Writers Anonymous
Writers, come in. Talk about your stories, problems, any advice you need, critique, etc. You don't have to be good, you just need to want to write! Fanfic or original fic writers, all are welcome. Read the rules before posting or risk Rhea's displeasure.
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This thread gives answers to frequently asked questions about stories. Is your question not answered in this thread, then perhaps it is answered in one of the other FAQ threads. If not, don't hesitate to ask.

Links to other FAQs:

1. The main FAQ for general questions;

2. Questions about reviews;

3. Questions about Fanfiction.net;

4. Questions about accounts;

5. Questions about this forum.

11/9/2009 . Edited 1/29/2010 #1


* How do I upload my story?

See our step by step guide: How to Upload Documents

* upon posting a new story I was faced with a notice that said "Document Limit Reached". So now I have to convert my existing documents into stories? I thought I already did that when I clicked on New Story and accepted the guidelines. What do I do now? Do I wait until their "day-timer" runs out? Did I post too many stories?

When you upload a chapter the document used for it stays behind in the document manager. It didn't used to do that, hence perhaps your confussion. You can delete these documents from the document manager by clicking the "del" link behind them. You'll get a window (although not always I have noticed) asking for confirmation on whether you want to delete the document.

11/9/2009 . Edited 4/27/2010 #2

* Why can't I find my story on the site?

It usually takes a few moments (sometimes longer) before the site is updated with your story. Have you tried using a different filter? e.g. rather than look at stories K-T, look at stories of all ratings.

The site may be temporarily suffering a problem. Glitches are usually sorted out in a few days time. Don't worry, I haven't heard of stories getting permanently lost.

11/9/2009 #3

* Why does the system disallow certain characters in posted fiction?

I'm referring specifically to the 'at' symbol (@), the tilde (~), the asterisk (*), and the equals sign (=).

With the exception of ~ these are not symbols that should appear in proze. Unless you are writing out a chat session. The @ was probably banned to avoid people putting in their e-mail adresses (or other people's. Sort of an anti-spam measure). urls also don't pass in uploaded documents. I think * got discontinued from the moment FFnet made it possible to make text properly bold, so the "bold" symbol was no longer needed. = should only be used in equations, and the number of equations is inversely proportional to the number of readers (the more equations, the less readers). Or so an introduction to one of Stephen Hawkins' books says (that book has one equation). The ~ should appear of course above the proper letter.

If you know html there is a work around. After uploading the document, select the document you want to make changes in and select the html window to make these changes. Use the ASCII-codes to place the symbols in the text. Save the document once, only once and do not try to look at it in the simple view window. This could undo your changes. Now upload the document.

Note: there are a few more symbols that aren't allowed in summaries; - and () as most annoying examples. The same work-around seems to work here. Alternatively, if you're using Windows, go to the Start menu, click All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools (I have a suspicion you don't need System Tools on earlier versions of Windows) and you'll find the Character Map tool. If you select the character you want there, and then press Copy, it'll put it on the clipboard. Now go to the point in your summary where you want it and use Ctrl-V to paste it in.

11/9/2009 #4


* What kind of tags are allowed?

Paragraph (p), bold (b/strong), underline (u), italics (i/em), horizontal line / ruler (hr), line break (br), left align and center.

Note that while FFnet allows the codings b, u and i, it will replace these with code of its own preference (i.e. strong, span style, and em). Also note that for center, FFnet prefers to use <p style="text-align: center;">

* So, I've been away from FF.net for a bit, and now I've returned, to discover....I have no idea how to work with the formatting for the text. I've nearly given up on adding bold text to my document because it appears in some areas but not others. Also, I would love to put in a text-break-thingy, but when I try to do it with symbols, it doesn't work, and when I try to do it with the program, it also doesn't work.

Of course the formatting buttons in the document edit window, with which you have only to hi-light the text you want formatted, click the appropriate button (in this case the B button), and receive the desired results, are supposed to be sufficient but I know for a fact it doesn't always work. When this fails you have to click the button labeled HTML.

This will take you to a confusing page where everything appears jumbled together and has all sorts of letters bracketed by forward and backward arrows (the ones found on the keyboard above your comma and period) in front and behind your text. The letters in the arrow brackets are what tell FanFic how to display your text in its various formats.

Carefully read through the text to find those items you want formatted and make sure they begin and end with the commands below. The first command tells it to start, the second (with the slash) tells it to stop.

For bold: This command is for <b>BOLD</b>.

