All I Really Need to Know

I Learned From Fanfiction



They say you learn something new about writing from every piece of writing you do, no matter how good or bad it is.  I was in a reflective mood around New Year’s and decided to put this theory to the test, so I thought about each piece of fanfic I’ve written and published on this site, and I came up with this list.  The following are fifty-one lessons I’ve learned from the stories I’ve written.



Lesson #1, from Heartache:

I am capable of finishing a fanfic.


Lesson #2, from Where You Are:

Most stories are not meant to be trilogies.


Lesson #3, from Don’t Wanna Lose You Now:

An epilogue should not read like the cheesy blurb before the credits of a Lifetime Original Movie.


Lesson #4, from End of the Road:

Never borrow the plot of a story you admire and try to write it yourself.  You will fail.


Lesson #5, from One Last Wish:

When you take your title from a Lurlene McDaniel series, you know your story’s gonna be cheesy.


Lesson #6, from Silent Desperation:

Don’t write a story just because someone wants you to.  Also, opium hasn’t been used since early-twentieth century China. 


Lesson #7, from The One:

Mary Sues happen.


Lesson #8, from Miracle Child:

People put those disclaimers that say “I am not a Backstreet Boy, blah blah blah” for a reason:  If you write from the point of view of a Backstreet Boy or someone in his family, some people will actually think you are that Backstreet Boy or member of his family.


Lesson #9, from Fight for Survival:

Collaborating is fun!


Lesson #10, from One Night:

AJ stories never do as well as Nick or Brian stories.


Lesson #11, from Visions of the Past:

I always did love Scotland.


Lesson #12, from The Gift:

TV shows can be viable source of inspiration, even for Kevin fics!


Lesson #13, from Believe in Miracles:

There’s no point in writing the same story twice, unless you’re rewriting.


Lesson #14, from The Terror Chronicles:

The phrase “You’ll always be my baby” does not apply to fiction.  A story that starts out your baby may turn into the red-headed stepchild you’re embarrassed to take out in public.  Also, suspense-comedy really is a genre.


Lesson #15, from Three Words:

I guess she really did have depression.


Lesson #16, from Through Thick and Thin:

Writing blatantly teeny fics can be as much of a guilty pleasure as watching soaps.  Especially if you pack more drama into them than the soaps themselves!


Lesson #17, from Cry of Despair:

It’s all fine and good until you bring in Justin Timberlake.


Lesson #18, from Everyone:

Suicide is not the answer.  Neither is writing lots of short stories about suicide.


Lesson #19, from Fight for Survival II:

Collaborating sucks!


Lesson #20, from Home for Christmas:

It’s not a holiday tradition if it only happens once.


Lesson #21, from Star Cross’d:

Some sequels should never have been written.


Lesson #22, from When Tomorrow Never Comes:

When you title a story, make sure your title makes sense.


Lesson #23, from Time:

Nursing homes are more appealing when the Backstreet Boys are there.


Lesson #24, from Shattered Lives:

The “it was all a dream” cliché is like smoking pot or shoving small objects up your nose.  Everyone tries it once.


Lesson #25, from The Other Child:

Never start a story from an idea emailed to you by a reader.  You will hate it.


Lesson #26, from Thank You:

Is it really a Bsb fic if the Backstreet Boys are only in it in poster form?


Lesson #27, from In Dreams:

When you hate the name you co-writer gives to the main character of your story, you should know your collaboration is destined to fail.


Lesson #28, from Beside the Ocean:

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones.


Lesson #29, from Blood Red Moon:

Even if you find really good Bible quotes to put with them, some ideas are just bad.


Lesson #30, from Seduction of Evil:

Who knew how inspiring R.L. Stine could be?


Lesson #31, from Just Hold Me:

Music videos, like TV shows, can also be viable source of inspiration.


Lesson #32, from Years of Grace:

If at first you don’t succeed (or if your first, unfinished attempt at fanfic dies in a computer crash), try again.  The second try will probably be better anyway.


Lesson #33, from Backstreet Boys in The Shining:

Everyone loves a good humor story written in script form.


Lesson #34, from Identical:

It’s not copying if you got the idea from the TV guide synopsis and never actually watched the movie.


Lesson #35, from Sweet Vengeance:

Some lessons need to be re-taught before they can really be learned.  Lesson #21, for instance.


Lesson #36, from Code Blue:

It is possible to collaborate with large groups of people, as long as you’re okay with waiting several years between chapters.


Lesson #37, from You’ll Never Walk Alone:

Go figure, my teachers were right all along:  outlines really can help you organize your ideas before you go to write them.


Lesson #38, from The Little Velvet Box:

I tell ya, those Chicken Soup books… they’re inspiring!


Lesson #39, from The Backstreet Boys Read “A Dark Secret”:

The whole MST thing?  Better left to the Mystery Science Theater people.


Lesson #40, from Not Another Teenybopper Fanfic:

As long as you think you’re funny, who cares what anyone else thinks?


Lesson #41, from Now or Never:

Remember Lesson #37?  A little planning goes a long way.


Lesson #42, from Broken:

“Write what you know” doesn’t apply if you’re willing to research what you don’t know and want to write.


Lesson #43, from By My Side:

… but then, some sequels were meant to be written after all!


Lesson #44, from Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Brian:

“The parody is the last refuge of a frustrated writer.”  ~ Ernest Hemingway


Lesson #45, from 00Carter:

Seven heads are better than one!  Unless, of course, you’re referring to Satan.


Lesson #46, from Footprints:

Never let go.


Lesson #47, from Genesis 2014:

Writing challenges are a safe way to step outside your comfort zone.  Way, way outside that comfort zone.


Lesson #48, from The World Will Know Your Name:

A great song can make a great songfic.


Lesson #49, from Watch Me As I Bleed:

The gorier, the better.


Lesson #50, from Secrets of the Heart:

If you have an unrealistic premise, better inject the rest of the story with as much realism as possible.


Lesson #51, from Song for the Undead:

Song lyrics in stories can be cheesy… unless they’re from Thriller.  Thriller:  always epic, never cheesy.



Ó 2008 by Julie



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