Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

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

Post by NekoDude » Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:41 am

Numb wrote:While you're at it, do some research on the finer details of rural Japanese architecture, wildlife, and culture. Yamaku is in a countryside setting, and the nearby town is likely full of old people due to Japan's ageing population.
Except that it isn't. The location officially given would place it in the city itself, which is logically inconsistent with the way it's portrayed (having to take a bus into the city, for example). I picked something that was moderately consistent with both, and stuck it in a suburb which has a 7-11 and some restaurants, but otherwise is just pretty much residential (Moniwadai). However I did assume that this suburb is mostly filled with older people, especially since there are a couple elder care facilities there. I also assumed the fact that middle aged people are in better condition now than their parents were at the same age applies to Japan as much as it does to areas I'm directly familiar with. Old age still sucks, it just comes ten years later.

I'm not sure the population of the area around the school is that critical though, simply because the story isn't about them. Obviously you want to be somewhat consistent with reality, but it's just not up there on the priority scale with getting the characters right. No matter the demographics, chances are the student-age characters are going to be running with other student-age characters, whether their proportions overall are large or small.

A tip I'd give is to attempt to make characters fulfill more than one purpose to keep the size of the cast reasonable, and also to allow them to interact with each other more. The longer a work gets, the more people are going to appear in it. This is pretty much inevitable. The cast doesn't get smaller unless it's a horror setting or GRRM-esque. Even in the latter case, characters tend to be added faster than they are killed off. This isn't just for the sake of the reader, although that's certainly important. There comes a point where it's hard for the author to keep up on names and faces and descriptions. Don't be afraid to make more Yuukos — characters given multiple roles for the sake of reducing complexity without reducing plot.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Jun 13, 2015 5:35 pm

There is no "official" location.
There is one post by cpl_crud that says that when he is thinking of Yamaku, he imagines Sendai castle and that a lot of the visual descriptions were inspired by that area - not that Yamaku canonically stands in the location of Sendai castle.

There are multiple places in the VN that refer to the settlement below Yamaku as a "small town" and even some that explicitly state that it has a predominantly elderly population, e.g.:
"I can't help but notice the age range among the people here is skewed towards the elderly, something that I'd also noticed when I was walking around town."
from Hanakos Act 1 ending
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:13 pm

While i do like that the location of the school isn't given, it does cause a few odd things in fanfiction where they can't refer to the nearby town or city directly and simply say, "The/this town/city." or other little odd things like how there never seems to be named shops anywhere except for the Shanghai.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Helbereth » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:35 am

It's because KS isn't about the place as much as it is the people. You could transplant the story to somewhere in Europe, America, Australia, or otherwise, change some of the local references (Euros instead of Yen, 4th of July instead of Tanabata, etc.), and it would still work on a fundamental level. The cast of characters wouldn't need to change except to inherit new names, perhaps slightly different descriptions, and they would still function within the bounds of most modern societies. Even their internal struggles, family pressures, rivalries, flaws, and other character-forming details would need little or no change.

KS is about the people, not the place.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:01 am

True enough.

Anyway. Here's a tip or two.

-1. If you can, get someone to read your dialogue out loud. This may seem a little odd to some people, but it can help you figure out whether it flows well, or so you can hear how it sounds and see if it sounds natural or not.

-2. Come up with a beginning, middle, and end for your story right away. We've all watched a TV show, played a game, or read a book that was really awesome up until the ending. Or maybe you watched a movie that you thought had a brilliant ending and opening, but felt the middle just dragged on.
I usually find that a good way to avoid things like this is to have a firm idea of what is at the end of each of these sections. For these forums i would say that Begging, Middle, End can be represented by Act 1, 2, 3 in your fan fic. Just come up with the end scene, or chapter for that act before you begin writing the first one. It can help keep the ending, or the entire act, from feeling like it's rushed or in irregular in quality.

(Well there is my penance for momentarily sounding like a dunce.)

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:31 pm

Numb wrote:If you're having trouble writing a character when you first start out, try writing a full history for them. Example: I'm currently working on a new project and struggled to get a solid grasp on what kind of character I want the romantic focus to be, so I've made a new document with details from their exact birth date and the hospital they were born in, it's relative distance from the childhood home, and the occupation of the parents. Even small details like what influenced their hair style, what they were like as a baby, toddler and child before teenage years. Not only will it give you a much stronger character, it will make all characters related to their development stronger as a result, which will end up making even your side characters very unique.
There's also this
LorSquirrel wrote:True enough.

