Posted by Maria Vicente

Want to start writing fanfiction? I’m not going to tell you what to write about, but I will break it down into six simple steps. You’ll be creating stories that feature characters you love in no time at all.

Love it! You can’t write great fanfic unless you really love the source material. I’m not talking about a passive interest in a show. There are a lot of people who watch Supernatural on a weekly basis. Fanfic greats devour the show. You need to avoid making plans during its time slot. You need to spend hours upon hours daydreaming of the characters in various non-canon situations. You need to know what canon means. You’re on the right path once you’ve accepted your obsession. Now you can channel your knowledge of these characters into actual words.

Write it! Now that you unapologetically fangirl about Doctor Who (or any other TV show, movie, comic, etc.), you need to actually write your own story. I know, I know: this is easier said than done. Just remember that you love these characters and there’s a good chance that you know them even better than the actual writers. (Seriously—most shows go downhill after the first season.) Tell yourself that you can do better, because you secretly know that’s true, and start writing. Take a silly prompt and go for it.

Edit it! Once you finally get some words down on paper, it’s time to edit the nonsense. Not everything in that first draft needs to end up in the final one. Re-read your fanfic. Now re-read it again. Now find someone else to read it (hopefully someone from the same fandom). Make some changes. Add some new things. Consider cutting back on the sex scenes.

Label it! Labeling your fanfiction is super important. Readers want to know what they’re getting into. Labels will change from fandom to fandom, but some remain the same. Is your fan fiction rated G (I doubt it) or M (this is more likely)? Is it set in an alternate universe (AU)? Do you use original characters (OC)? Is your story slash fiction (if yes, please send me the link)? And please don’t forget to add any trigger warnings. If your fic deals with sensitive subjects, that should be a label too. Make it easy for potential readers to find your story once it’s online…

…Which brings us to:

Share it! Fanfic isn’t mean to be kept secret. Sure, you can use an alias when you post it online—just make sure that you post it! Find the best community for your fandom and share your awesome story. Then share another one. Like all writing, fanfiction gets better with practice. Take feedback into consideration and use it to make your next story even better. And enjoy all the squeeing that goes on in the comments. Writing fanfic is about being part of an online community. By not sharing your stories online, you’re missing out on half of the experience.

Continue it! It’s rare to come across fanfiction that doesn’t continue into a series. (These exist, but they’re extremely rare and truly in a class of their own.) What happens next to your beloved characters? You’ve probably thought about it, and your readers will be wondering too. Upload Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5… keep writing until you can’t write anymore. Then start a new fic. We’ll be waiting.