1 How to Write an RGB Fanfic Story – A Primer

by Johanna Swift

You want to write a RGB story about your favorite busters, or perhaps about your favorite buster, but you're not sure how to get started. This RGB primer provides a comprehensive understanding of the major characters as well as a guide to the most popular plots in RGB fandom. Simply select a plot and use the characterization guide to assist you in your character descriptions and dialogue. It's that simple.

1.1 Characterization

In order for your reader to follow your narrative, it is important to refer to the characters by their names.

Failing that, you should always refer to them by their profession, by their hair color, or by their eye color. Combinations of the three are highly encouraged, e.g., Peter is the brown-haired psychologist, Egon is the blue- eyed physicist, Ray is the brown-eyed engineer or hazel-eyed occultist, and Winston is the black man.

When that is not possible due to specifics of your story, revert to age- related comparisons, e.g. older man vs. younger man. Your readers will be able to follow these references as long as you stick to the following age distribution: Winston is the oldest, followed by Egon, followed by Peter. Ray is always the youngest. Mention this often.

Finally, height is useful to differentiate between your characters. Egon is always the tallest. Peter is shorter than Egon. Winston is either of similar height or shorter than Peter. Ray is always the shortest.

Avoid standard pronouns at all cost.

1.2 Egon Spengler

1. Has a looping blond coif that defies the laws of gravity and hairspray. Mention often. Also referred to as a "drooping lock of blond hair."

2. Has blue eyes, aka sky blue, deep blue, enormous blue, soulful blue, etc.

3. Small red-framed eyeglasses must slide down his nose at least once per page. The slide is code for Egon's level of consternation or distraction. The higher the intensity of these emotions, the more often the glasses must slide down his nose.

4. Small red-framed eyeglasses must fly from or be torn from Egon's face at least once per bust. Broken lenses or cracked frames optional. Contact lenses and Croakies don't exist in the RGB fandom universe.

5. Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. Egon the Human Dartboard suffers painful, life-threatening horrible injuries but is always able to hug Peter or all of the guys by the end of the story.

6. 60% of stories involving human sacrifice select Egon. You can go with the trend or align with the other 40% that select Peter. Ray and Winston are unacceptable choices.

7. Egon wears a pink dress shirt, suspenders and dress trousers. The trousers are most often brown. Vary from his ordained wardrobe at your own risk.

8. Egon's jumpsuit/coverall is blue with pink trimmings, aka cerulean, teal, or any other shade of blue.

9. Egon really does love Janine. He either (a) just doesn't know it yet; (b) finds himself unable to use his encyclopedic command of the English language to adequately articulate his feelings; (c) is involved in an active but covert relationship with Janine. Vary from these scenarios at your own risk. E/J shippers do not take prisoners.

10. Egon is either a virgin or somewhat inexperienced. It is expressly verboten to have Egon fall in love with any woman other than Janine or to have sexual relations with any woman other than Janine. This includes all of the years prior to him knowing Janine.

11. Slash Egon is only allowed to be in love with and have sexual relations with Slash Peter.

12. Egon does not emote. He remains calm and imperturbable at all times.

13. In a choice between words appropriate for a particular situation, Egon will always chose either the one with the most syllables or the one that is more obscure. Writing Egon's dialogue requires prodigious use of a Thesaurus.

14. Egon's speech/speech patterns must be described by words starting with "P": phlegmatic, pedantic, pragmatic....

15. Egon is regularly involved in explosions in the 3rd floor laboratory that seem to have nothing to do with physics. While the reason for this is unclear, it is possible he is pursuing yet another degree, this one in chemistry.

16. Egon collects spores, molds and fungi. Mold must be mentioned at least once in every RGB story.

17. Egon likes mushrooms. When food is being prepared, Egon's should always include mushrooms. Mushroom omelet, mushroom soup, mushroom gravy, grilled Portabello mushrooms, etc.

18. Egon is a scholar of ancient long-dead languages and is able to read, write and speak these languages. Underwater. And asleep. He is able to translate any language mentioned in your story, no matter how arcane, remote or unknown.

