Fan Forum
Remember Me?
Register

  New Forum Poll   |     Request a Forum   |     View New Forums

 
 
Thread Tools
Old 11-17-2003, 04:51 AM
  #1
Master Fan

 
Silversun's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 15,299
Things every fanfic writer should know and remember

We all want our fanfic to be better, right? This is a thread devoted to a discussion of what makes good fan fiction, no matter what the fandom. I uplifted the idea for this thread from the fanart board, cos I thought it would be a good place for readers to rant about their pet peeves, and for experienced writers to give some advice to beginners.

For me, the essential thing for a good fanfic is characterization. I just can't stress enough about it. The good thing about writing fanfic is that your characters are already carved out for you, right? If fics do not discriminate between the already-established traits of different characters, or give them a completely new vocabulary out of the blue, it loses the flavour of the show/movie/book. Fanfics, to a large extent, is wish-fulfilment: you write what you want to see, or think would be a cool scene involving the characters; but if that means your characters start spouting entirely uncharacteristic sayings, it doesn't sit right. Draco Malfoy wouldn't suddenly say something like "Harry, my love, my darling pink snuggly-pie" without some very nifty plot work, just as Michael Guerin wouldn't start crying at the sight of a fluffy bunny with a broken leg. Okay, these are OTT examples, but it works on a smaller scale too.

I also find decent spelling and grammar to be really important. You don't need to use extremely complicated vocabulary for a good fic; but you do need to run a spell-check now and then. Bad spelling/syntax is annoying for the readers and these mistakes distract people from the things that really matter, such as the plot or emotional weight of the story. I'll save my rant about the use of apostrophes for another time. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

Just opening an avenue of discussion. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
__________________
Nicky a.k.a. obsessive24

fics | vids | stupid little life
Silversun is offline  
Old 11-17-2003, 11:12 PM
  #2
Loyal Fan
 
Joined: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,739
One device that I appreciate in fanfic, that I don't notice as much in other kinds of writing, is relying on character dialogue to tell the story. Perhaps it's because I'm used to getting information this way when watching the original shows on TV.

I don't think I've ever thought, while reading a detective or sci-fi novel, that the story would move better if the author turned some of the background exposition into dialogue, but I've often thought it while reading fanfic.

So, my advice to writers: look over your story, and if you see big blocks of narration, see if you can find some opportunities to convert some of it into dialogue between characters.

And when you do, remember that each speaker gets their own paragraph, even if they only say one word.
pixiedude is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 03:17 AM
  #3
Extreme Fan
 
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,167
double post.

[ 11-18-2003: Message edited Silversun ]
__________________
"He has a quiet, fidgety manner, and a geeky, faintly academic quality."

That's my boy.
October Rain is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 03:19 AM
  #4
Extreme Fan
 
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,167
Quote:
Originally posted by Silversun:
<STRONG>

Draco Malfoy wouldn't suddenly say something like "Harry, my love, my darling pink snuggly-pie" without some very nifty plot work, just as I'll save my rant about the use of apostrophes for another time. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

Just opening an avenue of discussion. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]</STRONG>
*giggles madly* These are the two exact things I have a problem with as a reader. Oh the poor, under-valued apostrophe. *pets it*

And yes. Characterisation, especially of bad/evil characters can be extremely difficult since almost none of us are bad/evil. Trying to picture my character saying what I've written always works for me. I have read only one good Draco/Harry fic and it was only good because their (very [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]) slashy relationship was explained very well and Draco's acidic personality was not compromised in the process.

My tip: be very careful with your characterisation of bad/evil characters. These include:

Draco, Snape, Voldemort etc. Saruman, Grima, Sauron, Gollum, even Jess from Gilmore Girls.

The same goes for comedic characters such as those from That 70s Show, Friends and Gilmore Girls. Say their dialogue as the character would say it and see if it sounds OOC.

And that's all. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
__________________
"He has a quiet, fidgety manner, and a geeky, faintly academic quality."

That's my boy.
October Rain is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 04:02 AM
  #5
Master Fan

 
Silversun's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 15,299
Pixiedude, the dialogue thing is interesting. I agree with it for the most part, but I think first-person fics are an exception. If the author chose to write in the first person, we can only assume that they wanted to expose this particular character further than what the show was able to do. So perhaps one could get away with more narration than dialogue in those cases?

Quote:
Originally posted by pixiedude:
<STRONG>remember that each speaker gets their own paragraph, even if they only say one word.</STRONG>
Thank god for that! [img]smilies/sigh.gif[/img] I hate it when the fic is just one big chunk and you have no idea where one character finished speaking and another one began.

