How to Use Your Fandom to Write Better Stories in 2016


There is one thing, above all others, we never have to be ashamed of as adults. That is, of course, the stories and characters we cannot help but obsess over as part of (often multiple) fandoms.

Being part of a fandom has its psychological rewards. It’s basically the same as being part of a social class in any societal setting, involvement with a group of people who have at least one thing in common. In the social media age, a fandom connects people not just locally, but across the globe.

Have you ever thought of how your fandom, as distracting, time-consuming and productivity-hindering as it may seem, can actually improve your skills and techniques as a writer?

As I often do during the holidays, I spent roughly six total hours in a car this past weekend. I am one of the unlucky many who cannot read, game or watch movies in the car without feeling nauseated, which was particularly frustrating until I discovered the wonders that are podcasts.

Looking for something new, and having recently seen The Force Awakens, I searched for something Star Wars-themed to get me through the trip. And that is when I, finally, discovered StoryWonk. Specifically, the Story and Star Wars podcast series (though there are many others to choose from).

I have been a Star Wars fan for over a decade, which surprises a lot of people when it comes up, because I am a highly feminine, princess-loving, Disney, fairytale-obsessed girly-girl. But I am also a storyteller and may or may not have just ordered a $25 hardcover edition of a Star Wars novel for myself because I cannot get enough of Clone Wars stories (sorry not sorry).

What I love about StoryWonk, and its Star Wars podcast series, is its emphasis on story analysis. I was an English major and did briefly (very briefly) consider pursuing the subject at the graduate level. But as much as I love stories and analyzing them, the last thing I wanted was to trap myself into a two-year commitment where all I was allowed to do was analyze and annotate the binding out of old, dusty anthologies.

Until I found StoryWonk, I honestly never really considered the fact that you can pick apart any story you want to. I never even thought of analyzing the Star Wars universe at the literary level. And going through this seminar series this weekend really made me realize how effective belonging to a fandom can actually be for an aspiring writer.

Putting a story in front of you, one that you know backwards and forwards because of how much time you spend within it, and treating it like any other literary work, changes the way you view both elements. Even after only a few days, I don’t look at Star Wars the same way. The lectures made me want to dive deeper, not only into Star Wars as a multi-part story, but into my own stories, even the unfinished ones.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve really been struggling with writing lately. I’ve cut back on the amount of words I’m writing every day and haven’t been writing quite as many articles. But there’s something about stories, viewed from a storyteller’s perspective. Falling in love with stories in general is like falling in love with a person. It doesn’t just happen once. It happens over and over again, at different points in your life, igniting that fire that sometimes dims and almost burns out completely.

This sort of mindset works with any fandom. Pick any T.V. series, movie franchise or book/comic series you love and pay attention to the story. Analyze that story. Your fandom is more than a bunch of people obsessed with the same characters and setting. It is the ultimate inspiration for all the stories you have yet to create.

What is/are your fandom(s)? What do you love about the stories they tell? Take a few minutes to really think about how much these stories, over time, have influenced your own writing since you started. I’ve attempted a few Star Wars fanfics, but really, it’s the Star Wars universe as a whole that, a long time ago, made me decide, “I want to write. Maybe not something as awesome as this. But something.”

And I have. As I will continue to do. Through the end of this year and beyond.

And by the way, don’t panic. I like Star Wars, but this isn’t a Star Wars blog. If you don’t like it, you’re not going to be flooded with it consistently all of a sudden. Promise.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.