Writing Fanfiction as a Middle School Curriculum

Writing Fanfiction as a Middle School Curriculum

Writing fiction is hard. It’s hard for people who love to write, want to write, and have something they want to write about. I have enough half-formed stories in my head and belong to enough writers’ support groups to know this.

If it’s hard for an adult when they have all that going for them, imagine how much more difficult it is for a student being told, “Be creative. Write a story.” Coming up with a plot and characters can overwhelm even creative kids, creating a negative feedback loop. “I’m not good at writing. I can’t write. I hate writing.” Story prompts are a huge help.  But plenty of young writers still struggle with developing  characters and writing realistic dialogue.

I wanted to focus on fiction writing this year and decided to experiment introducing FanFiction (basically “borrowing” characters from another book, movie, TV series or other work) to make the writing more interesting. From the very start my somewhat-reluctant-to-write 7th grader was excited about the idea. Our first step was to brainstorm of all the books (especially series), movies and TV shows that he was particularly familiar with. That way, as he was given each prompt and assignment, there was a cast of characters just waiting to be written about. 

Our first prompt – “Write a scene of dialogue between at least two characters. One person can only say ‘I don’t want to.'” – was just silly enough to get the ball rolling and have fun with the writing process. The next prompt, “write a survival story”, was intended to be a short assignment to go along with our Hatchet novel study. When it turned into a six page, 3,000 word story (based on characters from How to Train Your Dragon) that he wanted to work on, I knew we were on to something. 

While there are a ton of prompts available for free all over the internet, too many were not suitable for our situation. We avoid anything dealing with magic or the supernatural, and (thankfully) there’s not much interest in reading, writing or thinking about romantic relationships. So I made our own all-purpose, suitable for all ages prompts!

Want to try FanFiction writing with your student? Here’s a few prompts to get you started:

  • Dialogue prompt: You think I’d notice if my best friend was a robot!
  • Make a list of characters and their favorite songs.
  • Write a scene with your characters playing a board game.
  • Your character is going undercover at a local school to solve a crime. Write about it.
  • What is your character’s morning routine?

Want something ready to use for your student? I’ve put together a book with 30 FanFiction writing prompts for use with middle or high school students (or anyone wanting a starting point for a writing project). Each 2 page spread includes a prompt lined paper for writing. Extra lined pages are included in the back for any stories that run on a little longer.
Available on Amazon Print on Demand

FanFiction writing may just open your student up to a larger writing community. Just like with any online community, not everything is suitable for everyone. Click here for some ideas and cautions about sharing FanFiction stories.

Use one of my prompts or your own? We’d love to read it. Feel free to post it in the comments below!

FanFiction Resources

FanFiction Resources

For more about how we’re using fanfiction writing in middle school check out this post.

Resources for students and parents

** An Important Note – Fanfiction is extremely popular. If it’s a book, movie, TV show, celebrity, or anything else in pop culture – there’s probably a fanfiction work (fanfic) about it. Writers range from preteen to adult and the content of their writings range from G rated to Explicit. Many sites give authors the ability to give a rating to their works, but ratings are self-determined and not consistently applied. Depending on your students maturity and level of responsibility, you may want to restrict access or discuss appropriate reading and what to do if a story they’ve started isn’t what they expected.

Sharing your Work

kidfanfiction.pbworks.com – Contains material appropriate for K-6 students. Submissions and comments are emailed to the site administrator  who moderates for violence, language and adult themes.

teenink.com – National magazine and website with submissions sole from teens. Has a fanfiction section as part of the overall fiction & novels section. Also accepts poetry, non-fiction and art work. Submissions may be printed in national magazine or featured on website. Allows comments on submissions. Stories, comments and forum posts are filtered for content.

fanfiction.netLarge repository of fanfics. Must be 13+ to create an account. Self rating system K (all ages) – M (Mature themes, older teens and up). Per guidelines, explicit content is not allowed. Ability to filter by content rating .

archiveofourown.orgContains millions of works. Must be 13+ to create account. Self rating system General Audiences to Explicit. Many works are not rated and ratings are not consistently applied. Mature themes and sexual content common. Ability to filter by content rating.

