Fanfiction Discussion

Ashley Marie

Admin
Staff member
Are you writing a story? Do you want to bounce your ideas off of others? Would you like to share advice and ideas with other writers?

We want to open up a discussion to talk about works in progress.
 

JMilz

Member
Here to provide any help people may want! Some of my best advice when it comes to fanfiction, in particular, includes the following.

When writing a romance about established characters, read fanfiction of your pairing.

This may not be doable if you are working with original characters or even a unique pairing. If you are working on a fairly common pairing such a Harry/Ginny, Snape/Lily, or Hermione/Draco, it can be helpful to see what content is already out there in the fanfiction world. Your idea may have even been executed already!

Avoid "IM-speak" or "text-speak".

One of the most common themes in fanfiction that will turn off a reader is "IM-speak" or "text-speak". The way that you may type in a text message or roleplay forum is not the same way that a story should be formatted.

Some examples of IM-speak/text-speak include:

Asterisk Usage

A pet peeve of mine (and many readers') is when an author incorrectly uses asterisks. You may see asterisks used in this way in roleplay forums, via IM, etc., but they generally do not belong in literature unless you are using them as a paragraph break.

Example 1

* SLAM!! * Suddenly, there was a big crash.

Example 2

* whistling * "Wow, that's a complicated potion."

You can easily write these sentences differently.

Suddenly, she heard a slam! nearby.
Suddenly, she heard a big crash.

He whistled. "Wow, that's a complicated potion."
"Wow." He let out a whistle. "That's a complicated potion."


You may also see something similar with hyphens (-whistling- "Wow that's a complicated potion."). This is also incorrect usage and should be treated the same way as asterisks have been treated in the above examples.

IM Dialogue

This is less common than it was in mid-2000s fanfiction, but you will still find it from time-to-time. "IM Dialogue" means that it is written in a way that old IM logs (AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN, etc.) were kept. Interestingly enough, this form of dialogue is absolutely acceptable if your story is a stageplay/screenplay. However, the rest of the fanfiction also needs to be formatted as such, if that is the case. Learn more about formatting plays here.

It is also acceptable if you are actually referencing IMs being exchanged.

Example 1

LILY: I didn't know I could do that!
SEVERUS: It's incredible, isn't it?

Lily and Severus were enjoying their time by the pond until they saw Petunia. They knew she was about to ruin all their fun.

Assuming that you are not writing a play, you would format it differently. If you are writing a play, learn more about formatting them in the link I mentioned earlier.

"I didn't know I could do that!" Lily exclaimed.

Severus smiled at her. "It's incredible, isn't it?"

Lily and Severus were enjoying their time by the pond until they saw Petunia. They knew she was about to ruin all their fun.


Emojis

Emojis have no place in fanfiction (unless, again, you are referencing an IM exchange)!

Example 1

:mad: Every time I see her, I just get so mad!


Example 2

"Cedric is so hot! ;)" Luna said.

In the first example, we have already expressed anger, so there is no need for the emoji at all.

Every time I see her, I just get so mad!

In the second example, we just need to write out what the emoji is trying to illustrate.

"Cedric is so hot!" Luna said with a wink.

Specify whether or not your story is meant to follow canon.

If someone is expecting a story to follow canon and it doesn't, you may receive some unwarranted feedfack from users. If you specify that your story is not meant to follow canon, then they know what they are getting into before they start reading.

On the other hand, if you say that it is meant to follow canon and it doesn't, your readers will be confused and may leave even more unwarranted feedback than if you hadn't said anything at all. If you have a desire to follow canon, leave an author's note to let your readers tell you if there are any discrepancies. In many cases, they will, and you can do post-published edits.

Avoid switching point of view too often.

If you want to switch points of view, write in third-person. If you want to write in first-person, do not regularly change point of view. It is simply far too confusing to follow.

Example 1

HERMIONE'S POV

I found myself staring at him more often than not. He was always scratching his head, confused by even the simplest homework. It was endearing, really. I would have helped him, but he never asked.

RON'S POV

I couldn't figure out my homework, but I didn't want to ask Hermione. I caught her watching me, probably judging me for being so stupid.

HARRY'S POV


They never stop looking at each other. It's gross, honestly. They need to get a room.

All of these points of view can be expressed in either third-person or first-person, but the switches are unnecessary.

