Adapting fanfic to originals

I’m curious to know as I’ve seen a few people adapting fanfic into original works. After, for instance, being an infamous example from what I understand.

For those of you who have done it, what was your biggest challenge? What did you expect to be a challenge but was actually really easy? And vice versa?

I’ve been debating how to make it work for some of my pieces, but not sure where to begin.

Following cos I might do this too

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I think the challenge comes when the fanfic is not an AU.
If it is an AU… seriously… you just need to change the names :joy:
It is even easier when the characters are OOC.
Ctr + f is your babe ! :ok_hand:

And After was a One Direction fanfiction… so truly… I think there was near to 0 difficulty to adapting it into an original story. Fanfiction on stars are original stories with big star names to attract fangirls/boys to me… :neutral_face:

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While I’ve never adapted fan fictions into originals (I don’t write fan fiction), I do know parts of how it works. But it all depends on the fan fiction you write.

After, for example, was pretty easy to adapt as it was just changing names. It was a One Direction fan fiction where the love interest was Harry Styles. If Anna changed Harry’s name, it’d instantly be an original fiction. And that’s exactly what happened when the book became traditionally published. Harry Styles became Hardin Scott. And that was it.

But it’s different with a fan fiction from a book, movie, or TV show because then you’re dealing with characters, settings, and more that isn’t yours. However, there is a way to figure out what to do based on what elements you used in the fan fiction.

If you used characters that weren’t your own, then you can rename and recreate those characters (their personalities, etc.) to make them a little more original. For example, let’s say you wrote a Harry Potter fan fiction where your MC, Noah, goes to Hogwarts with Harry and the gang. To make it original, you’d have to rename the characters and make their personalities a little different. And, if you’d like to go deeper, then you can also change their backstories as well. For instance, Harry could turn into a Max; Hermonie into Emma, and Ron into Lewis. For personality changes, you could make Max into a selfish guy where he feels like he’s all that. He may have grown up with his dad (and his mom died). Emma could still be the intelligent character out of the group, but she’s extremely shy and not like the Hermonie we know and love. Lewis, on the other hand, could be an only child and is very outgoing.

Changing their characters is a part of adding that originality because if you keep them very similar to the original story, then it’ll look like you copied off it. Which is why I gave the example where Max (AKA Harry) is wanting the spotlight whereas the original Harry didn’t really care for it.

If you used a setting that is from the original story, then you would need to scrap it and make it your own because then if it’s fully there, then you’re copying it basically. So, in regards to my Harry Potter example, instead of Noah and the gang going to Hogwarts—a school of witchcraft and wizardry with four houses (Slytherin, etc.) and acting as a private school—then you need to put your own spin on things.

For instance, let’s say Noah and the gang go to a school for learning magic (as it’s been done before, so it’s not much of a copying thing), but instead it’s just for witches and wizards, it can be for all creatures such as goblins, fairies, etc. that are intellectual. And instead of it acting as like a private boarding school, it could be a simple public school (without houses). You also would need to change the actual setting. Hogwarts, for example, is in Scotland and it’s next to a lake. If you wanted to make it original, you’d need to change it up a bit. You could put your school next to a lake, but you can also be more original. So you could put your school on an island where it doesn’t just have lakes, but is surrounded by the ocean.

To go deeper, you’d also need to make sure the architecture is different. So, for example, instead of having a brick castle, it could be a large drywall building. Or maybe it’s glass walls. And instead of moving staircases (which is one of the popular ideas from the book), it could be non-moving or there are no staircases and everything becomes a portal to the rooms or something of that sort.

You also would need to make sure the slang and other kinds of similarities are different or gone. For example, if you have a Harry Potter fan fiction that turns into an original story, you can’t have characters calling non-magical people “muggles,” or if a character comes from one magical parent and one that isn’t, they can’t be “mudbloods.” You have to create your own slang or drop it from your story.

