Author has written 7 stories for StarTrek: Enterprise, Harry Potter, Sorcerer's Apprentice, 2010, and Smallville.
Well, here's my little profile so far. I'm not a very exciting person... more of a homebody (If you couldn't tell by the almost epic length of Flight of the Thestrals! and PreFlight) I live in the States. Yes, I am female! Um... dunno what else to say. If you have suggestions, you can pop them at the end of a review or email me. I'll put little blurbs of what I'm up to here periodically in the same fashion as they do on the intro page of this site. Seems to be working for them.
Click on the Forum link for more information on Flight and PreFlight!
PLEASE NOTE: If you want to contact me, please either do so through FanFiction or if you choose to email me, make sure to include your name here so I know who I'm talking to and can respond through FanFiction if my email isn't working properly.
- 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 -
Long time, no see, I know. Sorry I haven’t done much on here in a really long time. Real life issues. My mom got cancer and she passed away a few months ago. I’ve been trying to get back to writing, but it’s difficult. I don’t know if it’s just life or perhaps something to do with the anti-anxiety meds I had to go on shortly after she was diagnosed. Either way I hope you’ll have some patience with me. I do have every intention of continuing my stories, it’s just a matter of mustering the will and trying to revive my muse. She’s been very quiet for quite some time now. I have three stories that I’m close to having a complete chapter on, but the most I can seem to do is eek out a sentence or two at a time and then I just seem to falter. One thing that kind of weighs on me is that my mom died never even knowing I’d ever written anything, because what I write isn’t something I can share with anyone else in my family. They wouldn’t understand, let alone approve. My stories are one of my proudest accomplishments and no one I know is ever going to read them. It’s depressing, and sometimes it makes me feel like I’ve been wasting my time... but I don’t think I could create a universe of my own and become a ‘real’ writer. I live in other people’s universes. I just don’t have that spark that lets people create new universes. Believe me, I wish I did. So, well, as you can see I have motivational issues right now. I think I’m going to talk to my doctor about changing my meds, and hopefully that will help, but for the time being please just bear with me.
- 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 -
I have just put up a helpful hints/suggestions guide for writing fanfiction (see below). I think from now on I will put my most recent comments between these lines and just leave it at that. I don't update it that often, and I doubt people care what I said at 3 in the morning two years ago anyway. Well, off to bed now. Night (morning, whatever!).
PLEASE NOTE!!! After reading some fanfiction I got the idea to write a helpful little hints and suggestions kind of thing, but seeing as that is not allowed to be posted as a STORY, I am simply putting it here in my profile. Please note this is just a jotted down, rough piece at the moment, but since I've been working on it and it is now nearly one in the morning and I have to work today I want my lack of sleep to count for something, so I'm sticking it up here now. I will add to it and revise it when the mood strikes. So, here it is. I hope you will find it helpful:
Writing Fanfiction – Helpful hints and suggestions to add quality to your work
I'm not a fanfiction God. I'm not perfect. That said, I have read tons of books, a reasonable amount of fanfiction, and have been writing fanfiction longer than most fanfiction readers have been in their double digits. Before discovering fanfiction, I used to write it in my head, just for my own entertainment. Eventually I did start writing it down, but once again for my own entertainment alone. I admit that I'm not the most outgoing or secure person, so the idea of letting other people read what was going on in my head was, quite frankly, terrifying... but I'm so glad I did. Posting my work on fanfiction has changed me in so many ways, and all of them that I can think of are for the better. My writing skills improved enormously, of course. The idea that my work would be read by others forced me to step it up, work harder and think more ahead (not to mention proof read the living bejesus out of it!). Anyone who's read my work knows I'm not the one-shot type of writer by far! Much of my advice, therefor, will likely by slanted towards those thinking about writing somewhat longer works, but I believe much would be helpful for those authors who prefer to write short stories as well.