If you want to use third-person, it may look something like this:

Hermione found herself staring at him more often than not, quietly wondering if he needed her help as he scratched his head in confusion. He often struggled with even the simplest homework, and while he thought she judged him for it, she actually found his determination endearing.

Harry, on the other hand, was not impressed by their game of modesty. He eyed the two of them from afar, acutely aware of their admiration for one another.


If you want to use first-person, it may look more like this:

I found myself staring at him more often than not. He was always scratching his head, confused even by the simplest homework. Nervousness always danced in his eyes with each glance, but I could never quite tell why he was so anxious. Perhaps, he needed my help but he was afraid to ask. After all, I was not always pleased to tutor him. Alas, in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to have a reason to spend more time with him. If that meant teaching him the basics of Transfiguration, so be it.

On the other end of the sofa, I caught Harry glaring at the two of us, disgust etched into his expression. We had been best friends for years, so naturally, he knew me better than most. It seemed that he noticed my constant ogling at Ron and was nearly to the point of vomiting.


Ask for help.

Most importantly, if you are rusty or new to writing, ask for help! There is no harm in coming to the community for feedback before you start, as you're writing, or even after you've completed something. That is what the forums are for!
 
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Ashley Marie

Admin
Staff member
I LOVE this advice so much. This is exactly the type of help I hope we can give each other. Thanks so much for this, and as I start writing a fic for the first time in too long, I know I’ll reference this!
 

JMilz

Member
I LOVE this advice so much. This is exactly the type of help I hope we can give each other. Thanks so much for this, and as I start writing a fic for the first time in too long, I know I’ll reference this!
So glad that I can be helpful! I'm absolutely here for any kind of technical/creative assistance that I can provide. :)
 

JMilz

Member
Any tips for coming back from a break?
When coming back from a break, I highly encourage you to read a lot before you jump right back into writing - specifically traditionally published works and highly regarded fanfiction (Midnight by SpankingHalo on FFN comes to mind, although it was abandoned). It'll help you recall the ins and outs of sentence structure and plot development.

Also check out advice in the Muggle Studies section, particularly Writing Resources, Growing as a Writer, and Escaping Writer's Block.

When finally jumping back in, some of the most important things you can do are:

Reading back to yourself.

Read your story aloud and see if the sentences flow. Sometimes you'll also find spelling or grammatical errors this way. If you feel like you're using a word too much, search for it and look for a different word or a few different words in the thesaurus or replace it with articles wherever you can.

Plotting before starting.

Don't release chapter-by-chapter with nothing planned out. Make an outline of how you want the story to grow. You may end up adding more or fluffing it up, but story outlines keep us honest and make sure we know which direction we are headed before we try driving there.

Ask for help.

If you want help or feedback, ask! There are a lot of wonderful writers in this community. Some of them have written for years or on a professional level. I have been writing professionally (both from a creative and marketing standpoint) for five years and I am happy to help any time that you want to chat!
 
Thanks! It's not been a terribly long break that I've forgotten what I've learned about writing (and I have been spending this time reading good writing), and I actually have the whole thing outlined chapter-by-chapter until the end, but I've just been finding it hard to get back in the headspace of the story. I'm a little afraid of getting back in the headspace, to be honest, because of how intense the writing process and the story was--I spent so much of my spare time thinking/writing the story before my break. I wish there was some way to ease into it since I'm still recovering from the nasty flu that caused the break in the first place. I feel like jumping right back in to writing would be overwhelming. How do you work on an intense story and not get overwhelmed by the intensity?
 

JMilz

Member
Thanks! It's not been a terribly long break that I've forgotten what I've learned about writing (and I have been spending this time reading good writing), and I actually have the whole thing outlined chapter-by-chapter until the end, but I've just been finding it hard to get back in the headspace of the story. I'm a little afraid of getting back in the headspace, to be honest, because of how intense the writing process and the story was--I spent so much of my spare time thinking/writing the story before my break. I wish there was some way to ease into it since I'm still recovering from the nasty flu that caused the break in the first place. I feel like jumping right back in to writing would be overwhelming. How do you work on an intense story and not get overwhelmed by the intensity?
Interesting question. I once read about a novelist that only ever wrote 200 words a day to limit his stress and make sure that it was written as well as possible. Maybe limiting your word count would be a good place to start.
 
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