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A fantasy question. You've agreed to teach a course on fan fiction writing. What would you include in the syllabus?
4/25/2012 #1
The Lauderdale

Are you talking about a literature course or an actual writing course? Literature = more history, comparative reading. Writing = well, writing.

4/25/2012 #2

Oh, I'm sorry if I was unclear. I meant a course on writing it. I understand about writing being writing, but I believe fan fiction poses some special challenges. A fanfic literature & history course might be fun, too, though. Answer this any way you like.

4/25/2012 . Edited 4/25/2012 #3

For starters, I would assign people to read a bunch of fics within their fandom and write down the patterns they observe. Then, analyze whether or not these patterns are reasonable based on their understanding of the characters and the underlying themes in the original series. Then, think of ways to break free of the patterns and/or add new twists to old patterns that other writers use too often. One must be a good reader to be a good writer, and reading a lot will help a writer avoid over-used plots. That would be on the syllabus for the first week or two.

For the following week or two, I would get people to make a synopsis of what they want to write, bring it to class, and have other people in the class critique it.

4/25/2012 #4
Independent Dude

For starters, I would assign people to read a bunch of fics within their fandom Also, I would assign as an "independent study" project, that people read or watch a bunch of canon within their fandom, so they have a strong enough knowledge base from which to begin writing their fanfic.

Then, analyze whether or not these patterns are reasonable based on their understanding of the characters and the underlying themes in the original series.

Again, have them analyze the patterns of the canon material. Is the canon story an allegory? Is it a retelling of another story, but "in space?" Is it based in classical mythology? Maybe I would assign an analytical paper of the canon, first, before assigning fanfic writing.

help a writer avoid over-used plots

Here might be required direct instruction. Maybe have people lookup the tv tropes dot org entry on their canon, and browse through the tropes associated with it.

Then, I would have people look up common fanfic terms and tropes, such as "Mary Sue," "slash," "hurt/comfort," "AU," "episode coda," etc., so they know what the genre of fanfic is all about.

Then, I would have people peruse other fanfics in their fandom.

After that, I would have them write it.

4/26/2012 #5

Thanks for elaborating, Independent Dude! I was going to say more, but I got a phone call and had to cut it short. I like what you added.

As with any writing course, I think that actually writing something at the end is an important and valuable way to assess how well the students did. There could be several small assignments throughout the course, and the students could opt to do a bunch of one-shots or one long story. The final could be a take-home assignment that involves either writing a fresh one-shot or the grand finale to a longer story. Ending a story properly is very important, and I think that a lot of writers give up because they can't think of a good ending.

4/26/2012 #6

"Beginning, middle, end."

I know it's not exactly a fanfic topic as such, but for me the turning point in my writing came when I stopped writing "and then" stories and started writing stories which were complete in themselves.

4/27/2012 #7

p Reading a few of the really bad examples is pretty eye opening. Like the type where half way through we learn that Harry has been faking being stupid.



Oh, How to really understand (and never beg for) reviews



And how to make their characters your own. How do you let them grow without going OOC? How do you write a vocabulary (Snape) or accent (Hagrid) that you can understand only a little?



And those same questions around changing the location before your story becomes Alternative Reality.


4/27/2012 #8

Ugh I would have SO MUCH TO TEACH!!!

1. Grammar, spelling, flow, word choice. This would definitely be on the top list. There are tons of bad to okay fics out there. If you want a better chance of getting read and reviewed, make sure you're writing is good. Go out, buy a grammar book, flip through it and LEARN. I'll be fair and say it's okay that some people are bad at it since most school's don't directly teach it. But people should go and spend the time to figure some basic things out.

2. Read GOOD fics (don't go into writing fanfiction with just novel reading, you have to read fanfics as well), especially the well reviewed ones. It's not as efficient to read any random fics, find the REALLY good/thousand review stories and read them. (just make sure the stories have a decent chapter to review ratio) A lot of them have good writing styles but not all of them. However, you can learn what works and what doesn't.

3. Uniqueness, thinking of ideas. While there are tons of similar stories/plots out there, only 1/100 or less of the similar plot lines actually become successful. There are "generic" fics that only succeed if you're lucky and if you truly write well. For example in Twilight, the "generic" is an all human school/boarding school story. Well, yeah, while everyone want's to copy "Welcome to Drama Academy" few actually succeed. So uniqueness is key. Don't force yourself to figure out what to write in one day, allow your mind to be open to new ideas. It might take a day or two for a truly good idea to come, but often times those slowly developed ideas are what you stick to and are good.