I'm not writing this for vanity or attention... I'm writing this because I read other people's fanfiction and sometimes I see such potential, and it just breaks my heart knowing how much better it could be... knowing if they just changed a few things their work could be so much better, could draw so many more readers and get so many more reviews. Like I said, I've been at this a long time, so I know how important reviews are to a writer, whether they will admit it or not. As I have said many times in my author's notes of my stories, reviews are the only payment we fanfiction writers will ever receive for our work.
My own work has been mostly in the Harry Potter universe, so please forgive the over abundance of HP in the examples I might give. The majority of this will work no matter what your fandom is.
Before I get started (you'll figure it out pretty quick anyway!) I will admit that I am a Virgo, and I tend to overthink things (you have no idea how many times people have said that to me!!!). To give you an example, I was in someone's office the other day and they had a poster on the wall that depicted a small island with perhaps thirty or forty palm trees on it, pristine sand, clear blue water, sunshine, a couple of seagulls floating past and barely a cloud in the sky. It said “To each their own private paradise”. As I gazed at it I started thinking... What food would there be? Coconuts and fish at most, and even assuming it would be enough to sustain someone indefinitely (and wouldn't leave them horribly vitamin deprived) that would get really old within a week. What would you do all day? No tv, no video games, no books and even (God forbid) no internet! If it was someone's OWN paradise they would probably be stuck there alone. How lonely would that be? Laying on the beach by yourself sipping from a coconut might be great for a day or two, but longer than that? And if a storm came that little spit of land would be gone in a heartbeat! Imagining clinging to a palm tree as the ocean swallowed the island whole wasn't exactly my idea of paradise... not to mention there's no way that island was big enough to have a fresh water source, so even if you had a water purifier you would would be completely dependant on it. I, for one, would be totally stressing about it breaking and dying a slow, painful death. There's no way you could survive on coconut milk alone with only that many palm trees on the island, even if you were up to scaling all those tall trees to retrieve a couple of coconuts from each (which I am in no shape to do!). After less than five minutes of gazing at this idyllic scene I came to the firm conclusion that that place looked like a little piece of Hell.
So please take my words with a grain of salt and grin and bear with me when I get overly analytical :)
Also, this is intended for writers who wish to be true to the work they are branching off of. If you fully intend to make your work alternate universe or alternate reality, then you can disregard pointers on keeping your work to canon.
You start, of course, with an idea. Some way you think your source material should have gone, but didn't... or perhaps you are continuing on from where the author (or movie or show, whatever) left off. I would suggest holding off on writing at first. Let the ideas roll around in your head a bit and hash themselves out before taking up your pencil or whipping out your keyboard. Let the scene firm up a bit before you write it down, because it will save you a lot of time in rewriting, believe me. If you're afraid you'll forget some good bits you really want in there, jot yourself some notes. I have terrible short term memory sometimes, so believe me I am a strong proponent of note taking!!! Once you have the idea fully formed in your head, you can begin.
What you use to take down your ideas is entirely up to you. I used to like pencil and paper. It has a more solid feel to it, and you can take it anywhere with you without worrying about batteries and such. The biggest drawbacks to that medium are keeping track of your writing implement and in my case I developed wrist problems that now make handwriting anything more than a few notes now and then painful. Writing on a computer has many advantages. As long as you can find yourself a good writing program it makes things worlds easier, especially if you're prone to changing your mind or making spelling errors. And besides, if you want to post it, you will have to type it in at some point anyway. I, personally, use Staroffice. It's not a very common program, but it's what's worked best for me for the last decade or so. Word sometimes drives me nuts and occasionally refuses to spellcheck properly for me, so I don't trust it, but that's all a matter of opinion. Use whatever works best for you. Here are some suggestions for setting it up:
Whatever program you end up using, make very sure it has an autosave or autobackup option and set it to save periodically as you write. This is very important!!! I can tell you from experience that it is absolutely heartbreaking to loose three hours of productive work just because you were too into the moment to think about hitting save and the power suddenly goes out!!! Set the time for whatever you are willing to lose. I have mine set to save every five minutes and it isn't bothersome unless I am working on a very large file. That's one of the reasons I keep my working files as separate files for each chapter, but also make one unified file of the story so I can do searches if I need to look something up.