Anyway. Here's a tip or two.
-2. Come up with a beginning, middle, and end for your story right away. We've all watched a TV show, played a game, or read a book that was really awesome up until the ending. Or maybe you watched a movie that you thought had a brilliant ending and opening, but felt the middle just dragged on.
I usually find that a good way to avoid things like this is to have a firm idea of what is at the end of each of these sections. For these forums i would say that Begging, Middle, End can be represented by Act 1, 2, 3 in your fan fic. Just come up with the end scene, or chapter for that act before you begin writing the first one. It can help keep the ending, or the entire act, from feeling like it's rushed or in irregular in quality.
I have a different mindset on writing. I like to think of it as taking a roadtrip with the characters. You start out, you know where you want to end, and you have a few stops (scenes) you'd like to visit on the way. However as you get more comfortable, you tend to turn the driving over to your characters, and sometimes they take detours, make unexpected stops, and skip places you intended completely. You might not even end up in the same place you meant to go to when you started.

Another tip. If you start writing something and find you've written yourself into a corner, then there's a good chance it's because earlier you wrote something that isn't entirely in character for one of your cast members. If you haven't posted it already, you might want to go back, delete a few scenes and start again.

If you HAVE posted it already, you could explore why that one action WASN'T out of character and how it made perfect sense to the person who did it. It might even add some depth to who you were writing.

Alternatively, adding a different character into a scene could jump start things. For example, If you're Hanako/Hisao conversation has turned into a dead lock of awkward silences and random small talk, a surprise visit by the student council or a sudden Kenji appearance could very well get things moving again. On that note, a personal preference of mine is to believe that every character who appears in the story has their own story going on at the same time. The readers might get little hints and details, but they never get the whole thing. It's just not that characters story.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by brythain » Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:40 pm

Oddball wrote:
Numb wrote:If you're having trouble writing a character when you first start out, try writing a full history for them.
On that note, a personal preference of mine is to believe that every character who appears in the story has their own story going on at the same time. The readers might get little hints and details, but they never get the whole thing. It's just not that characters story.
These two comments are fundamentals for me. It's a 'real world' out there, that the author is discovering (and uncovering) for the reader. The more you make that world seem real, by weaving in real-world as well as 'real world' references that cohere, the more likely it will be that you can help the reader think of your characters as real.

One obstacle to that is writing Japanese characters as Japanese to a Western audience. I try to 'hybridise' by making them both Japanese and English. :D It doesn't always work...
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.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:22 am

I honestly use the road trip method myself for most of my works. I just like to know exactly what I'm ending on so I know which way to steer the story after I've had my fun with the side stuff.

Tip! When writing a character, write out a small conversation scene with them and another character. It can be helpful for feeling out how a character will work for the story.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:32 am

There's a chance that this is more my problem than that of the writers and it's not something I see very often, still, I think it's worth mentioning.

I'm not good with Japanese names. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm not the only one that's bad with them. In fact, I know some writers out there are as bad as I am. I've seen people mix up male and female names and use family names as given names and vise versa. When characters only go by their family name, it doesn't help matters either.

Don't assume that we know what gender your character is just by their name. I just read a story where I couldn't figure out whether the point of view character was male or female for quite sometime. (The fact that they turned out to be homosexual also threw me a bit.)
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:49 pm

I recently discovered another pitfall I was falling into that I hope I can relate here, so others can avoid it.

Fanfiction is inspired by the concept of "what if." At each point in a story, there's an infinite numbers of places you can branch out from: a single line of dialogue, an action, a look, or something seemingly inconsequential that can have drastic effects later on down the road.

When you start writing a character, or a story, you can take it anywhere you want within the confines of the universe it's set in. For characters, you can define their traits, their hopes, their dreams, their motivations, their mannerisms, etc. For stories, you can define the location, the events, the timing, and everything that happens.

It's like looking at a blank sheet of paper: You can draw anything.

One of the hardest things to come to grips with though, when faced with all these possibilities, is that as you move forward with a story or a character, you end up closing doors. You still have control over where you want your story to go, but it's more like changing lanes on a highway...you have to go the same general direction.

There are three big mistakes that are really common when you don't realize this.

