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Do's and Dont's in writing fanfiction

Hmmm... I was thinking maybe you could give me some tips to the whatnots of fanfiction writing. As for some tips here are some from other writers:

1. Do not use *'s to actions. Writing is different from chatting.
2. Mary Sues and John Does have been used enough times that you have to be lucky enough to get away without flames.
3. Yaoi sells better than yuri.
How about Don't write fanfiction and write Original stories. Not only that, but your rules could only be helpful to a retarded teenage otaku.
I don't see why people shouldn't write fanfiction as it is a very popular means of reading material. People like to read about the afterlives or what could've been with characters from animes and games that they love. I would much rather read a book following another path of Riku and Sora (mm..yaoi) than some random book.
rightclickscott wrote:
How about Don't write fanfiction and write Original stories. Not only that, but your rules could only be helpful to a retarded teenage otaku.

Hehe, I'm going to have to agree with Scott on this one. And man, would it kill you to learn how to use proper grammar and spelling kids?!
If you have to do it, then at least stay faithful to the characters from the original material. Don't go changing the way they behave too drastically or the whole thing becomes amateur & unbelievable. You want people to not be able to tell the difference between your work, and the work of the original writers - because that's what good fan-fiction is, the ability to copy a given style.

You should be able to hear the characters saying the things that you write them saying. If it doesn't read in a way they would speak, then change it until it does. You can pretty much write any story you like, but make sure those characters are accurate.

Good luck.

Because then you are just planning out your narcissistic fantasy day dreams and no one should have to read that.

Relating to that, I find it pretty annoying when people have almost little ending-stories that they put at the end of each chapter, where they put themselves in with the characters. It can be cute, but if you're going for real literature then try to leave author's notes out. But if you're not writing too seriously, authors notes allow you to express a little more of yourself in the writing, which makes it easier for the reader to understand the mood. It all depends on how you're trying to look.

Make the plot similar it is to the orgrinal stuff.
AND! Hentai bit doesn't work well.
Unless graphical.
O.o;; Wow, there’s not a whole lot of fanfic love here, huh.

To address rightclickscott and Scaramanga just quickly: what if you do write original fiction, and still have the compulsion to write fanfiction? They are two different approaches to writing, and the practice of one doesn’t (nor should) preclude the other. There are also things that can be done in fanfiction that either wouldn’t be possible or would be very difficult to do in an original story/TV show/movie/comic/etc.—particularly something that might be published, distributed, or broadcast to a wide audience. Mpreg, anyone?

(Although, Scaramanga, I agree at least in part with your spelling and grammar comment—there is some stunningly bad writing out there. I am going to point out, though, that a lot of fanfic writers (especially in fandoms like Harry Potter and several of the more popular anime fandoms at the moment) are relatively young, and still learning/being taught the finer points of spelling and grammar. Also that the finer points of grammar are not being taught so much in certain pockets of the world these days. I’m a case in point—it took me until this year to find out exactly what people meant by phrases like ‘dangling modifier’ and ‘serial comma’, thanks to the postgraduate writing course I’m doing. Through school, I was given the basics and had lucky instincts for the rest. A lot of fanfic writers are working with the very basics and still developing an instinct for the rest.)

To get back to ren_sierra and the original question: what I’m going to do is list a few…not rules, so much as guidelines, that might help you. One of the very cool (and then, in other ways, very sad) things about fanfiction is that there aren’t rules. It’s about you writing what you want to write, about the characters you want to write about, in the way you want to write it. I’ve even seen authors get away with using asterix’d actions and Mary Sues, so there you go.

    1. Know who you’re writing for. If it’s you, then you only have to please yourself. If it’s your friends, then take their preferences into account; if it’s anyone in the fandom, then it’s probably a good idea to read widely enough to find out what character interpretations and writing styles are popular. (What can be a lot of fun then is going ahead and breaking all the conventions you find, with as much style as possible).

