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A Guide to Writing Fanfiction
12-05-2009, 08:01 AM (This post was last modified: 12-05-2009 08:10 AM by Triple Star Kirby!.)
Post: #1
A Guide to Writing Fanfiction
A Guide to Writing Fanfiction
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Contents
  • Introducion
  • Layout
  • Common Fanfiction Mistakes
  • A Beginner's Guide to Characters
  • Conclusion

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Updates
  • A Guide to Writing Fanfiction becomes the first stickied thread in the Writing Library

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  • Welcome to A Guide to Writing Fanfiction
The purpose of this short guide is to give everyone a few pointers on how to not suck at writing. Too often, stories are written poorly, and every time you write a bad story, a kitten dies. This guide sets out to fix that. It's not that hard to write a story that doesn't give a kitten sudden cardiac arrest, and we hope that by the time you're finished reading, you'll be able to save some kittens and improve your writing!

  • Layout-Making your Fanfic presentable and easy to read, navigate and edit.
It is very important to have your fanfic organized in a manner that makes it both interesting to the reader and easy to navigate. Below are some tips to help you make your fanfic look awesome.

Date: 4 December 2009
Last Update: 4 December 2009

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Section One: The First Post
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The first post is arguably the most important post in your entire thread. This is not only where you explain what your story is about, but where the first chapter of your story will be. If it's not enough to keep people interested, they will stop right there and go somewhere else.

It's a good idea to link the user to each chapter of your story at the end of the first post. People will be commenting on your story after each new installment you post, and having a link to every new chapter at the end of post one is a common courtesy so your readers don't have to go hunting. It also helps you as the author, as it provides quick and easy access to any specific chapter for any purpose you need it for, such as editing.
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Section One A: Example
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Click here

In this example, you will see everything we previously outlined:
  • Introduction to the story
  • Story's first installment
  • Links to future chapters at bottom of first post

If you'd rather start your story with Chapter One instead of a prologue, that's perfectly fine. A prologue is better if you'd like to provide some background before the main story works. If you'd rather jump right in, it's okay to skip the prologue and head straight to Chapter One.
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Section Two: Story Layout
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A story layout is exactly what it sounds like - an outline to the plot of your story. Each section of the layout should include only major points in your story, with additional things added as needed.

This is the most important part to your story. For any story to be successful, you should have the entire story planned out ahead of time. This way you can write without worrying about shooting yourself in the foot later on by doing something silly like forgetting one of your characters is blind and making her respond verbally to another character's body movements.

Obviously, you don't want to include the story layout in a public place. Don't leave it in your head, either - you may forget certain details that you want to use. Write it down somewhere so you can always have it handy in case you need to refer to it.

A story layout also helps you make better chapters, since you know where exactly you'd like the chapter to end.
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Section Two A: Example
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Here's the layout for the first few chapters of the above example:

As you can see, the main points of each chapter are present. Character-specific traits should be included in your character outline, which is briefly mentioned later.

  • Common Fanfic Mistakes
AVOID THESE AT ALL COSTS
These are the common spelling and grammar mistakes that people will make when they write a fanfic. This section is meant to prevent these errors from occurring in the future.

Date: 10 August 2009
Last Update: 10 August 2009

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Section One: Chapter Length
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This is what kills a lot of stories. Many times, you will find stories written by people who have chapters that aren't much longer than this sentence, and it's aggravating.

One paragraph does not make a chapter.

There is no law on how long your chapters should be, though it is in your best interest to provide enough to keep the reader wanting to continue your story. If your chapter ends in three sentences, the reader will likely be turned off to the rest of your story. In the above example, chapters vary in length, ranging from barely over 2,000 to nearly 20,000. Anything within this limit is perfectly acceptable, but as a rule of thumb, if your entry is less than 1,000 words, it's not long enough.
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Section Two: Dialogue
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The #1 most common error in stories.

Let's say George buys a ball at the store and shows Jim the ball. Jim comments on the ball. This is what is usually present:

One day, George bought a ball at the store. He took it to his friend Jim and showed it to him. "Jim, check this ball out." George said. "That ball looks pretty awesome!" Jim said. "I know, right? It's my favorite color." George said. "Want to go bounce it around? It'll be fun." "Sure." Jim said.

