1. Research the creators.
Some authors / creators do not want others to write about their worlds and characters. Before writing and publishing anything, research the author and fan fiction sites.
You may find that the creator(s) have guidelines for you to follow. If so, be sure to do so.
2. Research the world.
Watch the show, read the books, be sure to completely immerse yourself in the world. If you know the world, you’ll be able to write better. You want to be able to describe the setting, characters, etc. as if they were your very own. You need to know the rules of this world before you break it.
You can also read fan fiction about your world to see how others have viewed it.
3. Detailed notes.
Keep notes for the characters and settings you want to use. If your character has a catch phrase or certain mannerisms, you want to include that in your story. Guns have pink smoke? Your story should too. Make sure you know the names of people you might meet, places you’ll see, etc. Never assume something is the way you think it is. Research or ask others if what you’re planning to write is canon.
If you want to deviate, make sure you keep notes of that as well so you are consistent in your changes. Put these deviations in your disclaimer (see Step 10 below).
4. Free ecourse.
Subscribe and complete the free Fan Fiction 101 ecourse.
You don’t need to go into as much description on established characters and settings. Most readers of your fan fiction will be familiar with the world. This makes it easier on you and on them.
6. Start with an outline.
Outline your story. This will allow you to weave your own ideas into the world you are borrowing. If something doesn’t work, you can adjust more easily here than when you write it.
Write your story. If you’ve not written a story before, you’ll need to learn the basics of writing.
Don’t assume writing is the same as typing. Explore other ways to write. This might include speaking into a recorder and transcribe your story later or creating a comic strip.
Edit your story. Look for the holes yourself. Ask yourself if the characters really do what you have written or if things actually *can* happen the way you describe. If not, fix it.
You’ll also need to check for grammatical and spelling errors. If there are certain words you misspell, be sure to check for those. Even if your word processor has a spell check, be sure to do it yourself as well.
Sometimes your chosen world will be non-English. Make sure you stick to the same words / names to describe things. If you are writing about a Japanese anime, don’t switch between the Japanese and English names of things. It is confusing for your reader.
Find a beta reader to check your story before posting. A beta needs to know the universe and be able to edit your work. They are volunteers and will often communicate through email. Check the site you plan to post your work to for a listing of people willing to beta for you.
NOTE: Choose a beta that works the best for you. If you aren’t strong grammatically, be sure your beta reader is. If you’re worried about the consistent use of your chosen work, you can look for that as well.
11. Disclaimer, summary and rating.
Fan fiction is a derivative work. Always include a disclaimer stating who owns the original character and setting. You are only borrowing it, so you do not want to offend anyone.
With your disclaimer, be sure to add information about the story you are sending. This might be age-appropriateness, pairings of characters, spoiler alerts or summary of your story. Be sure to use the standard wording to make it easier to understand — like “crossover” and “fluff.” This gives readers a glimpse of what they are about to read. It also gives them the opportunity not to read it if they choose.
Pick the site you want to publish your work to and do so. This should probably be the same site your beta reader is on.
13. Your audience.
Be prepared to interact with your audience. Some people will love what you write. Some will hate it. The haters tend to be most vocal. You may want to go back and make adjustments to your story if you receive constructive feedback.
14. Share your work.
If you publish more than one work, explore ways to connect with your readers. You want to let them know when you’re releasing new stories. For example, create a site for your work. Include a listing of the fan fiction you’ve created and summaries of each piece to help your readers connect with you. You might also start a mailing list so you can let your readers know when you’re putting out a new piece.
15. Amazon — Kindle Worlds.
Amazon introduced “Kindle Worlds” the end of May 2013 to enable fan fiction writers to publish their stories and earn royalties. At the time of publishing, this is brand new, so be sure to research this carefully if you choose to try it.
Sites to Explore