Another thing you need to do is to make a different plotline than the original book. Of course, this may be already done in your fan fiction, but it’s something to note if your story takes place with a similar timeline. So, for instance, Noah can’t be tracking Max to see the status of how he’s doing with the Dark Lord. The story would have to be something where Noah’s journey is the main focus. What does he do in this world? Could what he do have a different effect in the end with the Dark Lord? You have to think about what happens in the story with all the characters and how similar they are from the original story you took it from. This way, there is little to no similarities with either story.

And finally, understand that a story becomes more original by the plot twists and differences you use in your story. So, for instance, you could follow the guideline that J.K Rowling uses where the hero wins and everything is good. But you could be creative to a point where the hero may not win or may not win in the sense that everyone believes (such as killing off the bad guy and getting the girl). You can also add more turns in your story that puts it in a different place than the original. For example, in the first Harry Potter book, one of the main twists was how a teacher was Voldemort’s ally (and he used the teacher to keep him alive). Instead of using a similar tactic (where someone we less expected to be evil), you could make the evil person obvious (like how J.K used Lucius Malfoy as one of the allies to Voldemort) and work around that to make it more twisty (like perhaps they want to be good instead).

Overall, it’s just a matter of changing everything you used so it’s not obvious that it was a fan fiction. Some fan fictions are easier to hide those similarities such as After and 50 Shades of Grey. 50 Shades was a Twilight fan fiction, but much like After, all E.L James did was use the characters from Twilight: Bella and Edward. All she had to do was change the names. But for someone who wrote a fan fiction that was based in the setting or lifestyle of another book, movie, TV show, video game, etc., it’s a lot harder to hide because you have to look for all the elements you used and change them so it’s more of your own story. If that makes any sense?


@dreams_i_have

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As soon as I see you ‘typing’ I get so excited because your replies are always so amazing haha

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Awh, thank you! :blush:

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Lol yes! AU and ooc make it as easy as search + replace all

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Yep. I makes me wonder why people are not directly writing original stories at this point !

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It’s a good way to learn to write, and learn how to utilize character development. And on sites that resolve around fanfic, you get the validation you need to encourage yourself as you have a built in fan base so you just write and they will find you.

I guess it’s easier because you can just write and not have to worry about describing physical appearance too much or boggled down in explanations. And it translates well because most of us hate info dumps and usually AUs just need a little tidying up to become original work since you’re really just borrowing names.

With AU, you’re putting characters in a different place, so while they can be themselves, they can also be different and original in the aspect that they WOULD be different if they were never in their original situation. For example, Marysue is a high school student in planet earth, she’s still a responsible leader type, but she’s not the same Marysue that is captain of a space ship. I hope I’m making sense.

Maybe some of them are writers of original fiction, maybe theyre just bored and this is fun to them, maybe theyre working through their issues in developing by test driving with an AU. I’ve been all three.

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Very interested to know. But also, I’ve heard a lot of people who do this being accused of plagiarism even though they’ve changed a lot of things. What do you guys think? Does the accusation hold?

For example, my fanfic was written on a side character from a manga who appeared very briefly and the plot doesn’t follow the main manga at all but rather my own (because the mangaka just left them). I can totally keep my plot and change all the characters and backgrounds that aren’t mine, but will the fact that this has been written as a fanfic and shared all over the place make ppl consider it plagiarism?

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(slams the topic title the second it appears)

Love it. Go for it.

I have the experience of changing multiple AU ideas into original fiction. I would love it if folks went on my projects page (@mods this is legal according to the offsite links tab! it’s social media, not wattpad stories) and tried to take a guess as to which works used to be fanfic concepts. I highly, highly doubt anyone will be able to nail all of them. I commonly forget which were original.

As many have said, for AU it’s incredibly easy. Otherwise–especially with unique worlds–it’s difficult to sift through the elements that are necessary and those that aren’t.

I’ll give an example. Let’s say that I’ve decided to turn Harry Potter into my own personal unique original work. I love so many aspects of Harry Potter, and I really want to bring it to life in a new way because there are other aspects I could do better–or perhaps that were never written that I want to explore.

