Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, or any of its recognizable characters. I am not Stephenie Meyer, and this list is meant as a commentary and guide to writing a better fanfiction. No offense is intended to anyone; the advice given in this commentary is exactly that: advice. Advice should be taken with reader's own discretion.
I'm sorry that I couldn't wait the week I promised. So many of you have already read it! So, if you haven't read Breaking Dawn, this is your spoiler alert.
Spoiler Alert for Breaking Dawn!!
Well, after Stephenie Meyer came out with Breaking Dawn, it became painfully obvious that much of what was considered impossible is now in canon. (You ALL know what I'm talking about. ;) )
So, I decided it was probably a good idea to update this with all of our new gems of knowledge.
I'm going to start in the place that ALL stories—not just Twilight fanfiction, or even regular fiction—needs to start at:
The Twilight Universe is an intricate one with many impossibilities and rules. Follow the rules to remain in canon. It isn't necessary to remain in canon, but it's always a key recipe for good fanfiction. That doesn't mean that there aren't some good fanfictions that aren't in canon, however.
So, if you haven't read the Guidebook (Which, at time of writing, will be released on December 30th, 2008.) here's basically everything about the Twilight universe you need to write an accurate fanfiction.
READ THE LEXICON!
Read all of the Personal Correspondences. You will find all of the little details there. Everything down to what happens when Bella gets her period. (Personal Correspondence 2) (I've seen that idea used in more than five different fanfics, by the way. Don't even think about it.)
Here are a few of the basics that you can find on the PCs:
1. Child Birth:
a. The Personal Correspondences made it look like it was impossible for a human to ever become pregnant by a vampire. I think Stephenie did this on purpose to keep us from knowing what would happen. Now that I think back, she didn't ever actually say it was impossible for a male vampire to make a human pregnant, just that it was impossible for a female vampire to become pregnant, and that all bodily fluids are replaced with venom.
Anyway, now…it's in canon for Bella to be pregnant by Edward.
I know. I didn't see it coming either.
That being said, here are the facts:
A female vampire can never bear children. When you become a vampire your body is frozen in time, and all bodily fluids are replaced by venom. There is no more menstrual cycle. Your eggs are frozen; thus, no more possibility of children.
A male vampire could spawn children with a fertile female human, but not with a vampire.
Here are some facts about human/vampire children:
-The average time span for the vampire to grow in the fetus is in a few weeks.
-The child will reach full physical maturity in seven years, though the mental maturity will progress much faster than its body.
-The venom is ineffective, though it is possible that it might be effective only in males. This could be related almost to human nature. In humans, the men create what it takes to make the baby…perhaps it is the same in half human/half vampire males.
d. If you turn someone that is pregnant, they will become pregnant for the rest of eternity. (Personal Correspondence 1) Maybe it's just me, but the idea doesn't seem too terribly appealing.
2. Vampires do not have fangs. Not here, at least.
a. They do not GROW fangs.
b. They do not have pre-existing fangs.
c. They do, however, have super sharp teeth. (Personal Correspondence 1)
3. Eye color:
When a vampire is changed, their eyes are red for a full year before they change color. (Personal Correspondence 1) (However, according to Breaking Dawn, there's a slight conflict in time estimations. Edward said in Breaking Dawn that after a few months it would turn amber, and then golden. I suppose whichever way you go about it, it doesn't matter anymore.)
a. It is possible for a vampire to use contact lenses to disguise their eye color, but it will blur the sight a little, and the venom will dissolve the lenses after a few hours.
4. Normal vampires are ravenous for several years after being changed.
a. Bella's aversion to blood makes her an exception. Thus, it is canon to whisk her off to college to interact with humans as though nothing has happened. Well, sort of. Not canon as far as personality goes. Unless it's AU, the Cullens would probably remain in Forks unless some outside force drove them away, or until they no longer had any reasons to remain.
5. New Born vampires are stronger than old ones. Much stronger. (Personal Correspondence 1)
a. I see comments all the time about how Bella would have liked to fight someone off if she wasn't so much weaker. This is complete BS. Bella would be stronger. She would be much stronger than Emmett (Personal Correspondence 5), though I'm not so sure about Felix. This is further shown in Breaking Dawn, by the arm wrestling contest. grin
b. Though, as we've seen in Eclipse, newborn vampires don't have any skill...so it's also easier to outsmart a newborn vampire. In a fight, the more experienced one would probably win.
