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:
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