyone’s access to your profile.

Write what you know

It’s the most solid piece of advice spanning all genres and types of stories. While being familiar with the characters and settings in which your story takes place, it goes a bit deeper than that. Lean on your own life experiences—use subjects you studied in school, jobs you’ve had, relationships that have come and gone, and all of the feelings that go with it. Your readers will recognize and appreciate your authenticity.

Ready to get started? Check out this full guide on writing fanfiction.

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