This is bad. Let's fix it.

1. When you have a conversation with two people, every time a new person talks, it goes on a new line. NO EXCEPTIONS.
2. If the last sentence in spoken dialogue would end in a period, replace the period with a comma if there is ANYTHING after the dialogue, even two words like "Jim said." It should retain the period only if there are no words after the dialogue.
2. Did you notice that every time someone speaks, it says "(name) said?" That makes your story bland. It's okay to use it more than once, but not in such close proximity. There are other words you can use to convey "said."
3. While we know what happened, we only have bare bones information. Add a little meat to your paragraphs by describing stuff! What does the ball look like? Why does Jim think that ball is pretty awesome?

Let's fix up this example. Note the changes!

Today was the day. George had finally saved up enough money to buy the ball he'd had his eyes on for two months. It glowed in all the colors of the rainbow, and every time it bounced, it made the sounds of children's laughter.

He raced to the store, anxious to get his prize. George was like a man possessed, rushing past the video games and scented candle to the ball section, where just one more of the glowing balls remained. With a smile on his face, he carried it triumphantly to the cash register and happily paid the $42.95 for the toy.

"Would you like a bag for this?" the cashier asked.

"Nope! I'll bounce it home!" George exclaimed, wasting no time in tearing the protective box from the ball.

George was psyched. He laughed along with the ball all the way home, where his best friend Jim was waiting. George ran over to Jim and showed him his new ball. "Jim, check this ball out!" he shouted, presenting the glowing sphere for Jim's analysis.

"That ball looks pretty awesome!" Jim cried out. He was jealous of George and wanted a glowing ball for his very own.

"I know, right? It's my favorite color!" George said as the ball turned a lovely shade of blue. Noticing Jim's interest, he decided to be a good friend. "Want to go bounce it around? It'll be fun."

"Sure," Jim said, trying hard to contain his excitement.


In addition to what we know before, we now know more things:
- The ball glows in all colors of the rainbow
- It makes sounds of children's laughter when you bounce it
- Jim is George's best friend
- Jim wants a glowing ball too
- George's favorite color is blue
- George is a nice person, he shared his ball with his friend

However, when adding details, make sure not to overdo the description.
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Section Three: Common Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
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Most times you'll find that a fanfic is littered with various spelling and grammar mistakes. We researched some of the common grammatical errors as well as the 100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English. There you will find a list of some commonly misspelled words...its always a good idea to run your chapters through a MS Word spell check to make sure your fanfic is free of errors.

Here are some of the most common grammatical errors found and examples on how to use these tricky words correctly.

1. Using “it’s” for “its” or vice-versa.

Bad: Arceus is very strong because it’s base stats are each 120!

Good: Arceus is very strong because its base stats are each 120!

Bad: The Palkia is roaring and its destroying the city.

Good: The Palkia is roaring and it’s destroying the city.

2. Using “they’re” for “their” or “there”.

Bad: There training in the park with they’re Pokémon.

Good: They’re training in the park with their Pokémon.

3. Using “affect” for “effect” or vice-versa.

Bad: Normal-Type moves do not effect Gengar.

Good: Normal-Type moves do not affect Gengar.

4. Using “your” for “you’re” or vice-versa.

Bad: Your a bad Pokémon trainer!

Good: You’re a bad Pokémon trainer!

5. Using “then” for “than” or vice-versa.

Bad: My Pokémon are stronger then your Pokémon!

Good: My Pokémon are stronger than your Pokémon!

6. Subject-verb disagreement.

Bad: The trainers has many different kinds of Pokémon.

Good: The trainers have many different kinds of Pokémon.

7. Using “good” instead of “well”.

Bad: You battle really good!

Good: You battle really well!

  • A Beginners Guide to Characters
This part of our guide is meant to stress the importance of characters in a fanfic as well as show you how to make the characters in your fanfic stand out from the rest!