The initial name of your work doesn't really matter as long as you will recognize it easily. You can always rename it later. I would suggest making a special folder for it and put anything you are referencing in that folder for easy access. Photos that inspire you, electronic notes you took, anything you might want to reference while writing.
If you repeatedly make the same spelling errors (it's ok! I know I do!) then set the program to autocorrect that particular error for you so it doesn't disrupt the flow while you're writing.
If words you want to use are not already in the program's dictionary, make VERY sure you have spelled them correctly, then add the names of your characters, spells, whatnot to the dictionary. Seriously though, verify it first, even if you have to look it up on the internet, because it kills me to see a main character's name repeatedly mangled! (If you're writing Harry Potter stuff I highly recommend the Harry Potter Lexicon. It's online and is an awesome source. It is also published book now, despite opposition, and yes I own a copy, but I admit the online version is much quicker for looking things up.)
Ok, so now you have your file in its own little folder and open and just waiting for you to begin. There are some technical things that need to be in the beginning before you post it, but for now we'll just focus on writing it first. Here are some things I think every writer should take into consideration when writing fanfiction:
Do I really understand all of the characters at play in this? We all have our favorite characters, but make sure you are aware of their surroundings and the other people they interact with: how they are, how they LOOK, speak, talk, think and act. I know I'm a bit more of a stickler for such things, but it can be very off-putting for a reader if their own favorite character is acting, looking, speaking, etc. out of character from what they expect for no apparent reason. They see it as lack of knowledge of the work you're basing your story on and if it is bad enough will often stop reading, and may just flame you for it before they go, which can be very hard on a writer.
Don't make radical changes to an established character's personality. I know many people want to write fanfiction to explore relationships they would like to see in the canon material but know they never will... and that's fine. I certainly do it in my own work. Just don't make a sudden, drastic change in a well known character unless you are going AU/AR with your fic. Don't make a previously straight character suddenly openly gay and everyone knows it. I'm not saying you can't change their sexuality, just be more subtle about it. This is easy if they are teenagers (one reason I prefer writing about them) because they are just coming of age and discovering who they are, so changing them can seem natural. They're in a situation they've never been in before and feel themselves reacting in a way even they didn't expect. If the reader 'discovers' something like this along with the character, it makes it much more believable. One reason I love working with HP is because JK made it so Harry centric it's easy to manipulate the other characters. Just using internal dialog not available to the readers in the canon material I can form the reasoning behind a characters reaction that might otherwise be seen as odd.
Round out your characters. One thing I prefer to do is make all of my characters more rounded. While you can't round every character, if they are more than what would be extras on a movie set, you should come to understand your characters and help your readers to understand them as well. I don't write about them until I understand who they are and why they do the things they do. As with acting, when writing a character, you should understand their motivations. An example from my own work would be Draco. In canon HP he just seems like a spoiled evil little brat. The only problem with that is you're only seeing the heavily biased observations of the boy's biggest nemesis. I look at what he's done in the books and try to understand why he acts this way. First off he offered his hand to Harry in friendship the very first day at Hogwarts, and Harry spurned him in front of everyone in their entire year. That right there forces a rivalry. Draco isn't the one who started it, but he's proud and stubborn, so he's not going to drop it easily. I also think he spent his life in the shadow of an evil, domineering father, one who taught him to believe Muggleborns were inferior, Muggles were little more than animals and the same goes for house elves. He was obviously expected to act the same way. His constant boasting about all the things he has and how respected, rich and influential his father is seems more like trying to cover insecurities and trying to make everyone like him (and make himself feel better about his situation at the same time). I also think he was abused by his father, so he's more likely to just do as he's told, at least in the beginning. As with many children of overbearing, abusive fathers, he also still seems to have that irrational urge to please his father and make him proud. He was spoiled with new, flashy gifts, the top of the line brooms (and everything else for that matter) and frequent care packages from his mother, but through most of the series I get the feeling he got very little real love at home. He also seemed to be a bit jealous of the close friendship Harry had with Ron and Hermione, while all he had were his yes-men goons who you never got the impression really cared for him so much as just followed orders. This is an example of how I get to understand my characters. It helps me predict what they will do and say and makes them almost take on a life of their own in my mind. No, you don't have to have a life biography of each person... just realize each person has a past, and the things that have happened to them in that past, the people who have been around them and the things they've had to go through have all come together to shape them into the person they are. An at least rudimentary understanding of what that background might be will go a long way to help your storytelling skills and the reader's enjoyment of your work.
