People write fan fiction for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes, they enjoy the source material so much they want more of it, which would explain why so much fan fiction consists of retreads.
Other times, they want to tell their own stories while playing within the confines of someone else’s creation. Whatever the case, the right writing prompt can help interested individuals get started on writing some fan fiction.
Here are 25 awesome fan fiction writing prompts:
1. The Main Character Doesn’t Exist
The main character tends to have a big impact on the course of events. As a result, one way to toss a boulder into the metaphorical pond would be to remove them from the story before writing what happens next.
2. A Different Character Takes the Main Character’s Place
Oftentimes, the main character has a big impact on the course of events because they have something special about them. It can be interesting to write about another character having that special something to see what changes because of their different personality.
3. Continuing the Story After the Main Character Dies
Another scenario would be continuing the story after the main character dies. This can produce a wide range of changes depending on when this happens during the story.
4. The Main Character Defects to the Villains
It isn’t uncommon for the main character to have some kind of personal connection to the villains. As a result, it isn’t impossible to imagine them going over to the villains for one reason or another.
5. The Main Character Is With the Villains From the Start
Of course, that means it is also possible to have the main character be with the villains from the start rather than perform a mid-story defection. The story could focus on the main character in this different role. Alternatively, it could focus on other members of the main cast dealing with the main character in this different role.
6. Two People Talk About a Scar
Hurt/comfort stories are extremely common in fan fiction. For those unfamiliar, TV Tropes describes them as stories in which one character comforts a wounded character. The characters can be friends, lovers, or friends in the process of turning into lovers. Similarly, the wound can be either physical or psychological. Talking about a scar is a very easy way to set up a hurt/comfort story.
7. One Character Effectively Adopts Another Character
Another easy way to set up a hurt/comfort story would be having one character effectively adopt another character. Generally speaking, if someone is in a position to be adopted, chances are good they have had an unpleasant experience. The hurt/comfort story flows naturally from that.
8. A Character Experiences Amnesia
Giving a character amnesia before writing about the ensuing drama is extremely common in fan fiction. Of course, this refers to the kind of retrograde amnesia that Studybreak says happens a lot in fiction but not a lot in real life. It isn’t impossible to find fan fiction with a character experiencing anterograde amnesia. However, that tends to be the setup for something extra angsty
9. Time Travel to Save People
It is very common for fan fiction to run with the hero traveling back in time because the villains have won. Essentially, it is a chance for them to do things all over again while armed with future knowledge and sometimes future capabilities. It is very easy for these stories to turn into power fantasies. Still, that is half the point of fan fiction.
10. Time Travel For Fun and Profit
Another popular option would be characters time traveling for fun and profit. It is extremely easy for these setups to run out of steam. Fortunately, these tend to be more humor-focused than anything else.
11. Kids From the Future
Sometimes, people in shipping-heavy fandoms will write stories in which a character’s potential kids from the future show up in the present for one reason or another. This is one of the most challenging prompts. Interested individuals have to create several original characters capable of catching the readers’ interest. Moreover, they have to write interactions between these characters and their canon counterparts. Doing just one of these things would be difficult. Two at the same time is that much more so.
12. Multiple Time Travelers Creating a Jumbled Mess
A lot of time travel stories destroy tension because the hero is so much better prepared than their canon selves. One way of restoring tension would be having multiple time travelers running around. Indeed, if the author has the skill to hint at the presence of another time traveler while concealing their presence until the big reveal, it can blindside the readers as much as the viewpoint characters.
13. Breaking Out of a Time Loop
Time loops are a variation of the time travel scenario. Essentially, the characters relive the same period again and again. Initially, it sounds fun. However, it soon wears upon the characters, thus causing them to start seeking a way to break out of the time loop.
14. Being Taught a Lesson Through a Time Loop
The last idea is more action-oriented or even mystery-oriented depending on the exact way to break out of the time loop. This one is more character-focused. The idea is that a character is trapped in a time loop until they come to an important realization about a personal failing. Subsequently, they work to become a better person, which is the key to breaking out of the time loop.
15. Characters Travel to a Much Earlier Time
Another variation on the basic time travel story would be characters traveling to a much earlier time. This is possible for fan fiction based on works that provide enough detail about what went on in the past for interested individuals to use that detail as a rough framework.
Interested individuals don’t need to go so far back that everyone other than the time traveler is an original character. Instead, they can go just far back enough that older canon characters are around in much younger forms, which can make for interesting twists on their canon interactions.
