Author has written 7 stories for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Naruto, One Piece, Soul Eater, Anime X-overs, Sword Art Online/ソードアート・オンライン, and High School DxD/ハイスクールD×D.
Find me on P atreon at www. P atreon .com/SwordOfTheGods (You must remove the spaces)
This is the TV tropes page for my story Coby's Choice: https:// tvtro / pmwiki/pmwiki. php/Fanfic/CobysChoice
Anime I think deserve more attention:
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers (Clue has nothing on this)
Spice and Wolf (both the first and the separate second season)
BOFURI! I Don't Want to get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense (A good laugh all around)
Maou-Sama: Retry! (It's refreshing to have an Isekai with an older protagonist)
Wise Man's Grandchild (A romantic Isekai without a harem)
Taken from the profile of fencer22. This list is too true to not share. It's well worth a read; even experienced writers fall into these pitfalls every now and then!
Freedom has been given to allow copying, reposting, and editing of the following list.
Tips for writing fanfics:
I would never claim to be one of the best fanfic writers. I’m fairly good, and getting better, but I wouldn’t claim to be one of the best. That said I’ve enjoyed mostly consistent and positive responses to my writing, and learned a few of the do’s and dont's along the way. These are my rules for writing fanfiction that people might actually read. Obviously I cannot guarantee anything, often enough stories get lost in the shuffle. There are hundreds of thousands of the damn things after all, but if you can follow these rules, well you’ll be off to a better start than most. -Fencer22
1: Every time you change speakers you need to hit the enter key twice. If you have more than one person speaking in the same block of text, people will get confused and frustrated.
“What fine weather we're having,” said person A.
“The hell are you talking about, moron?" shouted person B. "There's a freaking monsoon going on!”
This cannot be emphasized enough. So many people don’t do this when first starting out. Don’t make that mistake, or at least don’t continue to make the mistake now that you know about it
2: Your character's dialogue needs to match their age and emotions. For example, older authority figures use longer words and often have a more calm and measured form of speech. Younger characters should use smaller words, have occasional trouble articulating what they want to say and be emotional and impulsive. Teenagers are often blunt and prone to cursing. Angry people will be less articulate, and swear more, people in love will say cheesy crap, and so on. None of these are set in stone, but keep them in mind as guidelines.
If you can’t imagine yourself or anyone you know (someone age and temperament appropriate) saying something the way you have it written, it’s probably because no one would. Sentences like that are jarring for your reader, and they will resent it.
Try reading what you have written out loud while editing. It is a good way to catch all kinds of mistakes, but particularly good for finding awkward wording and dialogue.
Hey everyone, SwordOfTheGods here to tell you that grammar and/or the lack thereof in dialogue is important. Whilst dialect can give a character, well, character and bring them to life, it isn't everyone's cup of tea and isn't necessary unless you can weave it into the narrative. Make people sound funny to show different cultures. Have accents cause miscommunication. Blend languages for those with multiple languages (but please do your research beforehand there). Let the characters get annoyed with each other because of it or have one hide their past behind a fake accent. It can also help your readers follow the conversation better and improve your story and world.
On the more technical side, go through whatever books got you into reading and study how they handle dialogue. Take note of the grammatical symbols used and the lack of capitalization that follows most "end quotation" marks. It's a simple thing, but that's what separates a newbie from a vet.
3: Tense issues! While speech can be in past, present, or future tense depending on the topic, narration should always, or almost always, be in past tense. Why? Hell if I know! It's just common practice at this point really. Honestly this trips me up more often than almost anything else. I have a bad habit of slipping into present tense when I get caught up in what I'm writing and it throws people for a loop when what was past tense suddenly shifts to present and then back again. Yeah it's a little weird or a lot weird but hey at least you know about it now right?
Personally, I think that more writing is in past tense as a tradition from early storytelling. It gives the feeling that the author knows what they are talking about because it (the story itself) happened in the past. Dialogue, by contrast, is in present tense mostly because it is happening at that moment to the characters speaking. Does that make sense?
