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On Writing Fan Fiction (Rules & Advice)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Fozzie Bear, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. Hubert

    Hubert Well-Known Member

    After reading fan fiction for quite some time now, there's a few minor things I want to point out to writers regarding them that will make them more reader friendly:

    For one, lately there has been so many tense errors in stories, making it harder for the readers to read free flowing. I recommend you pick a tense (in most cases it should be the past tense, unless your character is writing a diary entry taken place at the present time or something), and stick with that tense the whole way through. For example, I see so much of this (and this is just a random couple sentences I wrote up):

    When it should be:

    Another thing, so many people are making one, huge mess of story all in one big paragraph. Instead, it helps to break up the story into paragraphs and putting an empty line in between each paragraph. It doesn't matter if you indent or not, but it really helps readers to actually be able to read thoroughly without losing their place and such. Plus it looks a lot less intimidating when a reader first opens your story...instead of them seeing one big heap of story to read, they see it broken up. It's much more reader friendly.

    One more thing, this one for readers: I remember that when I was new to this board, I needed all the encouragement that I could get to continue writing. I imagine that this is the same for most new fan fiction writers. So all I'm asking for them (and anyone, well established or not), is that if you happen to read their fic and like it, or might not like it but have some tips that you think they could use to improve it, tell them. It really makes the less experienced writer's day when someone comments on their story, even if it only says "More please" or something like that.
    newsmanfan likes this.
  2. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Can't agree with this more. Spacing is your friend.
  3. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    And always bring your grammar. And yer gramper too, if need be...

    Harleena and Ruahnna like this.
  4. Redsonga

    Redsonga Active Member

    On an old topic: I think death in a fic is fine, and if done well not a shortcut for drama. The topic pretty much went hand and hand with the happiness of Fraggle Rock as a two sided coin and a part of life :)
  5. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    My only problem with death of anything but a minor, minor character in a fic is that amateur writers tend to exploit it soap-opera style, wrenching every last drop of possible pathos from it for the sheer love of making their readers writhe...those with sensitive constitutions, anyway. Those of us jaded enough to hate soaps will just turn away. It's a mark of bad writing. Look how many authors IRL publish crap like that: Nicholas Sparks is the worst offender, but there are plenty of others, whom intelligent readers refuse to bother with because after one such tragedy-mining-expedition it becomes trite.

    Avoid death, in general...unless you can make it funny. :)
  6. SuzieChan

    SuzieChan New Member

    Honestly, I find this thread to be really, really interesting! :) I've been a member of several different forums for quite a while now, but this is possibly the first time I've encountered a thread like this. The creator of this thread deserves a standing ovation - and this is no exaggeration.

    I'm really happy that someone decided to create a thread that would compile all the rules, suggestions and advice for any potential fan fic writers to see. Especially that there are, unfortunatelly, people who could use some help on writing it...

    And it isn't to say that all fan fics are bad: frankly speaking, I love fan fiction and all sorts of fan works in general. It's just that it can be sometimes really, really rare to come by a fan fic that could come off as being decent...

    With that being said, I would like to ask for some suggestions and possible advice, on a matter that has been going in my mind for quite a while now...

    You see, I've been thinking about writing a fan fic based upon "The Storyteller". However it's not really based on "The Storyteller" but one of the stories. More specifically it's "Hans the Hedgehog". It is an AU story in which the Princess comes to live in the Grovelhog's castle. I already have a few scenes worked out in my mind, which I eventually plan to write down.

    Oh and don't worry, I have made it my priority to be as faithfull and respectfull to the source material, and write the characters in character (boy, did that one sound redundant :p): I really love this particular story, and I wouldn't even dare to attempt making it into something that would come off as being... should I say... "unreadable".

    But the more I thought about, the more doubtfull I got... should I really write it down and publish it, or should I just forget about it?

    My doubts mainly come from the fact that there actually aren't that many Storyteller fan fics out there. And as for "Hans my Hedgehog" so far I've only found one called "Farmer so Foolish" (go ahead and read it - it's really, really good!).

    And beside, it may sound weird, but I'm also kind of scared what would people's reaction be. Especially since "The Storyteller" has been a part of so many people's childhoods (mine included)...

    I really have mixed feelings for this one... Should I write it down? Or should I just give up on that concept?
  7. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Give it a shot. Sounds like you respect the story (and the series), and all the stories on Storyteller came from regional legends and fairytales to begin with, so it's not like you're ripping anything off, either! Heck, why make it a fanfic? (Unless you plan on using the Storyteller and his dog as characters.) Why not just write it and seek actual publication for it as a brand new retelling of an old tale? Nothing wrong with that at all.

  8. Redsonga

    Redsonga Active Member

    I'll have to respectful disagree :). And I'm sorry but you are too late there, most of my fics deal with death in some why, and I'm far from a just starting out writer. Part of what drew me to Fraggle Rock was its ability to deal with death as well as very happy go lucky life on the other end as just a part of life. While it can be a soap opera thing, it's not like fanfic exists in a void unaffected by the tone of its source series' tone.