For underline: This command is for <u>UNDERLINE</u>.

For italics: This command is for <i>ITALICS</i>.

And, of course, after checking and adjusting your formatting in HTML mode, make sure you save it BEFORE returning to the one that is easy to read. If you don't save it while you are in HTML mode, it doesn't hang onto the changes.

As far as dividers go, the command <hr> puts a horizontal ruler in (which is one of those thin grey bars that goes all the ways across the page).

11/9/2009 . Edited 1/29/2010 #5

* How come we can't indent?

I suppose you don't need to indent as your chapter will automatically have double-spacing when you upload, so your paragraphs are already separated clearly.

11/9/2009 #6

* Does using all bold really deter people from reading a fic?

Yes, and so does all italics, all underlined and all-caps. All these are for emphasis only. Well, there is some consensus to use italics for flashbacks, dreams, and thoughts, but other than that: emphasis only.

11/9/2009 #7

* Quotations always go _after_ and period/comma, right?

If you're American, quotations always go after the period/comma/question mark etc. If you're British or Canadian, there are some complicated cases when they don't. But if it's just for dialogue, even for us the quotations always go after.

For more information see Ms Nitpicker's guide:

11/9/2009 #8

* Is there a way to seperate the chapters of a story on the site instead of my files.

No, each chapter has to be uploaded as an individual document. You could, however, use the method described in paragraph IV of the step by step upload guide to upload selections from your one document. Select the relevant part of your story and copy that. Paste that selection into the document you have uploaded on FFnet and post that as a chapter. Uploaded documents are saved on the site for 60 days, so you wouldn't have to upload or export a new document very frequently.

11/9/2009 #9

* How do you change the name of an uploaded document?

You don't, unless you upload the document again under a different name. The document name is not really important; it's just a way for you to tell the documents you have uploaded apart. The name you give to them is not carried over to the story or the chapter once you post the document.

11/9/2009 #10

* How do I get people to read my story?

You can use one of our many fanfiction plug threads. See here for a list of threads that allow self-plugging and recs: Self-plug: Fanfiction

Apart from the fic plug threads, there's an "I need reviews" forum you could try which is on the first page if you sort by topic count.

Mostly, though, try to write a good summary. Make sure the site hasn't chopped the end off, that there are no typos, and don't say in it (or at the top of the story) that this is your first fic (because many first fics are so awful it will put people off, I can already tell yours doesn't deserve to be in this category because you can be coherent in a forum post :) Say it right at the end, if you feel you need to say it at all. And make sure it's rated fairly, not going over the top to be safe. Especially don't rate something M unless it needs it, because M fics don't appear on the lists by default and many people may never see it.

11/9/2009 #11

* Where do I read my reviews?

If you get a notification that you have received a review it's in that notification.

If you visited the category list and saw you had a review click on the red text that says "reviews". Note that sometimes the site doesn't update properly, so it can say review, but you can't visit the reviews page.

You could also go to your stats page and click on the link in the reviews column.

11/9/2009 #12

* Where is the Fanfiction Poetry category?

You just post the poem in the fandom the poem is about. So a poem about Ron Weasley would go into the Harry Potter category. As genre you chose poetry. There isn't a category just for poetry. There might be on fictionpress, but that's for original fiction, not fanfiction.

11/9/2009 #13


* The characters in my story all come from different fandoms, can I still post here?

Yep, you can post your story in Miscellaneous. Or if two fandoms are more prominent than others, you could try it as a crossover between the two.

* Where do I post my original fiction?

On fictionpress for instance, or in a livejournal.

11/9/2009 . Edited 11/11/2009 #14

* Is there a way to delete a story?

Log in and go to the "publish" tab. There click the "My stories" link. In the list that's shown below select the story you want to edit/delete. On the right of the screen there is now a link marked: delete story.

11/9/2009 #15


* Someone seems to have copied my story and posted it as their own. Where can I go or what can I do to report this fanfiction thief?

euh, well, first you might want to pm or email this other author about it. the author may take it down, or change it, if you ask nicely. also, it may be that s/he read your fic, and couldn't find it again when the wrote their version of it.

if the author then refuses to take it down, go to the bottom of the page, and use the drop-down menu that you use to review, as well as add stories to your favs or alerts, and select 'report possible abuse' and click go. a window will pop up, and you can follow the directions there.