4: Dialogue is not just a way for you to push the plot along. Dialogue is the primary means by which your audience gets to know your characters, unless they are privy to the characters thoughts, but even then dialogue is important. Especially for distinguishing a character's private beliefs vs their public personas and how others see them. So when you go to write your dialogue, keep in mind these are people. They get sidetracked, topics wander, they might banter or joke a bit. It should not just l be a clinical bulleted list of the things that need to be said for the plot to start moving the direction you want. Give them a bit of room to breath and grow, they need to feel alive.
5: Monologues! I cannot stress this enough. Overusing monologues is annoying and poor writing. That does not mean you can’t use them. It means you have to use them carefully, and if possible, sparingly. Seriously, a character isn't going to monologue to him- or herself. This isn't Shakespeare. Appropriate places for monologues include, but are not limited to: Impassioned Rants, Super-villain Stereotypes, and Storytellings. That being said, they should not be just one huge block of text.
Breakup explanations so they are shared between characters. Have another character interrupt the primary speaker with questions. Or if it’s a angry rant have the other person start shouting back, if appropriate. Turn it into an argument. Remember everyone wants to get the last word in, so your main/favorite character has to work for it like everyone else.
Or, break the monologue up into multiple smaller chunks by stopping to describe what the speaker and other characters are doing. Describe body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. All of these things can change multiple times over the course of a lengthy explanation/rant, and describing those changes as the monologue progresses will make it feel more real.
6: Describe tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. Yes, I know I just said it. I’m saying it again because it is that important. You know exactly how you want that character to look and sound. Your readers won’t. The dialogue will give them clues, but taking the time to describe it will make things clearer. You are painting a never ending series of pictures, or describing a movie with stage directions step by step. The more details you, include the clearer your audience's picture will be. Lighting, ambient sounds and smells, the layout of rooms and buildings are all things you can include to give your readers a better image of what is going on.
7: Do not follow every piece of dialogue with ‘person exclaimed.’ I’ve seen that a few times. People don’t want to use ‘Person said’ because it is bland, so everything becomes exclaimed. Only it doesn’t work that way because normal conversation is not constantly exclaimed. A suggestion. Try using Word or something similar to write your story before uploading it. The 'synonyms' option can be very helpful for beginning, and even experienced, writers.
Be diverse; chastised, joked, pointed out, deadpanned, teased, flirted, called out, shouted, whispered, mumbled, grumbled, scoffed, seethed, and yes, said and exclaimed. These are the ones I thought up off the top of my head. There are others. Be diverse and descriptive.
8: Use grammar and spell check. Don’t ask me to explain grammar and spelling. I’ve always been bad at both, there are mountains of books out there on the subject and honestly Word has gotten to the point where it catches most things. If you can find one, get a beta to check your work as well. If not, try letting it sit a couple days before doing a final edit so you look at it with fresh eyes. Reading what you have written out loud does, in fact, help a lot.
9: Run on sentences are bad, so make sure to practice proper use of periods and commas. I had a lot of trouble with this early on. I still do sometimes, but breaking up those lengthy sentences really does make for better writing. The same can be said for paragraphs. There should not be fifteen sentences in a paragraph.
10: Practice. Practice, practice, and still more practice. It is the only way you will get better. If your first few attempts suck and the readers are assholes, don’t let it get you down. Take any helpful advice, ignore the rest, and try again. Keep writing, keep improving. It’s the only way to get better. "Writing begets more writing," as a teacher I had would say.
11: Everything in moderation, including moderation! Basically? Too much of anything can kill your story dead as a door nail.
It is common practice for main characters to have had shity lives. It makes the audience sympathetic. That does not mean you should just list off every horrible thing you can think of in a paragraph or two and call it backstory. You’ll sound like an idiot and it’ll be obvious. You need to be a subtle with that sort of thing. Hint at it, draw it out. Not only that, it is possible for them to have a shitty past without every possible horrible thing happening to them.
