My name is Nicola and I completed NZIBS Creative Writing course in 2015. I enjoyed it so much, I came back the following year and completed the Writing Your First Novel course. My tutor would probably be disappointed to hear that I haven’t finished the novel I was writing in the course, but hopefully she will be happy to hear that instead, I’ve written twelve short stories, two novellas, two novels and I’m two chapters away from finishing a third since I received my diplomas.
The stories have received worldwide acclaim. The only downside is I’m not allowed to receive any money from these stories, otherwise, I’ll be sued for copyright infringement. This is because I write ‘fanfiction.’
Some background about fanfiction
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book and were so disappointed with the ending that you thought ‘I could write a better ending than that!’ Then you’ll be pleased to know that on the internet, there are groups of people worldwide who make up stories based on their favourite movies, TV programmes, books, video games, manga, etc and upload them for likewise fans to read. Fanfiction!
I was looking for a writing platform where I could get feedback from readers and further develop my skills. Google led me to this world, and I was dumbfounded by the range of different topics I could write for. I eventually settled on Harry Potter as I’d read the books, watched (nearly) all of the movies, and there are helpful pages on the internet about details like potions ingredients and the various types of dragons, etc.
Like any writer, I conducted due diligence to find out what readers like. The most popular genre in Harry Potter fanfiction is romance. Particularly Not Safe for Work (NSFW) romance. In fanfiction, you can make the characters older, which suits the target audience – women over twenty-five years of age.
Writing my stories
The first few stories I wrote were short; three chapters or less. These received some positive reader attention. But when I tried my first novella – a comedy where the senior students put on Romeo and Juliet for Hogwarts while the lead characters are having a Romeo and Juliet relationship of their own – I started to get some significant statistics: it received sixty-two thousand views, was tagged two hundred and ninety-three times as a favourite story by readers, and received one hundred and ten reviews. Including a gentle chiding from an English teacher who pointed out that I put a Hamlet character in a Romeo and Juliet play. Oops!
The key to becoming a popular writer, I discovered, is that readers prefer longer stories. Writers don’t write long stories out in full; we update chapter by chapter. This is a disciplined way of writing (for me!), and quite challenging when writing novellas and novels, because I need to keep the storyline and character development and placement consistent.
The most popular story I’ve written is a ‘Potterisation’ novel of the movie Dangerous Liaisons, or if you’re younger than forty years old, the movie Cruel Intentions. It has well over four hundred thousand views and over fifteen hundred reviews. Even though I finished writing it in 2017, it still gets approximately two hundred and fifty views a day. It also recently featured as a ‘Book Club’ in a fanfiction forum, where readers and I discussed the merits of the plot, how the characters developed, and so on.
The biggest blessing and curse of writing fanfiction is the feedback. Most of the feedback I get is really positive. Ninety percent is what readers think of the plot as it develops. This is a great compliment – these readers are hooked into the story and they’re impatient to find out what happens next! Occasionally I get readers who offer amazing insight into my writing style and techniques, and sometimes I get trolled. The site I use allows non-registered readers to leave feedback, and it’s usually them that have an axe to grind. Still, it’s character-building, if nothing else.
Where to from here?
There’s a famous writer who refuses to have his books ‘fanfictioned’ because he thinks it encourages bad writing habits. And it’s true; many stories are clearly written by smitten fans whose enthusiasm make up for a lack of writing ability. But within the Harry Potter fandom, there is a small group of magnificent writers. My aim is to be acknowledged as their equal.
I’ve amassed 1.30 million views across my stories, and I’ve placed well in competitions where I’ve either submitted my own work or created short stories from prompts. Nearly seven hundred registered readers have tagged me as a favourite writer, and around eight hundred registered readers get alerts when I publish new stories. I only write part-time due to other commitments, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in three years.
My tutor may be happy to hear that once I’ve finished ‘Harry Potter’ novel number three, I’m going back to writing my original novel with the self-confidence and improved skills I’ve gained from writing fanfiction!
Would you like to give fanfiction writing a try? Check out the website I use: www.fanfiction.net. My author name is NeverNik. You’re welcome to read my work, but bear in mind the stories are written for a particular audience and aren’t to everyone’s taste. And they’re very NSFW.