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Fanfic Your way to Completing your Novel

How to write a completely original novel while using all those skills you learnt writing fanfiction

I have often heard it said that one of the best ways to practice writing is to write fanfiction. Everything is already in place: You have a tried and proven setting, well-developed characters, a ton of backstory, and an inherent understanding of all the relevant factors.

The trouble is, this limits your creativity and while it develops your storytelling ability, it does very little for your worldbuilding.

Here, I believe, is the solution:

Give yourself a deadline to create your world:

In all likelihood, you suffer from world builder’s disease. Creating a deadline to complete your basic world-building will allow you to get to the writing that much sooner. In this part of the process, I recommend focusing on the basics - geography, politics, religion, magic system, vaseline fauna and flora.

At this point, it is not important to have a full idea or plot for your novel - in some ways, it is better not to - but you may have an idea of what some significant factors will be in your plot. If you o, spen a little time on these as well. All the details can be filled in later.

Create a few characters

These characters need not be related in any way shape or form. Choose places of potential conflict in your world and build a few characters to occupy these spaces. Give them a backstory, personality, likes and dislikes. Give them internal conflict and hope.

And then, just leave it be.

This is where the process deviates from your usual all-engrossing world-building. It’s time to move on. Don’t touch your world for a minimum of a month (I went all out and took a nine-month hiatus). Don’t read your articles, develop your characters or plot. In fact, move on to something else altogether.

This may also be a good opportunity to start on another project or revisit your old one. If this method ends up working for you, it is a super-efficient way of having multiple projects on the go.

Finally, it is time to come back and Fanfic your Novel.

After taking a break from your world and characters, you will be able to come back to a world that already has all the important elements in place. Most importantly, you will have just enough objectivity and unfamiliarity to rediscover your creation as you would the work of another world builder or writer. No longer enmeshed in the building process you will be able to see the full potential of the world and apply all the necessary touch-ups.

Hypothesise and Plot

Just like you would expound on any other work you draw inspiration from you are now free to hypothesise and speculate about what might happen in a world with these factors and to characters with these conflicts.

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Author's Notes

I encountered this entirely by accident when I took a nine-month writing break while I was travelling. I always struggle to move from the worldbuilding phase to the writing phase, and I was in complete surprise when I finally came back to write. Although this will not work for everyone, I personally have never made so much progress in both my writing and development and maturing of ideas. 

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