Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by The O.H.L. » Sun May 20, 2012 1:10 am

Oddball wrote:Never title your story "untitled" or "title to come later" or anything to that affect.

All it does is send the reader the message that you either don't know or don't care enough about your own story to give it a name. If the writer doesn't care, why should the reader? You're pushing people away before they even give your story a chance.

If you absolutley cannot think of a tile on your own, there's no shame in just calling it "A (insert character name here) story" it's kinda lame, but it's better than nothing.
Alternatively, you could just take a small element,scene, or line of dialogue from your story and name the story after that. With that example, the end of Hanako's route could be called something like "skipping school and tears" or "the park and a muffin shop". Yeah, not the best titles, but they are at least titles of some kind.

There's no rule saying you can't change your story's title once you come up with a new one either.
Unless, you know, it's a reference to Rin.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by kosherbacon » Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:28 am

Homeless wrote: I actually was looking at this a while ago, but when I went back to get the template it was gone, (they are moving their forms around or some such) I'd just like the perimeters the questions ask, is all.
Sorry for the late reply. Link on new forums is here. ... f=34&t=196

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Badstoryteller » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:36 pm

Hmm easy to follow..
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Homeless » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:44 pm

kosherbacon wrote:
Homeless wrote: I actually was looking at this a while ago, but when I went back to get the template it was gone, (they are moving their forms around or some such) I'd just like the perimeters the questions ask, is all.
Sorry for the late reply. Link on new forums is here. ... f=34&t=196
Sweet... (all good on the late reply, I've been behind, to say the least on my fic writing, so don't feel so bad!)
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:22 am

Couple of useful tips...
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Silentcook » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:26 am

This is even more basic than the supposedly "basic" tips we have already gone over, but I feel it needs to be said, since I have had an urge to say it in nearly every fanfic thread that ever hit these forums.

Before you start to write for the entertainment of others, make sure that you have at least a decent grasp of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and that you are willing to improve it.

I'm not talking about occasionally making a misspelling or joining two tenses wonkily. Such things happen, and that's what proofreading and feedback are for. I routinely see people making "basic" mistakes by the dozen, and persisting in making those mistakes.

While I'm under the impression that English is a chew toy of a language, made of more exceptions than rules, it's still not a good idea to ignore what rules are there. No, doing so doesn't make your writing "more unique". No, it doesn't "estabilish your style" either. What it does is make you look like an uneducated illiterate.

Relying on the "convenience" of a spellchecker isn't going to help either, since spellcheckers have a knack for getting things horribly wrong at times. If you don't know better than it, you'll never see the mistakes it introduces.

(Edit, 2 Jun 2015: now with a highly relevant link! :twisted: )
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Helbereth » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:49 am

Some tips on how to think when approaching fan-fiction.

Describe things:
Writing fan-fiction is not an excuse for failing to describe things, especially characters. You may be tempted to rely on your audience to know what the characters look like, sound like, or act like, but don't be complacent. Leaving out details that ought to be part of the description is just lazy. Within the context of your tale, there will always be points where you need to emphasize the way someone looks, or the place they're standing, or the face they're making; don't skimp on the details. You can always cut back when proofreading.

Dumping information is bad:
Going hand-in-hand with the previous note, this one is for anyone who ever thought copy/pasting their character bio directly into the prose might be a good idea. Until it's relevant, we don't need to know every detail about the character you're describing. Readers are much less likely to recall things like that unless they're presented in context. If your context happens to be that you're staring at a particular person and pointing out every minute detail, that's fine, but people don't usually do that. Instead, work the description into the narrative where it becomes relevant. Mention the length of someone's hair when they spin and send it flying, rather then as they're sitting at a desk completely inanimate; that kind of thing. If their vital statistics never become part of the narrative, then so be it; they aren't really necessary to tell the story in that case.

Know the source material:
This may seem like an obvious notation, but a lot of writers often forget this rather important step. If you're planning to write something about someone else's fully-developed character, or world, you should have read everything available about them and remember to keep in mind how they were originally portrayed. Having the characters in your fan-fiction act completely out of character is often the first issue people will have with your story. If the story you're writing doesn't actually fit with the character in question, you're not writing fan-fiction, you're jamming your own characterization on top of a pre-existing character, and that's uncool.