19. Egon is at all times stoic. He either does not feel or does not admit to feeling pain of any sort, except for the emotional pain of worrying about his closest friends.

20. Egon does not require sleep. Egon can work for 48 to 120 hours straight on an experiment without breaking for food, water, or rest. His impressive intellect is rarely impaired by these amazing feats of endurance.

1.3 Ray Stantz

1. Ray has either red or auburn hair

2. Ray has either brown or hazel eyes, which can be utilized in a look of pleading affection commonly referred to as "puppy dog eyes." Mention at least once per story.

3. Ray is the youngest of the Ghostbusters. Mention this often.

4. Ray possesses an inexhaustible store of energy and enthusiasm. It is required that Ray describe or respond to something as "Great" at least once per page in a story.

5. Ray collects comic books, watches television cartoons, and particularly admires Captain Steel. All of these should be mentioned as often as possible to support his designation as "the kid."

6. Ray's parents died when Ray was a child.

7. Ray lived for a period of time in the Bronx and then spent a good deal of his formative years in Morrisville, NY.

8. Morrisville, NY contains the State University of New York's School of Agriculture. It is not a particularly developed or industrial area.

9. Ray spent part of his childhood with foster parents where he was not appreciated or loved. Allusions to Dickens' David Copperfield should be made subtly but regularly.

10. The color of Ray's jumpsuit is unimportant. Details about his appearance are restricted to noting the color of his hair, the color of his eyes, the expressiveness of his eyes, and the fact that he is the youngest of the Ghostbusters.

11. Ray is a brilliant engineer and can build anything. It is purely coincidental that experiments with Egon in the 3rd floor lab regularly explode.

12. Ray is an expert in the field of occult studies. He is knowledgeable in ancient languages, though he lacks Egon's proficiency. Ray is capable of recognizing or casting spells, knows every occult practitioner on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and is universally loved by everyone except for the villain of the story. It is not unusual for even the villain of the story to love Ray.

13. Ray is not allowed to think or utter profanity. The only permittable expression of horror, remorse, anger, sadness, grief or any other strong emotion is "Gosh."

14. Ray has an Aunt Lois who is gullible. Ray is not gullible. Ray is innocent. There is a difference and you will be tested on it.

15. It is inconceivable that Ray would ever become angry with Peter, Egon, Winston, or Janine. An angry Ray can only occur when Ray is possessed (see rule requiring all possession to be of Peter) or affected by a diabolical entity.

16. In near death situations, Ray is Christ-like and forgiving, seeking only to unite his friends so that they may comfort each other.

17. Ray is a virgin or a man of little sexual experience. See Unicorn Bait.

18. Ray blushes at the mere thought of the opposite sex.

19. Ray is the worst cook in the history of fiction or fanfic. Anything he cooks is inedible. He burns water. He can only be trusted to order pizza or place cereal boxes on the table.

20. Slash Ray rarely appears but when he does, he is usually partnered with Slash Winston. The probabilities of all four men being gay or bisexual and being partnered with each other is statistically different in the Slash RGB universe than it is in 20th or 21st century New York.

21. Slash Ray requires an excessive amount of cuddling.

22. Were it not for the death of his parents and the disinterest of his foster families, Ray would have been an Eagle Scout and probably a Boy Scout Leader (well, not Slash Ray, but that's another story). He possesses and demonstrates all of the qualities of a Boy Scout:

23. Scout Law:

24. TRUSTWORTHY: A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.

25. LOYAL: A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.

26. HELPFUL: A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.

27. FRIENDLY: A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.

28. COURTEOUS: A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.

29. KIND: A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.

30. OBEDIENT: A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.

31. CHEERFUL: A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.

32. THRIFTY: A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

33. BRAVE: A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.

34. CLEAN: A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.

35. REVERENT: A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

36. Scout Motto: Be Prepared

37. Scout Slogan: Do a Good Turn Daily

38. Ray is gleefully trigger-happy with the throwers

1.4 Peter Venkman

1. Peter has green eyes, aka jade, emerald, seafoam, olive, malachite, etc.

2. Peter has brown hair, worn on the longish side, with a flip of bangs or fringe that he pushes or shoves out of his eyes in a boyishly charming manner. He exerts a great amount of effort to achieve that carelessly, masculine look. Mention his vanity and his hair regularly.