October Rain , I also really agree with your bad/evil comments. Since I'm only really into writing for the YA fandom, I don't have much experience with it - the only remotely nasty character there is Ryder, and he's hard enough. Anyone else find it really hard to come up with gritty, little barbed quips? I suck at that. I hate to see what a mess I'd make of the likes of Snape. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
__________________
Nicky a.k.a. obsessive24

fics | vids | stupid little life
Silversun is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 11:47 AM
  #6
Obsessed Fan

 
Catalinay's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 1999
Posts: 5,734
Editing fic at Crashdown for two years nearly drove me crazy... [img]smilies/lol.gif[/img] Definitely agree that a grammar check is a must!

Sometimes when I'm trying to get into a character that is totally unlike me, I'll try to find a mindset that fits the scene, in a song or something, and just let myself go and see what I come up with. It seems to work pretty well for me most of the time.
__________________
"Do you know how hard that is? To be able to love someone and hate them at the same time? I can't tear my eyes away from his... never could."
Catalinay is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 12:34 PM
  #7
Addicted Fan

 
Crossbow's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 4,443
In LotR fic, it bugs the bejeezuz out of me when people say things like "Oh, baby!" or any phrase refering to "god."

Also, SPELL CHECK ISN'T ENOUGH. It won't stop you from misusing a word. I'm webmistress of a fan fic site, and I can't tell you how many mistakes I've seen using real words.

And sex scenes that are physically impossible. Why not just advertize that you've not only never had sex, but have no knowledge of human anatomy? Write what you know. If you haven't had sex, don't write about it. It's too obvious.

Every writer, fan fic or original, should read and memorize Strunk and White's "Elements of Style."

There's a cool site called "Bad Fanfic! No Biscuit!" Let's see if I can link to it ... If not, you can find it with a search on "Bad Fanfic!" Bad Fanfic!

Oh - and good points about the dialogue. I'd never thought about it, but I feel the same way - in a novel I rarely wish there was more dialogue, but in fan fic, it seems more necessary. Hmm. This bears further discussion. Do you think it's because the original medium for the story was audio/visual?

For example, "Pirates of the Caribbean" wouldn't have been half the movie it was without Johnny Depp's performance, so a fan fic about Jack Sparrow would really fall short if there wasn't enough dialogue from him.

[ 11-18-2003: Message edited Crossbow ]
__________________
"When the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over."
"What's all over?"
"It."
Crossbow is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 03:21 PM
  #8
Master Fan

 
Silversun's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 15,299
Quote:
Originally posted by Crossbow:
<STRONG>And sex scenes that are physically impossible. Why not just advertize that you've not only never had sex, but have no knowledge of human anatomy? Write what you know. If you haven't had sex, don't write about it. It's too obvious.</STRONG>
[img]smilies/rotfl.gif[/img]

Quote:
<STRONG>
Every writer, fan fic or original, should read and memorize Strunk and White's "Elements of Style."</STRONG>
Quick Googling came up with this link if anyone wants to check it out. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

I definitely think the dialogue thing is because the original format was in dialogue. So perhaps book fanfics, like some HP stuff, can get away with more narration?

Although, I also think it's just because dialogue is intrinsically more interesting... you read stories mostly because you want to know what happens to the characters, not get lessons on life and love from the authors personally. It's fine if the author speaks through the mouth of a character, but if they just ramble on with some God's eye view commentary, it might get boring very quickly.
__________________
Nicky a.k.a. obsessive24

fics | vids | stupid little life
Silversun is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 05:23 PM
  #9
LJC
Part-Time Fan
 
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 300
I actually have a bunch of columns I wrote for Fanfiction.net up at my homepage (just ckick on 'writings') that cover a lot of my fanfic tips, tricks, ept peeves, etc.

But my big thing currently?

I miss plot. I like a little "Plot? What Plot?" smut as a treat every once in a while, but wow, do I miss stories that actually have a plot beyond getting two characters into bed/married/liplocked etc. Seriously. Romance is fun, but what happened to gen? Gen floats my boat... Character driven, plot driven, missing scenes, AUs, you name it. I read fan fiction for more of what I love--and I tend to lvoe the shows and characters themselves, and would sell my sister to find more stories that where more focused on plot than on steamy make-out sessions.
__________________
LJC is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 07:10 PM
  #10
Addicted Fan

 
alli balli's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 4,467
Quote:
For me, the essential thing for a good fanfic is characterization.
Yes! Characterization is huge for me. If you don't keep the characters true to the way they were presented in their original form, they aren't the characters anymore, and it's not really fanfic.

I used to be really into the Roswell fandom, but towards the end of that little era I got really sick of all the bad characterization. There were these few "main" authors who wrote the 'ship I liked, and whereas they got tons of praise from other people, I didn't like their fic at all. The only resemblances their characters had to the ones I knew from the show were their names and physical descriptions. Everything else about them, IMO, was way off. It was what people wanted to see, but it wasn't very true to the show. And that's not the only thing that turned me off the fandom, but it's one of them.

