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Kids and teens should read and write even when they are out of school. Why is this so important?

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Writing Fanfiction


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Writing Fanfiction

Grades 6 – 10
Activity Time 2 to 4 hours (can be done over different days)
Publisher International Literacy Association

What You Need

More Ideas To Try


What You Need

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  1. Before beginning this activity, you might want to learn a little bit about the different types, or genres, of fiction. Children’s Genres contains a list of the most popular genres of fiction and talks about the characteristics of each.

  2. Start a conversation about fanfiction. You might open by talking about the expression “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Ask the child if he or she has ever heard of fanfiction and, if so, how this expression relates to it. Your goal is to make sure the child understands that fanfiction is a story based on a book or type of book that the child really loves. In fanfiction, the child can take any part of the story that he or she likes, from the characters to the setting, and use it to write a new story.

  3. Have the child choose a book that he or she admires. If it’s not a book the child has read recently, ask him or her to reread it. Fanfiction writers must be highly knowledgeable about the details of the book and its characters.

  4. Review the different genres of books you looked at in Step 1 with the child. Talk about the features of the genres. For example, the fantasy genre may have fantastical settings, characters with magical or mysterious powers, and plots that are not plausible in our everyday world. Romances typically have two main characters who must overcome some type of adversity in order to be together. You might ask the child to create a list of his or her own that includes the different genres with a few features listed under each.

  5. Ask the child what genre of book he or she has chosen. If he or she isn’t sure, ask questions that are designed to help the child figure it out. For example, you might ask, “Could the events in this book happen in real life?” or “Does the book take place today or in the past?” Keep in mind that some books may belong to several genres. Help the child choose the one that best fits.

  6. Explain that true fanfiction should have the same general feel of the original work. Characters should act and talk like they did in the book, and the original author’s style and mood should be preserved as much as possible. Try reading aloud some passages of dialogue to get a feel for the characters' voices. You might also find it helpful to have the child create and print off Character Trading Cards for the characters he or she wants to include in the fanfiction story. These are designed to answer questions about how and why a character acts in a certain way.

  7. Now encourage the child to think about ways to extend the story of their choice. Here are some ideas to consider:

    • Envision a prequel—events that might have taken place before the start of the original work

    • Imagine “missing” or deleted scenes—incidents that might have changed the course of the plot

    • Picture a sequel—events that might happen after the book ends
    Another good way to get kids in a creative frame of mind is to have them ask lots of “What if?” questions: What if the main character hadn’t made that choice? What if two key people never met? What if the story took place somewhere else? It might be helpful if the child jots down some of the things you talk about to use as notes when creating his or her story.

  8. Have the child outline a sample story using his or her Character Trading Cards and notes. Outlining is a very important step in the writing process because it helps writers organize their thoughts, think through potential problems, and see if their plot makes sense. The outline doesn’t have to follow any set format, but it should include the following information:

    • The setting or settings for the story

    • The characters in the story

    • What happens to the characters at the start, middle, and end of the story

    • Why the characters act as they do (what are their reasons for the choices they make?)

    • What types of things the characters would say
  9. Once the child is satisfied with his or her proposed outline, have the child write the story.

  10. Remind the child of the importance of revising (it often helps to walk away from it for a few days and then come back to it with a fresh eye), proofreading, and spellchecking. The tip sheet How to Revise and Edit offers lots of helpful information.

  11. Once the child is happy with the story, encourage him or her to share it with friends who also like the book that it is based upon. If you are working with more than one child, you might set up a fanfiction party where children come dressed as their favorite characters and read their stories aloud.

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More Ideas To Try

  • Discuss the legal implications of fanfiction by addressing the concepts of copyrights and intellectual property. Explain why all fanfiction should include a disclaimer stating who owns the rights to the original work and that no profit is being made from the current work.

  • Ideally, fanfiction characters should act like “themselves.” If they don’t—for example, if a distressed damsel waiting for a valiant prince suddenly becomes a fearless heroine rescuing a timid prince—the work could become a parody. A parody pokes fun at, instead of imitating, the original work. Have the child try writing a parody of a favorite scene.

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