1) Your story stays in limbo, because you want to leave as many doors open as possible. You don't really move the plot forward, because every action leaves you thinking about what you can't do with a story, instead of what you can do. I'm guilty of this and it's a habit I'm trying to break.

2) By not realizing that you will be closing doors no matter what, it's very easy to write yourself into a corner. You may want to get to one place in the story, but you've progressed in a certain way that it's nearly impossible to get there with how you've limited yourself. If you have a clear plan of where you want the story to go, you can come up with a roadmap that will minimize this.

3) If you're stuck at #2, it's really tempting to use some sort of literary dues-ex-machina element to force your story back on track. 99% of the time this will be seen for what it is, and it completely takes a reader out of the immersive experience you want to give them. That's not to say it can't be done, and done brilliantly in some aspects...but it is by far the most difficult thing to do convincingly.

In short - don't let your characters or story paralyze themselves because you're scared of closing off possibilities. Know why you're making the choices your making, and have confidence in the direction you choose to take.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat May 21, 2016 6:47 pm

For everyone who has trouble keeping their tenses and narrative voices straight - this story is an excellent showcase of what pitfalls to avoid!
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Fri Jul 08, 2016 4:58 pm

All established characters should have flaws or some type. More importantly, those flaws need to be more than just implied. They should actually get the character into trouble at some point. Saying a character is too helpful and too nice isn't a real flaw unless he (or she) tried to help out when it's obvious that they shouldn't. (See Hanako's bad ending or Hisao assisting with Rin's art exhibit for examples.) For another example, saying your character has a temper isn't a problem unless they lose it when they shouldn't. Do they get mad at yell at somebody that doesn't deserve it? Do they actually punch somebody for something that was “just a joke”? That's one thing I tend to look at in longer works. When does the character completely fuck things up?

Whatever they do, there needs to be consequences for it. A character getting off light with just a simple appology cheats your readers.

Even better, is when two different characters have flaws that collide.

Okay, next point.

Let's say you're writing a character that's described as sporty and athletic. When you set a scene in this characters room, you might be tempted to describe all the sports equipment, trophies, sports posters, and all that they have in their room. It's not the best way to do things. People are complex. They have a variety of tastes. They've been different places, done different things. They've picked up different nicknacks. Let's face it, when you go over to a person's place in real life, there's always something you look at an go, “Well, that's neat. Where did that come from?” Why should fictional characters be any different? Give their place a lived in look.

Let's take Shizune for example. We know who she is, we know what she's about, but when you go into her room for the first time, you see …

… An old paper-maiche volcano sitting on top of her dresser.
Or that she's the only person in the whole building that has bright red carpet on her floor.
Or she has an old Halloween costume tacked to her wall.
Or a bright feather boa hanging of the back of her chair.
Or a do-it-yourself Sailor Moon model kit that's badly painted and the wrong colors.

Now you think, “Hey, that's kinda neat. I wonder what the story behind that is,” and suddenly you have a whole new aspect of the character to explore or a story to tell.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:09 pm

So, I suddenly remembered that these forums existed and decided to come back and see what's been going on with all of you. I've been continuing to write fan fiction for other games and the like and figured I might as well share some advice I've gathered over the past couple of months.


Most new writers, including myself, seem to have an odd way of writing chapters for our chapter; we tend to write our chapters all in a single big session, or in several small ones over the course of about three days. During these sessions it seems like a common trend that when we come to a point in the chapter where we don't know how to continue writing, either because of a character description we can't quite put into word, a line of dialogue that we can't seem to make sound right, or any number of other things. Most people who encounter this have one of two responses, they either spend a ridiculous amount of time focusing on that one thing and trying to figure out how to continue from it, or they spend a few minutes on it, get ticked off, go play Pokemon Go or something, and then take another go at it after a day or two.


Don't do this. You will get to a point where you will eternally be stuck on that one part, or be stuck on it for a stupid amount of a time (I once spent two days on a single description). The best thing I've learned to do in this situation is to just finish it and move on. It doesn't matter if it looks like crap, you have all the time in the world to go back to that part after the chapter is done. Don't be afraid to just finish it up even if it looks like sin to you. Thinking that your chapter has to be pitch perfect the first time around is something that a lot of new writers have problems with, mostly there is some kind of belief that if it isn't perfect immediately then it will never be good. I honestly don't know where the belief comes from, but it's there.


