|My niece doesn't actually write fan fiction . . . yet.|
I'm also really into fan fiction. Don't cringe! It's not that bad. Don't you think you're overreacting a little bit? No? Well, let me explain why you're wrong.
Now, I realize that the term "fan fiction" can make even the nerdiest of people suppress a shudder. I've taken flack for being an FF (abbreviation for fan fiction) author from some of my closest friends. It's not entirely unwarranted, I can admit that much. I can attest to the fact that I've read my fair share of cringe-worthy, terribly written stories. There have been times that I've logged into Fanfiction.net only to sift through an hours worth of bland, unintelligent stories that leave me discouraged.
But please, don't base your opinions of FF solely on those stories. While there are some pretty crappy stories out there, there are also some pretty amazing ones too. There are quite a few writers out there who have quite a talent for what they do. It's not all about people inserting themselves into fandoms so they can play out their fantasies of dating the hero. Some of us actually write the characters well, creating interesting stories that pull you in and leaving you wanting more when the story ends.
Fan fiction can also be a wonderful way of honing one's writing skills. When I first joined Fanfiction.net, I was sixteen years old. Description was my weakest ability when it came to writing and one of the first stories I wrote had so many plot holes in it that I eventually took it off and have since been rewriting it. (I'm referring to a work I titled, "Eyes of Purple" which was in the Chronicles of Narnia section. It's currently on hiatus, but I will get back to it eventually -- I promise!)
Since then my writing skill has improved immensely and I'm prouder of my recent stories (written in the Newsies section) than I have been of almost anything I've ever written before. As an aspiring author, I've learned so much about description, character development, and writing in general through experience than I have through any other avenue I've come across. I have so many stories to tell, rattling around in my brain, and it's great to have a way to express them.
I still write my own stuff on the side (even if my current story, "How the World Turns" seems to be taking over my life at this point). I don't plan on writing on FF for the rest of my life. I'd like to publish some books entirely my own in the future. But in the meantime, I love that I get to write to my heart's content and there are people who enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.
So my point here is this: Don't write of fan fiction as one of those things that only creepy fangirls and horny fanboys read and write. There are some fantastic fan fiction writers out there who will probably be writing novels of their own in just a few short years. Don't count them out. They're pretty amazing.
When, one day, I have published books of my own -- I hope there are kids out there writing fan fiction for it. There is always so much to be explored in each "universe" an author creates. There are always more adventures for the main characters to take. Don't limit yourself to just that one story, because there could be another out there that you like just as much or even more than the original.
P.S.I guess this post isn't complete without me unashamedly pimping out my FanFiction profile, even though it's in the sidebar.