6. Vampire Abilities:
"Now, the number of vampires with extra-special abilities (who were "special" when they were human) is disproportionately large (there is a bigger percentage of "special vampires" amongst ALL vampires than there are "special humans" as a percentage of ALL humans). There's a reason for that, too. When vampires are choosing companions, they are drawn to the most special and beautiful of humans." (PC6)
I don't think that that means every vampire you stumble upon will have some sort of unnatural ability. Not all of the Cullens have special abilities. Not every vampire has a special ability.
I'm tired of seeing every vampire Bella comes across as having a power.
a. Another thing...if Bella was going to meet a new vampire family—which is a little bit unlikely; vampires don't usually travel in groups larger than two. V/J/L was actually something uncommon.—I can promise you they won't each be introduced like, "Hi, I'm Sally, and I control water!" and then, "Hi! My name is Joe. My venom is ineffective." and so on and so forth. I think that's kind of uncharacteristic for any kind of vampire. In general, it's a very stupid thing to do, to just tell a total stranger your strength, and potential weakness. It's like sending a three year old up to a strange van with "Free Candy" spray painted on the side so they can be like, "Hi...my name is Jessie, and I'm really good at doing backbends and handstands. I also really like chocolate."
7. Transformation Information:
The standard amount of time it takes for a full transformation is roughly 3 days. It could take two...it could take four. (PC8)
We only assume it was three because of Carlisle, and his story.
Morphine doesn't seem to have the expected numbing effect, rather it has a paralyzing effect. If you give morphine time to set in, it will only make it impossible for the bearer to move and scream until it wears off. It's sort of like mental torture. I suppose there might be some plus sides, though for the most part it's probably something to avoid if it was known.
8. The Cullens hunt about once every 2-4 weeks.
I've seen a lot of fanfictions in which the Cullens go to hunt every other day or so.
a. In the first chapter of Midnight Sun (You can read it on Stephenie Meyer's website.) Edward mentions how after two weeks, it isn't immensely difficult to resist human blood. After feeling Jasper's thirst in his mind (Which means it's technically doubled..."twin thirsts.") He can still resist fairly...moderately easily.
b. If the Cullens were to slip up, it would take about two weeks for the blood to go through their system, and have the blood-red color disappear. (PC1)
9. Human Memories:
I guess a lot of confusion has been made about human memories after the transformation. A lot of people write it so that after you're "born"...it's all gone, and others write it that it takes a long time to fade...others still make it so that it only takes a few years to fade. I think the way Edward said it, he made it seem like there's no way to prevent it. But the fact is, if you have a perfect vampire memory and you think about your human life a lot, it'll stay with you forever. (Q&A, Immogen's version, still under Personal Correspondences)
Here, let me copy and paste the question and answer from the Q&A:
Doesn't Edward remember what food tastes like?
Not really. It's a bit like being five years old, because human memories fade over time, whereas vampire memories are total recall. If someone has a fever or is ill when they are first transformed, they are likely to let human memories fade more quickly. If someone concentrates on human memories in the early days they would have excellent recall of what it was like. This is why Rosalie has a good memory of her human years, because this is something she wanted to hang on to.
b. The main reason the memories fade is because when you become a vampire, all of your senses are sharpened insanely. Your past memories are viewed through senses that are so dull in comparison it's almost incompatible with their newly sharpened mind. It's like going back to VHS, when you've already moved onto HD BluRay. It's like just getting new glasses, and then taking them off again.
Viewing the old memories makes them all blurry at first, but thinking about them will still keep them with you forever.
We now know, thanks to Breaking Dawn that it's possible for anyone to imprint on anything. I personally think Sam's theory in imprinting was mostly correct, since it explains his bizarre attraction to Bella.
In case you forgot, Sam's theory was thus: It's a natural instinct to preserve the pack and keep it going. You imprint with the person that will make it easiest to continue a blood-line with. Jacob thought he was in love with Bella, but it was really an unconscious pull to the fact that Bella would create the child he would imprint on. He just didn't know it. After the child was gone from Bella's body, the pull to Bella was gone.
At least, I'm pretty certain that's how it works. Stephenie's writing style is that she doesn't include anything that isn't necessary, so that she doesn't confuse herself or forget minor details. I think if it wasn't true she probably wouldn't have included it in the story.
Imprinting, according to the legends, is supposed to be rare, though it's shown that it's much more common than anyone had ever thought.
So now that we've gotten through those main points (I'm sure the Guidebook will have MUCH more, and will be much more fun to read. ;) ) I'm going to move on to…
Please, for the love of all that is good, PLEASE recognize the use of a spell check.
Even then, spell check is only the first step. A good author reads, and then re-reads each post before posting.
