Making A Fanfic Into A Novel – It’s More Work Than You Think

If any of you are followers of my fanfiction, you know that I pulled one of my fics and reworked it a few months back into the novel “Eight Nights At Sea.”

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I thought to myself at the time, “Well, this will be a piece of cake. I just have to change some names and tweak it a little…”


First of all, changing names is harder than you think. You can do a search in word and replace, but if you’ve got a name that carries the same letters as a common word, you’re really going to have fun. And don’t forget places where you may have bastardized the name – for instance, in one sentence I had the girl drunkenly singing the hero’s name, and therefore I hyphenated it to stretch it out for effect. Guess what I missed on the first upload and a reader caught for me. Yup!

Then there are things that are particular to your character that you might need to weed out – some because they’re just way too associated with a popular TV character (for instance, my novel pirate doesn’t have a hook replacing his hand, of course) and some you need to weed out because they don’t make a lot of sense outside the TV or Movie universe they were originally set in.

Once you’ve taken care of that, you need to go back and reread this – keeping in mind that your character is a completely autonomous person now. They’re free from the strictures that their former universe put upon them. You can have them do anything – even things you know you’d get raked over the coals for if this were someone’s beloved character. Give yourself the freedom to reinvent some things in their past, or change their automatic reaction to something to mold them into their own person.

And when all that’s done – have a second, third, fourth…etc set of eyes look it over again. I pride myself on posting fanfics that aren’t riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, but even I miss things sometimes (especially when I haven’t updated in a few days and my fans are PM’ing me to get an update out). Try to get someone who doesn’t watch the show your story was originally based in to see if they understand and relate to it without the old context hanging around it.

Then kiss your baby, and let it go.

Believe me, it’s hard letting go – I never think my stories are as “ready” as I’d like, but there’s such a stigma attached to fanfiction that you question the hell out of yourself even more.

I don’t imagine I’ll move any of my other fanfics over to novel form – the ones that remain are entirely too rooted in the Once Upon A Time universe and too dependent on events that occurred in the show. I won’t be publishing them as fanfiction on Amazon, either, since they don’t even list Once Upon A Time as one of their “worlds.” Even if they did, given the nature of ABC Family (which runs the show), it’s highly likely they’d make me edit the living hell out of it. My stories would still stand up with the smut removed (I make sure of that) but I do feel they wouldn’t be as good. Well, not to a panting, ridiculous Killian Jones-lovin’ fangirl like me anyway.

So the bottom line is….write a good story, regardless of whether it’s a fanfic or not. If it’s good, you can morph it into just about anything you need it to become.

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