Poll: Where are you from? Vote Now!
Author has written 28 stories for Witch Hunter Robin, Marching Band, TV Commercials, Gorillaz, Harry Potter, Imagination Movers, Stargate: Universe, Artemis Fowl, and Pushing Daisies.
I'm trying to put an end to all Mary Sues. If you would like to join me or help me in my quest or even just to see what's going on with me and Sues, you can click here:
I AM A GIRL! I don't care if Eoin Colfer turned Artemis into a boy's name... I was Artemis before Artemis Fowl came along, so, females still have the name. Besides, Artemis the Greek Godess of the Hunt, the moon, virginity and childbirth, was before any of us... so yes.
How not to completely suck at fanfiction (some general things to keep in mind before you even begin to write):
I'll start off by saying that I love to read. I can just sit for hours reading a good books. My most recent fetish, however, is the craze called fanfiction. (And by recent, I mean since the seventh grade!) I have this whole system of how I read the fics and have been doing it since... forever. I just get such a thrill whenever I see that there is a new chapter (or two... or three...) of a good fic that I've been reading.
I love the fanfic communities because, as one motto goes "Everything By Everyone". To someone fairly new to the entire scene, this seems like a great idea. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, right? We should all have a chance to post our great stories on the WORLD WIDE WEB, right?
Well, to seasoned readers such as myself, you start to wish that "everyone" could be just whittled down to "a select few". First, there are the authors who draw you in with a catchy summary and/or title. "Alucard's Addiction"- Alucard has an addiction to pixy dust. Sounds good, right? What could be better for a few quick laughs than a Victorian-age, modern-day gothic vampire with an addiction to pixy dusty? So, you click on the story link and guess what? The story isn't even long enough to fill the entire screen. And the story probably isn't even very funny, to add insult to injury.
Next, are what I call the "fangirls". These are writers who claim to be living in the United States but insist in writing fifty to one-hundred percent of their stories in a fashion similar to text talk.
Well, I don't know about most readers, but whenever I see a story with frequent misspellings or "txt tlk" in both title AND summary, it's pretty much the same as waving a giant banner in front of your story saying "MY GRAMMAR WILL MAKE YOUR HEAD EXPLODE WITH HOW BACK THAT IT IS!"
The last major author topic is what I like to call the "newbie", thusly named mostly for their actions, regardless of how long they have been writing; though it will be fairly obvious once I show you the examples. The first one can be found in the summary or in the author's notes right before the start of the first chapter. They will usually say something like this: "This is my first fic/story, so be nice!" Nice? If you're looking for nice, go ask your parents or grandparents what they think, not the entire world. We aren't here to mollycoddle you. And if you think that this is a site that will, you are sadly mistaken and are far, far away from any such site that will gladly do so. (Sadly, not even the Teletubbies section will do so; Michael Jackson and beer.) And, not to say that a more mature reader won't be asking for lovely reviews or dissing those who are tempted to flame their (probably God-awful) story, only a newbie writer will actually claim their lack of proper grammar off on their inexperience, thought they are (mostly assumed) native English speakers and, if they are old enough to write, they should also be old enough to ask someone to edit it, too. And then, they have the gal to be angry at those who are only trying to help them improve their writing. Honestly. If you can't take the constructive criticism, you shouldn't post your stories!
The next topic on my agenda isn't writers, but more things that writers do (besides what I've already mentioned).
First, unless you are drabbling, there is little reason why each chapter shouldn't be at least a good length. I always judge by the size of the scrolly bar thing and go from there, before I even start reading a story. It doesn't matter if your story is good or bad- my opinion of your story actually starts forming the minute that I look at your story summary and decide to read it. After grammar and spelling, the length is always the second that I look at, and, if your chapters (sans prefaces, etc) are to short, that's already one strike against you. Yes, I have read good stories with short chapters. But, this is just one of those cases where the bad vastly outweighs the good. Furthermore, one shouldn't drown their readers in a sea of words by trying to squeeze multiple chapters into one. You don't want to overwhelm them! Find a happy medium instead. Look back at some of your favorite stories and see the length of their chapters for a basic guide and go off from that.
