Confessions of a Fanfiction Writer

Just Another Person

I have been writing fanfiction for thirteen years; sometimes I am very on top of my game, while the rest of the time I am glaring at my computer screen like it is the reason I am unable to think of anything. When I first started writing I did not even have a computer—I literally had a binder with a divider for every story I was writing at the time, which was a lot, and probably a dozen notebooks—and my ability to write was laughably terrible.

I confess, I knew nothing about grammar, my spelling was atrocious, and I am pretty sure my nine-year-old self had no idea what a plot was.

Nowadays, I like to think that I’ve gotten better.

That being said, with my thirteen years of experience I have decided to share the ‘behind the scenes’ of what happens as I write. These are my confessions as a fanfiction writer.

I am totally ashamed of myself.

Yes, sir, I am so deeply ashamed. I have never really boasted about the fact that I write fanfiction—only three of my friends ever know that I write such stories and only one of them has actually ever read my work (I do not even talk to the other two anymore). My siblings and parents think that I am just taking a really long time to write a book—probably because that’s what I told them and to this day will not let them read this ‘book.’ I never write around other people in case they read over my shoulder or from beside me and wonder why my ‘homework’ has spoken sentences and says Spock—which is always highlighted in red because my Microsoft Word refuses to acknowledge his name as correct spelling.

I am also the kind of person that writes smut or gore and immediately wonders what my readers must think of me—hence why only one of my friends has ever read my work. She is so innocent; my dark and twisted mind will taint her pure soul. I had to forewarn her poor mind that there were sex scenes and to skip certain chapters entirely if she wanted to save herself. I do not know why I was worried, she watches Game of Thrones.

I have even gone as far as to create new accounts because I felt weird having a story featuring sex scenes alongside my story from years prior that barely even had a swear word in it.

However, all of this being said, I can be totally ashamed when I write something and when I post it, but as soon as I start getting comments and reviews from my readers I am on top of the world.

I’m an evil writer that deliberately screws with my readers.

If someone catches onto what I’m planning and posts it in a review, just as a guess that it might happen, I will go out of my way to make them completely wrong. I was recently working on a relatively new soulmate-style fanfiction, having made one specific decision about a soulmate mark, and people started to guess it in their reviews and comments, so I erased what I had written for the next chapter and wrote a whole new one that would reveal the complete opposite of what they had been expecting.

I do this a lot.

However, I only ever do it when someone writes it in a review or comment that is visible to anyone. I do not want to delete the review, I feel like that is petty—because what I do totally isn’t, right?—so I just prove them wrong. Especially because they are not. I do not like that people will read the reviews to see if the story is worth it and end of reading something that gives away a suspenseful moment in the story. This is something I am definitely going to touch more on later!

If someone sends me a private message that says something about the story or asks a question about what I intend to do, not only do I never give a direct answer because you are going to wait just like everyone else, but I also tend to not answer them at all sometimes. That is not so much being evil as not really caring to give away something like that. Would you write a letter to a famous author asking how their series was going to end?

You want to know the ending, read the book!

Same goes for fanfiction stories.

I hate when reviews or comments summarize the chapter!

I loathe this entirely; not only because these comments can be seen by anyone, but they are also the most pointless thing in existence—at least to me. Why are you telling me exactly what happened in the chapter that I planned and I wrote? I know what happened; you do not need to tell me.

I have accounts on Wattpad, FF.Net, and Archive of Our Own, so I tend to get lots of reviews from different age groups and types of people—there is one story that I have on all three, but on Wattpad it has a very loyal follower. She will literally comment before she has even read the new chapter, just to express her excitement about an update, and then comment again after she has finished and basically just summarize the main things that happened in the chapter—the entire thing usually laden with spelling errors that make me twitch in discomfort.

You will never understand the mixture of emotions that comes with this. I am unbelievably flattered that someone is so addicted to my story, but at the same time overwhelmingly irritated that she feels the need to tell me what I wrote in her comment. Thank you for commenting, but perhaps without the useless summarizing.

I have flashbacks of every essay I’ve ever been assigned when the prof says "an introduction does not mean summarize the article you read," and now I know why. I went through four years of university and want to apologize to all of my professors for questioning them.

Most reviews and comments I get make me want to rant.

Oh, you have no idea.

I can not speak for every writer out there, and I cannot even say this always applies to me, but a lot of the emails I get with a new review are so disappointing that it makes me mad when I open them. Please, as a writer, I am begging any fanfiction readers out there; please stop reviewing with any of these.

The Dreaded Symbolism

The only thing worse is a smile. Just a smile.

Thank you for your approval.

Good review, total thumbs up.

And then there's this masterpiece:

Thank god they came in at chapter 11

What makes this even worse; chapter 13 was the last chapter of the story.

Do they assume we will not notice this?