3. Egon, Ray, and Winston express their affection for Peter by messing up his hair at least once per story. Peter pretends to hate it but secretly delights in these expressions of affection.

4. Peter's jumpsuit/coverall is dark brown with a green collar, to match both his hair and eyes.

5. Around the firehouse, Peter wears comfortable sweatshirts and jeans. The sweatshirt is usually emblazoned with the name of his Alma Mater. For dates, Peter wears suits and has expensive, designer tastes.

6. Peter is always called Peter, except by Winston, who calls him "Pete" and Janine, who calls him "Dr. V." Strangers are required to call him "Dr. Venkman." Peter is the only one allowed to call himself "Petey."

7. Peter has a colorful and expressive vocabulary and is permitted to swear at a rate that exceeds all of the other Ghostbusters combined.

8. In a choice between words appropriate for a particular situation, Peter will always chose either the one that is most colorfully descriptive or the one that is more likely to provoke.

9. In any bust, Peter will receive more ectoplasm on his uniform and boots and in his hair than all of the other Ghostbusters combined.

10. Peter is incapable of meeting any attractive woman without immediately assessing her suitability for dating and other pleasures. This is true even in the middle of a bust or while injured. When Peter is in an ambulance or hospital for either his own or his friends' injuries, he is required to flirt with all available female EMTs, nurses, doctors, technicians, patients, etc.

11. Peter has a busy social life and dates at a rate that exceeds all of the other Ghostbusters combined.

12. Peter is mercurial and the most explosively emotional of the Ghostbusters. The number of emotional outbursts required is proportional to the overall length of a story, but a standard of one for every ten pages of text is considered conservative. H/C or Smarm stories require double the normal allotment of emotional outbursts.

13. Peter's father is named Charlie. Charlie Venkman is an unscrupulous lying con man who abandoned his family when Peter was a child and broke promise after promise to Peter and Peter's mother. Because of Charlie's influence, Peter grew up jaded and distrustful, able to trust only his mother until he attended Columbia University and met Egon and Ray. Meeting Egon and Ray changed Peter's life. Expand on this concept for a minimum of 200 words per story.

14. Peter cannot pass a mirror without checking his reflection. Except in Robyn Thurman's stories (see "The Alice" and "Through the Looking Glass").

15. Peter is charming and exceptionally handsome, as he is the first to confirm.

16. It is encouraged to have Peter's dialogue and actions contradict each other. Out of a sense of modesty, he refrains from mentioning his heroism and great love for his friends but never hesitates to jump between them and the slightest danger, including but not limited to femme fatales or Jehovah's Witnesses.

17. If the situation is one of random danger, Peter will be the one to stumble into it.

18. If the situation is one of specifically targeted danger, Peter will be its target.

19. Peter will provoke the story's villain to draw attention away from his friends or for no particular reason until the villain decides to kill Peter immediately. This is required in every RGB story.

20. Peter can endure excruciatingly painful injuries, near death experiences, possession, kidnappings, and altered states yet still be able to hug Egon or all of the guys by the end of the story.

21. Slash Peter is bisexual. He is not gay. Slash Peter is allowed to have sexual relations with other men and women but he is only permitted to be in love with Slash Egon.

22. Peter loves to sleep. Sleeping is one of his hobbies. Sleeping is practically a sacrament. He is also very difficult to awaken from said sleep. Frustrated team members "humorously" strip the blankets from his bed, exposing him to the morning cold, shove him out of bed onto the floor, or even throw him in the shower, to bring him back from Dreamland.

23. Slash Peter can immediately be awakened by the presence of an erection, either his own or someone else's (usually Slash Egon's.)

24. Peter is required to call Egon, "Spengs," at least twice a page for the entire story.

1.5 Winston Zeddemore

1. Winston was a Marine/Army soldier/medic in Vietnam.

2. Winston has dark brown hair and brown eyes.

3. Winston drives and fixes Ecto when he's not polishing the car to enter it and win awards in various car shows.

4. Winston excels at cooking. Blueberry pancakes are his specialty. He'll make someone a great little housewife someday.

5. Winston possesses more common sense than Peter, Ray and Egon combined.

6. Winston is the only one of the Ghostbusters with a full family. His father's name is Big Ed and is involved in the construction industry in NJ.