The next part is the random bolding and/or italicizing of huge chunks of chapters. I don't care who told you that it looks cool or whatever you think- a readers eyes WILL start to bleed after reading an entire chapter like this, I promise you. DO NOT italicize flashbacks, put them between special indicators. DO NOT italicize, bold or underline thoughts, especially between multiple characters, give us a guide at the beginning and expect us to remember who's though is whose. And especially DO NOT do the same thing, but with multiple characters singing!
Bad spelling and grammar I've already covered. If you're old enough to write, you're old enough to ask for help editing. Find a betareader, or, better yet, find two or three to nit-pick your stories. You'll be better of in the long run- trust me.
Format is very important, too. Don't cram all of your paragraphs together, but don't put it in to much space, either. Whenever a character is talking, always put the dialogue into a new paragraph and NEVER EVER put two characters talking into the same paragraph, as this creates confusion. Also, one should highly consider putting breaks in whenever there is a scene switch unless you can do so pretty seamlessly so that they reader knows there it's a change and not just a continuation of the scene you just ended.
The next is something that has everyone's gag reflexes tuned to perfection. Yes, there are non-cannon pairings that have a huge fanbase (Katara and Zuko for one), but please, think before you pair. I don't want to see another fic where Temari and Gaara are getting it on. Or worse, Kankuro and Gaara. And don't even think about bringing Dudley, Hagrid or the Giant Squid into any romantic pairings, please. I don't wish to see my dinner a second time.
The last, and worst, topic is Mary Sues or Marty Stus. They are original characters found in fanfiction that are so cliche and out of control, that the groups who have formed to take them down have checklists for typical behavior. (It's totally true- google "Mary Sue Litmus test" test if you don't believe me.) They mostly belong to "fangirl" authors, and, in most cases, are a written representation of the person the author wishes to be, pairing up romantically with their favorite character.
Common ways to spot a Sue/Stu:
To find out if your character is a good, well rounded character or just another bad cliche in story-writing, you can take a litmus test via google, or you can ask me to check for you (if I know the original story, that is...). The only draw-back to Litmus tests is that they're just a mark and can't possibly test on every aspect of your character. They also stink for original-plot (not fanfiction) characters, too. However, with the opinion of other authors, you should feel better about putting an original character story up.
One last topic that I'd like to touch on is plot. Now, I'm not saying that you should sit down and write draft after draft after you write up a story web or whatever, but you should go into the story with a good idea of how things are going to play out and all of the etceteras. There is seriously nothing worse than a flat plot line, or worse, no plot at all (with the exception of drabbles). Also, make it believable. A character isn't going to be transformed into a bombshell/mega hunk overnight, so don't even go there. Also, try and come up with something imaginative and original. Do your research and read several dozen fics before you decide on a good plot. As a general rule, stay away from vampire fics (unless the original is a vampire story) and time travel (unless the original is a time traveling story). Alternate Universes are alright as long as the original characters don't stray to much from their cannon-verse roles and you keep the overall theme in check (I don't want to see another "High School Naruto" fic, please!)
All-in-all, these are just general guide-lines that most well-rounded writers stick to already. They aren't written down because writing is an art-form, and it would be such a shame to put a lid on some of the most creative authors just because some stick-up-his-ass online dictator decided the need to regulate ALL of the stories to his rules.
While reading through my personal rant, you might have agreed with some things that I said (Reading italicized stories DOES make my eyes bleed!) and you might have completely disagreed with others (This Stu is completely bald...) It doesn't matter. It's my personal opinion on the matter and if you agree with zero percent or one-hundred percent, that's not my problem. Now, lets go read some fanfiction!
If you are looking for a beta, please, do not hesitate to ask! I am more than willing to help anyone who comes my way looking to better themselves! But, please, turn your private messages on!
Unsafe External Link