Mercedes Lackey's pep talk

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Title: Mercedes Lackey's pep talk
Creator: Mercedes Lackey
Date(s): November 2010
Medium: online
External Links: Mercedes Lackey's pep talk, Archived version
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Mercedes Lackey's pep talk is a 2010 essay by Mercedes Lackey.

It was written in support of National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.

In the essay, Lackey suggested people write fanfiction for fun and practice.

Some Topics Discussed


Fanfiction is taking an existing world, and possibly even some of the characters, and writing your own stories in it. And it is a lot less intimidating than making everything else up for yourself (especially when you're talking about fantasy, science fiction, or horror). Now I am not advocating that you do this with the idea of selling the thing, (though more on that later), because that's called plagiarism and it's illegal. And there are writers and publishing companies that don't allow fanfiction to be published in any form, even on the web, so you have to be very careful about that.

But for purposes of practice? It's fun, it's going to give you a giant kick-start, and you would be surprised at how many professionals started out that way (and still do it!). Well just as an example, go have a look at all the Star Trek, Star Wars, and game-based books there are out there. If you reduce things to principles, most of those are fanfiction---fanfiction commissioned by and given the blessing of the publisher, and produced by professionals, yes, but still fanfiction.

And there are those of us professionals that still write fanfiction for fun (although I doubt there are very few who will be as up-front about it as I am). Sometimes it's because someone else's creation got us by the throat and our storytelling demon won't let us go until we get our version down on paper or in pixels. Sometimes it's because it's not the genre we make our bread and butter at. Me, for instance; I got involved with a small group of folks in the City of Heroes superhero MMORPG ( and we were all driven to write fiction about the characters we played. I did that for a couple of years until an even smaller group of us decided to take those characters, create a new setting for them, and see if we could write some real books around them. That became The Secret World Chronicle, which is in podcast form at the website above, and will be a series of books coming from Baen starting in March. So you can see that what starts out as fanfiction can, once you get your practice in, turn into a real, marketable project!

But the point is you have to get that practice in first---and NaNoWriMo is one of the best forums for that, just as fanfiction can be one of many platforms for you to launch from. If that's the route you want to go, bravo! Let your fanfic flag fly! You’ll be following in the footsteps of a lot of greats, like Marion Zimmer Bradley (who wrote Tolkien fanfic)!


  1. and Star Trek fic, but Lackey does not mention that
  2. and Star Wars fic, but Lackey does not mention that