Here's what the Terms of Service of FFnet have to say about this issue:


FanFiction.Net respects the intellectual property of others, and we ask our users to do the same. If you feel that your writing was copied with out permission and in violation of your copyright by another writer on FanFiction.Net, please provide FanFiction.Net administrators with the following information via e-mail:

(1) Pen name and e-mail address.

(2) Contact information for the author you feel is violating your copyright. This information should include the author�s pen name, e-mail address, and author profile url.

(3) The url of the piece that you have the copyright for, the date that the story was posted, and the title of the piece.

(4) The url of the piece that you feel is in violation of your copyright, the date the alleged infringed piece was written and the title the alleged infringed piece.

(5) Supporting and collaborative evidence that demonstrates copyright infringement.

(6) A short message detailing the nature of the copyright infringement.

After this has been received, FanFiction.Net administrators will seek to determine if the piece in question is in violation of your copyright and then respond accordingly.


Please report any violations of the TOS to FanFiction.Net administrators by e-mailing them to support(at)fanfiction(dot)com.

11/9/2009 . Edited 11/11/2009 #16


* can I use song lyrics in my story?

I can't speak for the legality of it, but I have seena lot of people writing what they call songfics where the lyrics of a song serve as the foundation of the story and they will have a verse or two, then story (narrative, character's thoughts, whatever), another verse or two, etc. There are a lot of songfics on FFN. I would just make sure you give credit where credit is due and make sure you include the artist & album copyrights for the song as well as the fandom your writing for.

The posting guidelines (those that you have to accept before you can post a new story) say: Actions not allowed: 3. Copying from a previously published work (including musical lyrics) not in the public domain.

This means you can't quote song lyrics unless they are in the public domain. Which is usually not the case if you can credit artists.

it's not that you physical can't post it, it's just against the rules. so you can, in fact, post it, but you should have a back up somewhere incase it gets deleted, and if it does get deleted, /don't/ repost it with the lyrics on ff.n. there are sites which allow songfics, though you'd have to look for them. there may be ones specificly for your fandom, and there are other general archives out there.

* I'm writing an parody of a song's entire lyrics for a story. Is this allowed, or will I get in copyright trouble? And will even slight mentioning of real lyrics or titles of songs have copyright trouble too?

A parody is not an infringement of copyright (how do you think Weird Al Yankovitch gets away with it, eh? ;-) )

It's the _rest_ of what we all write here that's dubious legally. Here's a pretty simple thing on copyright:

Yeah, I think somewhere along the line the whole concept of copyright lost its way and got muddled. The most valid part of copyright imho is to keep someone from taking one persons work, and claiming it as their own. Preventing plagarisim, in other words. But the whole _point_ of fanfiction is that it's from another source that you admit you didn't create. Another valid part of copyright is making sure that creators get paid for what they did create when money is being made off of it. But fan writers are, obviously, more than happy to create without getting paid for it, so the original creators aren't losing out on anything.

So, imho, there's no moral reason why fanfiction should be considered in violation of copyright. Unfortunetly the law probably doesn't agree with me.

11/9/2009 #17


* Does anyone know exactly how detailed we're allowed to get with the, ehm, "smut"? My story's rated M already, but my characters got kind of out of control and what I ended up with has gone past smut and beyond. It's a lot more detailed than anything I've read thus far.

The rating system FanFic uses reads as follows:


Fiction Rated: K

Intended for general audience 5 years and older. Content should be free of any coarse language, violence, and adult themes.

Fiction Rated: K+

Suitable for more mature childen, 9 years and older, with minor action violence without serious injury. May contain mild coarse language. Should not contain any adult themes.

Fiction Rated: T

Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes.

Fiction Rated: M

Not suitable for children or teens below the age of 16 with possible strong but non-explicit adult themes, references to violence, and strong coarse language.


I have seen a few pieces that exceeded this, but I suspect authors that do this know they run the risk of their work being removed if people find it offensive and report it. I don't know how particular FanFic is in this regard since I haven't written anything that extreme. I would say edit if you want to be safe. Also keep in mind alot of readers here are minors, and I don't know if FanFic has a way of restricting them so just because it's rated M, may not guarentee they don't have access.

The guidelines are horribly vague, and to be honest I don't really know. One description of the difference between M and MA I've heard is that while M can be explicit that your characters are having sex and enjoying what they're doing, it's MA if you start describing exactly what they're doing with particular body parts (with apologies for the awkward wording, it's hard to describe in a situation where all posts have to be T :) )

I'd say it depends largely on what you want to write and who you are writing for. If you want to write only for an adult audience, then you're probably better off posting at a site which accepts MA rated stuff simply because people wanting to read MA will be looking for it there and not here. If you're wanting to post here and think that your fic is generally suitable for 16-year-olds, maybe tone anything that's very explicit down a bit and concentrate on emotions rather than physical descriptions?

for MA stuff, you should proably post it on aff.net.

