Have you ever thought about writing a novel? B…

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? Being a fan of your dan x amy fanfiction I would buy it in a heartbeat!

It has crossed my mind, from time to time, though more so in the last year or so. The amazon self-publishing set-up removes a lot of the gatekeeping (there’s so much of that in theatre, it’s exhausting, and I say that having managed to spark interest from a few literary departments).

Not only that, but through a bizarre set of circumstances involving my dry-cleaner, I even have a ready-made pseudonym. And there is a story idea that’s been bubbling away in the back of my mind for some time now.

But at the same time…

Real fiction is a very different beast to fan fiction. In fan fiction, because you are effectively piggy-backing off a well-known work, a lot of the most difficult challengers are already dealt with.

As in, I don’t have to convince my readers to invest in Dan and Amy getting together, because you already are, independent of anything I’ve done. I don’t have to…entice you to keep reading in anything like the same way, because the whole reason you come looking for fan fiction is to…scratch a pre-existing itch. With an original story I need to entirely create the appetite to continue to reading. And creating brand new characters is a different skill from playing with pre-existing ones. (Though, saying that, a lot of fanfiction suffers from characters who are at best only somewhat in character – I don’t doubt I’ve fallen into that trap myself from time to time).

And, needless to say, people may simply not be willing to PAY for fiction when they can get fanfiction for free.

None of which is to say I think fanfiction is a form entirely devoid of literary merit – I’ve read fanfiction that was extremely creative, and which engaged with the ideas of a particular work in complicated ways. (I’ve also read a lot of crap – but I’ve also seen a lot of bad plays and read a lot of bad novels, so…)

One thing I think fanfiction CAN be very good at teaching writers is how to utilise dramatic irony. To give an example from my own work, in Too Wise to Woo Peaceably I was able to use the actual storyline from season 6 – where Amy winds up pregnant – to build tension. As in, my readers knew it was coming long before the characters did, and were waiting for that particular ‘bomb’ to go off through the second half of the story.