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xx Guide to Writing Fan Fiction
« Thread started on: Dec 28th, 2005, 5:18pm »

Guide to Writing Fan Fiction.

Before you read too far, I’d like to make several things clear.

1.I don’t wanna hear any complaints of ‘But it’s fan fiction! It doesn’t matter if I can write good or not!”
2.I don’t want to hear any variations of the above
statement, such as “...I can do whatever I want!” “It’s not like it matters or anything” and the like.

Guess what? I don’t care. The reason I’m writing this guide is for people who enjoy writing and want to improve. I’ve been writing fan fiction for several years now, and there’s a huge difference between stuff I wrote when I was twelve and stuff I’m writing now. Just recently I found a piece of original fiction I wrote several years ago and compared it to a story I’ve written recently, and the difference is amazing. It’s as if someone else wrote that old story. How many of you have ever noticed that in your own work? Raise your hands.

In short, if you’re not interested in improving or keeping everything canon, then don’t get your undies in a wad.

Now, some other things I don’t want to hear are:

“But there’s no way anyone can write according to these rules!”
“You’re too vague. How am I supposed to know how to write?”

Response a: These are not rules. These are just guidelines meant to help you write.
Response b: I’m not going to write your story for you. (Why would you even want me to?) You have to do that yourself. These tips are to help you learn to be more creative.
Ready now? Our first lesson will be over the basics. Everyone needs to know the basics. It won’t kill you to learn or review them.
Basic number one, and I can’t stress this enough, NO CHATSPEAK. PERIOD. You’re writing a story, not talking online with your friends. In real life, people don’t say “ u”, we say “you.” We don’t say “r, ur, 2day, o, or b4”. We say “Are, your, today, oh, and before.”
When you write chatspeak like that in a story, you make yourself look like an idiot. You make your story look very unprofessional, even if the rest of it is great. The only time it’s all right to use chatspeak is if you’re typing a conversation between two characters who happen to be talking online, and then there had better be a good reason that the characters are talking online.
Basic number two: Commonly Confused Words. Some people, like me, can forgive a writer for mixing up commonly confused words. Actually, my tolerance for this stops when the writer begins High School and by now should have learned to use the words correctly. But for the perplexed, here’s a quick list of the Commonly Confused Words that I see most often in fan fiction.

1. You’re and your.
“You’re” means ‘you are’. A lot of people forget that, but an easy way to remember is to look at the apostrophe and imagine it’s a space. So when you see “You’re”, you remember that it is actually two words: ‘you are’.
“Your” is possessive.
Some ways to use both words are:
“You’re really starting to annoy me.”
“If you’re late, you will be in trouble.”
“Watch where you’re going!”
(Now, read those sentences again and this time read it as “you are” instead of “you’re”)
Use ‘your’ like so:
“Is this your cat?”
“Here’s your locker combination.”
“Don’t forget to take your book home.”
(Does this make the difference clearer?)

2. It’s and its.
Even I have problems remembering this one. “It’s” means ‘it is’, and ‘its’ is possessive. Once again, imagine the apostrophe as a space between the two words.

3. To, too, and two.
Two is a number. (There are two cars. It’s half past two.)
To is a preposition. (Are you coming to the dance? This is what we need to do today. He went to the store.)
Too means ‘in addition; also; to an excessive degree or extent.’ (It’s too hot out here! Clem’s coming too. The fence is too high to jump.)

4. Through and threw.
Through is used in sentences like “Drive through the tunnel. Send it through the mail. I’m through with this. “
Threw is used like “He threw the ball. Steve threw up. She threw it away.”

5. Their, there and they’re
There is like a direction, or a place. “There it is. It’s over there. Don’t go there.”
‘Their’ is possessive. Just like ‘your’. “It’s their choice. Their presentation won.”
‘They’re’ means ‘they are’. Again, imagine the apostrophe as a space.

Get the idea here? I used to have a list of all the commonly misused words, but I can’t find where I left it. For now, I must trust you all to pay attention during English class.

Basic number three: reviews aren’t everything. The number of reviews is not necessarily proportional to the quality of the story. In Layman’s terms, just ‘cause a bunch of people commented on it, doesn’t mean the story’s any good.

Now, some people receive regular reviews. Basically, these are the “Average Reviews” These are the ones that are usually simple, and tell that the reader enjoyed the story, or just thought it was interesting. They may say what they liked about it, too. You usually get these from your friends and other people who enjoyed your writing.