4. Good first chapter. Readers continue to read or click back based on your first few paragraphs to the first chapter. I always tell people to make sure to uncover some plot, problem, main idea in your first chapter. There are thousands of fanfictions, and reader's won't prioritize reading everything to the end. They turn back if you first chapter seems dull, if there's nothing happening. So MAKE A GOOD impression!!!!

5. Mild cliffhangers. Don't go over the top and kill readers with cliffhangers, but make sure to leave SOME mystery to keep them coming back.

6. Suggest planning out. There are many ways people write: some prefer the whole story planned, outlined, and detailed to the core, while others decide to wing it and go with the flow. I suggest at least knowing some specifics you want to address. This keeps you in track and helps avoid writers block.

7. Don't write for reviews. Yes reviews are good, everyone want's reviews and are happy when they get reviews. However, reviews shouldn't be the reason you write. Also, if you do get reviews (even if they are one liners), cherish them, because whether they really say "I love it" or "please continue" or something longer, they are all awesome. While one liners seem annoying, unthoughtful (and many people would argue with me), they really do mean something. Some people just can't think of what to write in a review even if they really like the fic.

8. Post chapters within reasonable times. I don't suggest updating everyday, but let a few days for readers to click on it, read it, and respond if that's the case. I suggest 1-2 weeks (is desirable) to post. At the very least, don't leave your readers for extended months to leave them wondering if you've abandoned that story. Write a story determined to finish.

9. AVOID OCs as main characters, as well as Mary Sues. I'm a little bias concerning my hatred (well...dislike) of main character OCs. There ARE TONS OF CHARACTERS OUT THERE!! OCs can become minor side characters, fill in as the garbage man or something, but PLEASE don't make them the main character. If you do want to write an OC story PLEASE that's what fictionpress is for. X_X

10. Some regular fanfiction terms: AU, OOC, OC, Slash, Pairing indications, AH, Cannon, shota etc. Although personally I don't think this is a big deal, for fandoms like Naruto, if you get the pairing wrong say NaruSasu when it's actually SasuNaru, people go BALLISTIC! (experienced this before, these people ARE NOT FRIENDLY! Even though I got a lot of good reviews, these unfriendly flames caused me some grief) So save yourself and make sure you do the right indicators. Make sure to put up warning or there will be a few complainers out there as well.

More...but I'll save it at that XD

Ps. Don't blackmail your readers to review. Don't say "please don't flame!" You have the right as the writer to leave a small authors note and something like "please review" or "reviews make me happy" but don't too far. A lot of people are turned away when you order people to give you reviews. Don't mention reviewing too much. I learned that whether you ask or don't ask, people will or will not review based on what they think of your story. I've gotten 20+ reviews/chapter from not even mentioning reviews before, and I've gotten 20+/chapter from lightly mentioning reviews.

5/6/2012 #9

Fanfiction Writing 101: Fanfiction writing for non Fandom Majors

Learn the basics of fanfiction and write one of your own! Class covers topics important to basic writing skills, including spelling, grammar, and editing, as well as topics specific to fanfiction such as characterization, plagiarsim, sex education, and online conduct. Students will be able to write their own fanfiction by the end of the course. Prerequisite for Fanfiction 102, Fandom majors are encouraged to start with the Fanfiction 151/152 series.

Meets TBA, office hours on Gallifrey, where it's kind of pointless to try to tell you what time they actually are, and you'll only care the week before the midterm and the night before your final is due anyways. Students will be graded on attendance, participation, homework and quizzes, a midterm exam, and a final project of writing a fanfiction of at least 1000 words. Students will also have the option of making a piece of fanart, fanvid, or similar to present for extra credit.

Week 1: What am I reading? Discussion of genres, ratings, warnings, and terminology. Homework: Find and read a fanfiction.

Week 2: Sex Ed. Specifically, how reproductive systems are set up, what not to use as lube, how pregnancy occurs, and what "consent" means. Homework: Reproductive system worksheets. Like you had in health class, if yours was any good.

Week 3: Writing basics. Here we cover the function of a spell-checker, as well as basic grammar rules and the differences between "they're", "their", and "there". Homework: Grammmar worksheet.

Week 4: Characterization. The difference between "fanfic" and "original fiction with your favorite characters' names pasted on". Homework: Come up with a list of fandoms that you might like to write for.