It's also more realistic. Remember the more crap you have heaped on them the more broken they should be. So life can’t completely shit on them if you want them to function in normal society. Try to think about your life or those of the people you know. How have their pasts shaped them, their good, and their faults? Try to reflect this in your characters. Was your character born rich with absent parents? They might be lazy because they've never had to work or a troublemaker to try to get their parents' attentions. Were they born poor? They might have grown up clinical of the world and selfish for what they can get, but strongly value the people around them.
The same concept holds true in other ways as well. your character should need time and practice to build up their abilities not come straight into the story able to beat all challengers. Some people manage to pull off overpowered main characters, but it’s usually a balancing act where combat is not the main focus, or the main character is holding back for some reason, only putting in the effort each challenge requires.
Remember dramatic tension is what makes combat scenes addicting, you want the audience worried for your protagonist, or at the very least questioning what insane bit of brilliance they will have to pull off in order to win.
You want to ship your main character with someone? Go for it. But it is unrealistic to ship them with half the cast. It’s fan service plain and simple, and it detracts from the quality of otherwise solid stories far too often. Multi partner relationships are uncommon for a reason. You can’t just say, oh that doesn’t apply here because 'Harry/Naruto/whoever' is such a perfect guy and the girls are all bisexual, or they don’t mind sharing him. They have to work for it! They have to fight, and reconcile, and beat out some actual guidelines! Honestly, even if it’s just two people in a relationship they still need to work for it! Love is hard! So unless you are writing a sappy love novel there damn well better be some bumps in the road!
12: People suck! We say this all the time, but rarely if ever do we actually consider the implications. We are all flawed human beings, no one is perfect, and that damn well includes your protagonist! I can not tell you the number of stories I have immediately stopped reading, or barely stuck with long enough to give them a chance, that start off with a couple thousand words of basic background, and an info dump on why the protagonist is infinitely superior to everyone else in terms of abilities, and or personality.
They can’t be perfect, so keep those flaws in mind. Don't make a Mary Sue! Drag them up now and again to remind readers, and if you are good and creative enough use them to drive the plot. Let them get baited into things, boasts they can’t quite backup, flying into a rage and attacking head on instead of intelligently, things like that.
13. Dare to be different! This is my most central and important rule. This is fanfiction, you are already copying most of a story from the original. You need to make changes. If every fanfic just retraced the same steps it would be very, very boring. Every fictional universe offers possibilities that are only limited by your own imagination and creativity.
When you take into account the ability to add characters from other universes, invent new original characters, add or swap powers and abilities, and the option to outright combine two different fictional worlds into one cohesive setting? There truly are no limits to what you can create!
So be bold, creative, and innovative! Try things no one has tried before! Spit in the face of convention, laugh like a mad person as canon crumbles around you! Make the fandom sit up and take notice as you do something they haven’t seen before!
Have some examples!
Ship pairings that people tend to ignore! Naruto and Tenten. There’s only a year in age difference and they both have a thing for overkill, and the shared tragedy of being orphans! Why is that almost never touched on as a possible relationship?! How about Harry Potter and Katie Bell? Again only a year of age difference, and they are on the same sporting team! They are basically required to spend hours in close proximity to each other every week! Potential just sitting there ignored by thousands in favor of more common pairings. Why? Because people are afraid to invent a personalities for them? Suck it up buttercup! Hasn’t stopped people from inventing personalities for dozens of other girls who only got passing mentions in their canon universes, so why should it stop you?
Change the setting. Skitter is an amazing protagonist, but her home setting of Brockton Bay in Worm has been done to death, why are there so few fics involving her in other settings?! She can literally be naturally added to any superhero setting without any kind of dimensional portal shenanigans! Or with them, she encounters enough at enough points in the timeline for it to be a non-issue! Either works!