So. What do I like about Harry Potter? Well, I loved the fact that Harry got to be someone special after being crapped on by his family. He gained his own family, and still got to express his own emotions about his trauma. Don’t even talk to me about what happened to Sirius Black. I recall adoring the third book and film because of Sirius and Remus and their presence in Harry’s lives, and just wishing they had been allowed to really become his fathers. And also date each other because the Tonks/Remus thing? Unbelievable. My God.

Now, what do I not like? Well, I personally don’t like Ron. I do adore Tonks, but I hate how weird they made things between her and Remus. I like Hermione, and people are right that Harry/Hermione is a solid ship (though I don’t really have any strong feelings on the romance; I never felt… swept up in Harry/Ginny, or whatever.) I hate Hogwarts. It’s an immensely unwieldy idea that nobody can really do properly and no I refuse to expand on that in a Wattpad forums post.

So what would I do? Well, I could take Harry and give him some magic powers as usual. I like that. I can make the Dursleys his birth family, because I find abusive birth families by far more interesting than the narrative in HP specifically. My work tends to have a very specific messenger archetype, so I think Harry gets very directly visited by a totally normal looking emotionless guy in a suit–a hallmark of my writing.

Where do we stick Remus and Sirius… hm. Well, it’s hard to do all this on the spot, but they could be faculty. Or possibly just adults who come by because they’re alumni. It would be a cute side story to have them get into a romance and both be Harry’s adoptive family. We’re getting farther and farther from HP, aren’t we?

I’ll ditch the wands and spell names, because they also raise a lot of complicated questions. People are going to do magic with their hands, and maybe I’ll borrow The Alchemist series’ trope of having everyone’s magic have its own smell and color.

I’m wondering what kind of community Harry should have. Like I said, I’m not big on the massive magic school (and the worldbuilding it involves–worldbuilding scares me) so it becomes… perhaps a club. Maybe it’s even a club at Harry’s regular old high school, and so he continues life as normal except for Tuesdays after school. He makes friends there (I do adore Luna/Ginny, so let’s drop them in, and of course we can have Hermione there too) and maybe I’ll come up with a love interest later. We all know I’m fond of enemies/rivals to lovers, so I might just zap up an OC and a reason for them to clash.

And, finally, those who know me know this one is coming–genderswap. Harry becomes a gal, and therefore inherently a totally different character. I’m probably also going to make her trans because, again, we all know me.

And then we change all the names. I prefer to do it by sound and syllables–Harry probably becomes Annie or Ari or something similar enough in vowel sound and syllable count.

You can see how this involves what I’m personally interested in–the escapism, the magic, the cutting off of bad birth family and embracing of found family–while dropping the things I dislike, am not interested in, or simply am not good at writing. Just the change of genre from high fantasy to speculative fiction can make a massive difference.

OFF (Origifying Fan Fiction)/filing the serial numbers off/pull to publish can be a whole lot of fun. I actually sincerely recommend it because I think there’s nothing at all stopping you from making a great story out of it. You also get the chance to re-examine a world you love (or hate) in an entirely new light; you can pick out everything you don’t like and chuck it!

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I think the plagiarism argument depends on the story, but is largely bullcrap. People saying 50SOG plagiarized Twilight… with what? Character names? Look me in the eyes and tell me that Christian Grey is Edward Cullen.

One thing I read recently that completely flipped my brain on the topic was that bad fanfiction makes good original fiction–and vice versa. If you’re writing an AU that’s so far removed from canon that the only recognizable aspect is the characters’ names… it’s probably not very good fanfic. If you’re writing a fanfiction that perfectly characterizes everyone to the point that you can hear the actors’ voices reading the lines, it’s going to be hard to convince people that your group is totally original. Think a main character guy, smart girl, and dopey guy trio in their teens. You’re going to have a hard time convincing me there’s no connection to Harry Potter.

Overall, no, I don’t think your piece is plagiarism. Just know that some fool is always going to be calling it plagiarism while writing his Dune-inspired, Star Wars-inspired, Star Trek-inspired sci-fi/fantasy wankpiece.

