hiiii idk why i'm so nervous but i really really wanna start writing fanfiction. ljke full out "woah this makes me feel stuff" fanfiction and i thought you'd be the best place to come for pointers because you're literally amazing but anyways do ylu have any suggestions as to 1. where to write it 2. starting tips 3. what not to do?? thanks!! i really really want to but i'm little scared to
OOOH, I WAS RECENTLY GIVING THE SAME ADVICE TO MEG BONNEY ON TWITTER. Okay, here we go. Let’s do this.
How To Start Writing Fanfic for Beginners:
- Okay, so, the first thing we usually do is have a beta reader– someone who looks over stories and checks for writing flow, typos, and, most importantly in the case of fanfiction, characterization. You find one before you start writing so that you have a cheerleader who can talk about ideas with you and push you through when you feel like you wanna quit. This is a formality, though, and can be skipped. My one-shots usually are in the 20k+ range so I like to have three or four people look over them, but if I’m writing a 6k one shot, for example, I only have one beta reader.
- I’m actually pretty sure that the origination of this practice actually came from everyone trying to figure out how to make friends in fandom. If you’re the beta reader on someone’s story, you’re automatically buddies. Google docs has made this way easier, though– it used to be long email chains. *shudders*
- Step two, decide which host sites you’re going to post your fic on. Different fandoms are more popular on different fic sites. The most popular fanfic sites are http://fanfiction.net , http://archiveofourown.org (AO3, we call it), and sometimes tumblr, depending on the length of the fic!
- So, for example, the Percy Jackson fandom is really really into http://fanfiction.net (or at least was when I was writing for it?) That’s where you get the most reviews/comments and the most hits for that fandom. In the case of Teen Wolf/Stydia the most popular site is AO3, easily. But if the piece you wrote is a drabble (in the 1k range), you can also plop it on tumblr. If it’s in the 2k range, it’s acceptable to put it on tumblr under a “read more.”
- For all these sites, you need an account, but AO3 is technically in beta mode (idk why; it’s been like that for multiple years?) and therefore you sign up and then have to wait for an invite. But it’s worth it because once you have an account, you can view the history of the fics you’ve read, bookmark faves, leave comments, and, of course, publish fics.
- Unlike ffnet, AO3 also categorizes fics into fandoms, which is really really helpful if you write for multiple fandoms. Their sorting system is really good and really specific, which is why people use it. I think that, at this point, AO3 is undoubtedly the most diversely enjoyed site.
- Here’s some things you definitely need to know about posting on AO3:
- (This is SUPER important), it’s considered REAL bad manners to tag characters/ships that aren’t the centric pairing. So, the fic is gonna ask you for characters and the ship. If you’re writing a fic where Stiles and Lydia are the centric pairing, you’re gonna fill in Lydia Martin, Stiles Stilinski, and then Lydia Martin/Stiles Stilinski. But say your story also has a few scenes with Scott? Either don’t mention Scott, or do “Scott McCall- Side.”
- The reader should be able to clearly tell what type of fic it is by your tags. (Unless you don’t want them to know). You can create your own tags or you can use the site’s already established ones. AO3 tags can get slightly obnoxious but nobody’s going to call you out for that so enjoy.
- If your fic takes place within the bounds of the series, you tag it "Canon Compliant.” If it not only fits with the plot of the series but also takes place literally during the series, tag it “Missing Moments.” If it diverges from the plot line of the series, you tag it “Canon Divergent.” If it is after the series is over, tag it “Post-Canon."
- If it’s AU, tag the kind of AU it is. “Coffee Shop AU” “AU– The Hunger Games” “AU– Everyone Lives” “AU– Stiles is Olaf from Frozen and gets it on with Anna who is Lydia.” (Spoilers for my next fic.) (Just kidding.)
- ALSO when you’re posting, it’s a huge struggle because AO3 either requires HTML coded stuff (for italics, etc) or rich text. My suggestion would be either putting your fic on tumblr and copy and pasting the rich text from the finished post, or getting an account on ffnet and using their document uploader to c+p your fic into, then save it and copy and paste it into the rich text part of the fic loader on AO3
- So now, ratings.
- Here’s what you’ve got: G,T, M, E.
- G is like… no swearing, no mention of sex, you could read it as a bed time story to a 6 year old.
- T is swearing, acknowledgment that sex exists, maybe some kissing (but you’re getting to shaky territory as soon as you venture anywhere remotely past second base) light, non-descriptive violence (there’s also a tag for violence under "archive warnings” because some people get triggered by it.)
- M is lighter sex scenes (I would say anything that doesn’t describe genitalia? Idk, this is a real fine line. I think you’ll feel it in your bones. Or, bone, in the case of smut.
- Nailed that joke.
- HA GEDDIT. I did it again.
- E is like, you’re going to hell for writing this, enjoy hanging out with satan in the fiery pits, I hope it’s worth it.
- If you post on tumblr, tag appropriately. Tumblr tagging is different from ao3– you just tag to sort things, and so that the right people see your work. So, like, if you wrote a Stydia fic, obviously don’t tag it Sterek or Sciles because you’ll get hate, lmao. You can tag character names, but I would suggest you don’t tag “Stiles Stilinski” or “Lydia Martin” because the Sterk/Mrrish/Stlia shippers tend to attack you. Also, only the first five tags count.
And now, the Don’ts of fanfiction***
- Make sure your spacing doesn’t look awful.
- It makes people not wanna read it
- You should know what regular spacing looks like. If you’re able to correct it so that there’s not eons of space between paragraphs, I would do that.
- Don’t say “Sorry for the bad summary I promise it’s better than it sounds” in your summary.
- “Their tongues battle for dominance” or other equally cliche dialogue
- Original characters as main characters
- Fandom crossovers are almost always rolled their eyes at in the fic community. Like, you can thrust your characters into a different universe, but normally, you can’t use the original characters. So by all means, write a Percy Jackson AU, but don’t make Fitzwilliam Darcy best friends with Annabeth Chase.
- POV SWITCHING IN YOUR FIC
- Okay this is really delicate because some people can do it really well and some people can’t
- Switching back and forth between character point of view within one section of your fic is really hard for the reader to keep up with and it tends to look clumsy. It’s a no-no.
- If you have divides between sections, that’s where you can switch POV.
- However, I tend to write almost all of my fics with just one POV. I pick Character 1 or Character 2 no matter how long it is. It’s cleaner that way.
- NEVER USE FIRST PERSON IN FANFICTION, IT IS UNIVERSALLY LOATHED.
- I need to remember this one– don’t describe clothes too much. You’ll sound like a cheesy YA novel. (I’m a hypocrite, okay?)
- Titles matter. Work hard on picking a title. I s2g it actually makes a big difference. Idk why. Titles.
***Side note: All writing rules are all allowed to be broken. There is truly no such thing as a steadfast writing rule. The more comfortable you get with writing, the more comfortable you could be with breaking these rules. Does that make sense?