1. Real people don't stop and say, in real life, "OMG" or "LOL". At least, most of us don't.
a. And while some people do, it isn't really acceptable for text. Unless it's specifically in character for the person who says it, don't type "OMG look at that!" or anything like that. If it was in character, it would be better to do it phonetically like, "Oh-Ehm-Gee! Look at that!"
b. If it isn't in character, say something like "Oh My God!" or...well, I wouldn't say "Laugh Out Loud" but just describe it.
2. Vowels are important.
a. Ch47s934k was invented for Cell Phones and the people who used them that were too lazy to type in full sentences.
b. You should not use slang outside of dialect, or thought processes.
3. Parentheses are supposed to be used sparingly when writing a story.
a. How many times did Stephenie Meyer use parenthesis in any of her books? (Thanks xxAlbinOxx for catching me there, lol.) She used them a few times, admittedly. But she used them tastefully.
b. Please don't say something like: We were standing outside the school, when he took my hand and said, "I really love you, you know." He said, looking deep into my eyes. "I know." I said. And then we went inside the house (We were home, by then.)...
i. That is complete and utter laziness. I've seen this done at least 7 times by now. It's infuriating.
ii. You need to actually write the transaction in the car. Or you can put a break down, but breaks are also to be used sparingly.
4. You begin a new paragraph every time someone speaks.
She crossed to the other end of the room, lifting a drink and taking a sip.
"Are you sure?" She asked.
ii. The only exception is when someone is speaking and it's part of a sentence.
She crossed to the other end of the room and paused, before saying, "You had better hope you're wrong."
a. (As mentioned above) Breaks are to be used sparingly, unless that is the style you're writing, or the way the chapter is designed.
i. If there are too many breaks, the plot line gets very, very confusing.
6. "If I could cry I would be."
a. I've seen this done so many times, that it makes me want to hurt myself. WORD IT RIGHT, DAMMIT! That is my biggest pet peeve. "If it were possible, I would have been crying.", is better.
(3) ADAPT YOUR OWN STYLE!!
Most people, when they write a fanfiction, it is because they'd been so moved by a story, they just had to continue it, one way or another.
If or when you do decide to finally write your fanfiction, you should reread the book in question many times. I'd read Twilight/New Moon at least 30 times each before finally getting the idea to do fanfictions.
Someone caught me here, and corrected me (Thank you, 8796786568.) if no one wrote like the author, it would all be out of canon.
What I meant to say, was that if everyone wrote the exact same way...well, it would all be the same way. Different people have different styles of writing, and I disagree...you can stay in canon and not have the same style as the author. A good example would be Lilith Filth, if you want to see what I mean.
And I also meant to say that you can't force yourself to write like someone else. That's a fast track to getting a writer's block.
(4) BE DESCRIPTIVE!!
This is probably the most important thing about writing anything. I'm sure your English teachers and Language Arts teachers in the part would try to tell you to "Describe all of the senses" and all of that. Well, here's a brief recap: When writing, be descriptive. One of the fanfics I've stumbled across was about Bella being violated by Emmett.
The idea was a little...out there at the time, which is why I read it, but I'll get into being unique in a minute.
I can assure you, Bella's thoughts will not be (And I actually read this:) About Barbie dolls and "Omg I hate this day."
This goes right back to what I said about Grammar.
(5) BE UNIQUE!
Okay, I'm sure you've read one of the following fanfics at least more than three times for each one:
1. Bella gets pregnant. (In a pre-Breaking Dawn fashion.)
2. Edward leaves again.
3. Bella leaves Edward.
4. An OC comes to town and tries to separate the dynamic duo.
5. Edward never comes back the first time for X amount of years, comes back to find some vampire chick that looks nothing like Bella, but turns out to be her.
6. AIM/Yahoo/IMVU/Hotmail chatrooms with the Cullens.
7. Anything with 'My take on (Most recent unpublished book.)' in the summary, or some slight variation in words.
8. Bella having a terminal disease.
9. Edward losing Bella, and going to the Volturi and then…SURPRISE! There she is!
10. Alice never seeing Bella jump off the cliff.
11. Victoria changing Bella after Edward leaves.
12. Bella being changed, getting a new lover, and then having Edward show up, jealous.
13. Bella gets her period. Hilarity/lemons/smut ensues.
Yes, well…Though they were fun at first, they have DRASTICALLY taken a turn in the wrong direction. They are tired, old, boring, and make my eyes glaze over just thinking about them.
Please...if you're going to write a fanfiction, PLEASE come up with your own idea; one that hasn't been used more than three times.