Do I have a firm idea of the surroundings? Know your location! As I have stated, I tend to overanalyse, but I even go so far as drawing up a rough floorplan of rooms that my characters will spend much time in. You can laugh if you wish, but this makes it so much easier to keep things straight in my mind! You might not think it's necessary, and if you can keep it straight in your mind without assistance, good for you. I'm just saying that when I read a story and the layout of the room changes during the scene (the dresser being by the closet, then over across the room... the door being across from the bed, then being beside it... and even if the door opens into the room or out of the room) it can be disruptive to the mental images of what you are writing as they play out in my mind. If your characters live in a different environment than you, such as a different country, try to understand how their culture might effect them differently and rules they live by that might be different than your own.
Keep track of what your characters are wearing! This one is pretty self explanatory. For example, don't change their attire from a skirt to pants without changing the day or at least implying in some way that they had a reason for changing. This would go for their hair style as well.
Keep track of what your characters call each other in the canon material. For example, in the HP universe, the professors refer to their students as Mr. or Miss and their last names. Students refer to professors using Professor and their last name when speaking to them, but sometimes just use the last names when talking about the professor amongst themselves. They often refer to their friends by their first names, but members of other houses are often referred to by their their first and last names or last only. Certain people consistently use first names only except on special occasions (Dumbledore usually did this). Also, in close peer groups there may be private nicknames, such as with the Marauders. Switching fandoms, in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, people most often called the main character David except Balthazar, who consistently called him Dave. Just try to pick up on the personal quirks like that in the material. As always, take notes if necessary.
Keep track of time. This becomes important when writing a fic that covers any real length of time. If they have a regular activity like school or work, you need to keep track of what day of the week it is. Things like class schedules might also eventually be needed. You may also have to reference something already done or said, like “the last time I saw him was three days ago” kind of thing. If the fic runs over a really long period of time you need to take into account holidays and weather consistant to that time of year wherever they are. Personally, I made up a little calendar to help try to keep things straight, and I would be completely lost without it. Of course if you are familiar with my work, especially in the Flight universe, you can see how this would be vital to me since the length of it now rivals the Lord of the Rings! :) It doesn't have to be lengthy or in depth. Little notes like : “Tuesday: Harry meets Bob for first time, explosion in Charms class, Harry and Draco fight during dinner.” Just anything that might be referenced later or you want to remember just in case. Feel free to use abbreviations as long as you're sure you'll remember what they meant later :)
Decide what of canon you will keep and what you might want to exclude. An example from my own work would be that Peeves doesn't exist in my Flight universe. I find him irritating and disruptive and what usefulness they get out of him can be gotten elsewhere. I think he appeals to younger readers, but my work is quite obviously for older readers, so I don't feel he's necessary. I do have ghosts in mine, but they are rarely referenced and seem much less prevalent than they appear in the early books and movies. I did notice that the further you get into the series the less they are noted, so I felt it was justifiable. If you are working with something like Harry Potter in which there are two different versions, in this case a book series and a movie series, you might want to make some decisions on which canon material you will stick to. It doesn't have to be like book only or movie only, but set up your own personal 'rules'. Examples: do the owls carry letters in their beaks like the movie, or tied to their ankles like the books? Are werewolves just oversized, slightly odd looking wolves like the book, or weird wolf/human hybrids like the movie? Some things get changed when translating from book to movie just to make it more visually attractive (wizards certainly never turned into weird smoke and literally flew around like wraiths in the book! If they can fly, what's the point of brooms?!?) , but would be harder to write. Some changes simplify things which might make them easier to write. Choose whichever way works for you, but then stick to it!