Quirks help keep your character in character. Remember to include them. If a character presented with a stutter or a lisp, or a specific laugh, or a certain gesture of any kind and a situation presents itself, make use of the description. Readers will be looking for things like that, and it's not pandering; it's characterization. Quirks are what set the characters apart from their allegories, and they're part of every well-written character. This includes speech patterns and things like mental quickness or what they find amusing. They help remind the reader who they're reading about without having to use their names all the time.

Using OCs (something I have extensive experience with):
Unless you plan to get laughed out of the forum, make sure you put as much (or more, really) planning and care into creating any original characters as the source characters. That includes using the peripheral, barely mentioned characters from the original tale; they need no less careful consideration. That means developing all aspects of their personality and having a really good idea how they'll function within the world you're writing them into. All the above rules apply to your OCs, and perhaps even more so with the first two.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by ProfAllister » Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:40 pm

This is unfortunate, and it shouldn't be the case, but I feel it needs to be addressed.

Do not use the word "bemuse" or any derivatives.

Puzzle, confuse, or bewilder (someone): "her bemused expression".
bewilder - stun - confuse - confound - daze - befuddle

I'm sure everyone here knows the proper definition and use. Unfortunately, the word has been co-opted by talentless hacks who don't bother looking up words when they mean "amuse" or derivatives thereof.

Unfortunately, this means that the word has lost usefulness for everyone. The average reader, if he's familiar with the definition of "bemuse," is also familiar with its rampant misuse. Therefore, he will be uncertain which meaning is intended. And, due to the general use of the terms "amuse" and "bemuse," context is rarely helpful, as amusing events can bemuse some people, while bemusing events can amuse some people.

So don't use bemuse. The hacks have killed it. Fortunately, there are plenty of synonyms.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by griffon8 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:10 pm

ProfAllister, have you been reading
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by ProfAllister » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:36 pm

griffon8 wrote:ProfAllister, have you been reading
Not for a few years now, which doesn't matter, given the age of that article. Actually noticed it most recently in the sainted Pseudo-pseudo Suzu route, but it happens all the time, even by competent authors. The problem is that we've reached critical mass. It's not enough to use it properly, because the misuse defies context. Hence my recommendation that it not be used at all.

If it were just a matter of reading the Cracked article, I would have gone for the standard clarification and the admonition to "be sure you're using the right one." The problem's too big, though. Even proper use tears the (informed) reader out of the story. Context gives no clue, but the character implications can be huge. Therefore, don't use the word. Not don't use it improperly, don't use it at all.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:17 pm

ProfAllister wrote:Do not use the word "bemuse" or any derivatives.
Challenge accepted.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by DanjaDoom » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:55 pm

Helbereth wrote:
ProfAllister wrote:Do not use the word "bemuse" or any derivatives.
Challenge accepted.
Helbereth, you bemuse me
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Meadows » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:27 am


This is one thing I haven't seen addressed directly in this thread, so I thought I'd offer up my thoughts considering I've spent more time proofreading than actually writing lately.
Considering most if not all of us here are amateur writers (no offense to any actual pros who are lurking), we might not be familiar with how the process of getting feedback works:

1) Decide whether you want feedback

If you don't want it, either don't post your story at all, or make a note saying you don't want feedback and look like a jerkface because why would you post your story in a forum if you didn't want people to... nevermind
If you do want it, continue reading...

2) Be receptive to feedback

This is hard to do, because amateur writers often (see: almost always) take feedback personally. I have seen this countless times on the internet and in real life, I know what I am talking about. Deal with it.
Why does this happen, though? Because our writing is a part of us. It's our thoughts given visible form, so it is very personal. Learning to be detached from the words once you put them out there doesn't come naturally to most.

You don't realize when it happens, but if you can't fight back the urge to blurt out a retort for every piece of criticism you receive, you are most likely taking it personally.
Don't be antagonistic, don't feel like you to justify everything you wrote. Just listen.