Change the damn tone! Some of the best fics you will find are the ones that completely change the tone of the original story!
KHR was comedy that transitioned into stereotypical anime combat. There are several amazing fics that fandom has spawned where they play the mafia angle seriously instead of goofily! And they are amazing! Some of them rank among the best fanfics I’ve ever read.
Harry Potter was always a bit serious for a kids story at least once you dig past the surface. Some people have exploited that fully with the evil chessmaster Dumbledore which works and people love. Others go the opposite direction and write goofy magical crack fics which will have you in stitches. Both changes in tone, both highly successful.
Redeem something that is utterly crap by putting it to good use!
Maximum ride, is perhaps the best example I am familiar with, it was a horrible series. Amazing first book, or at least amazing start with characters engaging enough to carry the first book and keep people coming back… until the dipshit fucked up the characters almost as much as the plot. Not a single fic worth reading unless you have a thing for high school AU’s. Well there is a doctor who cross I can honestly recommend. But aside from that? Nada.
Why? Because no one thinks to ask ‘hey what if the school was a military black ops trying to make super soldiers. Seriously just ask that, and suddenly rather than abused the kids are trained. Oops but that removes the school as antagonists! Unless the flock and other experiments rebel… because seriously they would still be watching all the failed crossbreeds die agonizing deaths, and that would leave lasting impressions.
It’s got even more potential for crossovers which more people at least noticed even if they mostly failed at exploiting it. Want a different horrible backstory for your protagonist? Oh look, the school got a hold of them, oh well at least they come out the other side with enhanced senses and physical abilities, not like those could be good for anything...
They don’t even have to be a bird kid! Pick an animal, any animal! Oh hey, they also come out with an altered appearance which will set them apart from their peers and massive trust issues, particularly with authority. Not like that would basically supply the writer with all kinds of opportunities for interesting character interactions and conflict, oh wait!
Want more? Genetic engineering does not work as advertised by that series. So go ahead and muddy the waters more. Cross it with any magical setting and the geneticists had some mystic support for their experiments. Boom! You’re basically writing a fusion already!
You see? utter garbage series, but with a bit of tweaking it can be used in all kinds of interesting ways. You just need to keep an open mind.
You want to write fanfiction? You want people to read your fanfiction? Then put on you hypno-glasses, down a half bottle of whiskey (if you're legal), stop taking your ADD meds (if you're on them), stand on your head and look at things sideways and ask yourself ‘what if’ until you start asking ‘why has nobody done this already?!’ Then. Write. That!
Those crazy, half-mad ideas that flip everything on its head, ignore swaths of the original in order to get a fresh spin on things, or just make weird leaps of logic might not always work out, but damn if you won’t have people at least paying a bit more attention.
14. Having just expanded on the wonders of changing things, this must follow as an equally important lesson. You need a plausible explanation for EVERYTHING. Every major decision your characters make, every random plot twist, every butterfly your early changes may have spawned to play havoc with the canon time line, every change to canon personalities that people will shout 'OOC' about, all of it NEEDS to be explained. Because if it is not adequately explained, people will not accept it. So think everything through carefully.
Readers may cut you some slack on minor things you failed to explain because they find the story too enjoyable to let those details ruin it. But there are limits to how much slack most people are willing to give you. Good crack fics for example can get away with almost anything if done right because people start reading knowing they are not supposed to take them seriously. Fics that take themselves very seriously on the other hand, the kind that give the characters as much depth as possible, get almost no slack from the readers because they come to expect realism from the story and anything that seems out of place is extremely jarring to them. You can write whatever you want, but if the reader does not believe that what you have written makes sense and you keep right on going... They probably will not stick around to keep reading.