If you are using something canon, like a enchanted object, spell, etc, make very sure you know how to spell the name of it and what exactly it does! Nothing's more irritating to me than to see someone using a canon spell without knowing what it did. Example: I once started reading a fic in which Draco started flinging someone around using the spell Expelliarmus. Needless to say, I didn't bother reading any further. If they know that little about the world they're writing about then I'm not going to both reading it. That spell only DISARMS your opponent, it doesn't hurt them, let alone lift them off their feet and fling them! The only reason it knocked Snape out in the Shrieking shack was because three people all cast it at him at the very same time, which apparently amplified it and made it cause damage. I tried to be understanding about it since it was a bit misused in the Movie version in that only Harry cast and yet it effected Snape the same (but I still stopped reading it!). If you aren't ABSOLUTELY sure, research it! It is very simple to find tons of information online, but be sure you have a reliable source. For pretty much ANYTHING Harry Potter related, I suggest the Harry Potter Lexicon, as mentioned before. WWW.hplex.org has pretty much every single known fact about the Harry Potter universe (books, movies and interviews with JK as well) and is reasonably easy to navigate for most things.
Avoid shameless self-insertion! Yes, it would be great if we could transport ourselves into the world we write about, but if you're going to write yourself into the world, at least be subtle about it!!! Whenever I see something about Bob, Harry's OTHER best friend that just happens not to be in the books at all and also coincidentally fits the description of the author, it really turns me off to the story. Anyone who has read my work knows I use my own characters too, but I don't just have them magically appear! They work their way in in a more natural progression. To be honest, I actually get the best mileage out of canon characters that were never fleshed out. They've always been there, mentioned here and there, but if they weren't given a personality, or in some cases even a visual description, they're mine to play with! I'm just saying you might want to assess what you have available to you in canon before going off and creating the foreign exchange student or the brother/cousin/best friend no one ever mentioned before. Ok, admittedly I HAVE written stories that started out with some original characters, but if you must, please, PLEASE at least find some reasonable, LOGICAL reason for them to be there!
Watch your word usage. Sometimes your spell check says the word is spelled right, but you're just not sure it's the right word. If you aren't absolutely sure you're using the right word, check! There are tons of resources online. Websters dictionary is online now, as is the Encyclopedia Britannica. Sometimes your question can be answered by simply selecting the word and checking your word processor's thesaurus. Personally, I bookmarked a bunch of reference websites and put them all in a fanfiction folder so I can find them easily. If all else fails, go old school and purchase a hard copy dictionary and thesaurus. I also suggest looking for a good online conversion website if you are writing about someplace that you don't live that has a different measuring system. Just to give you an idea how much weight, volume, distance etc. you're talking about.
If you want your own characters, but aren't good at coming up with names, get a baby name book. Seriously. I have one right by my computer. As for last names, check out a phone book. There are also, of course, many online sites for first names. Some even have what names mean, so you can give their names a more specific meaning. J.K. appeared to do that a lot. Seriously, who didn't guess Lupin would end up being a werewolf? Or that Minerva would be wise? Or that Percy would be a... um... you get the idea :).
Foreign languages – please don't sit there and put a paragraph of French (or whatever language) in the middle of your English story. I don't know French, and odds are the majority of your other readers won't either. I've seen people do this and then add a translation either at the end of the paragraph or in a footnote at the bottom of the chapter. I know you may want to show off your language skills, but this is just irritating to those who can't read it. We don't want to have to go to the 'special ed' section to figure out what you said. Just tell us he said “Oh don't be an idiot” in French or something. Ok, in the HP universe they use Latin for the spell names, and J.K. didn't spell out what they meant to the readers, so in that case it would be canon-like to use a Latin named spell, but if it's not actual cannon, you might want to add a mention of it's meaning in the authors' note at the bottom of the chapter.
