I honestly love fanfiction and I’m not saying this because I write it.
I think there is a lot that you can learn from writing and reading fanfiction. I know that since I started reading it, I’ve actually gotten a lot better with my grammar and with my vocabulary. And there is other things that you could learn.
Fanfiction can teach you:
1. Character Consistency
When you’re writing your own story it is kind of easy to simply just make the character fit the situation however you want. But with fanfiction you have several examples from canon that reveal how exactly a character and how they react in certain situations. The best part you have people to call you out if your character is too OOC (out of character).
2. Story Consistency
I know for a fact that as a pantser, sometimes stories can just take wild routes that are fun but add nothing to the story and actually take away from the plot. That is something that fanfiction solves though. That dark secret that you wrote about in chapter 4 yeah well buddy it’s chapter 37 and xXEmoNemo456Xx is wondering about what the hell that secret is.
3. What your target audience is a fan of
Since I’m an aspiring author and I want to write YA/NA material, it is super important to know how exactly to market it (especially if you want to self publish, which means you need to market the story yourself). You need to know what exactly catches the eye of potential readers and fanfiction is a good way to do this. Just by looking at the most common tags and the most popular fanfictions you can see common elements that fans adore and character tropes that they enjoy.
I know that every YA/NA reader is just in love with the Enemies to Friends to Lovers trope. I personally can never write something that is a Slow Burn like that, but you know it’s what people like which is always something to consider.
Okay, don’t pull an Ann Rice here guys. What I mean by this is don’t just stalk popular fanfiction for ideas to use in your next novel. While yeah the characters that they are playing with may not be their own, the plot is and THAT IS STILL PLAGIARISM. But like I said, the tags and such can give you ideas about concepts and such that you have never considered before. You can explore the tag to get a better understanding of the expectations of the trope but that is it! Don’t steal people’s ideas.
5. Fanfiction opens you up to a community!
Yeah every community has it’s wackos and extremists! But overall fandoms are great places to engage with people who enjoy the same stuff as you. And you’l be surprised at the creative, dedicated, loving people that you meet there.