Lindsey do you have advice for 1st time fic writers? I have ideas but I don't know where to beginning and it's honestly a bit scary
Gah I’m so sorry you had to wait, but I wanted to make sure I could give you a proper reply!
I totally understand it being scary! It really can be intimidating jumping into writing. But here a couple things that might help you along:
Literally, just write. No matter what you think of your own writing, no matter how you think it compares to other people’s writing, no matter if you struggle or if it comes easy: write. You’re gunna write some stuff that’s great, you’re gunna write some stuff thats not that great. We literally all have written a huge mixture of great and shitty stuff. And it’s okay. But always keep writing. If it’s bad, it’s bad, so what? Write more and make it better. Remember that no matter what you write, even if you think it’s bad, someone out there is going to love it. So write the thing.
2. Know the characters you want to write.
This is a biggie in fanfic - you gotta have at least a decent grasp on the characters’ basic traits before you write them. Because if you don’t, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb. So look back at the source material, take note of the characters - how they act, how they speak, what they say, who they’re close with, etc… - and roll with it.
3. Have a plot already in mind.
Start out with the idea you want to write. The more you can plan out to start with, the better. (Note: This doesn’t always work for everyone. Some people are more chaotic writers, who like to plan as they go. Which is totally fine. I tend to be a mixture of a pre-planner and a plan-as-you-go writer tbh. But I think when you’re first starting out, it’s helpful to give yourself an outline, a step-by-step of your plot and how you want it to progress.)
4. Start small and attainable
Frankly, when you’re starting out, it’s best to write about stuff you know or are at least somewhat familiar with. And it’s best to start off kind of small. I personally wouldn’t jump into a massive multichapter fic about astrophysics on your first attempt. You’re welcome to try, if that’s what you have in mind, but smaller goals like oneshots and ficlets are easier to attain. Write about things you like, things you find interesting, things you understand. Then as you get more adept with your characters, you can branch out to bigger and more diverse projects.
5. Stay focused
A big issue I see in a lot of new writers, especially new fanfic writers, is the wandering mind. You really don’t want to include anything that isn’t actually important or relevant to your characters or the plot. A bunch of superfluous content will really only make your readers lose interest. If your plot or overall themes would be literally unchanged if you took out a section of the fic, then take the section out, because all it’s going to do is detract from the piece as a whole. This is also important for continuity. There’s an issue I like to call the Disappearing Horse, where a writer will bring up something (like a horse), only to forget about it very quickly and never mention it again because it ultimately didn’t serve a narrative purpose. If you don’t need the horse, don’t bring it out of the stable. If it doesn’t matter to the plot or the themes of the piece, then don’t bring it up.
Please please, this isn’t about being a stickler, this is about ease of reading the fic: please make sure that your fic is properly formatted. Make sure your dialogue is properly spaced, make sure your grammar is correct, that things are spell checked.
7. GET A BETA READER
Seriously. Literally everyone needs a beta, no matter how skilled they are. Have someone read your work, and they can look for grammar/spelling errors, formatting errors, continuity errors, awkward or weird phrasing, etc…
8. Practice your dialogue aloud
I do this all the time. Speak your dialogue aloud, act like you’re having the conversation with yourself. It’s the easiest way to find out if your dialogue is natural or realistic. Nobody wants stilted dialogue, and this is a quick and easy way to avoid it.
9. Show, don’t tell. Avoid adverbs where you can.
Adverbs are very alluring to writers - they’re a quick, easy way that we can describe something that’s happening. But they’re also pretty lazy and tend to hinder your writing’s flow. You are better off showing your readers rather than telling them. An adverbs tells the reader what’s happening, whereas active and descriptive verbs show a reader what’s happening
Don’t: “She walked slowly along the beach, happily enjoying the sea air.”
Do: “She moseyed along the water’s edge, taking her time to enjoy the sea air.”
You see how the second sentence is much more vivid? It shows the audience much more about the scene rather than just flatly telling us “she’s walking slow and she’s happy”.
Note: I highly recommend you check out the Hemingway text editor. It’s a very useful tool that can pinpoint issues with your writing such as overuse of adverbs, long/run on sentences, difficult phrasing, etc…
10. Literally everything is derivative, so don’t worry too much about your ideas not being “original enough”
Look, this is fanfic. The concept itself is derivative. Fanon is also a big influence on fanfic. So some of your stuff is obviously going to take some tropes or ideas from other things. And that’s okay. Build on those tropes and make them your own. (Note: obviously don’t copy people. this is more about when you feel like an idea of yours has already been done. It’s okay if someone else has done that AU you were thinking of - their AU is going to be different from your AU, your AU is going to be yours. so go for it!)
11. WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE
I know I said this already but write. And post what you write. You’re going to love writing sometimes. You’re going to hate writing sometimes. You’re going to go through spells where you feel wholly uncreative. You’re going to have times when you literally feel like a fountain of ideas. Creativity comes in seasons. Write as they come and as they change. No matter what, you’re going to get better, and no matter what, even if you think it’s bad or that no one wants to read it, you’re going to write something that someone out there is going to love. SO WRITE!! :D
Ahhh that’s all I can think of off the top of my head! I may think of others later and add to this post. But if anyone else has any other tips, please feel free to tack them on.