16. A Character Interacts with a Ghost
Fan fiction can be as fantastical as people want it to be. As a result, if people want to write about characters interacting with ghosts even though the work is supposed to be non-supernatural, they shouldn’t hesitate to do so. This is an easy way for interested individuals to write characters who have been described in broad strokes but not in fine detail, thus offering them an increased measure of creative freedom. Moreover, it is a way to force change upon the character living in the “present” of the story.
17. Genderbend a Character
Britannica says gender-bending just means someone dressing like they are a member of the other sex. However, the phrase has a somewhat different meaning in fan fiction, which is to say, it refers to someone who is physically a member of the other sex.
A character can have always been a member of the other sex, but a character can also undergo a physical transformation at some point in the story. Interested individuals can take this in any number of ways. For example, people can get treated very differently depending on their appearance, so this is an easy way to shake up the events of the story by making a major change from the start.
Alternatively, people can write this as horror because a mid-story physical transformation seems like a sure recipe for body dysmorphia. There are very good reasons why the Mayo Clinic and other reputable healthcare organizations treat it as a serious medical problem. With that said, it is also possible to write a mid-story physical transformation in a more positive light because a character uses it as a chance to learn more about themselves.
18. Genderbend Every Character
For an extra challenge, there is the option of genderbending every single character. After all, interested individuals have to not just account for all of the changes but also keep the gender-bent characters true to their canon selves. Succeeding at either task would be impressive; succeeding at both would be well beyond that.
19. Give a Character a Superpower
There are a lot of stories that would change dramatically if certain characters had superpowers. Of course, if people choose to give a character a superpower, they should lean into it rather than keep everything the same by arbitrarily turning it on and off as desired.
20. Give a Character a Different Superpower
A lot of works already have characters with superpowers. Sometimes, they have capabilities that are normal by their setting’s standards but are blatantly superhuman from a real-world perspective. Other times, they are extraordinary even within their setting. Whatever the case, these superpowers tend to have a huge effect on who these characters are and what these characters do. As a result, an easy way to change things would be to give them a different superpower to see what happens next.
21. Give a Character a Curse
Drama drives stories. Thanks to this, giving a character a curse can be as interesting as giving a character a superpower. Once again, if people choose to give a character a curse, they should commit to that narrative decision. A curse isn’t much of a curse if the character is just a superhuman immortal alienated from mortal humans because of the passing centuries.
There is nothing wrong with writing about such characters. Plenty of vampires of this kind as described by The Escapist make interesting characters. The issue is that a curse should have more of a bite to it.
22. Someone Is Inserted Into the Main Character
It isn’t uncommon for writers to put a bit of themselves into their characters. After all, we can only write based on what we know, meaning it is natural for bits of ourselves to show up in our creations. Still, self-insertions take that a step further. Self-insertions aren’t just characters with bits and pieces inspired by the writer, they are supposed to be the writer inserted into the stories.
Self-insertions in the context of fan fiction are yet another step beyond that because they are supposed to be the writers placed in the bodies of chosen characters. The main characters are popular choices. They get the bulk of the attention, so they are the easiest to write for.
Even so, these stories don’t necessarily have to be bland power fantasies, particularly if the writers can write themselves realistically reacting to canon events that most people would rightfully shy away from. Fighting a war for the future of the universe might look cool on a screen. It seems reasonable to say that it would be less so when experienced in person.
23. Someone Is Inserted Into a Side-Character
Still, it might be better for the writers to self-insert into side characters. In these stories, the focus tends to be on doing well despite the self-insertions’ proximity to the struggles between the heroes and the villains.
For instance, the writers might write about themselves being minor villains trying to either get out of the way or prevent their bosses from doing something extremely detrimental to their continuing well-being. Similarly, the writers might write about themselves being people of no narrative importance trying to get ahead of world-shaking events.
24. A Character Knows Someone From a Different Work
Unsurprisingly, the kind of person who enjoys fan fiction often enjoys crossovers. There are many potential methods for setting up a crossover. One of them would be having one character from a work know another character from another character. Perhaps they are relatives, or perhaps they are members of the same profession with a healthy like or dislike for one another. Whatever the case, it is a good excuse for them to run into one another, thus facilitating the crossover.
25. A Character Has Their View of Another Character Shaken
Interested individuals might want to write about one character having their view of another character shaken. For example, they might come upon information that provides extra context for the other character’s choices. Similarly, they might come upon the other character doing something that they never would’ve imagined the other character doing.
The important part is that the character’s view of the other character is shaken, with the result that their relationship with the other character becomes flexible. A lot of people use this as an excuse to write a romance. However, such interactions can veer off in other directions.
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