Date: 10 August 2009
Last Update: 10 August 2009

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Section One: Variety and Creativity
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These are the two most important traits when it comes to designing characters. First of all, when designing multiple characters in a fanfic, you should make sure that your characters have a good mix of diverse backgrounds with different character traits, histories, personalities and physical characteristics. This gives your characters shape. Instead of talking about Joe and his friend John, who are both 6'0 with blond hair and blue eyes, you're now talking about Tyler, the small, but very intelligent kid and Lenore, this cutest girl in school who has all the friends, but a struggling family life at home.
Please Note: These examples of characters are completely made up. All names and details were purely fiction.

Sometimes the characters in a story are what people remember most; Ishmael in Moby Dick and George and Lenny in Of Mice and Men to name a few. These characters are all different in their own personal sense, and form a very important piece of making their respective literary classics famous.

Be creative with the characters you write about! Do research on ethnic groups, foreign cultures and traditions to give your characters a little more authenticity. These things are not all you can do, but will certainly help develop your characters throughout the course of a fanfic.

Make sure you go into detail with your character. Describe all bad habits, tendencies and downfalls of your characters as well as the things that they are especially good at...their talents, opinions, and defining personality traits such as bravery, obedience, intellect, wit, and arrogance.
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Section Two: Goals and Aspirations
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Every character should have something it is striving towards through the course of a story. If you take almost any character in a popular or famous novel or story, they will almost always have a main goal they are always gearing towards.

Take Batman for example; Batman wants to rid Gotham City of all criminals and evil. In every comic or story you see Batman in, he's always trying to accomplish that goal, one way or another. This is another major key to success in good characters; it tells you more about their drive to succeed and their personality. We can all tell that Batman is brave, determined and focused when reading his comics because he's always trying to defend the city and fight crime.
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Section Three: A Character's Motivation
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A good element commonly used to define a character is their motivation. Whether it be from an accident that happened long ago or a recent event that made them motivated towards just a sense of normalcy, motivation is a key factor in a character and what it does.

The best example of this is Dorothy, the little girl who gets swept off to the Wonderful World of Oz. Her main motivation throughout the story, and then film, is the want to return to her normal life, her home, and her family. This motivates her to do whatever it takes--Going to Emerald City, finding, and proceeding to speak to the Wizard of Oz, and ultimately defeat The Wicked Witch of the West, the main villain in The Wizard of Oz.
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Section Four: Similarities and Common Goals
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This next section refers when you have multiple characters all working together towards a common goal. While these characters are different in personality, background and opinions how did they all become friends? Why are they all working together? These are details that should never be left unnoticed and should be added to give your characters yet another dimension to them. It could be a good thing, bad thing, or just fate that put them in the same situation at the same time. That is up to you, the writer, to figure out and express in the clearest way possible without literally saying so.
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Section Five: Attitudes towards other characters
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While this dosent seem like much compared to all that we have discussed so far, attitudes towards other characters are a very important and useful element of character growth. What we, as people, think of others influences everything about us; How we act in front of certain people, what we say, what we choose to do, etc. Characters opinions of others can shape a storyline, from mistakes happening as a result of miscommunication or building the intensity when a character that one dearly loved dies, and they never get to express how they truly feel. Try to express different characters thoughts throughout your story to give readers a better idea of the characters feelings and decisions.

Overall, your set of characters will make or break a story. What they do will shape your story, what becomes of them will BE your story. Keep these tips in mind when creating your characters, and hopefully this will help you refine and develop the stars of your fanfic!

For a more advanced version of the Character Guide, check out A Guide to Characters by Vergere.

  • Conclusion
Please use these guidelines to your advantage when writing. The ultimate goal of this is to make at least one person's next fanfic better, and that can be you. We hope that you are able to use this guide as an advantage.

We're gonna leave this open for comments and suggestions, so feel free to post your thoughts of the guide.

-Triple Star Kirby
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12-05-2009, 08:59 AM
Post: #2
RE: A Guide to Writing Fanfiction
Good, except it has tons of links to other places in the Beach... which is accroding to the rules, illegal.
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12-05-2009, 09:50 AM
Post: #3
RE: A Guide to Writing Fanfiction
It actually has 2 links to the beach...
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12-05-2009, 09:58 AM
Post: #4
RE: A Guide to Writing Fanfiction
Ok, whatever. Still, get rid of the links or I will have to give you 20%. Just deactivate the hyperlinks.
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