Also...if you don't have the idea for an original, well-laid out plot, I'd focus more on doing one-parters or missing scene type stuff. I used to try writing long ones, but since I never had them well-planned out I would end up writing myself into corners and never finish. [img]smilies/look.gif[/img] So I've found that short fics are my thing. [img]smilies/lol.gif[/img] Plus I just personally like stuff that focuses more on character study than plot anyway. Just my personal preference. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

Ack. Okay. I'm going to stop talking now.
__________________
thunder only happens when it's raining


icon credit
alli balli is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 09:10 PM
  #11
Extreme Fan
 
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,167
Sorry about the double post. FF flood controlled me. [img]smilies/look.gif[/img]

I have just read some truly awful parodies. If you want to write a parody, write it satirically and with evidence that you have a certain amount of intelligence as well as the points you have to make. It's hard to write an effective parody but don't bring the mockery on yourself by showing that you know little to nothing about the film/book/show while deluding yourself that you do.

And I agree that characterisation makes or breaks the fanfiction. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
__________________
"He has a quiet, fidgety manner, and a geeky, faintly academic quality."

That's my boy.
October Rain is offline  
Old 11-18-2003, 11:38 PM
  #12
Master Fan

 
Silversun's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 15,299
LJC - you rock! [img]smilies/love.gif[/img] I loved the critiques up at your site.

Well-plotted stories are hard to come by these days. Although, I have to admit I'm guilty of a short attention span, so sometimes I don't give longer fics a chance because I just want a tiny fic to read and be done with it, you know? Perhaps this is true for other readers as well, and that was part of the reason why people don't usually write epics - because they end up under-valued? [img]smilies/look.gif[/img]

Quote:
Originally posted by alli balli:
<STRONG>It was what people wanted to see, but it wasn't very true to the show. </STRONG>
This brings up another of my pet peeves. How many times have you read a story and found it to be utter wish-fulfilment with nearly no connection to canon? Like I said earlier, most fanfic are wish-fulfilment to a degree; but it's quite horrible to read if this element is really transparent. You read it and feel like you just know the author is some 11 year old girl who has no understanding of plot development or characterization. Events just happen out of the blue, there is no motive and no build-up... the only thing left is this fantasy-like scene that cannot happen in canon because it's too out-of-character or abrupt.

And don't get me started on how some authors depict people's reactions after they gratuitously kill off a main character. If your girlfriend gets killed in a car crash, you don't just cry rivers then commit suicide so you can join her in heaven, and the rest of your friends don't just then kill themselves too so they can join you. There needs to be some substance in depicting grief... or any other strong emotion.

Sorry about the rant. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] I guess my point is: characters and events need to be developed so things happen naturally. At the very least, motive behind certain actions need to be explained/depicted so the reader isn't left in the end with a huge "Huh? Why on earth did s/he do that?"

[img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

[ 11-18-2003: Message edited Silversun ]
__________________
Nicky a.k.a. obsessive24

fics | vids | stupid little life
Silversun is offline  
Old 11-19-2003, 02:29 PM
  #13
Addicted Fan

 
Crossbow's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 4,443
About epics:
I just read ne that worked really well, because each section was fairly self-contained. In fact, i started with the middle one, and had no trouble following it - except that one character kept thinking about sex he'd previously had with another character, and that was a little odd.

So, does anyone else hate "songfic" as much as I do? Is that the most pointless endeavor ever invented, or what?
__________________
"When the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over."
"What's all over?"
"It."
Crossbow is offline  
Old 11-19-2003, 06:54 PM
  #14
M3
Master Fan

 
M3's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 10,981
Oy, where to start...

Well, first, have to disagree on the virgin = no writing thing. I've never done "it", but I don't think I've written it too badly. I mean, most women haven't been with other women and they do femslash quite well because, well, we have the parts. We know how they work and what happens and how it feels. And for slash slash, there's lots of excellent stories out there to read.

If you can't buy erotica or watch porn or read dirty stories online, THEN don't write it. But unless I come out and say I've never been touched, most people assume I'm kinda... a **** [img]smilies/lol.gif[/img]

I just have a rich imagination [img]smilies/pout.gif[/img]

That being said, I've seen some people write who HAVE had sex and even I question how exactly that works. I mean, there's a limit to how people can bend.

As for the rest... I hate epics. Everyone thinks they have this brilliant idea or original character and write 14 chapters. Yawn. Or, they want to fill in what happened "after the cameras" and write 20 chapters. Most of it internal thought processes on life, love and crap. Total yawn. Epics bore my socks off. There's a reason why the SHOW is only half hour long. No one wants this much detail. That's why we have imaginations! I tried to read a story that started WITH original characters, read a chapter before I realized they were children of the canon characters, and got bored. And yet, there's still more being written. Save us.