(6) PLAN THINGS OUT:
I hate reading a story where it's one thing one minute, and then, eight or nine chapters later, you click open the e-mail in your in-box, read the fanfiction that opened in a new window and go, "Huh? What's this?" And you have to go back and re-read the story, before you get Déjà Vu, and realize...HEY! I read this before! Because one minute, Bella's a punk-rocking nut because Edward left her, and the next she meets some guardian angel person and is whisked off to a boarding school in another country. At this point, the author has already changed Bella's name, and introduced so many new characters...and then you aren't even sure if you're still reading a Twilight fanfiction.
Your story will be SO much better if you actually have a plot line. If you know where it's going, there's a less chance of it going on hiatus. Plus, you'll be much more descriptive. When you know what's going to happen, you have the advantage of being able to add all of the extra details that make stories good.
It won't even take you that long. Just sit down with MS Word, or a piece of paper and pen/pencil, and just make a list-like thing. Here's an example:
Bella leaves Edward:
-She agrees to marry him.
-They go on honeymoon.
-She wants him to change her.
-He keeps avoiding it.
-She finally brings it up.
--"Edward." I hissed. "This can't go on. You made a promise. You have to change me.
--"I don't. This conversation is over."
-She gets angry.
--"Wh-what are you doing?" he asked, as I flung the suit-case onto the soft hotel bed, throwing my clothes in it from where we'd packed them in drawers, as we'd expected to be there for a few weeks.
--"I'm leaving." I said, fuming, avoiding his gaze until I finally turned to look at him. If his knuckles weren't white with the tension he created, I probably wouldn't have suspected he cared.
--"Oh, don't give me that look, Edward." I said, going on. "What did you expect? You'd refuse to change me, and I'd have no problem with it?"
--He stepped slowly to me, grabbing the suitcase, and dumping the contents onto the bed.
--"You're not leaving." He said. His voice had a raw, desperate edge to it. I glared at him before trying and failing to shove the clothes back in.
-He tries to stop her.
-She leaves anyway.
-She goes to the Volturi.
-She decides she doesn't want to become a vampire if Edward doesn't want her.
-She tried to leave to go to Florida, but someone tries to stop her.
-They change her against her will.
ETC, ETC, ETC. As you write, you'll find yourself fitting in little conversations here and there, and adding in little details like swapping the character POV, and then adding in little things like "She slammed the door behind her, and I stared at the door, waiting for her to realize she was making a mistake and come back to me. The door didn't move. Something fell off the bed, catching my attention from in the corner of my eye and I snatched it up, holding the soft, dark
blue sweater in my hands. It was Bella's sweater...my favorite sweater that she owned. My breath caught in my throat. Had she meant to leave it here on purpose? I buried my face in it before lying down on the bed that she and I shared, inhaling deeply, soaking in her scent, hoping her remains would be enough to hold me together until she finally decided to come back.
Because she would come back...right? She would. She had to."
And as you go on, you'll start with the little nit-picky details like:
"As I knocked on the blue door, and then looked down at the welcome mat that read 'Hey, nice underwear.'"
"I knocked, and she answered"...
(7) STORY FEATURES!!
Your summary and review should be something to draw in an audience.
a. I don't know about you, but I don't think that includes "Review and Message!", "r&r" or "Is better than it sounds", "Is worth reading", "More than x hits!!1" or "No flames please".
i. They take up space, and make me want to roll my eyes.
ii. Also, I've noticed that summaries with a bunch of "What ifs" aren't very appealing either. "What if Bella never jumped? What if Edward never came back? What if they kept the girl in the clearing?"
b. Some people, when they run out of space, resort to chatspeak.
i. Ex: Bella grows up and wants 2 have kids w/ another guy.
c. Sometimes people like to try using chatspeak incognito as a typo. Please don't do that. It's still grammatically incorrect. (Someone asked me how I knew that it wasn't really a typo. One of my friends told me that that's what they do when they run out of space. Lol, she probably read this and rolled her eyes at the screen.)
i. 'Bella grws up and wants to have children with another man.
1. It's icky, and makes me want to hurt someone.
d. Nobody wants to hear that you 'suck at summaries'.
i. Please note: Nobody cares how bad your summary is. If your summary is that awful, then use a teaser for your summary instead.
If you run out of space, rework your summary. Shorten something; say something else. You'll get it right eventually.
Some summaries are short and cryptic. You can play the curiosity card. That works well, too.
Or, you could use a teaser. A short sentence taken from somewhere in the fanfiction that will pull your reader in and pique their interest.
