Let’s come out and be honest: I dislike fan fiction. Hell, I dislike the very idea of fan fiction. No, not like Anne Rice. The first thing I tell fan fiction authors is to consider derivative fiction. I ask them to look deeper and write about the thing that excites them about their fandom. It doesn’t work, but I have to get that out there.
There’s a more pressing reason I dislike fan fiction: bad habits. One common thing I see in fan fiction when I do read it is the first page information dump. The writer will very quickly recap recent events of their fandom in an effort to ‘ground’ the reader.
Simply put: Don’t.
This is something fiction writers contend with regularly, we can’t dump the back story on the reader, and in fandom it’s less necessary, not more. Members of the fandom will know the information, so more than a sentence is unnecessary. New readers, people who don’t know the source, don’t care. Seriously, if they’re reading your fan fiction and don’t know the source material, updating them on it will not improve their reading experience. It will detract from it.
So fan fiction writers, if I can’t convince you to step away from fandom and make awesome new stories, at least take this and improve your fan fiction. Your readers will thank you.
Update: Marcy Kennedy has a wonderful response on her blog, you should check it out.