Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

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jjm152
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by jjm152 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:49 pm

Oh also, I thought I'd share some advice on chapter length.

I often used to wonder what was an "appropriate" length for a chapter myself, particularly since I was prone to pumping out chapters between 10,000 and 20,000 words on a regular basis. I think the short answer to the question of "How long should my chapter be?" is probably "As long as you want", but delving past that -

I started shortening my chapters to about 5000 to 6000 words on average. The reasoning behind this is based off of how long it takes an average person to read that length of material (approximately 20 minutes). Hence, for me personally, I am aiming to give my readers a place to "take a break" every 20 minutes or so in the reading - like say, if they have only a lunch break to read, or just want to read a bit before bed on the old tablet.

So, for me personally, I think of it as more of a consideration for the reader than anything else.

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LorSquirrel
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:20 pm

jjm152 wrote:One thing I've noticed, particularly popular with people who haven't written much, is an over reliance on first person narrative for their works.

I think as a general rule of thumb, while first person narrative is great for providing an intimate connection with a character, that also works against your fiction if you have a multitude of characters that you want to write about in intimate detail. Generally this leads to authors switching perspective frequently, which can be quite jarring considering you just spent 4000 words or so getting nestled deeply in the brain of a different character.

The strong first person narrative works I've seen here are ones where the narration perspective seldom, if ever changes. This exactly plays up to the strength of the format.

There is one other criticism about first person narrative works, or to be more accurate, it's a criticism of how they are often under utilized. The best kind of first person narrative is when the narration is obviously unreliable. That is to say, where events are obviously being colored through the perspective of the narrator and the reader is able to distinguish or otherwise understand that what they are having related to them may not be the real story. I hardly ever see anyone employ this technique, and it's brilliant and something you can only really do with this type of story perspective.

Personally I prefer third person narrative for most of my fan fiction works due to the fact that it can be just as engaging in terms of crawling into a characters head (depending on how deep you want to take the magical 'narrator voice' into their brains and feelings) but it also allows for a flexible approach with shifting from character perspective inside a scene - essentially since you are removed a degree from the character, switching perspective to relate different points of view is not as jarring.

Anyway, this is something that I seldom see discussed and I thought it might be interesting to throw it out there.
Could you link to an example of what you're talking about with the first person narrative? or at the very least write out a small example?

jjm152
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by jjm152 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:21 pm

LorSquirrel wrote:
jjm152 wrote:One thing I've noticed, particularly popular with people who haven't written much, is an over reliance on first person narrative for their works.

I think as a general rule of thumb, while first person narrative is great for providing an intimate connection with a character, that also works against your fiction if you have a multitude of characters that you want to write about in intimate detail. Generally this leads to authors switching perspective frequently, which can be quite jarring considering you just spent 4000 words or so getting nestled deeply in the brain of a different character.

The strong first person narrative works I've seen here are ones where the narration perspective seldom, if ever changes. This exactly plays up to the strength of the format.

There is one other criticism about first person narrative works, or to be more accurate, it's a criticism of how they are often under utilized. The best kind of first person narrative is when the narration is obviously unreliable. That is to say, where events are obviously being colored through the perspective of the narrator and the reader is able to distinguish or otherwise understand that what they are having related to them may not be the real story. I hardly ever see anyone employ this technique, and it's brilliant and something you can only really do with this type of story perspective.

Personally I prefer third person narrative for most of my fan fiction works due to the fact that it can be just as engaging in terms of crawling into a characters head (depending on how deep you want to take the magical 'narrator voice' into their brains and feelings) but it also allows for a flexible approach with shifting from character perspective inside a scene - essentially since you are removed a degree from the character, switching perspective to relate different points of view is not as jarring.

Anyway, this is something that I seldom see discussed and I thought it might be interesting to throw it out there.
Could you link to an example of what you're talking about with the first person narrative? or at the very least write out a small example?
Hmm? An example of what? Do you mean unreliable narration?

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LorSquirrel
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:23 pm

Yes. The unreliable narration. I apologize I should have been clearer.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by jjm152 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:35 pm

LorSquirrel wrote:Yes. The unreliable narration. I apologize I should have been clearer.
There are quite a few examples out there on Google I think, so I'll leave the searching for exact passages up to you. However, I will propose a thought experiment.

Imagine trying to write something from the first person perspective of Kenji Setou with his paranoid feminist conspiracy theories. A simple act of kindness, like lending him a pencil in class after his breaks could be interpreted as a bodily threat.

So, from:

I had been fooling around with my pencil when I accidentally broke it on the side of my desk. A classmate, Sumiko, noticed this and leaned in to offer me a replacement with an annoyed look on her face.

"Here. Try not to be so troublesome," she said.

to something like

I had been fooling around with my pencil when I accidentally broke it on the side of my desk. A classmate, Sumiko, noticed this and leaned in jabbing a pencil in my face."