    Edit: Don't get me wrong I don't mean to say death makes a story better, only that I myself don't do it for shock value. I just like exploring the big questions of life and death and Fraggle Rock is the one universe where I feel that is a unspoken theme. Again I don't mean any disrespect or to sound angry because I'm not. I just feel passionately about this as a fan :)
  9. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Exploring what death means to grieving characters isn't at all a bad use of the plot device. That's different. I'm against writers just throwing it in wherever...or making a career based on character death stories. Booooooorrrring.

    If the subject fascinates you that much creatively, well, explore it. Just remember that every topic, even the deep ones, can only be mined so far before it becomes repetitive. :news:
  10. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    Something that I really try to stress with fan fictions is the idea of staying in character. Writing about characters (or even as characters) like the Muppets, I think is especially a challenge for newer fans. I haven't really looked around the fan fiction section much recently to find stories with "uncharacteristic moments", so I really can't say that anybody on here as been a victim of that.

    However, one habit that I have noticed in some of the fan fictions is merely "putting the characters on paper". By this I mean that the author has some kind of situation, but only the names of the characters (in this case, the Muppets) are part of the story. The characters themselves aren't exactly there. It's rather difficult for me to describe. I suppose another way of looking at it is that in a story like that, anyboy can be involved. That author just happened to choose the Muppets' character names. There's very little attempt to on the author's part to say "how would this character react to this situation?". And I hate to be harsh, but actually seems rather lazy. Writing a story is one thing, writing a fan fiction about characters already well-established is something different.
  11. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    I've seen this commonly with new fan fic writers and sadly, teenagers. It's very rare that I see anyone over the legal drinking age, we'll say, just randomly throw something together that can be done with any character anywhere.

    On these forums, I've yet to see that, but then again it's not like I've read through every single fic here, but the ones I have read, I think have been done with your basic understanding and concepts of grammar, a good imagination, and a good dose of knowing your Muppets!

    I understand what you mean (I hope) - it's when you get an idea and instead of tailoring it a particular fandom (in our case, the Muppets), a writer will just insert character A with like character B and go from there and you're right, that is the lazy man's way of writing.

    While the Internet has opened the door for many people who wanted to try their hand at writing or are writers that never got published, it's also become a form where everyone thinks they're a writer, when - sorry to say - they aren't. Or perhaps it's that they don't understand that writing actually takes time and thought.

    It's one of the reasons I turned to fan fiction in the first place - my original works get started and then take years because I'm working out characters, situations, character bios, family ties, etc. I'm still working on the two series that I started way back in junior high!

    Ideas are easy to come by, but being able to put people in the right places and vice versa is important. It's like the idea of another actor portraying a certain character if things had gone differently; ie, can anyone see Sean Connery as Gandalf? Or if roles are reversed, not for the purpose of a story per se (like a Freaky Friday-esque plot line), like Fozzie acting like Gonzo or Kermit and Piggy not being a couple (just for the sake of them not being a couple)

    The unfortunate thing I think is that many of these writers just don't care or are under the impression that we as the reader have no right to tell them how to write or engage us; that's primarily why I no longer post or read anything on fanfiction.net (though I do get alerts for stories and/or authors that I enjoy, but that's a few). I've had enough 'youngin's' decry the very audacity that I would suggest something for them to consider. I've even gotten called out on it and acquired my very own troll stalker because of it (It's also why I don't review anymore).

    Now with all of that said, I can see writers having a hard time with say, a particular character. But, this is where doing the research (which many fic writers do not do) is key and paramount; I don't ever accept the excuse that a person doesn't know about a particular character when we live in a world of YouTube, Wikipedia, and Bit Torrent. Unless something is so obscure or a character a passing glance in something, there is no reason that a writer can't sit down and try to learn about a character.

    But as I mentioned, many don't for whatever reason and then we get character A doing something with characters B, C, and D and hilarity may sometimes ensue.
  12. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    Something else that sort of bothers me are fan fics where the author places himself or herself in the story. I don't mind if the author does a Hitchcock sort of cameo, but when the author makes himself or herself the star of the story, I tend to be turned off. There's several reasons why I don't think it's a good idea to make yourself the center of the story. Again, we'll use the Muppets as an example.

