How (Not) To Write a DBZ Fanfiction: A step-by-step guide
Start off by writing the dumbest sounding disclaimer anyone has ever conceived of. The highest caliber to shoot for is a combination of what you think legal text sounds like, if it were coming from the lips of a babbling 13 year old on a sugar high.
Feel free to play with it.
Here are some key points:
"I don't own DBZ!"
This is a huge revelation for your readers. They opened this fanfiction with the expectation that it was written by Akira Toriyama himself and published on FF net or AO3 by Funimation. Best to get it out of the way first. Let them down early.
"If you're a LAWYER, don't SUE me!"
Random capitalization is key. It's not something that can be taught either, so just do your best. This is arguably the most important step in your fanfiction, because it's scientific fact that all lawyers do in their spare time is read fanfiction. And if you don't put in a disclaimer they will come sue your pants off, burn your house to the ground, and steal your dog. Also, notice the extra exclamation points? This falls under the same category of capitalization - the more you use, the more serious you are, so hit shift and 1, sing the chorus of your favorite song, and hold those buttons down.
Disclaimer out of the way, we can get to the good stuff. There are a lot of ways you can go with the plot. Goofy beyond belief, so serious a clinically depressed person would be amazed, or pointless meandering where nothing happens. Don't worry if you can't decide which to go with. Just swap back and forth between all three abruptly, making people wonder if they're still reading the same story. It's called adding depth. Some people won't get it, but that's alright; insult the crap out of them for not realizing your brilliance.
There is no such thing as too much description. Charles Dickens was s*** hot, and he described the f*** out of everything. Follow in the footsteps of the greats, and remember, everyone wants to hear about your characters' dresses and accessories in minute detail.
Take fifteen pages if you have to.
Your readers deserve this information.
Bulma, Chichi, and 18 got out of a lamborghini looking like they had just stepped from the cover of a magazine. Bulma wore a dress the color of an exotic flower from South America that you've probably never heard of, the hue exactly matching what it looked like during a sunset on a Tuesday afternoon, just after daylight savings had gone into effect.
The stitchwork of Chichi's purse was reminiscent of the early Golden Age of French fashion, with a hand painted pattern perfectly matching Michelangelo's artwork adorning the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
And 18 was naked, because the writer had exhausted themself writing the first two women.
-Original Characters (OC)-
If you write an original character, they need to be part Saiyan.
At a minimum.
Fact: the more races your OC is, the more special they are.
A popular choice along those lines would be an Android who is ½ Human, ½ Majin, ⅓ Saiyan, 1/18 Shinjin, ¼ Namekian, and 100% Man-Bear-Pig.
For added spice, mention that they're related to a canon character. Just fit that information in wherever. Maybe the middle of the story, if there's time.
Phoenix-Violet-Mary-DreamChaser-Sue was a beautiful blend of genetics the world had never seen before. Everyone she met either went blind at the visage of her beauty or deeply hated a specific 1/16 of her racial traits so much that they went into a blind rage and tried to kill her on-sight. Abandoning everything else they had been doing in their lives thus far to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of hunting down and killing/torturing/doing some other unspeakable thing to this complete stranger, because of her race which they instantly recognized from the shape/color/tentacles of her *insert body part here*.
Also, she's the daughter of Broly. And Piccolo. And Luffy from One Piece.
You read a story (or hundred) that threw in Japanese and thought to yourself, 'OH MY KAMI' that just blew my mind into tiny pieces. Clearly, this writer is a god amongst men and women. I must imitate this, using my clever knowledge of Japanese, gained from reading the stylings of someone who once failed a semester of Japanese class (and probably made everyone present want to stab them when they tried correcting their native-born teacher).
People love looking up translations in the middle of reading a story. It's a learning experience, provided by you, the author, for their benefit.
Alternatively, let your characters ramble on in made up Namekian for paragraphs at a time with no translation. It adds depths of immersion they never dreamed existed.