I don't know about you, but I've seen some pretty awful story titles.
I don't know what to say, really, except to remind everyone the proper grammar for a story title.
All words need to be capitalized, except for filler words like "the" or "and".
The title of your story is all up to you, but "My version of breaking dawn" is never appealing. Nor is "The cullen's get aIM!"
Try to think of an original title. The title is the first thing your readers see when they're looking at fanfictions. Usually.
Please don't put your disclaimer in your summary.
a. Most people find it easier, just in case they forget. That is just simple laziness.
i. It takes away from the summary. I don't know about you, but I find myself unconsciously skipping over stories like that.
You need to put a disclaimer at the beginning of every chapter. If you forget, go back and put it in, or make sure you include it in the next chapter.
Sometimes people like to make little jokes out of their disclaimers. Those are usually amusing to read, but if it's too long, it increases the odds that the reader will skip your whole author's note if you have one.
"Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, and all of its characters. No copyright infringement is intended." That's really all that's necessary.
4. Authors' Notes:
Oh boy. Anyone who's read any of my old stuff knows that I used to love author's notes. That's because I have a lot to say, generally.
Basically, the longer your author's note is, the less likely it is that anyone will read it.
Also, almost everyone hates reading a fanfiction and coming across an author's note in the middle of a sentence, or story. You as the author really shouldn't do that, because it breaks the mood and could even ruin the chapter for the reader.
DO NOT PUT AN AUTHOR'S NOTE IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORY.
Ex: He smiled at me, leaning down to peck my cheek, and then drawing me in for a hug. Though his body was freezing, I'd never felt so warm in my entire life. All too soon, however, he let me go whispering something about getting ready for my mother's third wedding.
I climbed carefully up the stairs, and entered my bedroom, locking the door behind me before turning around and pressing my back to the door. I shut my eyes for a moment, breathing out slowly. I wasn't ready for this, and I probably never would be. Why should I accept her new husband if she would never accept mine?
I let out a slow, ragged breath before I crossed over to my closet, and pulled open the doors. Just as I'd thought, Alice had thoughtfully stocked my closet with clothing I would probably never wear, that she would probably insist that I needed anyway.
I slid a few dresses from one side of the closet to the other, looking for something that I wouldn't feel exposed in before I finally pulled out something. It was a nice little sundress. It was a little longer than knee-length, but because we were in the middle of summer in Florida, it wasn't like I would be cold. It was with some sort of soft blue material that made me smile as I felt it between my fingertips. The neckline was cut a little short, but I wasn't sure I'd mind too much later, seeing that it was almost one hundred and two degrees outside. (AN: i have that same dress bella's wearing Lol) I stripped quickly, pulling the dress on over my head and struggled to reach back for the zipper. It seemed I didn't need to however, as Alice--ever my rescuer--burst in through the door, zipping my dress for me. I didn't bother to ask how she got past the new lock.
(Thanks faux-prada for the reminder, and the example AN.)
5. Other Characters (OCs):
Sometimes as you write, you will find that you aren't able to get the point across with the characters you are given. So, you make your own.
When writing you own character, you need to get to know it.
1. Develop its personality, treat it like a friend, or a regular human.
a. Stephenie gave the advice first:
i. She said to learn it's favorite foods, what music he/she listens to. Who are his/her friends?
OCs should be used sparingly too. It's like I said before, I was once reading a fanfic, and the author introduced so many new characters and changed Bella's name, that I wasn't even sure it was a Twilight fanfic anymore.
You shouldn't add more than one or two...or if necessary, three or four. You shouldn't have characters that aren't used. I've done that...it just complicates a plot.
Someone said something about that, too. If you're placing your character in a completely different scenario, you need to make it realistic.
Which is true, what I meant was, don't add characters that aren't used. Like if you have a whole soccer team, that's fine. But don't just have six or seven characters that aren't even necessary to the plot line. They just kind of exist in limbo-land.
Someone else said that sometimes, it's better not to force your characters into something they're not. Let them develop their own personality. And while that's okay to do a lot of the time, if it's going to be a major character, it needs to be stable and well plotted. The main characters are what make up the plot line. They need to have a stable persona, or they won't react to the situation...they'll just conform to it. You need a character than can create the plot...not just be in it. (Unless it's a minor character. Then it's not such a big deal.)
So those are the main things to keep in mind when writing Twilight Fanfiction. This is the second or third time I've revised this, and I'll probably revisit it again, every time she comes up with a new book, and after she comes out with the Guidebook.
So um, Happy Writing everyone! I hope your journey is a fun one!