    1. As it is a Muppet fan fic, readers want to read about the Muppets.
    2. A habit that I've noticed with authors placing themselves in stories is that normall the author's character is either (a) too bland, (b) too perfect/flawless (think Tony Curtis' character in "The Great Race"), or (c) both.
    3. I should probably point out that I'm not against the idea of adding new characters to fan fics, but I generally think it's better to put the new characters either in supporting roles or small parts. Or even cameos.
    4. One acception that I can think of in having a new character featured strongly is if the new character is VERY well-developed in advance. What's the character's backstory? Why are they here? What is their purpose? What are their strengths? What are their flaws?
    Twisted Tails and AlittleMayhem like this.
  13. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    I agree with you completely, Mo. Though for me personally, it causes me stress when I try to create a character, major or minor, into the Muppet universe because I'm always afraid if I go too far on the Gary Stu/Mary Sue meter....:/
    Mo Frackle likes this.
  14. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    It can be hard to find readers for more obscure tales, but if you have an idea, those properties need some loving too. :D
    I'm one of the only Dinosaurs and Labyrinth writers here. Won't stop me from writing them, LOL.
    That's partly why I get more of a kick writing or reading more obscure characters. No one's going to complain that Whatnot #3 from episode whatever isn't really going to say something like that. :D
    To be fair, I only tend to do that if it's a Hensonville RPG fic. :p
  15. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    I completely agree, Mo.

    From what I say, there seems to be two sides on this - the one side that wants to bring in realism and the side that fully knows this is just a fantasy excuse. Personally, when I come over here, I want to read about the Muppets; not their performers, but the Muppets as we see them in the movies or shows.

    Now with that said, I'm saying that from the standpoint of someone who has seen entire sections of fan fics removed because authors have written about a real person. That's serious libel and one of the reasons why I never do that unless it's like, as you said a Hitchcock cameo or in the case of the Muppets, a celebrity cameo.

    And really, the whole purpose of fiction is just that - fiction, which is essentially an escape from reality.

    In terms of new characters, I have tried - hopefully succeeded - in adding new characters to just about all of my fan genres that I've written for. You're definitely right in that many people who add in another character to the cast do so without so much as trying to gradulally draw both the character and the reader into the character's universe.

    Most times, they just drop the character and it's an immediate Mary/Gary Sue or the character just doesn't fit and then the author just tries to shoehorn them into the story regardless of whether or not it even works.

    An example of at least how I try to approach it - in speaking of the Muppets, my OC Amanda Cosgrove was thought up with a lot of care. Especially as a love interest, I had to invest time for the reasons you mentioned - I had a backstory, I made a plot for why she would need to be there, the plot was the reason for her purpose, her strengths, though I will say that I haven't done a scene/plot for her flaws, though I believe I do have a story that will focus on that.

    However, I will say that the three stories that she's been featured in were not about her; in fact, I made the point of showing everyone around her and what they were doing and then bringing her in and then basically focusing on the Muppets themselves.

    As mentioned in my previous post, the problem that many authors, especially new ones, have is that they don't take to concrit, which quite frankly could actually help them become better writers. Instead, they get offended that the reader would dare to question or say anything other than 'keeping going!' or 'more!'

    Obviously, personally, I usually want more than just 'good job' and I like the feedback I get because...it makes me a better writer, not just here in fan fic land, but in professional writing (which I also do) and writing in general. It's heartbreaking frankly that new writers have never gotten concrit and instead expect praise instead of learning.
    newsmanfan likes this.
  16. beatnikchick300

    beatnikchick300 Well-Known Member

    For my stories, I created two human characters, who are supposed to be based on me and a good friend of mine from high school. I have the opposite problem with the character who's supposed to represent me (Ashley). In trying not to make her a Mary Sue, I think I may have made her too much of a jerk (as you can see in Super Muppets, and its sequel, she tends to be sarcastic, somewhat annoying, feisty, and sometimes a bit bratty), but I try to keep most of what she does all in good fun. My point is, I'd advise any writers of original characters not to take it too far either way.

    Regarding development, I did have a backstory for both characters developed, but I have yet to finish the story that explains most of it, including how they took up with the Muppets. And yes, in Super Muppets and its sequel, the story is about the Muppets, with any human good guys in supporting roles (the same will be true of any stories I write in the future).
  17. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    (Apologies for late reply) That's what I love about Ashley and Ramona! They're utterly believable, possibly up to the point where they remind me of my own friendship with another girl!
  18. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    In my next chapter of A Nest Divided, it's going to mostly focus on the Muppet gang filming an episode of their show in the theater, and I want to make a musical number the centerpiece of the chapter. Does anyone have any tips for writing in a number without making it seem too wordy or stagy? Or perhaps know of a fic that does a good job of writing in something like that?
  19. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    I say check out Aunt Ru's Kermie's Girl. She not only has the Muppet Show doing Vegas, but Piggy doing Broadway. You can also check out my latest, Five Ball Cha-Cha; Scooter has two promenient songs in it that I showcased. *shrugs* I thought it was okay, especially when doing a musical number can be hard.

    Actually, now that I think about it, the first in that series 8 Ball, also had two musical numbers that I featured. I haven't gone through all the fics here, so there might be more that I just don't know of.

    As for tips, definitely describing the scene is helpful. I say do more describing of what's going on and less of the song; most of us will post some lyrics and then just post the accompaning song from a YouTube video.

    Oh! Newsie's Monsters story has the one scene where Gonzo did his soft shoe routine with song for Camilla. Sorry, that one just came to me. Hope that helps!
  20. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the suggested scenes to check out. I'll have to read a couple of them and see how they work.

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