A New Author's Guide to Writing Good Fan Fiction


Who is Mary Sue?
How to Write a Well-Written Songfic
What is Love: Writing Romance

Before you go any further, read the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). These will provide some clearing up of terms, abbreviations, and etiquette in the fanfiction community.

Q: How do I start writing?
A: It's very simple. Re-read your favorite book. Re-watch your favorite movie/TV show. Replay your favorite video game. As you watch/read/play, think about the plot. What would you want to change about it? Which character are you especially interested in? What could be explored more? Once you get an idea, open up that word processor and start writing! Later, when it's all edited and smoothed out (coughcough), you can submit it to fanfiction.net or other sites. Some people post their stories on a LiveJournal!

Q: What movie/book/video game/TV show should I write about?
A: It all depends on your personal taste. Chances are, your favorite one is very well-known and there are lots of internet resources you can consult. Final Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the X-Files are all very popular fandoms.

Q: OK, I went to post my story, but there was all this crazy lingo! Help!
A: Check out the glossary on Page 3.

Q: I want to use some dialogue from the source material. Is that OK?
A: According to U.S. copyright laws and many authors, no, it's not. Unless you got special permission from George Lucas/Tolkien's estate/etc, etc., stick to original material. In fact, most writers put disclaimers at the beginning of their fics to say that the original plotline on which their story is based does not belong to them. Just keep in mind that you are not the creator of the fandom, and you're gold.

Q: Are there things I can't write about?
A: Yes and no. Creativity is boundless, but many sites have restrictions on fics with adult content. There are also some topics that can be offensive to others, inappropriate, or even illegal. The 3 R's (Rape, Racism, Real-Life Events) aren't illegal, but can make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. Avoid fictionalizing 9/11, the Holocaust, or the 2005 Tsunami unless your fandom specifically talks about it. As for the racier stuff, porn involving anyone under the age of 18, conensual or not, is illegal in the U.S. My law: use common sense and think before you write.

Q: I saw someone else's fic, and it sucked! How do I say that in a review?
A: Unfortunately, a lot of fics are like that. Even more unfortunately, most people don't like to hear that their writing is terrible. My advice: if you can't say something nice, give constructive criticism. Instead of "This sucked", be specific. "X could have been better, but I liked Y. It would be interesting if you elaborated more on Z, but I liked your interpretation of A" is an effective review. You can be a bit snarky if you like, but never, EVER flame someone.

If you have any more questions, go on to some other pages or email me with anything really specific. Happy writing!

"You're talking a lot, but you're not saying anything"--Talking Heads