* Only one chapter really is deserving of the M rating I felt I had to give because of that chapter. It is due to a very detailed description of a violent murder, not adult content. The rest of the fic is at most a T rating, quite possibly not even that, but I usually rate T just to be on the safe side.

* My problem is, I am thinking the M rating is hurting my fic a lot. In the category it is in, the majority are rated M for sexual related content and that may give people preconceived notions on why mine is rated M. So my question is, do I honestly have to rate the fic M because of one scene, or could I perhaps put a warning on that one chapter instead and lower the rating to fit what the majority really is?

I'm wrestling with that issue myself. I have a story that deals with war, and I am not even being overly graphic about it, but I've an issue coming in a future chapter that made me uncomfortable even writing it (war is not pretty, particularly this one, which is in essence, genocide) and I pulled idea out of the local newspaper. It bothered me when I read it in the paper (it involved the death of a baby). The guidelines say T is some violence; M is strong(?) references to violence. Mine certainly references it even though I don't get detailed - I deal more with the immediate reactions to the event, but (to me) the whole thought of the thing was disturbing - which the results of war are.

My current fandom is based on a PG-13 and R movies, and most of the M stuff posted there is for "adult themes" as well. Most writers there figure violence and language go with the fandom (a peeve of mine since the language in some of these "T" stories can far exceed "minor coarse language"), but I am trying to honor the ratings (and I have been reminded recently that some readers have ONLY seen the PG-13 movie because they aren't old enough to have seen the R).

On a personal level, perhaps you could look at it from the other side of the screen. Consider the reader. Should a 13 year old read that chapter? Chances are if they are into your story they won't want to skip a crucial part even if you warn them. If it's not crucial does it need to be in there? If it IS crucial, does it need to be so detailed? Imagine that you had a 13 year old daughter/niece/friend acting as your beta reader. Would you feel comfortable having her read it? Just a few thoughts that have been bouncing around my own brain.

If you're comfortable with the M rating but just want to heads up your readers, do you have room in your summary to add "Rated M for violence" or some such so those that read it don't go in expecting other M issues?

- Yes, you have to rate the fanfic "M" for that reason. Think of a fanfic as a movie itself. The movie can be G-rated, then a swearword comes along. That right there makes the whole movie PG-13, despite the fact that everything else in the movie is suitable for children.

- Do you absolutely need the detailed description? Maybe you could get the same effect, but at a lower rating, by giving a detailed description of someone's reaction to it, rather than describing the murder itself. Lots of blood, guts and gore could be M, where a hardened character taking one look and puking his guts out behind the nearest tree, and making sure nobody else went near, would imply the same thing but only be T.

I'd not be tempted to downrate something you know in your heart is M - especially if the rest of your fic is only a marginal T, because it will be a big and very obvious step up. Someone's going to take offence. It's not worth it.

- Honestly, the best way to rate something like this is by looking at your fandom. Would your scene be normal to the fandom?

What type of people will read the fic, taking all aspects of the fandom into consideration? Can you imagine a ten year old being an active part on your fandom? And not abnormally?

I don't think many people really rate to the book. Because not only are the rules not clear enough, but the fandoms usually are what really make the ratings (I've seen a fic with sex -brutal sex, from the description used- in the T section. And I've seen it updated a few months after that before the story was completed. It's probably still there.). You're a fan, and I'm guessing you get how the other fans in the fandom work.

So, is it appropriate in your fandoms T section?

* Are you allowed to write a story with a rating higher than your age?

Well, no one is going to ask for your age when you upload a story. So you could write a story that is not age appropriate for you yourself.

11/9/2009 #18


* I posted a new story today. Not only did I not get a confirmation email (despite the fact that it did go on), but when I was looking at my stats later, I saw that I had three reviews, one favorite, and two alerts. All the alerts were on, yet I didn't get emails. Do you think it's a problem with the site or my email? And I am absolutely positive that the email alerts for reviews, favorites, and story alerts were and are all on.

It happens every now and then (about ever other month or so) that FFnet doesn't sent out story alerts/PMs/forum alerts. It usually takes a few days to sort out that problem and then you will receive a backload of the alerts you are now nervously expecting.