You have all the time in the world to go over your chapter, figure out what's wrong, where it's wrong and how to fix it, but it's easier to do that once the chapter is actually complete. It's fan fiction, it won't be perfect right off the bat and people aren't going to be chomping at the bit for your next chapter when they have literally thousands of other chapters to read from other writers.


One other note: You don't have to post something immediately after you finish writing it. This is something that a few other FF writers and myself have fallen into constantly when we started out, I know it's exciting when you finish that pretty new chapter, I know it looks like pure gold to you, I know that two thousand plus word count looks impressive, I know you want to bestow the planet with this second coming that you've written, but if you go all Shia Leabeouf and "Just post it," I guarantee there will be problems, big problems. Problems so big and glaring that not even the most blind and deaf bat could miss. Some people will be willing to over looks these, others will kindly point it out (Mirage_GSM is a saint for pointing out all my screw ups as kindly as he did.), but most people will just be turned off by it and quietly leave.


Just let the thing sit for awhile, maybe a few days, or even a week. Read through it a couple of time, make sure there are no big teepos (I make myself laugh.), take some time to figure out if a few parts could be removed for pacing's sake, try to make sure you aren't repeating the same word over and over and over again (Such as having the word 'going' thirty time in the span of five paragraphs, the internet is right in front of you, look up a few synonyms for God's sake.) and don't forget that even after doing all of this that you will probably have a few missed typos, something that wasn't quite clear enough, or a character that didn't work that well. It might seem demoralizing after all that time, but just remember that it would have been worse if you didn't take your time, and as several people have said on this very thread; it's good to listen to criticism and feedback. Use it to improve your work and your own techniques, it'll be worth it in the long run.


Also, try not to just copy someone else's style of writing, or storytelling. Feel free to take inspiration, but also try out some of your own ideas, the world would be very dull if all we ever did was try to copy other people.


That's all that really jumps to mind atm. Hope it helped in some way.

-LS

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:40 pm

I posted something about spacing in dialogue earlier on in this thread, but recently I went into a bit more detail on the topic and on formatting in general in a PM, and after asking the other party for permission here is the content of that PM. Hope it helps.

***

First of all paragraphs are there to make the story more easy to read. They give the story a structure. As you write you have the scene planned out in your head (hopefully), but your readers don't know what to expect. By seperating your scene in paragraphs you give the reader a visual clue of when the acting person or the train of thought of the narrator is changing.

You don't usually use a line break at all except in conjunction with a paragraph. In a dialogue situation you usually use a single paragraph for the lines and actions of a single character and use the next paragraph once the next character starts to act/speak. Hence in this situation...
"Hmm.. Oh! that's Natsume and Naomi. They're over the Newspaper club at Yamaku," Misha says in an uncharacteristically quiet voice.
"They meet here a lot too when they have Newspaper business to talk about. Wahaha~!"
"Naomi is the one with light hair and Natsume is the one with t-" her voice cuts off abruptly when Shizune gives her a light jab in the ribs before quickly signing something to her.
...Everything is said by Misha, so it should be a single paragraph without linebreaks. The last bit is technically Shizune's action but it can also be seen as the reason for Misha to stop speaking, so it's okay. If you were to split that bit off in aseperate sentence, it would go in a new paragraph.
What is downright confusing is that you end Misha's quotation after the "Wahaha" and start right after with another line by her. An end of quotation usually announces that someone else is going to speak, and I had to read the line again to be sure it was still Misha.
If you want to show a pause at that point you have to explain it to the reader.
So my suggestion for the formatting of that section would be like this:
"Hmm.. Oh! that's Natsume and Naomi. They're over the Newspaper club at Yamaku," Misha says in an uncharacteristically quiet voice. "They meet here a lot too when they have Newspaper business to talk about. Wahaha~!" She pauses for breath. "Naomi is the one with light hair and Natsume is the one with t-"

Her voice cuts off abruptly when Shizune gives her a light jab in the ribs before quickly signing something to her.

Misha turns her attention back to me and continues where she left off, only in a more whispered voice now. "Natsume is the one with two different colored eyes and darker hair." She let's out a muffled giggle, probably laughing at the thought of having to be quiet.
(Since Misha continues speaking after the interruption I did split up Shizune's part to break it up a bit. Otherwise it would be one large paragraph - matter of preference, really.)