Accents – PLEASE NO!!! I love accents too, I do, but when people try to spell them out the way they sound when spoken it just converts them into gibberish half the time. Just say they said it in a French accent and let our minds work out how that would sound. Sometimes you can mention something like “She said, the r rolling off her tongue like a purr” or something like that, but otherwise leave it to the imagination. Ok, if they're speaking cockney, and not pronouncing half the words it might be acceptable, but PLEASE try to do it understandably (like Hagrid in HP).
Posting your story.
Whether you want to start posting after you have just finished writing a chapter or two, or you want to wait until you are completely done writing the story before you post it is up to you. Personally, I prefer posting as I go. Yes, you might lose steam and lose interest before you get to finish the story... but I found that posting as I go really did a lot to help me as a writer. It's always good to get feedback, but my work isn't exactly anything I let my friends and family members read :) Reviews not only help keep you motivated to continue writing, they also help form the work if you let them. For example, I have had reviews say they couldn't wait to read about an event I had just been planning on glazing over, or expressed interest in character I hadn't planned on doing much with. There were countless times when this altered the direction of my work, adding scenes that I came to be very proud of, as well as making me delve further into characters who would have just gone by the wayside, but instead became rich, prominent characters in my story. I have to admit, I do also like playing with my reader's expectations. I never want them to know what is going to happen next... because if they do, what's the point? I also find I have a bit of a fascination with altering their perceptions of my characters. I've had more than one time when someone has said they hated a character (one I did mean to be a bad guy) and wished they would just die already. It piqued my curiosity and made me want to make them question that initial assessment. One of the things I enjoyed most about writing Flight of the Thestrals was taking the most hated being I had and slowly making everyone actually love him. Perhaps I'm just sadistic and like to toy with emotions, but what's the point of writing fanfiction if you can't toy with your readers a bit??? (evil grin)
So, the choice on how far done you wish to be before putting it out there for others to see is up to you, but whatever your choice, it starts out pretty much the same way.
First of all, unless you are a really confident advanced English type person, get a beta. Seriously. Nothing turns a reader off quicker than bad spelling and grammar mistakes... and your spellcheck isn't foolproof. If you put in a word that was spelled correctly, just not the word you intended, your spellcheck is worthless. I will admit that I do not use a beta... but I have been writing since I was in like junior high, did a lot of advance English classes in both high school and college (I have a B.A. In Liberal Arts, though it is for Computer Graphics). I am also my own worst critic, so I figure I have it taken care of. I also end up reading through my work over and over and over until I stop finding errors (almost always at least 5 or 6 times). I also just don't have anyone I know and trust enough to do it. My writing skews towards the 'racy', and I'm a very shy person in real life, so I generally don't even admit to people I write at all except online. Still, there are resources available to help you find yourself a good beta if you need one, so please do utilize them!
You will undoubtedly have to read through the rules before they will let you start a new story. Actually read them! They may be boring, but a few minutes of reading might save you from having your story wiped out and your account closed, so just suck it up and do it!
Naming your story – this can be one of the hardest parts. Try to chose a name that feels right for your story and sounds good. Try to make sure no one else has used it already while you're at it! I generally do a search for the title before using it just to make sure. Also, it should go without saying, but for Christ's sake, make sure it's spelled right!!! Also, avoid slang or odd shortenings of words, or your potential readers might think you 1) don't know proper English or 2) mis-wrote something if your abbreviation isn't something they can understand. Either way, it decreases the chances of your story getting read.
Selecting main characters – Most websites I know of let you specify who the main characters are of the story so people can search for stories starring their favorite characters. It might be difficult to narrow it down to two (the usual limit I've seen), but do the best you can. Keep in mind that a lot of people will assume that the two characters you picked are a couple in your story! If they are not, be very sure to mention that either in your story description or the disclaimed at the top of your first chapter. If you don't, I'm sure you'll hear about it later!