"Hi, Vegeta-chan!" Goku said.
"What the hell do you want, Kakarot?" Vegeta asked, grooming his mustache in the mirror.
"Silly Vegeta-san. I came to see if you wanted to train together."
"I'm in the bathroom, Kakarot. Why the hell would you teleport in here to ask me that?" Vegeta snapped. "Were you dropped on your head as a child?"
"Oh, Vegeta-sama," Goku laughed. "How did you know?"
"Alright, Vegeta-kun!" Goku said with a big smile, slapping him on the back. "Ohayo!" he said in farewell before teleporting away.
Stuck on what to write about? Grab from some classics.
This one can't be done often enough. By this point, it's basically canon. In fact, lawyers will actually sue you if you don't include this in at least one of your stories. Even if you beg them not to in your disclaimer. They're serious about this one, which is the real reason why you see it used in god**** everything.
Explain the origin of a character by recycling word for word what happened in the original anime. Don't add or change anything. Just copy/paste the dialog in from an internet search, and people will keep reading in the vain hope that something different will happen at some point. The twist is that it never does! They'll never see it coming.
There are numerous animes that revolve around punching things. Steal their characters liberally. They're already developed and well-loved, and a lot of them have the same personality archetypes, so they'll be instant buddies with whoever their doppelganger is in the DBZ cast.
*Out of character (OOC)
You could waste a lot of time pondering, 'How would this character react in this situation? What inner forces drive their decisions? What setting could I put them in that best creates a circumstance where they would choose to reveal a side of themself they normally wouldn't, that the reader would want to know more about?'.
Ain't nobody got time for that!
Can't think of how Vegeta would respond to something? Just change his personality to move the plot forward. All writers wind up doing it eventually, you're just getting ahead of the curve early! It's a time savings.
*Alternate Universe (AU)
In your summary, DO NOT tell people if it's an Alternate Universe (AU) story. Let them try and make the jump in logic why Goku is now a drug dealer, Krillin is a prostitute, and Vegeta is his pimp. They'll keep reading just to try and see how all of these things came to pass, before figuring out they're in an entirely different world that bears zero resemblance to the source material. Got 'em!
-Lemon aka Explicit Sexual Content-
On FF net this sort of material is not allowed (wink, wink). But, if your finger accidentally slipped and posted something sexual on FF net, the following would definitely apply to what you should put in your summary.
On AO3, make sure you post all of the kinks people will see in your story. I can't even make a joke about this one. Seriously, if I stumble into a fic where some depraved s*** goes down that I didn't sign up for, there is not enough bleach in the world to remove the stain of that memory from my brain. So for the love of God (or 'Kami', for those of you going through that phase), warn people in your summary or tags EXACTLY what they're in for. Don't beat around the bush. I'd give examples, but then I'd have nightmares for a week, and a good many of you would, too, so I'll leave it at that. I mean, I *write* f***ed up kinky s***, so believe me, this is saying something.
Fun fact: A good rule of thumb for those of you new to looking through tags - if you see a tag on a story and you don't know what it means, odds are it's because you don't want to know. You can Google it, but just remember, once seen, it can never be unseen.
A quick note on grammar. Never make a new paragraph if you can avoid it. Try to make the entire story one MASSIVE wall of text.
Beginning a new line when a different character says something? What am I, made of return buttons? People like guessing games - let them figure out who's talking, giving them as little context as possible. It keeps them engaged!
-Parenthesis, bold, italics, and ellipses-
Now, I can't stress this last point enough. This is the first thing that jumps off the page for your reader. Before they can read line one, they should be blinded by a page that is 90% (writing in parenthesis where a coma would probably work better, or where the text should have probably just been cut out entirely), with BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS littering the page, amongst tons of italics- not to describe internal thoughts or anything- they're just in there for flavor, and… ellipses… more ellipses… than man… was meant to see… in a lifetime… let alone… one... page… of… a… story. (THESE ALL BUILD... TENSION!)