Outside of dialogue situations - when the protagonist describes something - the rules are much more fluid. You still use line breaks only in conjunction with paragraphs, but where you put the paragraphs is more up to choice. You can put them when the narrator has a slight change in topic (i.e. when he is looking around the room, then out the window) or simply to break up blocks that are too large. I usually try to keep paragraphs at around 4-5 lines maximum (except for stylistic reasons like Rin's rambles in her route).

My suggestion for the following section would be like this:
My expectant gaze is only met with a quick nod and smile from the duo in front of me. I take the hint to not push the subject any further and lean back into my seat as the two of them begin signing back and forth, apparently picking back up on their conversation that I had interrupted. I was expecting some kind of joke at my expense from the two of them, but all I received was a vague answer to my question. That doesn't sit right with me for some reason. (<-This is concluding his interaction with Misha and Shizune, so I would make it a single paragraph)

I finish off what's left of my now lukewarm coffee and begin scanning the room again. (<-Could be part of the next paragraph as well)

My eyes are soon drawn back to the girls across the room. I try my best not to stare, but people-watching was always a pretty fun hobby of mine when I used to walk the city streets while my parents were working. Their conversation seems to have died down a little, as the light haired girl... Naomi, has her hands resting on the edge of the table in front of her now. My eyes drift to the other side of their table as I study Natsume.(<-Gereneral description of the room leading over to...)

The sleeves of her blouse are pulled up to her elbows, and the bow at her collarbone is loosened slightly with the top button undone. It's a good look for her. She seems to have a similar body type to Shizune, but probably a few inches shorter and a more relaxed posture, it's hard to tell when someone is sitting down though. My eyes trace her cheek and onto her small nose which is holding up a small pair of reading glasses. She's very cute.(<-Description of Natsume)

Something instantly grabs my attention from her nose; It's her eyes. Her left eye is a light brown color, but her right eye is a smooth, almost transparent, emerald color. It's...well, beautiful, really. I catch my self starting to stare and snap back into reali-(<-More detailed description. Could be the same paragraph as the last, but the "She's very cute" is a good point for a break)

Oh crap. (<-This is an internal exclamation. To set it apart from normal narration I usually use italics)

My gaze is met by her own as our eyes connect from across the room. I feel blood rushing to my face instantly as I snap my head away as if I was just punched in the jaw by an invisible boxer. The girls in front of me have quit signing and are looking at me as though I just grew another head.(<-Could be two paragraphs but they would be very short, so I'd segue from Natsume back to his own table in this one)
As you see from the comments it would be possible to segment it differently, but this way the reader has comfortable chunks of 3-5 lines and can pause at the end of each to digest the contents if neccessary without cutting one train of thought in half.

Finally, a scene change is usually there to signify either a change of location or a time-skip.
I usually use an extra paragraph with just three asterisks for that:
...
End of scene A.

***

Start of scene B...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:36 am

I started writing this out as a comment to another story, but decided it worked as a general thing.

Doing those, "everybody gets back together years later" stories is hard. Real hard. If you're going to do it you can't expect everybody to have gotten the happy ending. Not everyone is successful.
Shizune might NOT be her own boss and in charge of everything.
Emi may have been Yamaku's best but when she tries to compete professionally, she just realizes that she's only "good".

Play with the readers expectations.
You talk Hisao goes into teaching. Okay.... but he doesn't go back to Yamaku. Myabe they won't even look at his application without five years experience teaching elsewhere.
Hanako and Hisao got the bad ending in their relationship. Years later, they're still friends.

Somebody that may have started out one way in life may have taken a different path.
Lilly discovers she doesn't actually enjoy teaching as much as she thinks. Maybe she does something, meets somebody, and ends up doing audio books professionally.

I'd also suggest DON'T bring back the entire cast.
Maybe Rin moved away after graduation and nobody has heard from her since.
Maybe Misha started sending e-mail and letters at first, but they started to slowly trickle down and eventually everybody just lost contacts with her.

Maybe there's a minor character from the game that's stepped into a more major role. They didn't really know Taro or Rika back at school, but they met up again later and have since become "part of the gang."

Don't be afraid to have some new characters or even some other characters from the casts past come back. It's no more unrealsitic to think that one of the girls still knows one of their Middle School buddies than it is to think they still know all their highschool friends.
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