There you are, the average Moonie, sitting before your computer terminal, basking in the radiant glow of the screen, paging through screen after screen of fanfiction. As you read your favorite selections, a thought hits you.
Hmmm... I could do this. I could write a Sailor Moon fanfic, too!
And as soon as the thought passes through the synapses of your brain, a surge of energy blasts out of your computer and slams into your chest! There is a terrible sensation of pulling, pulling... and then you're falling, down, down, down. Only to land, awkwardly, somewhere beside your comfortable chair, or even your floor.
Blinking startledly, you look around to discover yourself in what looks vaguely like a classroom. A very familiar classroom. Your eyes widen in happy surprise as you realize that you're in Ms Haruna's classroom from Sailor Moon! Dragging yourself out of your twisted landing position, you manage to seat yourself normally in the desk you landed on, and look around with far more interest than before, after all, it's not every day you find yourself in the world of your favorite series.
Then there's a soft shuffling sound from the side of the classroom, and the door slides open, apparently on its own. Eyes wide, you stare at the door and swallow nervously, just knowing that a horrible Negaverse creature is just on the other side, barely able to wait to suck you dry of all your life energy.
You're just about ready to completely freak out and make an attempt at leaving via the window, when a diminutive studious looking girl with short, dark blue hair and wire-rimmed glasses over her brilliant blue eyes dressed in a red, white and blue sailor uniform and a tall, powerful looking green-eyed girl with bouncy brunette hair tied in a ponytail dressed in a brown and white uniform walk in the door.
"Amy! Lita!" You cry, overjoyed at the chance to meet your heroes!
The navy-haired girl winces slightly and the brunette pinches the bridge of her nose with an obvious snarl of distaste. You have no idea what their problem is, do you smell? They're all the way across the room... it'd have to be pretty bad... You quickly try sniffing around to see if that was what threw them, but then remember that you had just gotten out of the shower before you were sucked, for lack of a better word, here.
"Ah... right. It figures. Corrupted by the Americans." The brunette mumbles, before joining her smaller companion in the front of the room before the chalkboard. The navy haired girl picks up a piece of chalk and writes in a neat, even script across the chalkboard.
WELCOME TO WRITING WITH MAKO AND AMI!
(Or How To Write Sailormoon Fanfic Without Making Your Readers Reach For Their Guns)
Finishing with her task, she places the chalk back on its ledge and turns around with a cheerful smile, grudgingly echoed by the taller brunette. Moments later, they both clasp their hands before them and bow in your direction. You stare at the board in confusion. Mako? Ami? Sailormoon? What was going on??
"Hello! And welcome to Writing With Mako And Ami!" The smaller of the two says with a pleasant smile, breaking you from your thoughts. "My name is Ami Mizuno."
"And I'm Makoto Kino." The brunette offers with a slight wave. "We're here to keep you from looking like a complete fool with your first Sailormoon Fanfic."
You look from one to the other confusedly. "Ami? Mizuno?? Makoto? Kino?? But, but your names are Amy Anderson and Lita Starling!!"
Again with the wincing. "Only ignorant countries that have no respect for proper names from other countries, such as America." Makoto looks pointedly in your direction, causing you to squirm a bit in your seat.
"Uh...um... o-okay..." You stammer, completely at a loss now. "So... um... how are you gonna, you know, help me?"
"Ami?" Makoto asks, turning to the diminutive scholar with a smile. "How are we going to help him?"
"I'm so glad you asked, Mako!" Ami replies with a bright smile up at the taller girl, who blushes slightly at the attention, and then Ami's striking blue gaze is on you. "First, we'll start with the most noticeable of mistakes most people make when writing fanfiction. And do you know what those might be, Mako?"
"Um... spelling and... um... grammar?" Makoto replies, after thinking about it for a moment.
"That's right!" Another smile, another blush. "Proper spelling and grammar are essential to a successful work of fanfiction! Not to say that there aren't other important parts to successful fanfiction, but we'll get to those later. However, if you use improper spelling and/or grammar, most of your readers will turn off your fanfiction."
"And if you're going to go to the trouble of putting your fanfiction up on the Net, then you probably want people to read it, right?" Makoto asks, looking over at you.
"Um... yeah?" You offer hesitantly.
"Well, of course, you do, silly!" Makoto replies with a grin. "What's the point of writing it if no one's going to read it after all?"
"Silly yourself, Mako! The point of writing fanfiction is to have fun!" Ami scolds her partner briefly, before writing something on the board again.
TOPIC ONE: SPELLING AND GRAMMER
(Or When In Doubt, Don't Shoot Yourself In The Foot)
"Now..." Ami starts, turning back around again as she dusts chalk dust from her hands. "Can anyone tell me what some of the most common errors made when writing in the English language?"
"Um... spelling or grammar?" You ask, puzzledly.
"We'll stick with spelling for the moment. So, what do you think is a common error?"
"How about 'there'?" You muse.
"'There'?" Ami asks curiously, then brightens. "Oh! You mean words that sound the same but are spelt, and mean, something different!"
"Like 'they're' and 'there' and 'their'?" Makoto asks, looking over at her cheerful companion.
"Exactly, Mako! They're easily confused, but they stand out awfully when they are!" She looks out at you. "'They're' is the contraction of 'they are', but 'their' is the possessive form of they! 'There' is a location. Don't get them mixed up!"
Makoto looks over at you seriously. "And remember, there's quite a few words like that in the English language, so be careful or you'll get caught."
You nod solemnly, hoping you'll remember all this.
"When it comes to grammar, things are a little bit more difficult." Ami says with a soft sigh. "Especially in English, which has thousands of niggling little rules that don't always agree with each other, and sometimes out right contradict each other."