Google Docs  –  If you want to share student stories only within a small group, Google docs could work. Enable sharing with specific files, or create a shared folder in Google Drive and all documents within the folder will be able to be viewed by authorized users.

More options for sharing with the world at large include publishing your own website on WordPress.com, creating a Tumblr.com account, or sharing on wattpad.com. Each has it’s own benefits and drawbacks.

When just getting by is enough…

When just getting by is enough…

So what’s up with the long hiatus from new posts? In short, Caregiving for elderly grandparents while maintaining even VERY part-time work from home and homeschooling is exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally. Leaving very little creative juice for creating amazing unit studies that challenge a now middle schooler and are worth posting about.

To take some of the load off we used online curriculum for the past two years – DiscoveryK12 (5th grade) and  MobyMax.com (6th grade). Neither program was perfect but it didn’t require a lot of hand-on administration from me which made it ideal for our circumstances. Again, not much post worthy there. Academic progress was made, state requirements were fulfilled, and we made it through a couple of very hard years.

So here we are, entering 7th grade, mourning the loss of one grandparent while the other – who doesn’t require constant care – is still in need of daily assistance. We’re returning to more of a hands-on, offline schooling, primarily at my son’s request. More structured and with more textbook than our early grades but with more room for creativity and combining subjects into unit studies than online schooling allowed.

In some ways, the past couple years may have set us back a little academically. By third/fourth grade we were doing work that was in many ways beyond the “typical” grade level work. If we had continued on a more interest-led, deepening study of those subjects we might be even farther now than we are. But the past two and half years have given us so much more than book smarts. The opportunity for my son to really know his great-grandparents and have a close relationship with them is priceless. And the growth in the sense of personal responsibility and competency in so many real life situations is much more valuable. This perspective, as much as anything, keeping me from the endless “Am I doing enough?” questions that would make our homeschooling journey anything but stressless.

Going forward I hope to be able to blog about some interesting and share-worthy projects and lessons. We have some ambitious plans going forward and I’m exciting to be creating some resources for our own use that I think others may benefit from as well.  My home school planner is already making my life easier.  So stay tuned and if I disappear again for a while it’s probably just to deal with life as it comes.

Free Homeschool Planning Pages

Free Homeschool Planning Pages

I love the idea of planning everything out and being the most organized homeschool mom anyone has ever seen. In theory.

Real life… Not so much. We’re definitely more of a go-with-the-flow, have-a-goal-but-flexible-on-getting-there kind of family. While my now 12 year old thrives on structure, any deviation from “the plan” can result in an anxiety spiral. We’re working on it.

Meanwhile, what works fairly well for us is to have a general plan (cover x number of pages in x subject most weeks)  and outline each week or two as we go. Since I couldn’t find a planning book or pages that fit our needs, I did what I usually do. I made my own.

 

 

 

 

 

These pages are extremely flexible. Some weeks I’ll want to plan lessons for specific days to fit a unit study or special activities. Those weeks I’ll use the sections to assign lessons for each day. Other weeks I don’t care if he works on one subject all day or in whatever order he chooses – as long as the week’s work gets done – so can list lessons by subject.

The checkmarks to the left of each lesson we use as “done” to quickly see the week’s progres. The right side checkmarks can be used to show which assignments I’ve checked over or to indicate that he needs help with an assignment.

The second page has plenty of room to list all the “extras” as they happen. Books read, videos watched, field trips, library visits, special projects, etc.

You can download these pages for free below – or – purchase on Amazon a 128 page softcover book that includes

  • yearly attendance calendar
  • 2 year (July 2018 – June 2020) calendar pages with space to note important dates
  • 12 year overview planning spaces for yearly overview planning
  • 52 weeks of undated planning & record keeping pages
  • extra lined and dot grid pages for book lists, co-op schedules, unit study planning, notes, diagrams, or whatever you need


Free Planning Pages

Free weekly home school planning and record keeping pages