7. The color of Winston's jumpsuit is not permitted to be mentioned in any stories, nor any details about his appearance.

8. Though we never see him attend services, Winston is a religious man.

9. Slash Winston rarely appears but when he does, he is usually partnered with Slash Ray.

10. It is possible to write entire stories of RGB fanfic without once mentioning Winston.

1.6 Janine Melnitz

1. Janine's nasal tones and Brooklyn accent should be conveyed through idiomatic spelling and street lingo.

2. Under no circumstances should Janine be portrayed as well-educated, intelligent, subtle, insightful, or tender.

3. Janine pursues Egon in an aggressive and predatory manner, from which he usually shies. It is possible that she remains unaware that Egon really does love her. (See entry on Egon/Janine relations in the Egon Spengler characterization details).

4. Janine and Peter express their sibling-like affection for each other through near constant bickering. Their banter is sharp, biting, and extremely witty. She is only nice to Peter when he is injured or near- death.

1.7 Plot

It is possible to write a convincing and compelling Ghostbusters story by choosing from among the plots listed below:

Every story must contain an injury and it is desirable that first aid include at least mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if not full CPR. H/C writers are generally Red Cross certified.

The Containment Unit: The primary goal of any demon, demigod, or nether entity upon entering the RGB universe, is to shut down or blow up the containment unit, free the captured entities, destroy the Ghostbusters and then the world. This is only true, however, when the story is set in NYC. When the Ghostbusters are busting elsewhere, the containment unit is safe.

Missing Comrade: One or two of the Ghostbusters is missing and the others must marshal their resources and skills to find him/them. Variations on this plot include:

1. Abduction

2. Mysterious disappearance

3. Trapped in an alternate universe or the Netherworld

4. Help captive by a vengeful ghost, demon, demigod or nether entity

5. Amnesia

6. Injury

7. Plane crash

8. Car crash

9. Weather emergencies

Combinations of the possible variations are encouraged.

The missing comrade is generally Peter or Peter and Egon in combination. More rarely, Egon, Ray, and Winston disappear on their own or in combination.

Pseudo-Death Stories: One of the Ghostbusters disappears and his friends are presented with real and incontrovertible evidence that he is dead, including what appears to be his body, complete physical annihilation of said body, or loss of said body in an ocean, river, or other body of water. It is possible to overcome these challenges, even after the funeral, burial or cremation has been conducted. It is required that an emotionally wrenching memorial service be held prior to the Lazarus-like revival of the "dead comrade." The revival itself seems to be accomplished primarily by a combination of copious tears, near-suicidal guilt, and much breast-beating, or more unusually, intervention of a Higher Power. The "dead comrade" is usually Egon or Peter, in that order. More rarely Ray or Winston are believed to be dead and subsequently revived.

Missing Comrade/Pseudo-Death Story: One or two of the Ghostbusters is missing, believed dead. Any combination of variations from the two plots is both possible and encouraged. The missing, believed dead, comrade is generally Peter.

Possession: If your story involves a demon or other evil entity that must possess a living human being to wreak destruction on the world or destroy the Ghostbusters, it will possess Peter. Peter is the premiere choice of possessing entities in this or any other universe.

Hurt/Comfort: A story written in this, one of the most popular genres in the RGB universe, will be certain to find a waiting audience. The Ghostbusters set out on a simple or challenging bust. During the bust, one or more of the guys is seriously injured. The remaining Ghostbusters must defeat the ghost, demon, demigod, nether entity or any combination of villains while agonizing over their injured comrade. First aid is provided, usually by Winston, and the injured comrade is rushed to the hospital where worried Ghostbusters refuse to leave his bedside until he is well enough to give hugs.

1.8 Theme

There is only one theme in RGB fanfic and that is teamwork. There is no internal conflict or dynamic within this theme of teamwork. All threats or conflicts regarding teamwork are externally generated or stimulated.