"BUT... but Meadows, I don't agree with what this person said. They're just being mean to me!"
Okay this can be one of two things. Some people are trolls who enjoy messing you around like that. They are okay to ignore if that is their intent.
But if someone is giving you a valid comment such as, "There's two mismatching verb tenses on this line and a comma splice on the next," or "You've used the same exact metaphor twice in this chapter" or "The wording here is clumsy and I had to re-read the line several times to understand what you meant," then you're not doing yourself any favors by disregarding it and/or getting all defensive.

3) Use feedback to make your writing better

If your proofreaders or readers identify bad writing habits and are taking the time out of their day to suggest things to help you improve your writing, you'd do well to take that stuff to heart and learn.
Otherwise you won't grow at all, and people will probably stop enjoying what you're writing. When that happens, they'll eventually stop reading.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:31 pm

Ah, a post on feedback. That leads perfectly into what I wanted to share.

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences.

This contains some very valuable writing lessons, some great examples of what not to do, and is probably one of the more entertaining reviews that you're ever likely to read. It's written by a man that really knew his stuff when it came to writing as well. That man being Mark Twain.

(Some of the stuff may be a tad out of date now when it comes to wording, but most of it still stands.)
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Heartless Wanderer » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:29 pm

One thing that happens commonly in fanfiction, which is a major pet peeve of mine, is that people have a tendency to Gary Stu-ify or Mary Stu-ify (depending upon gender) existing characters within a fandom, often the protagonist. This isn't even as simple as under-emphasizing their flaws because they didn't quite catch all of the existing characterization... it's a lot more blatant, what I'm referring to. It's extremely common in the Naruto, Harry Potter, and Persona categories. A common example is the "Harry Potter decides out of the blue to be manly and independent and 'F*CK DUMBLEDORE' because this is how he SHOULD have been in the actual books!" trope, probably with a side of Tracey Davis or Daphne Greengrass and a copious scoop of "suddenly Harry is the Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter/Peverell and thus a major political figure (also emancipated), and by the way Dumbledore's been embezzling from his family vaults because Dumbledore is suddenly evil now".

This often is emphasized by Harry either going on a sudden and very rapid athletic streak that makes him toned and manly-looking, or just being well-muscled to start with despite him being rather skinny in canon. It's also often accompanied by him either switching to contacts or using some as-yet-unknown magical medical operation to correct his eyesight. Basically the upshot is that the writer intentionally overwrites all discernible character flaws, both internal and external, with textbook "perfect heroic badass" characteristics. Usually making him an asshole in the process, because somehow that makes him cool and sexy (question mark)? Similar with Naruto. Suddenly he's all emo, serious about his work, and doesn't wear orange because in a spark of revelation he's realized what a stupid thing that is for a ninja to do. Also he's Jonin-level in skill and intelligence, has about sixteen bloodline powers, and lords over his status as the Fourth Hokage's son for epic monetary and/or political win.

It's so overbearing it's like being whacked over the skull with a man-shaped wooden plank. Said wooden plank being the "character."

It's common to see original characters with Sueish qualities because, if nothing else, they're often the product of writers who aren't used to writing characters to begin with. But when you take an existing and already-defined character and strip them of both their personalities and external appearances because they aren't PERFECT enough for you, you're pretty much defecating on everything they actually are. It's like an insult to the writer who made them. I hate it when people do that. So presumptuous. It's like they think they're a better writer than the writer is. What they fail to grasp is that by making everything about these characters "perfect" they're removing the imperfections that make the story go.

Or else they're just using it all as a way of shouting their discontent with the story itself through a metaphorical megaphone, bashing the characters or plot elements they didn't like with every other paragraph. At which point I wonder why they're even writing fanfiction at all, since they don't seem to like the source material overmuch.

This isn't a problem with Katawa Shoujo fanfiction yet, but I get the sense that's partly because there isn't much of it yet. There have been one or two "perfect flowery ending rewrites" in the category that basically amount to "The ending from the novel, except the characters don't screw up the way they did so it ends with less drama and more perfect sappy comfortable non-awkwardness because I don't like that they had to actually overcome an emotional speedbump at any stage of the relationship," but it's the exception rather than the rule, and I hope to God it stays that way. Even though I don't believe in God.


So... yeah.

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