Some reviews are categorized as ‘Flames’. These are unpleasant to receive, because they are usually very hard to read due to misspelled words. They’re often full of swear words, tell how bad the story is, and are usually personal attacks towards the writer. The best way to deal with these is to ignore them. Flames are almost always sent by some kid (or jerk, or creepy adult...) just to get a rise out of you. That means that they’re just trying to get you to react. Seeing you react in anger or whatever is very amusing to them, so don’t give them that satisfaction.
Have you ever been trying to get someone’s attention or just trying to bug ‘em and they just won’t look at you or acknowledge that you exist? Doesn’t it drive you up the wall? Well, by not even trying to reply to a flame, you just might be driving him or her up the wall, too. Simply delete the review if it’s anonymous, (if you’re on FF.net) or if it’s signed, add the user to your ‘block user’ list. Easy as that.

But wait! You’ve gotten flamed! Yes, it’s obviously a flame, because it says you need to proofread and it corrected you on some strange thing called ‘canon’. No, that’s not a flame, that’s a type of review called ‘Constructive Criticism’. This can also be called “ Flamius imitadio helpfullus” or ‘Fool’s Flame’. I made those last two names up. Don’t mistake this type of review for a flame. Even if it’s hard to accept, constructive criticism is your friend. It’s a gentle reminder that yes, you are a good writer. If you want to become a better writer, you might wanna fix some amateurish mistakes and awkward sentences.
And you don’t have to do everything that the reviewer suggests. In fact, you don’t even have to do anything he or she suggests at all of you don’t want to. If it’s something like spelling and grammar, then you might want to fix that, but if it’s something else like ‘This character doesn’t act that way.’ Or ‘That event happened two years ago, not three.’ You don’t have to correct that IF you have a good reason for it to be happening. For example, suppose in your story Hermione is skipping classes and putting off homework. You don’t have to change that if it’s part of the plot, and later we find out that it’s not Hermione at all, but someone who was posing as her.
Need another example? Suppose in your story you have the line “Spyro saw his good friend, Ripto.” Spyro and Ripto are enemies! But if we find out that something happened in the past to change that, then you can keep that in. Get the idea?

The fourth type of review is the ‘Hyper-on-coffee” review. These are the ones that tend to contain chatspeak, multiple speakers (like a script), long strings of ‘lol’ or ‘hahahaha’, and generally a lot of hyper, erratic, joy. Yes, you may receive most of these from your friends, but you’ll still probably get one from the random person you don’t know. Those are kinda fun to get. (Unless you despise chatspeak)

You may notice that some people take time either before or after the story to thank and/or respond to the reviewers. This isn’t particularly necessary, but you can go right ahead if you’d like to.

Basic number four: the summary, the disclaimer, and the author’s note. On FF.net, you have to provide a two to three sentence summary of your story. This is not the place to say “I suck at summaries.” No one cares if you can’t sum up your story in a few lines of type.Just think, what basically happens in the story? If you need more space to write the summary, put it in your author’s note. You’ll still need to write something that will encourage others to click on the link to your story and read that better summary, though.
Your author’s note is the space before the chapter and at the end of the chapter where you can stick your disclaimer, reply to any reviews, and give your excuse for not updating regularly.
And last, but not least, the disclaimer. This is a statement you type simply saying that you don’t own anything that is copyrighted. (The exception, of course, being your own fancharacters or worlds.)
But there are some things you don’t need put in your author’s note, some of them being the story’s title, the rating, the genre, and who wrote it. These things are already there, right by the link to your story.

Basic number five: If the reviewing system was broken, FF.net would have reported it. There’s no need to send yourself a review to test if it’s working. ‘But no one’s reviewed yet!’
That’s because no one’s read it, or no one’s felt like saying anything.
Basic number six: don’t ask people to review.
Yeesh, some people don’t understand basic number three. “Reviews aren’t everything.” It’s not good manners to send a review to someone saying “OMG! I loved your story! Will you review mine?”
If someone wants to read your story, they’ll read it when they feel like it. Not because you sent them a review and asked
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xx Re: Guide to Writing Fan Fiction
« Reply #1 on: Dec 28th, 2005, 5:22pm »

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s get ready for the real tips!
The first lesson is...

BE CREATIVE.

Let’s see...how many stories have been written where a new girl goes to Hogwarts? How many stories have been written where some random girl/boy gets dropped into Middle Earth? How many stories have been written where character A falls for character B? How...you get the idea.