Sorry FF net, this is more for AO3 users. Feel free to skip to the end if you don't get it.
On AO3 we have the luxury of including tags on our stories. Listing words with which people can search our work by and read above the story summary, like a shorthand version for what you can expect to see in the story. This classically includes names of characters in your work, relationships (ex. Vegeta/Bulma), genre (crack, adventure, dark fantasy, romance, etc), and kinks if it's sexual (I'll leave this to your imagination).
But, after pounding down 5 Red Bulls and 10 shots of espresso, some have decided to take it a step further. Now that they can hear colors, they set down and type their tag list, only stopping when the keyboard cracks in half from the impact of their fingers on the keys. This falls under the same concept of 'someone once read Japanese in a fic and thought it was gold', so they started doing it too. AO3 users saw a cluster**** of tags and thought, 'This person has it figured out. I better write enough tags to kill twenty men.'
In some works the tag list is (and I'm not kidding) 1,000% longer than the story summary. And possibly the story itself.
So, let's say you've decided to see what depravity you might encounter in a story. Time to check the… Well, dang. Secretary I don't have? Cancel my afternoon meeting. I have to read through this entire list, to make sure I won't regret opening this story later.
Actual tags I have read, interspersed in a mile long list:
*Breakfast. (Vital information, clearly.)
*Birds. (Thank GOD. I hope there are flamingos.)
*Chips. (I need to read this story right now! Few people dare to tackle the important questions. Questions like, "Lays vs Ruffles?", "Doritos vs Cheetos?", and "Why is this a tag?")
*Dende came to visit and found everyone else dead. (Finally, they tagged this - I can't tell you how often I like to search for stories about Dende being very specifically traumatized).
*idk what else to tag. (I recommend 'Birds'. Preferably, flamingos.)
*Sorry not sorry. (I picture the author going, "HA! THAT will show the idiot reading my tag list! Now, time for my therapy session for my passive aggressive behavior THAT I TOTALLY DO NOT HAVE.")
*The author is not in the Homestuck Fandom. (Good for you…? Screw that fandom, that I've never heard of before.)
*How can I have porn and then fluff? (Wait, why did this tag just get existential? Is it a rhetorical question or am I supposed to answer it in the comments section? I have no idea what's happening anymore.)
*Raditz may seem a little OOC here, I just picture him being a surprisingly considerate lover, 'cause if you have sex with someone and are a jerk about it, they probably won't have sex with you again, and it can be hard to find someone who's sexually compatible with you in space, let alone interested, and then it just sorta became a habit for him. (Okay, I know this is your first fic, but I'm calling the fanfiction lawyers for tag abuse at this point. You are going to fanfiction jail if you abuse your tags like this people.
I don't have time to read a fanfiction's life story, I'm just trying to make sure there isn't incest, bestiality, mpreg, or sounding in it- Damn, I wasn't supposed to list those. Don't search that last one.
Also, this premise sounds cool and I kind of want to read where it goes now. BUT STILL. Make it a summary, damn it.)
There you have it. How to write your very own successful DBZ fanfiction. Most of this is transferable to any genre of writing.
Don't forget to add an author's note at the bottom, feigning flattery so transparently that you're actually telling people how amazing you are in every line. People eat up humility, so pretend you aren't the Shakespeare of fanfiction for just a few words, before breaking into a rant about your awesomeness. Remind them that reading and reviewing are only optional to cash money orders and ritual sacrifices made before an altar dedicated to your work.
Oh, put a cat in your story. People freaking love cats. I don't understand it. I don't pretend to understand it. I hate like, 99% of cats. But you will get 10,000 Likes/Kudos and receive personal checks in the mail if you put a cat in your story for just 10 seconds. Double points if it's an unlikeable ass**** character fawning over the cat.
There. Those are all of the secrets. Now you know them. Remember, with great power comes blah, blah, blah.