I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction. Admittedly, I was thirteen at the time, but it was a great learning experience. I’ve been interested in writing things since I was about seven (at least, that’s as far as I can remember) and my first story attempts were about Princess Flower and her unicorn she thought was called Rosie until it was discovered she had to figure out her real name (Buttercup) or she would die. Yeah, even at seven I had a sadistic streak. I’m sure any psychotherapists out there would love to analyse me.
Anyway, my first foray into the world of fanfiction was when I was about twelve and I started trying my hand at using the character from Harry Potter. The results were disastrous, and I just so happened to pick a fanfic site that had specific guidelines about quality. Still, it gave me something to aim for. I scrapped story after story and honed my version of Harry until finally my chapters were getting accepted. This taught me how to use dialogue correctly, as a moderator kindly taught me how to do it in one of their rejection emails (thank you!). This is how Valora Audice, my main character’s love interest in my novel, came to be. Originally she was Valora Prewitt, Ron Weasley’s long-lost cousin who I made up to be Harry’s love interest, as I liked writing the aftermath of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix therefore creating an alternative storyline to J.K. Rowling’s. The character of Valora has been around for four years. My novel is only two years old.
I think fanfiction is a useful tool to nurture one’s interest in writing and hone one’s writing skills. My problem with it is that so many people do it and want to show it to the world, rather than just the people who are interested in it. I think fanfiction belongs on fanfiction sites rather than on sites for all writing such as WritersCafe, which is one I use. I know I have a friend on that site who writes fanfiction and she might not agree with me, and there may be others, too. As long as I’m not expected to read or review fanfiction, then I’m fine to let it go.
I no longer write fanfiction, as I feel confident in creating my own characters and my own world. It helped to build my confidence and writing skill and helped me connect with other Harry Potter fans. I no longer feel the need to write it. I no longer dream of J.K. Rowling’s characters. I dream of my own.
So here’s my opinion, nicely summarized: Feel free to write fanfiction, but don’t expect others to be interested in it unless you post it on a website specifically for that purpose. Fanfiction is a useful learning tool, but don’t expect it to get you anywhere. As nicely as you may write it, you are merely playing with someone else’s toys. I feel there is a much greater satisfaction in creating and playing with your own.