I thought I was finished writing for this section for good. Then I read "How to Write a Harry Potter Fanfiction" by cupid-painted-blind, and it inspired me to write this. Some of this material may be dated since I haven't read much IZ fanfiction in the last two years. But I suspect it's still relevant. IZ fanfiction hasn't changed much over the past decade.
How To Write IZ Fanfiction in 6 Steps
Step 1: Pick a side. Are you team Zim or team Dib? If you're team Dib, you are allowed, even encouraged, to like Zim too. However, if you are team Zim, you must hate Dib as proof of your loyalty to the amazing Zim. Zim is very possessive, and he will not tolerate one of his fans liking his enemy. So if you choose team Zim, your fanfiction must portray Dib negatively. Make him look stupid, insane, evil, sadistic, or all of the above.
There is a third team: ZADR, which stands for Zim and Dib Romance (or Zim and Dib Rape, in some cases). If you are team ZADR, you love them both, and love them both together. Your fanfiction should make either Zim or Dib act girly, or uke as anime fans call it. You should probably make Dib the girly one, even though Zim is the one who wears a pink dress. Don't worry about logic or keeping the characters IC (in character). And don't be afraid to write mpreg. Anything is possible when aliens are involved, and fangirls love hybrid smeet-babies.
If romance is your genre, but ZADR isn't your ship, you can choose between ZAGR (Zim and Gaz Romance) and RAPR (Red and Purple Romance). Why do we use these abbreviations instead of combining the names like in other fandoms? Nobody knows. Perhaps it is just another way for IZ fans to be weird.
ZAGR is a good ship to write if you are team Zim, because it will be easy for you to bash Dib for trying to keep Gaz and Zim apart. Whichever ship you choose, feel free to start the fanfic with the characters already together. You don't have to explain it or develop it over time. Fans care less about character arcs than cutting to the make out and sex scenes.
Another option is to pair a character with a Mary Sue. Your Mary Sue must have sexy curves, even if she is Irken. She should spill her life story the minute she meets Zim or Dib, getting him to sympathize with and open up to her.
Step 2: Choose your genre(s). The most popular genres are romance, humor and angst. There's also tragedy, which is like angst but with a character death. Your best option is to combine romance with angst. It's guaranteed to make fangirls squee and cry at the same time. If you would rather try humor, anything that's totally random and written when you are sugar high and/or sleep deprived will make sober people laugh.
Step 3: Choose an age. There are two choices: elementary skool, when Dib is 10 or 11; and high skool, when Dib is 14 to 17. Either age will work for angst and humor, but high skool is preferred for romance, since it resolves the pedophile issue that crops up with these ships. If you choose high skool, remember that Zim needs to grow with the other students, even though he's an adult and hasn't grown in at least 50 years. Don't bother explaining it; the readers will understand.
Step 4: Pick your plot. You don't have to put much thought into it, but you need something for the characters to do. I recommend you incorporate at least one of the following plots:
- Dib starts to vivisect Zim but changes his mind halfway through.
- The Tallest tell Zim that his mission is fake, and he isn't oblivious or in denial; instead, he's accepting and resigned and depressed.
- Your Mary Sue acts out the first half of "Tak the Hideous New Girl."
- Your Mary Sue tells Zim that his mission is fake, and naturally, he believes her.
- Dib or Zim commits suicide and the one who didn't die mourns over his dead body or grave.
- Dib is actually half Irken.
- Zim and Dib are actually brothers or half brothers.
Keep in mind that you don't have to move the plot forward in each chapter. The more filler, the better!
Step 5: Start writing. Don't worry about grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. Nobody will notice a few typos. You should also use net lingo to spice up your writing. People love reading author's notes in the middle of your fanfiction as well (A/N: Like this, lol. I use dem all teh time. =D). Also, remember to use the return/enter key as little as possible, because people love monster blocks of text. Don't forget that quite and quiet are different spellings of the same word, just like past and passed, and your and you're.
Also, Zim should speak in all caps. If he really means business, he should speak in bold caps. His Computer should speak in all caps too.
Other characterization tips:
- Zim has a vulnerable, sensitive, insecure, self-doubting side. Show it whenever possible.
- Dib can go three different ways. He can be an evil sadist, a depressed angst bucket, or a lovesick pansy. Many authors seem to make him stutter, especially for the last two versions, so you probably should, too. If you choose "depressed angst bucket," don't forget to have him angst about his mother who may or may not exist.
- Gaz can go two ways. Either she's a complete psychopath who pummels Dib for breathing too loudly, or she's a sullen girl with a tough exterior that shields a vulnerable, wounded soul. But either way, you must remember that deep down in her heart she LOVES Dib, possibly even more than a brother (A/N: Hey, incest is okay in fanfiction). Even if you choose the first version of Gaz, Dib should feel her love in every punch!
- Purple is always a sweet, sensitive guy who isn't as stupid as he acts. He is never evil.
- Red is highly intelligent and cunning, and far more aggressive than Purple.
- Membrane isn't just neglectful, he's abusive. He would probably kill Dib and Gaz with enough motivation.
- Tak, when paired with Zim or Dib, will always be helpless by herself.
- GIR must mention tacos or piggies in every sentence. It helps if he shouts in all caps.
Step 6: Write your summary. After you finish the first chapter, it's time to write your summary. You have only 255 characters, so this is a good place to use net slang, srsly. It's also a great place to beg for reviews. And if you suck at writing summaries, don't be ashamed to announce it to the world. You should also sprinkle ellipses in the description to create suspense. Here is a standard example: "Dib goes to zims base one day and see's him trying to commit suecide...wut will he do? I suck at sumaries, sry...its better then its sounds. r&r plz."
By all means, keep adding more obscure characters to the IZ section list. How many years have we demanded fanfics focusing on Invader Grappa and Trampoline? Too many! But now, thanks to you, they have their very own categories. We love scrolling through scores of names to get to the main character. And whoever thought to add a category for Me is a genius. That's not stupid or confusing at all.
If you follow all of these steps and tips, your fanfiction will be a success. Good luck and happy writing!
A/N: Just in case anyone didn't get it, this was all sarcasm. If you really want to write IZ fanfiction, do the opposite of everything I said.
Whew! I haven't snarked this much since I don't know when. I know I've offended someone, but it had to be said. If something I wrote resembles one of your fanfics, I assure you it was accidental.
ETA: Flight-of-the-Moon on dA suggested the character note about Tak, and JoeMerl helped with the note about GIR. =D