Story description – another hard part. You just have a few short sentences to interest and draw in your readers. If your description sucks, no one will read it. Also, don't give away important plot points! Sometimes less is better. A simple sentence or two that piques interest is better than cramming in every last character that will fit in a vain attempt to cram your whole plot into the description. If you want to, you can add notes such as slash, yaoi, platonic, etc. if you feel it will help people decide if they want to read it or not. The most important rules: No cursing, use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation and never talk bad about your own work!! It's ridiculous how many times I've seen people write something like “this probably sucks, but it's my first try at this” or something along those lines. Just a hint: if YOU, the AUTHOR, say it sucks, I'm going to take your word for it and I'm not going to read it. I wouldn't be nearly as put off by something along the lines of “Be gentle, it's my first try at this.”, but it would still lower the chances I'd read it. Don't lower their expectations even before they have a chance to read it. Keep your self-depreciation to yourself. If you feel you absolutely MUST beg for leniency to avoid flames as a newbie, put the gently phrased request in an authors note at the END of the chapter.
Chapter naming – This isn't entirely necessary, but it adds a bit of professionalism to the story (unless your naming is dorky). My first real fanfic I didn't name the chapters because I didn't expect it to go long, so I didn't bother. Now it's sitting at seventy five chapters and I have a feeling naming them now would be a real bitch. I still might do it, but the point is you might want to seriously consider it if you plan on putting work into it. If you're having trouble figuring out what to name the chapter, here's a few ideas. First of all, I tend to just write like “Chapter 5” at the top, then write the chapter. When I'm completely done with the chapter, I go back and I read it, and I try to decide what the main theme of the chapter was. Then with a word or two (generally no more than three max) I try to convey that theme without spoiling anything. For example, don't name it something like Bob's Death. The first letter of each word (other than or, of, and, etc.) should be capitalized, spelled correctly and grammatically correct. If you have a main theme in mind, but can't think of a classy way to make that into a chapter title, you might want check into a good Thesaurus. There are free online ones available. Failing that, you could even consider using another language if the use of it would fit the mood of your fandom. Since I work primarily in HP, and they use a lot of Latin in the spell names and such, I sometimes convert the theme idea into Latin using a freely available online English-Latin conversion website.
Chapter length – While it's not necessary to have a consistent chapter length, I find it nice to keep them at least a bit uniform. I will often write each chapter in their own document file and decide, ok, for this fic I think I'll make the chapters about ten pages long at this font and margin size. If it goes longer it's ok, but I generally try not to make it much shorter. Ok, not everyone will want to write chapters that long (actually, my average in PreFlight is about 20 pages), but at least make them worth the bother of going to the website and reading them! I find it very irritating when people post chapters I can read in a few minutes or less. I'm a fast reader, but I think it should take at the very bare minimum at least five to ten minutes to read. My own take considerably longer. If I come to a chapter that's only like 4-6 paragraphs long I feel cheated. I'm also much less inclined to leave a review unless it is to complain about the shortness of the chapter. If you, the writer, wouldn't take the time to write, why should I? Oh, and the author's notes should NEVER be longer than the main content of the chapter. That should go without saying, but I've seen people do it a time or two.