Look... it is your story. It is ALWAYS your story. If people are bitching and dropping the fic because you aren't shipping their one true pairing? Fuck them. So long as the pairing is believable you can ship who you like. If people are upset and dropping your story because you changed the tone and it's not the same feel as canon? Fuck them. There is nothing wrong with changing the tone and there are other people who will likely find it amazing. But if people tell you that you've got a major plot hole, or that someone is acting completely out of character, or that something just does not make sense, or is not believable... Do yourself a favor and try to think it through. See if you can explain it them rationally without hand waving anything. if you can't do that... then maybe you need to consider the possibility that you made a mistake. DO NOT cave to every little thing. Some readers will just never be happy, and trying to cater to them is a terrible idea, but don't ignore the reasonable people asking reasonable questions and making reasonable suggestions. Think it through for yourself before agreeing because it is YOUR story not theirs, but do not just ignore it.
Having said this, some series have something of a world-building grey area, as I like to call it. This grey area is where the original author has provided a character or setting but did not expand or build them completely. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is the blacksmith from Naruto. As far as I know, he has no backstory and showed up for maybe an episode or two max, just shown as someone who would sell to Naruto when no one else would. Despite this, people have taken this character and run with him, giving him backstory as a master craftsman with a parental soft spot. Many fics I've read fleshed out his backstory by having Tenten be his daughter, explaining her love of weapons and her ability to make them. A few have left that out, but made him like a parental figure for Naruto, leading him down an entirely new path. You might know this character. His commonly accepted name in the fanfiction community is Higarashi, though he was never named in the series.
Another example of characters like this is Daphne Greengrass from Harry Potter. I've read the whole series 3 times, and I didn't even remember her when I saw her name in the 'Character A' option, but I have read amazing "PoliticallyGray/Dark!Harry WizardPoliticsAreDangerousAndOutdatedButUnchangable!" stories that have her as one of, if not the, main love interest, taking her "Ice Queen" persona and making it a political mask that hides a shy or sensitive girl that just wants love... or maybe she really is cold and hates everybody. That's up to the writer: YOU!
15: Have an ending in mind. If you don't know where you are going, then how do you plan to get there? I honestly believe this is the source of a lot of aborted fics. People with a cool idea who never stop to ask how they are going to handle the big enemies/problems and just rush off to start the fic. Then they get stuck part way through and the story dies. So have a beginning, have an ending, and at least have a vague idea of what you want to happen between start and finish. This isn't always important for super-long series stories, but do try to have an overarching goal in mind. Does your character want freedom? How do they get it and who stands in their way?
16: World Knowledge. This idea is needed for whatever you're writing, whether it's an original story in a world you created or fanfiction for you're favorite anime. It's doesn't matter how complex your characters are if you don't know where they are or how the world works. This can tie into Plausible Explanation since the rules and physics of some worlds are different, but you can only use them if you know them. Now, a complete understanding of every intricate detail might not be necessary depending on the type of story (due to Suspension of Disbelief), but you must know enough about the world and its characters to know how it and they would respond to the changes you make.
Let me give you an example. Let's say you're writing a Harry Potter fanfiction in which Harry decides to fight fire with fire and amasses his own army of creatures to fight Voldemort. What knowledge might you need about this world to write that story? You would need a Plausible Explanation for how the magic, both light and dark, works, detailed knowledge of the magical creatures of J. K. Rowling's world as well as their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, and a plausible idea for how inter-specie politics and racism goes. You would also need to know the money systems of each creature (if they have one), where each character stands with their opinions about each race, and how interactions with new cultures would affect the characters.
Sounds scary, right?
I promise you, it's not that bad. Most of what I listed above isn't explicitly mentioned in the books or movies, so that gives you that World Building Grey Area to create your own cultures and explanations. The rest can either be found in the pages or movies of Harry Potter or provided by a quick Google search. That being said, stay consistent when you provide an explanation. Changing the rules of the world in the middle of a story without an in-story reason does not bode well for you or the readers, leaving both confused.
So yeah. There you have it. That is my advice for anyone trying to write a good piece of fanfiction.