Week 5: Plots, prompts, and tropes. What they are and how to get ideas for them. Homework: Come up with several prompts or plot bunnies for your final.

Week 6: The Fanfiction community. Learn about online communities, sharing fanfiction, and how to not get banned. Covers topics such as trolling, plagiarism, etc. Homework: Study for Midterm.

Week 7: Midterm. Multiple-choice covering basic concepts from the preceding weeks. Homework: Write a drabble for next week's exercise.

Week 8: Betas and editing. Remember that stuff we learned before the midterm? Now we're putting it all together. Learn how to critique another's work and accept critique of your own. Homework: Swap drabbles with a classmate and provide concrit. Start first draft of final paper.

Week 9: In-class writing lab for your final project. Bring your laptops, snacks, etc. Homework: Swap drafts for beta editing.

Week 10: I'm done, now what? Next steps after finishing and posting your first fanfiction, and extra credit presentations. Homework: None, your final projects due!

(I TA, so I kind of made this up as I went along. I promise I'm not as sloppy with my IRL syllabi!)

5/24/2012 #10
April Dawn Irene

Disclaimer: All course, book, and other titles/names were made up because this was just too interesting to pass up making up my own.

Fan Fiction 101: The Whys and Hows of Fan Fiction. Students will enjoy a daily class detailing the wide world of Fan Fiction and begin writing their own Fanfic.

Prerequisites: English 101-112, Basic Writing 101, & Net-speak is for Chat Rooms 101-102 Students who feel they may already have the necessary skills to succeed in this course may also take an advanced placement test. Test Fee is $25.00

Required Coursebooks:

Writing Evolution: Fan Fiction is Only the Beginning by Marcus Readman

Editing your Writing by Lisa Checkspell

The Web and your Writing by Aaron Grammar

Recommended Reading:

Rules, Guidelines, and Terms of Services by Veronica Banner

Week One: All students will begin an introductory workshop in which they will be introduced to the many different worlds of Fan Fiction. At the end of the first week students will be expected to have found a Fandom in which they are interested in writing.

Week Two: Students will continue onwards from the workshop started in the first week and begin researching their Fandom and brainstorming ideas for a short story based in their chosen Fandom.

Week Three: Students will continue developing their short story. At the end of the third week, Students will also be expected to provide a short essay on their chosen fandom.

I could go on but...

6/11/2012 #11

If it was separate from Writing course:

1. Beginning: Pros and cons of writing fanfiction. Different reasons people write it. What can author expect from their readers. What can readers expect from the authors. Readers' response: difference between review, concrit, flame and trolling and how to deal with it. How to write reviews. How to write concrit.

2. Middle: Know your world and characters. Canon, AU and OOC and how does it matter. Learning to distinguish 'different interpretation of a character' from 'OOC character'. Shipping. Genres and terminology.

3. End: Where and how to publish your story. Different sites have different requirements and rules. Quality control: beta-reading. Promoting your story - interesting summary and cover page.

If the writing course was part of it, point 2 would include: How to change ideas into plot. Developing characters. Writing description. Writing dialogue. Writing fighting scenes. How to write about controversial topics and sex - implying and explicit description.

6/12/2012 #12

In writing courses, the courses tend to be a bit more focused than just writing. For example, the poetry portion of a beginners creative writing class might include writing a sonnet and might briefly study the sonnet to help the writer prepare for the writing.

6/12/2012 #13
April Dawn Irene

Obviously, but this is just a fun way to get your thoughts going on what you would teach somebody if you were to introduce them to the world of Fan Fiction.

6/12/2012 #14

I'm impressed by the good ideas people have suggested!

Actually I wrote a series of short articles once on writing fan fiction and I covered the following:

1. Writing fan fiction: spelling, grammar, punctuation, principles of composition, style, understanding your reader

2. Writing fan fiction: planning, plot, characters, narration, revising

3. Writing fan fiction: understanding the world of your fandom, the popular genres in your fandom and need for originality, making characters real, give your reader new insights into world

I concluded with links to further information. I asked a few people to review what I wrote and I got so much feedback--not all positive--that I never got the chance to finish the work. But there you go, it's not just a hypothetical. I actually did have a go at it.

6/13/2012 #15

There are several websites that offer classes for fan fiction writers such as FanFiction 101. There is also a brand new online writers conference specifically for fan fiction being held in October. www.fansoffiction.com looks interesting at least.

9/9/2012 #16
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