"But the basics are pretty simple." Makoto adds. "Punctuation and capitalizing the right letters are big parts."
"If you have trouble, just remember this: comma one beat, period is two. Comma, one. Period, two. Easy, right?"
Makoto stares at her partner in mild disbelief for a bit before explaining. "Ami's referring to the beat system, which says that every syllable counts for one beat in the rhythm of the language. Thus, using the beat system, you can show different inflections and accents, without changing the spelling of the words, simply by changing the lingual rhythm, so to speak, to reflect the rhythm of the speaker. Word choice also hits on that, but that's not what we want to get into now."
"Mako's right. Right now, we're focusing on the big pictures of spelling and grammar. There'll be time later for things like lingual patterns and word choices." Ami smiles sweetly. "Is there any big grammar thing that you'd like to point out, Mako?"
"Yeah. How about the extreme punctuation?"
"Extreme punctuation?" Ami stares uncomprendingly at her taller partner.
"Yeah. Like using fifty million exclamation points or a thousand question marks at the end of the sentence, or overkill by ellipses." Makoto explains before turning to you. "Remember, two or three is plenty to show high emotion, we don't need to sit through a fic full of orgasming punctuation, you know."
"O-o-orga... Mako!" Ami yelps, blushing furiously.
"Aw, calm down, Ami. It's just a phrase." Makoto grins down at the smaller girl, before turning back to you. "There's lots of other ways to stress the sentence too. Like CAPS or italics or underlining even bolding, though I will say if you use them all together with multiple punctuation marks, you better not follow it with saying the person is whispering."
"(And hopefully this is just a phase.) Ahem. Um, yes. That's quite right, Mako. But, spelling and grammar, especially in the English language, aren't the easiest thing in the world, so there are a lot of nifty little things that can help you out, right, Mako?"
"That's right, Ami. Thanks to the wide-spread use of the English language, there are _several_ helpful devices, ranging from traditional, such as an old-fashioned Webster's Dictionary, to high tech, spelling and grammar checkers on computers and hand-helds. If you're using Microsoft Word, then there's a spelling and grammar checker built in, if you just take the time to avail yourself of it."
"And don't forget Beta-readers, Mako. They're almost as important as using devices like the dictionary and spelling and grammar checkers." Ami points out.
"You're right, of course. A good Beta-reader is invaluable to a fanfictionist. They not only provide you with feedback as to spelling and grammar errors, particularly if they're more accustomed to the language than you are, but they can also help you to pin down just where your fanfic is going, as well as keep you from losing your reader entirely with a poorly chosen turn of phrase. But, we'll cover Beta's more in depth later."
Ami sighs. "This would be so much easier to explain if we had a fanfic to use as an example..."
Makoto looks around almost furtively, then reaches into the front of her blouse and pulls out a couple sheets of folded paper. "Well... we could use this." She offers the papers to Ami.
Ami accepts the offering and unfolds them, scanning over the contents. As she reads her eyes widen and a blush darkens her cheeks. "M-m-mako! Wherever did you get this??"
Makoto blushes as she answers. "Fanfiction.net." She murmurs.
As soon as the words leave her partner's lips, Ami's shoulders slump and her expression becomes disappointed. "Oh, Mako. Fanfiction.net? That den of infamy?"
Makoto shoulders slump and she takes an attitude of dispiritedness. "B-b-but..." She looks up at Ami with big green eyes brimming with tears and emotion. "It's so... so... ADDICTIVE!"
Ami steps over to the softly sobbing girl and pats her on the shoulder gently. "There, there, Mako. It'll be okay. We'll get you into FFNAA before it's too late."
"FFNAA?" You ask curiously.
Ami looks over. "FanFiction.Net Addicts Anonymous."
Makoto sniffs softly. "They've got a ten step program. You start with admitting you have a problem, and by the time you're done, you're purged of your sadomasochistic relationship by bad-fics." She sniffs some more and rubs at her teary eyes with the back of her hand.
"This explains so much about why you took all those hits for me, Mako..." Ami sighs, giving her taller friend a hug.
"That's not the only reason..." Makoto murmurs almost too soft to hear, but Ami looks up with wide eyes, flushing darkly.
Suddenly, you surge from your seat, full of confidence in your newfound abilities. Ami and Makoto stare at you in shock at your sudden movement.
"Thank you for all your help!" You cry. "Armed with this new knowledge, I'm going to write the greatest Sailormoon Fanfic ever!!"
And you vanish like you appeared, in a burst of energy, leaving behind two stunned Senshi.
"They... they never learn, do they, Mako?" Ami asks softly, clinging to her partner.
Makoto sighs, staring at the place where you were as she runs her fingers through her smaller friend's navy hair. "No. No, they don't. But don't worry." She looks down into Ami's hopeful gaze with a soft smile. "It's a harsh world out there. (S)He'll be back."
"Are you sure?" Ami pleads for the reassurance she so needs.
Makoto smiles confidently. "Yeah. Definitely. Now... how about we go read some fanfiction?"
"Mako...?" Makoto slips another sheaf of papers at Ami, who starts reading, eyes steadily growing wider as the blush on her face deepens darker and darker. "MAKO!?"
Makoto smirks. "Hey, I never said I was only addicted to FF.Net... there's other things I'm addicted to, you know." She leans down and nuzzles the crook of Ami's neck, who squirms a bit trying to keep reading. Mildly put out at being effectively ignored, she raises her head a bit and whispers something in the smaller girl's ear.
Ami's eyes widened significantly and the papers fell to the floor in a scattered mess as she turns to her companion. "Really?! Why didn't you just say so??"
Makoto gestures to where you're still watching through your computer screen. "I'm not that much of an exhibitionist!"
Ami giggles softly as the two leave the room, much to your regret.