I know that Fan Fiction has a bad rep for being…bad. “Bad” and “Fan Fiction” are almost synonymous these days. I understand why. Because 9/10 times it’s really bad. It’s the same reason that “indie” publishing is looked down upon by some. Anyone with any level of skill and publish anything they write – good, terrible, or absolutely atrocious.
I will say this for Fan Fiction: it helped me hon my writing skills a considerable amount. It was practice in plot and showing, revealing character, building suspense, where to take that suspense, and how to wrap up a story with a bow or smash it with a hammer. I’ve taken a gander at the first “fan fiction” that I wrote and OH has my writing improved.
It’s like a different person wrote it. I can pick out sentences that I would change or delete and never look back. I can see in my writing where I went wrong. Those types of skill improvements aren’t something you can read in a how-to-write book or taught in a workshop. It’s something that is learned with practice, practice, reflection, and some more practice.