fan fiction

writing fan fiction

Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan fic, fanfic, fic or ff) is fictional writing written in an amateur capacity as fans, unauthorized by, but based on an existing work of fiction. The author uses copyrighted characters, settings, or other intellectual properties from the original creator(s) as a basis for their writing. Fan fiction ranges from a couple of sentences to an entire novel, and fans can both keep the creator’s characters and settings and/or add their own.


I was raised in a family of academics and married an academic. Copyright and intellectual property are terms I’m pretty familiar with. You just don’t pass someone else’s work off as your own.

I hadn’t heard the term “fan fiction” until my kids were in their early teens—I won’t embarrass them by disclosing what “fan fic” they were into.

Since then, we’ve come across it in a number of places, and while I haven’t read most of the online stuff that borders on weird obsession in my humble opinion, a few pieces I’ve come across are well written, some downright clever.

Of especial note is Rainbow Rowell’s series that started with Carry On—Harry Potter fans will (perhaps?) appreciate a new spin on their favorite characters. In a funny twist, Carry On is the novel that one of Rowell’s characters is writing in an earlier book, Fangirl.

(Almost as meta as the “meta puzzle” I got for Christmas, the picture on which depicts the hands of a woman doing a jigsaw puzzle.)

know the story

I recently picked up a book entitled Pride/Prejudice—I’m a huge fan of Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, so I thought, what the heck—I need some light reading.

Well, I’ll won’t provide too many spoilers, but it being Pride Month, let’s just say it starts with Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy in bed together. (Did anyone else ever wonder, what is Darcy’s interest in Bingley, anyway? Well if you don’t know, the author seems to be saying, now you know.)

The book has me thinking about how well we must know a novel to understand the subsequent fan fiction. I’m quite sure that if I didn’t know Austen’s original work backwards and forwards, I might enjoy the fanfic, but a lot (and I mean a lot) of the references would go over my head.

It explains why “fandoms” are like very exclusive clubs: it’s fun to hang out with other people who know a work so well that they can rewrite it more or less in code. The outsiders may enjoy the new work—and it won’t give them the same pleasure as it does for the fandom.

know your story

What does fan fiction have to do with health coaching?

Whether we’re talking about emotional eating or exercise habits or spiritual practices or career choices or relationships, my clients all come to me with a story—sometimes an entire novel—that they have “written” over the past few decades of their lives: we all have a narrative.

And when we’re unhealthy, that narrative is usually a lot more Brontë than Austen, a lot more Wuthering Heights than Emma.

In my Stewarding Emotional Eating program, one of the exercises is to write out your eating story: who are the main characters, how did they contribute to the plot line, what is that plot line up to this point, etc.

It’s not a pleasant exercise, and there can be a lot of tears and vulnerability in the subsequent coaching calls. Like I said, more Jane Eyre than Kitty or Lydia Bennet.

And it’s important to know your story—to know it inside out—in order to move on to the fun part of the exercise: writing the end of the plot line (well, at least the next few chapters) is like writing fan fiction!

write your fan fiction

If you don’t like the scene you’re in, if you’re unhappy, if you’re lonely, if you don’t feel that things are happening, change your scene. Paint a new backdrop.

~Leo Buscaglia

What I like about fan fiction is that it takes bits and pieces, characters and subplots, and refashions them into something new:  something familiar yet unfamiliar; something set in stone with something with potential for change.

And most of the (admittedly limited, wide-ranging in quality) fan fiction I’ve read adds an element of joy that many original stories lack—a sense of playfulness around a character or topic that was missing.

Many of my clients are women over 40 who feel that life has taken a turn downhill: they’re tired, unhealthy, overwhelmed, overweight—they’re stuck in Brontëville. (By the way, another fun piece of fan fiction is a film called Austenland, about a theme park/retreat venue where the heroine goes to live in a recreated Austen novel.)

These women don’t see the way forward: their eating habits, exercise routines, spiritual practices, careers, and relationships all feel set in stone.

Part of the work they do with me is, in a sense, to write their own fan fiction: take the bits and pieces of their lives, really examine them and understand them, then turn them inside out and upside down and give them a good shake. Some of the pieces are worth saving—altered or in their original condition—while others are rewritten entirely.

The result? A new life—happier, healthier, lighter, more mindful. One that they had agency over creating rather than one they unconsciously slipped into when they weren’t paying attention.

make the connection

If you’re ready to write your own fan fiction, start by signing up for a free YOURstory session (it’s like HIStory, but yours), and let’s see where we can take it!

[Photo by Samson Katt from Pexels]