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They’re both rich and abusive, and both are adopted. And that’s about where their similarities end.

Honestly a lot of people just hate fanfic and use any excuse under the sun to bitch about it.

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I agree and am referring to this actually. Because the way I see it, there is absolutely no trace back to Twilight, so I can only draw the conclusion that some people are always going to call it plagiarism no matter what if it started out as fanfic even though you’ve turned your vampire into aliens from a galaxy unknown with blue skin and write an AU of things happening on Mars. Still, I kinda want to know if anyone has heard the reasoning behind calling it plagiarism. I’m writing an original hoping to be published, and I don’t want to be bashed over this. Still, that fanfic has potential and it was 7 years work. I don’t want to just leave it in the dark either.

But I’m glad you think so, and I totally can rip every trace of the original out of the story. I don’t even have to change the characterization because they appeared like 10 pages and nobody understood them anyway and I’ve had to imagined them myself from the start.

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Adopt a new pen name? I’ve seen lots of authors have multiple names, though usually if they publish multiple genres to keep, say, their sexy romance novels from being recommended to hardcore sci fi fans of their SF series.

And since you took so little from source material, I wouldn’t worry from a publishing standpoint. Even famous authors like Cassandra Clare enjoy a huge following when there’s still people on the outskirts, bemoaning two decades later about her Dramione fanfic. Some will complain about anything.

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I definitely will have to develop a new name and a new account for smut, yes XD

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I think the answer was pretty well stated by @witchoria: “Honestly, a lot of people just hate fanfic and use any excuse under the sun to bitch about it.”

Because that’s what it is. Most of the time, it is people who refuse to see fanfic (or traditional publishing in the romance genre, even) as legitimate, and they just love being able to insult the people who write in it. These people are also usually men who see a bunch of women in a group and just… cannot keep their mouths shut for some reason.

There’s some foundation to it–the original original original idea is not yours. And you almost give people fuel by admitting it–guaranteed, we wouldn’t be having this discourse if people didn’t know 50SOG used to be Twilight fanfiction. I’m certain nobody would have traced it back if it weren’t previously published as a fic online.

The concept of needing to come up with the original original original idea yourself, though, is ridiculous. Nobody does that. It doesn’t matter whether it’s direct or not–everyone writing sci-fi is influenced by classics in that genre. Everyone writing fantasy is somewhat influenced by Lord of the Rings. I never read The Hobbit, but I am absolutely certain that its elves influence the way I think of elves–if not because of my knowledge of it, then because of the fact that all other fantasy is inspired by it, and I read other fantasy.

Hell, we’ve got a couple hundred magical school books/series. Is J.K. Rowling a plagiarist because she used an immensely popular trope? WIZARDS are not original. Unicorns are not original. Near nothing in her magical universe is made up by her, except for potentially the Latin spells–oh, no, witchcraft and summonings are often stereotyped as being performed in Latin. Never mind.

My message: Nothing is original. Be free. Do your thing.

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Oh I do write original stories, I just also write fanfic.

Unless you mean writers who are doing AU and OC or OOC stories. Then yes, that’s always bothered me as well. Why not just write original stories if you’re going to do that?

Apparently, that is the answer.

But yeah… I am not a fan of AU… And I’ll never be. It is like exactly like writing fanfictions on real personnalities (like One Direction or Magcon)… To me, it is weird… But you know, if there is people to enjoy those types of fanfictions… why not ? It is not a crime !

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Yeah, and I have my issues with writing fanfiction about real people too. I mean, fictional characters are one thing, but real people are… well, real. Playing with real people’s lives, even in a fictional context is weird. At least to me it is.

But as you said, it’s not a crime, so long as it’s clear that this is fictional.

AU is similarly weird. I don’t understand why you’d take characters out of a situation that’s familiar and put them in something different. By which I mean, taking characters who have magical powers and removing those. Or vice versa.

It’s kinda destroying a major part of who they are.

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