"Here. Try not to be so troublesome," she said, with what I thought was a hint of malice in her voice.

-

In both cases, Kenji breaks his pencil and is offered a replacement by a classmate. In one of them, he interprets it as a threat. It's left up to an exercise of the reader to determine what version of reality is true. Often this can be contrast by switching subtly from POV, or by having other characters comment on behavior.

It's not very easy to pull off all the time, but when done well can be highly entertaining and add a lot of character to your narration.

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LorSquirrel
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:39 pm

Ah. Okay. I think I was reading the previous post wrong. I'm thinking about doing something like that with my current running fanfiction and since the OC is blind I think I could easily swing something like that. Thank you for the example btw.

jjm152
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by jjm152 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:41 pm

LorSquirrel wrote:Ah. Okay. I think I was reading the previous post wrong. I'm thinking about doing something like that with my current running fanfiction and since the OC is blind I think I could easily swing something like that. Thank you for the example btw.
That's another classic example - someone acting off, or interpreting events incorrectly due to incomplete information (particularly information that the reader knows).

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:12 pm

jjm152 wrote:One thing I've noticed, particularly popular with people who haven't written much, is an over reliance on first person narrative for their works.
I think that's a matter of taste. As you've pointed out, both first and third person narrative have their strengths, and writers of classic works across the historical and geographical spectrum have used both. The third person narrative is also popular with people who haven't written much simply because it saves them the trouble of having to get into someone's head too much.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by jjm152 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:22 pm

brythain wrote:
jjm152 wrote:One thing I've noticed, particularly popular with people who haven't written much, is an over reliance on first person narrative for their works.
I think that's a matter of taste. As you've pointed out, both first and third person narrative have their strengths, and writers of classic works across the historical and geographical spectrum have used both. The third person narrative is also popular with people who haven't written much simply because it saves them the trouble of having to get into someone's head too much.
Please "calm yo' tits" kind sirrah! It's not my intention to promote one form of narrative as being inherently superior than the other, merely to call attention to the fact that when an author uses the first person narrative in conjunction with frequent and rapid point of view changes, they are inherently working against the intimacy that the narrative is well suited to relate and this is something that I see frequently in "fanfiction" works of all stripes.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:25 pm

He wasn't saying that were promoting one as superior. He was just responding to what you said about first person narratives.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by jjm152 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:28 pm

LorSquirrel wrote:He wasn't saying that were promoting one as superior. He was just responding to what you said about first person narratives.
Perhaps I got lost reading between the lines. I took his statement as being defensive of the first person narrative, when on my part no offense was meant.

It happens. XD

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brythain
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:51 pm

jjm152 wrote:
LorSquirrel wrote:He wasn't saying that were promoting one as superior. He was just responding to what you said about first person narratives.
Perhaps I got lost reading between the lines. I took his statement as being defensive of the first person narrative, when on my part no offense was meant.

It happens. XD
Yes, indeed. :) I was merely pointing out that both first and third person narrative predominance have little to do with how long a person's been writing or how skilled they are. I've noticed it's a modern affectation in writing classes to say the latter is better. But lots of classics are written in either or both, and these date back to the dawn of writing (at least from our post-postmodern perspective). Not to mention things like author referring to self in third person, 1/3 hybrids, 1 followed by 3, 3 followed by 1, and so on. Speaking only on a personal level, I've tried all three with various degrees of success; you're welcome to have a look around and see what works.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Megumeru » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:57 pm

I'd have to agree that it is more of preference than ability to write in either third of first person narrative. Third person offers a broader perspective--like an observer, if you will--of the story that is unfolding. It's like reading a newspaper or so. First person on the other hand gives a more direct hands-on experience and lets the author to go 'deeper' with a specific character.

Switching FPN (first-person narrative) from one character to the next is the one move I find to be 'jarring'. If any, stick to a single perspective and shuffle from first to third when the need arises (e.g. When character A meets character B and the need to explain character B's action's justification. Rather than switching to character B's perspective, it is best to use character A as an observer and explain the situation)

I'm not too much in favor of either, but depending on the verse--KS in this case--I preferably stick with FPN as a primary, but again that is preference
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Silentcook » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:05 pm

Silentcook wrote:Let's keep to general tips rather than personal discussion in here. You have the rest of the Fan Fiction forum for that.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:10 pm

Silentcook wrote: :evil:
*Jumps into car and drive at full speed to mexico* See ya!

Anyway. Another tip I would give is perhaps write out a rough skeleton of the story, or perhaps even write out an entire act before you post the chapter. With the first one it gives you a clear idea of what you want to do and can keep you focused. With the second one I would recommend staggering out the release date of the chapters by about a week for each one. Why? So in case there happens to be a some big problem that occurs with a chapter or if you put something in that just doesn't work for the reader you can go in and easily change it without too much hassle.

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