Most of the time, I see in my email that I have a review or a comment on one of my stories and I get really excited, but then it is something like one of the above screenshots or it simply says "Please update!" and I have a very strong desire to reply with less than polite words. However, I have digressed and never did that to comments which are annoying but not offensive.

On the other hand, I have given my fair share of rants to people. When someone flames my story—which is fanfiction lingo for someone giving you an insulting review that cannot even pass as criticism—they usually do so as an anon so I cannot reply to them. That does not stop me. That is a challenge accepted. I have literally posted paragraphs at the end of my chapter updates ranting to them for their idiocy, because I just know they are going to read the next chapter. The hilarious thing is; they do, and they proceed to comment anonymously again. The bystanders love it, it is additional drama alongside the story.

I love when I can reply to people that complain.

It is a bit of a sick satisfaction to be able to fight back to people that do not have themselves listed as anon, and I do not hold a thing back. Especially if there is something in a comment that really rubs me the wrong way, or if I am in a particularly bad mood when I read said comment.

This is one example of me reading a comment and just losing it. I refuse to be polite with someone who didn’t feel the need to show that same respect, so I will be as rude as I want when it comes to a reply.

Round One.

The longer my answer, the more annoyed I usually am.

The only thing that makes it even more satisfying, is when they respond.

Round Two.

I am a terrible person when I want to be, and I have never once regretted doing this, either. I will never be the person to leave a bad comment on a story, but I have sent people private messages that might forewarn about spelling errors or something else that I feel should be brought to their attention.

When someone leaves a review that does not qualify as criticism and is a blatant, unhelpful insult, I will not just let it slide.

I usually have several chapters written before I even consider posting.

I have a personal rule that if I write five chapters in advance, then I will post a story. There have been many occasions when I will get a random whim to write and I will get through one or two chapters but never again find the motivation to continue. Those chapters are still floating around the space of my laptop, but I doubt they will ever go anywhere.

Unfortunately, this rule sometimes causes my stories to stop abruptly a few chapters in as well. When I first start writing a story, it is usually quite soon after I got the inspiration to write it—such as watching a movie or finishing a show and immediately having an idea. I go crazy for a few hours and write out those few chapters, even end up editing them, but the inspiration fades and I do not really update the story for a while after that—if ever. There is one story on my Fanfiction account that has five chapters and has been that way for a few months now. I hate myself for it.

Being a writer makes me incredibly picky.

I love reading fanfictions; looking up what stories have already been written after I finish a movie, show, or book is usually the first thing I do. However, being someone who writes and who tries to write to the best of my ability, it makes me into a bit of a brat. I cannot read stories that do not space their paragraphs, or that do not understand that one is supposed to start a new paragraph every time someone new begins to speak.

A true deal breaker is when there is a typo or blatant mistake in a summary. The summary is the first thing people see in regards to your story, so if I see a mistake I immediately move on. Do not even finish reading the summary, it is not worth it at that point. Small errors inside of a story are a different matter; these I can live with, since I do the same from time to time. But a summary is so small; I don’t understand how someone is unable to proofread that thing into oblivion.

I do nothing else.

I am a university student; I just graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and I am going into two more years for a Bachelor of Education. However, most of my free time is me sitting at my computer or with a notebook and writing out fanfictions. There was a Mythology class I had a year ago; the prof rambled so much that I could spent ¾ of the class just writing my stories—I still passed with an A in the end, because my essays were on point and I read everything that was required. I also had a full story on paper that I am still transferring to my computer.

There have been many nights when I will stay up until two in the morning either reading a story or writing one. My typing speed is better than my sister, and her job requires her to pass typing tests on a regular basis. That's how often I am on my laptop.

I can be sitting in a room full of friends or family, and unless being spoken to directly, I will be in my head playing out what I will write when I get back to my computer. I even narrate what I imagine so I know exactly what to type.

I cannot work without music.

I have become so reliant on music that when I hear Rise Against, I immediately think of my Walking Dead stories. When I hear Sia, I think of my Split stories. While trying to write, if I do not have music playing I struggle to concentrate. Things just flow better when a song to fit the scene is playing in the background.

This only happens with stories. When I am writing essays, I cannot have any sound playing because that distracts from my concentration. Whether it is a television or a radio, I have to turn it off.

The creativity of music feeds the creativity of my writing.

These were my confessions of a fanfiction writer.

I am a twenty-two year-old Canadian university student; in two years I’ll be a high-school art teacher if all goes well and I can get a job. I’ve been writing fanfiction since I was nine years old. I’ve been waiting for the day that I grow out of writing fanfiction, but that hasn’t happened yet. I get defensive easily and I’m a bit of a neurotic weirdo. But I love to write, so why stop now?

Amanda McNeill
Amanda McNeill

Amanda McNeill began her love of writing in the fanfiction community, honing her skill with the hopes of following her passions for writing in the future.

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Confessions of a Fanfiction Writer