Required disclaimers – almost every fanfiction website I've ever heard of requires you to put a disclaimer on the top of your first chapter (check the rules to make sure they don't require it more often) saying that you do not own the canon source material you're using for your story. Example: “I do not own the Harry Potter universe. It belongs to J.K. Rowlings. I'm just playing with it :)” Also something you should put, whether it's required or not, are warnings if your work contains things people might not want to read such as slash, femslash, bondage, rape, abuse, molestation, graphic violence, character death, etc, and DEFINATELY note if your work includes suicidal thoughts, suicide, self-hurting and anything like that, because there are people out there who have done these things themselves and are emotionally vulnerable, and I for one would never want my work to trigger someone to go someplace that dark again and possibly hurt themselves. For especially potentially disturbing subjects like these, you might also want a warning at the top of any chapter containing them. For example, I have people who read my stories that don't care for slash, which tends to pop up in my work, so I give them a heads up at the top of the chapter warning them to watch for it. I also do this for even straight sex as some don't even like to read about that. It's up to you, but please take your readers into consideration. You also might wish to disclose if you are changing the “universe” at this point, such as “There is no Peeves in this story and Lucius and Narcissa were in the same year as James and the Marauders.” It's not absolutely necessary, but saying it up front will keep people from wondering if you just didn't know something and that's why you're doing it differently. Still, all together try not to let it get too long winded (though I have been guilty on this point before). A paragraph should suffice.
Author's Notes – (other than the first chapter, which was covering in the above paragraph) If needed for graphic content, etc, it's ok to put a short warning or whatnot at the beginning of the chapter. Other than that, wait until the end of the chapter for any notes. Many sites do not allow author's note to break into the middle of the chapter, besides which that looks tacky, so please don't do it!
Actual posting – if you have a program that you can upload the actual file directly, good for you. Personally, I have troubles in this arena, so I came up with a work around. Depending on which site you post to this might work for you if you're having issues. I created a little txt file that just had a couple of random words in it. Each time I upload this file. The txt file has no trouble uploading. I then go into edit and delete the random words, then in my edit program I highlight the chapter and copy, then simply paste it into the editor on the website and save. BE VERY SURE YOU CHECK THIS!!! Most often it will throw in some extra characters at the top for no apparent reason and some extra spaces after my chapter title that need to be removed, then I save again and then give it one last look over to make sure the formatting didn't do anything bizarre. If they allow a site preview, check it out. When you're satisfied it's ready to go just follow the instructions. The site should tell you what it needs you to do. VERY IMPORTANT!!! If you have waited until you either finished the whole story or a few chapters at least, DO NOT POST THEM ALL AT ONCE!!! I know from experience that this is one of the worst things you can do if you want reviews. The average reader will read everything you have posted so far before reviewing, so if you post twenty chapters with at least a few days to a week between each you might receive twenty reviews from a good reviewer... but if you post it all at once like 99 percent of people will only give you one review after they read the last chapter. I have seen many really good stories with shockingly low review counts... and I can tell from looking through the reviews that it was because they posted everything at once. Remember: just one chapter at a time with at least a few days between them.
Sexual content: Be tasteful about it! Unless you are on a website that allows M rating, you could get your story booted just by using the wrong descriptive words. If it's not a word you'd feel comfortable using in front of your mother try thinking of a different way to say it without being so crude. Yes, some of your characters might have a foul mouth and use crass words, but in your own narrative descriptions they should be avoided. Not trying to be a prude here, but with a little imagination you can convey a sex scene with serious heat without resorting to crude references to sexual organs and such. There are certain words that just break the scene for me and make me embarrassed they are even on my screen. If you don't know how to write it without using profane words, do some reading before you try to write your own. If you're comfortable with it, ask your friends or others online to recommend stories in which they handle the subject matter tastefully and check them out. I'm not trying to boast or promote my own work (or even say mine is the best or anything, because admittedly I've seen better, just not often), but I do have a lot of sexual situations in my work in which I do not stoop to gutter talk, so you can check it out if you wish.
Review requests: It's ok to ask for reviews, but never insist on them!!! I've seen people practically blackmailing readers into reviewing (I'm not posting again until I get ten reviews! or something like that) and I think that's just crass and rude. Not to mention, I believe some sites have now made that forbidden, so doing that might get your story wiped. Bottom line: Don't do it!
Most common misused words that I see in fanfics:
its = belonging to it
whether = Ex. he had to decide whether to do it or not
their = belonging to them
your = belonging to you
to = Ex. - from here to there, in order to save him
That's all I've got for now, I'm afraid. I will update when I can and when I think of things I missed.