    2. Embrace thy spellchecker. Also thy dictionary, and if you have access to one, thy grammar/style guide. Even better, after having done your own spelling and grammar check, hand the story over to a beta reader—preferably someone whose opinion you trust—and get them to check it before you post it anywhere. Beta readers can help a lot, not only with technical points of spelling and grammar, but with sentence construction and aspects of plot and character development as well.

    3. Listen to criticism, but don’t be a slave to it. Don’t fly into a fit over it either. In most cases, people are just trying to help.

    4. Plot ahead. Stories generally are a bit stronger if the author knows what’s going on at least a couple of steps ahead. Alternatively, give yourself a beginning, and a vague idea of the end, and let the middle be the bit where you work out how to get from A to B. As an alternative to the alternative, set out with no idea of where you’re going, let yourself have a real surprise ending, and then be prepared to go back and rewrite to sew up the plot-holes and inconsistencies, because they will be there.

    5. Keep the characters consistent. This doesn’t mean you need to slavishly replicate them in every tiny detail from canon. I’ve read some genuinely good OOC fic, but it always helps for the characters to be consistently written in the story you’re writing. If you start them off OOC in any particular way, maintain that. Don’t drop it halfway through. If you are going to pay close attention to canon, then do so all the way through.

    If being completely loyal to canon was what fanfiction was really about, then slash/yaoi writing would have dried up long, long ago in a lot of fandoms. And fandom would be so much the poorer.

    6. Don’t take yourself or your story too seriously. It always ends in tears, and defeats one of the main purposes of fanfiction: it’s supposed to be fun.

    7. Write what you want to write. Be prepared to cop flak for it, sometimes, and if you are trying to write, say, a Mary Sue that people will a) take seriously and/or b) actually enjoy reading, then be prepared to do a lot of hard work on your story before expecting your audience to come flocking. But, still, write it. All things are possible (even well-written hentai, DopeyCriz).

    8. Write in a way that makes you feel comfortable. This comes back to the ‘fanfiction is not about being a slave to canon’ thing. There are times when it’s not even possible to replicate canon in your writing style. In a media fandom, you might be able to copy the way that characters speak, but what do you do about the parts of your fic that aren’t dialogue? How do you write an action scene; how are you supposed to pull off a nice piece of description? For that, you need to be developing your own writing style.

    There are other times when it is technically possible to copy the canon style, but not always preferable. I’ve been lurking in Discworld fandom for years now, and one of the striking things I’ve noticed is that most of the mediocre fic attempts to pay homage to Terry Pratchett’s distinctive writing style, and fails miserably. Most of the better writers in the fandom, on the other hand, will either completely adopt their own style and leave Pratchett to write like Pratchett (which I’m sure is a scenario he’d prefer as well), or else will find a happy medium—throwing in a few familiar gags and references to set things up, then trundling on in their own merry fashion.

    9. Neither you nor anyone around you is privy to the One True interpretation of the canon. Sometimes, arguably, not even the author can lay claim to that. So: write and let write.

I hope that you find this helpful, ren_sierra. And, realising that at one point or another I’ve disagreed with almost everyone else who’s replied to this topic, I do hope that I’ve managed to do so without giving offence.
I don't think I can be of more help than Obake was, but I suppose I can try.

I suppose I'll just add on to what's already been said.

The better fanfiction is almost always written for the writer, not for the writer's friends. If you have a story in your head, it will turn out ten times better than if your friends tell you "Oh, write a story about ___!".

If you find a 'fic that you happen to find amazing, wonderful, incredible, and/or astoundingly original, do not write your own version of the same 'fic. Seriously. I've seen way too many people do this for it to be funny anymore. A story may have been lovely the first time, but when five more people pop up with the same plot, characters, and story progression, I feel the need to slap something. Originality is good, so make your own and don't imitate another person's.

I can't really think of anything else to say, as Obake's covered all the major points. I guess the last one is, though you should embrace your spellchecker, it is not a diety. The spell-checker does not always know which word you wanted. is your friend just as much as your spell-checker is.

Have fun writing your fanfic, and I hope the initial negative responses from this forum didn't discourage you. Smile
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