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How To Write a Good Fanfiction

Sooner or later, the most avid fans of any book start to fantasize about what could or should have happened the characters, or often where the story should go next. There are also those who would prefer the story to be told from a different character’s point of view. Finally, some people prefer to write crossovers—stories in which a canon character—Artemis, for example—becomes part of a world from a totally different book and finds himself at Hogwarts. No matter which category they fall into, fanfictions are fun to write and can be even more fun to read if they’re well written. Here’s a guide for the creative part in all of us, so grab your pens, pencils, notebooks, or word processors and let’s get to work!

Step 1: The Idea

The plot is quite obviously the most important part of any story. No matter how good your conventions, spelling, and word choice are, a fiction without a plot is not likely to be popular. Especially the more selective readers out there are not going to waste their time reading Artemis Fowl: The Two-Hundred Pages of Doing Nothing, so make sure you have a good, strong plot in mind before you begin.

Step 2: Getting Started

Now that you know what you’re going to write about, you have to figure out just how you’re going to say it. In order to not lose your readers, you may want your story to have a catchy start. Probably the most common way to start is with an action or some dialogue. Many authors prefer to jump right into the story and explain the whole situation later. Others prefer a prologue. Whatever you do, be sure to explain the situation sometime so your readers don’t get confused.

Step 3: Style

As the author, you get to set the tone for your piece. Maybe you prefer a high-action adventure; you could excel at deep angst stories; perhaps your skills lay in short and sweet romances. Either way, try to keep your style consistent throughout the story. If your story starts as a light romance, them becomes slightly gory and action-packed, turns into a parody, and finishes as angst, your style may be classified only as “confused.”
Another thing to consider is how you write the characters. While some out-of-character activity is accepted and even expected, it’s usually easiest to keep your characters acting like they usually would in the books. An Artemis who acts like more of a cross between Harry Potter and Edward Cullen may seem a bit odd and uninteresting to anyone who is used the semi-snobby, closed-off, brilliant Artemis of Eoin’s creation. Though sometimes techniques like these are used to create humor, they more often flop. This leads me into my next pointer on style: how to put humor in your story.
A few people out there are born with what I like to call the “funny gene.” They have a great sense of humor and can crack people up with apparently no effort. Then there are the rest of us who have learned that well, humor may not be our forte. If you are in the latter group, I suggest that you don’t attempt many jokes. If you do, a rigorous testing course is advised to make sure that they are not indeed a bit lamer than you intended. In other words, if you write humorously then cool. If not, then cool as well. Don’t try to change your style.

Step 4: edit, Edit, EDIT!

If you feel ready to let the rest of the world (or at least the rest of us here at Fangathering) see your story, you first need to consider what it is we will be seeing. I’m not talking content, I’m thinking spelling, grammar, conventions, etc. In order to get people to read your story, you first have to make it readable. The first thing you should do is read over it yourself. Maybe you got so lost in your writing that you used the wrong word and didn’t realize it. It is entirely possible that you changed what you were writing halfway through your sentence, and said sentence is not really even deserIt could possibly be that your thoughts didn’t translate to paper smoothly enough and you’ve accidentally substituted a “they’re” for a “there.” No one is a perfect writer, but you don’t have to let the whole world know that you made an oopsie. Read your story before you show it to anyone else. In the midst of changing your ink-and-pen scribbles to a nice beautiful Word document, be mindful of what you’re typing. Edit as you go along so you won’t have to come back and do it later. Now that you’ve both proofread your story and transcribed it into Word, you can use the writer’s secret weapon: spell check. Spell check will find most misspellings you might have and give you suggestions of what you really might have meant. (But be careful and look at what you’re changing…your spell check may not have some of the names you’re typing up. Cudgeon, for instance, “should be” gudgeon or dudgeon by spell check’s rules.) Also, keep in mind that the spelling/grammar check does not catch everything. You may still have mistakes.
You should also take time to read over what you have to check for good sentence fluency, word choice, and organization. Sometimes reading what you have written aloud will help you to find mistakes you didn’t catch beforehand, as well as to pinpoint the problem areas in your work.
What you do now depends on you. If you are completely confident in your writing abilities and feel ready to post your work, by all means go for it. However, if you feel uncertain about what you have written or would just feel better having someone else check your work, it might behoove you to find a beta reader. A beta reader is anyone who reads your story to check for all the things mentioned above. Beta readers can be anyone—people on FG, your parents, your siblings, your friends, or your Granny Marge. However, if you are surrounded by people who frown on your Artemis Fowl obsession, it’s usually best to give them a miss. Often the best kind of beta reader is someone who doesn’t know who Artemis is. You can usually trust them to give you a pure and unbiased opinion without the dose of scorn. Once your story has been beta read and you are happy with it, congratulations! It’s time to publish.

Step 5: Publishing

If you’ve made it this far, good job; the end is in sight. Publishing is one of the easiest parts of the whole process! First, you have to decide where you want to publish. It may be in the Fanfiction forum, in FG’s Fanfiction gallery, or at Fanfiction.net. Wherever you go, the first thing you should probably do is make an account. It’s easy—you need to choose a username and a password and enter your e-mail for verification purposes. Then just copy your story and paste it into the proper place! You may want to go over it one last time and make sure everything looks like you want it to. Some of the things you have in Word—italics, bolded text, underlining, and alignment—may not translate smoothly to online. If your story is long, consider putting in chapter breaks so it’s easier to view. Once you’ve published it, good job! Now you just have to wait for the comments to start pouring in to help you improve and to encourage you to continue writing.
Let the creative juices flow!

Written By Carino