* I was wondering why people put stories on their alert when they're finished. I have (at least) four people who've done that for various poems/one-shots of mine...should I tell them or something?

There can be many reasons why people put a finished story on alerts. Perhaps they are hoping for more; perhaps they didn't know or notice it's complete as a one-shot.

If you feel you should let them know (and if they are anything like me they may have even forgotten they put it on alerts), don't do it through adding a new chapter to the one-shot with an author's note that the story is finished. Chapters which are entirely non-story content have their own special entry on the "report site abuse" menu, and it would be a shame to attract the button pushers. Much safer to PM the reader, and add your comment at the end of the real chapter for new readers.

I've got one person who put a one-shot of mine on alert, but she emailed me and said it was because she really, really wants to see a followup to it even though I said it was complete :) And, to a certain extent, it's working - I keep seeing that alert and thinking "well, what if..."

* If you alert a story but then it's moved to another category. Does the alert still work?

Alerts are linked to the story or the author. What category the story is in is not important. So if the story is moved, people would still be able to receive alerts for it.

4/27/2010 . Edited 4/27/2010 #19


Lots of authors have questions about terms that seem to be only used in fanfiction. This forum has a separate thread where these questions can be asked: FFnet slang

4/27/2010 #20


My question is it against the rules to post Author's Notes such as the following:

But I'm making this authors note because I am not getting enough reviews! Come on guys. I checked how many people looked at the page, and there was like 100 something, yet I am getting an average of 2 reviews per chapter, and that's sad. So I have the chapter ready, but I am not going to post it until I get 10 MORE reviews.

Because I hate when a Author does that. It is really juvenile and annoying, and while I know I'm not the fanfic police... I see soo much

of it I want to know if something can be done about it.

Thank you,


7/1/2010 #21
Ten ways to spoil dinner

My question is it against the rules to post Author's Notes such as the following:

From what I know, it isn't against the rules to ask for more reviews in your author notes. However, in some fandoms, it is looked down upon, and may cause potential reviewers to decide against reviewing. It can work, but it isn't a sure thing, and can backfire.


However, I am wondering; is the author's note the whole chapter, or is this at the end of a pre-existing chapter? The kind of author's note is not against the rule, but it does have to be at the beginning or end of a chapter, or it would be breaking a rule.

7/1/2010 #22

It's the WHOLE chapter, along with a tired rant about what's been going on w/ their life and how they didn't like the movie for that fandom.

7/1/2010 #23

If it's the whole chapter, then it's NOT allowed. Anything that is not a story is not allowed to take up an entire chapter on its own. It's in the first line of the guidelines:

The chapter system is not to be used as placeholder for non-story content such as author notes. You can add short author notes to the beginning or at the end of stories but never as individual chapters.

7/1/2010 #24
Ten ways to spoil dinner

So, the author's note is the whole chapter, along with a rant? Yeah, that would be against the rules.

Might I suggest editting the note/rant into your last chapter? Or just putting it in the next chapter. Either way, you'd be getting more reviews, I suppose.

7/1/2010 #25

Thanks! I'm now going to go report that whining excuse of an Author.

7/1/2010 #26

On a similar note, I've seen cases where, let's say, "Chapter Eight" of a serial fanfic goes something like this (paraphrased in my own words):

"Hi! I'm just posting this to apologize for not posting a new chapter in months, and to assure you I haven't forgotten about this ongoing story!"

And that's all. It's the sort of thing that makes me wonder if someone is just creating a very flimsy excuse to "bump" his or her story back up to the top of whats "Just In" for that fandom, without actually laboring to offer any new material worthy of the name "update."

7/1/2010 #27

Hmm, interesting theory; you may be right.

You can report anyone who posts an ENTIRE chapter of author's notes. I checked.

Anyone who is also Aggrieved, Aggravated, and just plain annoyed by this should report the person who does it.

We, the readers need to take a stand and be proactive about the quality of the fan fiction on here.

We need to stop letting authors get away with this crap.

7/1/2010 #28
Jacob Lupo

when you report someone for that what do you report it as when you submit an abuse report? I have seen it done several times.

7/1/2010 . Edited 7/1/2010 #29


First go to the "chapter" that is the author's notes then

hit submit "report possible abuse"

and in the pop-up window that appears

select "Non Story" from the list of options

then type a brief summary of why you are reporting the story

then hit the submit button.

and Viola! it's reported.

7/1/2010 #30
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