This also ties in with next peeve [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

I wish more writers would try SHORT stories. SHORT SHORT stories. As in 1,000 words and less. Everyone complains that holds their story up, they can't write like that. Wah wah wah, you're over-indulged. Any moron with a keyboard can write back story and monologues. You need SKILLS to whittle it down to an actual point. Unfortunately, most epics don't have that, that I've read, it's all been angst for romance's sake.

But back to the short stories, you don't need ten pages of background scenes, you don't need internal dialogue, you just need to set a scene, have some speaking, and end it. I think truly good writers challenge themselves, and I think short short pieces are an excellent challenge. Find a point, write it as shortly as possible. Find a scene you want addressed, find a situation you want resolved and instead of filling the pages with nonsense, write ABOUT it. For once, for gods sake, PLEASE!

I dislike people jumping into a story with no precedent set, without even an Authors Note on when it should take place relative to canon. Why is this person staring with adoration when the character has NEVER given any inkling of this? Each story is a universe unto itself, you can't just assume that everyone will go "Oh yes, they love each other." No. You can't borrow from someone else's universe without letting the reader know.

You need to have at least a one line setup, "Set in Season Three based on Willow licking Xanders face." or "This is canon-tangent based on this scene in this episode." You can't throw a person in, no matter HOW big a fan of the couple, and expect them to buy it on face value. Even if it is based on something written by another fan, at least SAY "This story is a tangent based on BSLuver392's story called Blah Blah."

Spelling and grammar? Oy.

"Where" and "wear" are two different words. Is our school system in such a bad state that just because they sound alike they can be interchanageable? Also, "e" is a very important letter. It can change "fin" into "fine" and make you look like a moron if you use it in place of a "y". "Storie" is not a word. "Whish" is not a word. It makes you look like you are 13 when used!

And the worst part is you can't SAY any of this to the authors! You can't say "I didn't feel anything in your story because you didn't set it up properly." or "You really need to try buying a dictionary." or even "This story seems kinda boring, why did you think it should be written?" because they consider it PICKING on them.

I think if I have to waste my time reading something bad, then I should be allowed to say so. If I enjoy reading something good, I'm encouraged and begged and bribed to say so. And yet, when it's the opposite...

And people who leave even so-so reviews of bad stories should be shot. If you don't like, don't comment. Maybe they'll get the hint! *sigh*
__________________

Don't wanna be an American idiot. One nation controlled by the media.
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.
M3 is offline  
Old 11-20-2003, 04:44 AM
  #15
Master Fan

 
Silversun's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 15,299
Quote:
Originally posted by Crossbow:
<STRONG>So, does anyone else hate "songfic" as much as I do? Is that the most pointless endeavor ever invented, or what?</STRONG>
I really think it depends on what you define as 'songfic'. There was a little discussion about this on the music in fanfic/songfic thread. Basically, I think a songfic is perfectly valid if the song does not dominate the fic or become the fic itself, i.e. there is actually a story to be told outside of the italized lyrics. Music is wonderful to mood pieces, and sometimes I find writing a fic to a song to be a blissful, creative process. Music and fanfic can blend very well, especially considering that the original medium (in shows or in film) had elements of both. Having said that, I too hate it when the 'author' basically just quotes the whole song, and their only contribution to the 'fic' is sticking in some superfluous lines.

Quote:
Originally posted by M3:
<STRONG>But back to the short stories, you don't need ten pages of background scenes, you don't need internal dialogue, you just need to set a scene, have some speaking, and end it. </STRONG>
That's a great idea! I haven't thought about it that way, all my short fics have been basically monologues and descriptions. This dialogue thing just totally opened a new avenue of thought. Thanks for that! [img]smilies/glow.gif[/img]

<STRONG>
Quote:
And the worst part is you can't SAY any of this to the authors... because they consider it PICKING on them. </STRONG>
I've found this is especially true for the more 'inexperienced' writers. I put quote marks because they're not actually lacking in experience - often these authors are people who have the largest amount of fic out in the fandom, but in some cases, quality becomes inversely proportional to quantity. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] Anyway, this ties in with M3's next point, which goes like this: if one finds a fic to be bad, one doesn't usually comment on it. That means most people who leave feedback on bad fics leave good feedback, most probably because (if it really is a badly-written fic) they like that 'ship. The author gets excited by the amount of good feedback s/he gets, and churns out more of the same. Then the cycle starts again. Would this be a fair comment on some of the fandom? And does that undermine other fanfic writers' genuine attempts to better their own work?
__________________
Nicky a.k.a. obsessive24

fics | vids | stupid little life
Silversun is offline  
 

Bookmarks


Thread Tools



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:17 PM.

Fan Forum  |  Contact Us  |  Fan Forum on Twitter  |  Fan Forum on Facebook  |  Archive  |  Top

Powered by vBulletin, Copyright © 2000-2020.

Copyright © 1998-2020, Fan Forum.


TEST