It’s tiresome to see fifty or more fanfics that all have the same plot or basic idea, same things happen in the story, it happens to the same characters, yadda yadda. Be different! Be original! Think outside the box! Quit doing what everyone else is doing and write something fresh!

Let’s say you’ve got a certain plot in mind. Look at the stories in that fandom and see how many other writers have done that plot. I’m not saying you have to look at every story. Instead use the search feature. Set it to search for words in the summary. Type in some key words or phrases that describe your plot. Suppose in your story, you want to have such-and-such character turn into a girl (if the character is male). You’d type in something like ‘turns into a girl’. Don’t forget to also try ‘(character) turns into a girl’. Also, after searching using the word ‘turn’, try using ‘turns’, ‘turned’, ‘transforms’, ‘changes’, or any other synonyms and tenses. This should allow you to find almost all of the fanfics with that same plot. Now, read over them. You don’t have to read the whole thing. Just skim them if you must, but be sure you get a good idea of what’s going on. Now think: how many stories have the change triggered by a potions accident or a spell gone wrong? How many stories have the male (now female) character start becoming obsessed with girlish things like shaving, feminine products, and boys? How many use the same plot device as a means of the character becoming a guy again?

Time for a parable from personal experience! When a person auditions for a role in a play, they generally have about fifteen seconds to set themselves apart from all the other folks auditioning. Your story is auditioning for the readers. What can you do to set it apart from all the other stories that use that plot? For starters, what’s a reasonable way for the boy to become a girl that hasn’t been done before?

Is there another way for him to react to this development that no one’s written about before?

Can you think of a plausible way for him to turn back to normal that no one else has thought of? Or at least hasn’t been used much?

Well, that’s about all I have to say for right now. Did any of you skim right through that without reading much? If you did, here’s a quick recap:

• Chatspeak is inappropriate for a fan fiction.
• “U” is not a word. Repeat that over and over.
• ‘You’re’ and ‘your’ are different.
• ‘It’s’ is a contraction. ‘Its’ is possessive.
• Constructive criticism is not the same thing as a flame.
• People will review when they feel like it.
• Reviews don’t equal greatness.
• Being creative will score you extra points.

Today’s homework assignment:

1. Make a list of words that you get confused with other words. Try to learn the difference, and, if necessary, proper usage.

2. Think up a plot and go to FF.net. See how many other stories have used that same plot. Write down the total number of stories you found and how many similarities you found in them.

Coming up next- We’ll talk about purple prose and begin our unit on Mary-Sues.

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xx Re: Guide to Writing Fan Fiction
« Reply #2 on: Jan 7th, 2006, 3:27pm »

*is on floor with pencil and notes in hand* You have taught well, Oh Wise One. grin

Your words are so true. I can't count how many times I've seen chatspeak in a story. Especially if the fic was so great at the beginning, with hardly any spelling errors, no chatspeak, when... WHAM!!! Chatspeak is all over the story and there are spelling errors EVERYWHERE. That just spells out how much the person doesn't care about the fanfic's cleanliness anymore. They just care about getting at least a hundred reviews. *rolls eyes* Makes you just wanna vomit.

Then of course, the verb confusion. My gosh, how many times have I read a story that always used "threw" as in, "He went threw the door" for each chapter? >..>

I look forward to more lessons, Wise One. grin
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xx Re: Guide to Writing Fan Fiction
« Reply #3 on: Jan 12th, 2006, 6:49pm »

*stares in awe* My hero! ^__^

Very well said! ^__^ Thank you so much for pointing out the frequent homonym issues...Just about every writer confuses those particular examples. I was beginning to think that no one seemed to recognize those errors.

This really needs to show up on FanFiction.Net...At least 95% of the writers on that site could really use this guide...a LOT...(and that includes me! ^^V)

I also look forward to new lessons. ^__^ This guide is absolutely brilliant.
« Last Edit: Jan 12th, 2006, 6:50pm by Hiei » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Guide to Writing Fan Fiction
« Reply #4 on: Jan 15th, 2006, 12:41pm »

I think I may be moving this guide to my DeviantArt account. Please check here for future updates: http://www.panthergirl.deviantart.com
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xx Re: Guide to Writing Fan Fiction
« Reply #5 on: Mar 28th, 2006, 05:50am »

*raises hand*
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