Up to standards for spelling and formatting as of 18 December 2018.
This page is here for fanfiction writers to get tips on how to write fanfictions like a professional.
- 1 Exploration on "Truly Good" Writing
- 2 General Tips
- 3 Author Attributes
- 4 Quarx's Advice
- 5 This advice is brought to you by:
Exploration on "Truly Good" Writing
Note: This section is opinion based and is subjective. This was written by Darkness Oversoul. Permission was obtained to post this. (Link to profile below)
Reading is a subjective experience in that it's unique to the reader, and any statement of what makes a piece of writing good or bad from a general perspective would be just inaccurate... right? However, there is one thing that makes humans special in this case: we all think very similarly to one another with some minor differences, and if the general public agrees that something is good/high quality, then the creator of that something can be pretty sure that whatever they made is good, right?
Reading fiction is like dreaming in that it's partaking in a reality separate from the one we all call "real life." A good dream is where something good happens right? And a bad one is where something bad happens, couldn't you agree? Of course, good and bad in that sense are simply referring to the emotions that you, as the protagonist of your dream feels. If we wanted to think of dreams as good quality or not, I would argue that vividness is the most important aspect. How much you really "experienced" the dream and felt all of the emotions inside of it.
In literature, this phenomena of experiencing the feelings of what's happening in a book is known psychologically as "experience taking." Using my dream model that I mentioned earlier, we can boil the quality of a book down to how much the reader "experience took" while reading it. How does one make the reader "experience take" in their novel? Well, you could just stick to general elaboration/storytelling, since that's all storytelling is: the expansion or elaboration of a summary of what happens. Take "Little Red Riding Hood" for example. I could sum up the entire story (albeit, quite inaccurately) in the following sentence:
"A little girl dressed in red travels through the woods to meet her grandma, but when she finally arrives at her grandma's house, she finds out that her grandma was eaten by a wolf."
Yeah, so that happened, and all is good... but that's not actually what happened. What you just saw was someone's account of what happened. If you wanted to know what really happened, you would have to be there observing it at the same elaboration level as reality itself. No, not even true reality, a human's perspective of reality. This here is the key. If you want to create an imaginary scenario, you have to play it like human reality. So you write your little book at the human elaboration level, and it's perfect, everything's elaborated at the human reality level, and it's all believable, except that there's one problem: people don't care about what happens in your book! How do you fix that? Write what people care about. What do people care about? Themselves! This may sound kind of weird, but it's a consistent pattern in every book that YOU personally have ever read and enjoyed. You felt empathy for something in the story. Regrettably, this is what people mean when they say to make your characters "relatable." Many people misinterpret "relatable" to mean "like the reader" but it actually means something a bit more in depth: "emotions that the reader has felt before and/or understands." If you can tie this familiarity into stories all in a realistic medium, that is all you need to have a good story.
The sad truth is that things like interesting villains, original ideas, perfect grammar, and having a plot altogether (LOL) don't even matter. It's all in your characters and their emotions and experiences creating emotions that the reader understands/relates to. Now, having these embellishments in a story is nice, it can "fool" readers into thinking that your story is good by looking pretty, but unless the reader is actively feeling empathy for characters in your story, understanding what's going on in the story, and feeling the effect of every (or at least nearly every) experience your characters go through, your story will be, for lack of a nicer word, bad.
Fun fact: having a story that bombs everything but the oh-so-important experience taking is called an "ugly story." These are both loved and despised in the critical community, and I happen to belong to the group that loves these kinds of stories. I personally think they're genius.
If you want a few examples, take the Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer, or "Give Into the Night", a Spyro fanfiction by Given Inside. So many flaws are present in these stories that I consider creating a successful ugly story an art form altogether.
Ugly stories also have an inverse: "pretty stories." These are stories that manage to get everything right EXCEPT for the experience taking. It's hard to find examples of these without looking like a jerk, so I'll field the answer from you, the reader ;). Have you ever read a story that makes you think "gosh, this is so good and well-written," but in the end, you didn't feel a single other emotion from the story other than that? Main character die and you didn't even feel sad? Other character reunites with their long lost parent (okay, that would make anyone happy, bad example XD) but anyway, you get it.
There's also mixed stories that don't lean too much in the direction of either "ugly" or "pretty" (if you think about it, every story is a mix in some parts) or have the best elements of both kinds of story. These stories are undeniably good. "Dark Legacy" (which I keep mentioning a bajillion times) is somewhat of an example of a mixed story (although it leans noticeably on the ugly side, which not a bad thing, remember that!). The opposite of a good mixed story, is a story that has no redeeming qualities about it and is undeniably bad. Look in the Pokemon section if you need a few dozen examples XD).
Then there's novelty stories, which are by far the most fun kind. These stories have such a strong singularly significant quality about them that they become classics, even if their quality is bad writing itself. Just look at "My Immortal," the illeged "worst fanfic ever written" for a wonderful example. Crack fics are a cheap way to make a novelty story, and are doable... if you have the insanity and creativity to actually come up with a good one! My own story, "The Legend of Jewel..." is a crack fic, but I'll let you guys be the judge of whether it's good or not, because remember: the only true opinion is your own!
Note: This was written by Darkness Oversoul. Permission was obtained to post this.
The golden way to get better at writing? Not "practice" necessarily but rather reflection or contemplation. The best way to do this is to read stories, but not just any stories, only read the best. What makes a story "The Best?" Well, that comes from you. If you find yourself almost passionate about a story, like how we all were by the time we got to the end of Dawn of The Dragon, then you know your good. While reading a story, constantly ask yourself "What makes this good?" Really look into the deeper aspects of the story structure itself to find your own personal examples to this question, and once you find those, just roll with it =)
My personal examples of this are "Dark Legacy" by Dardarax, (which I am a proud cult-follower of)
For a few more direct tips:
- - Try to do longer chapters, about 3000-10,000 words in length (but this is purely marginal. It's okay to go over a little bit).
- - Come up with some kind of main plot figured out in your head before you start writing.
- - Always look to yourself and your personal good judgement when you find yourself in question of what to do. In other words, proofread.
- - Engage the reader with your characters. Easier said than done, but at the very least, develop your characters individually. (This is done by involving them in scenes that really "show their colors" in terms of their personality.)
Also, never add too many characters at one time, and when you do add them, make sure that they aren't instantly forgettable.
Most importantly as far as characters go, make them likeable. One of my favorite ways to do this is...
- - Use immaturity and stupidity to your advantage. Sound weird? I thought so! XD What I mean is having characters knowingly do the wrong thing in the name of love. Not necessarily romance, although this does work well in romance if you want to try it, but rather devotion and compassion towards others, especially friends that are the age of the character themselves.
- - ALWAYS take advice in moderation. Never be extreme or do too much of anything that someone recommends for you to do. Especially with specific examples.
- - Another thing that writers tell you to do is "show, don't tell." I personally disagree with this slightly. My philosophy is more of "show and tell" so that the writer both knows what's happening and experiences it at the same time, but use good judgement when doing so.
- - The most important tip of all is to acquire a sense of what's good or bad in a story. This is done by opinion-based critical reading. None of that looking for "Author's purpose" or "Climax of The Story" BS, but rather reading a story, and constantly asking yourself "Did I like this story, and why did I like it?"
- - Stemming from this concept, when writing parts of your story that involve your characters, use your judgement that you WILL ACQUIRE OVER TIME from reading stories that you like to try to keep your characters realistic, in character, and (when writing fanfiction) as close to the factual correctness of the original work as possible.
- - The other most important tip is to never give up. Never look at yourself not measuring up to a certain criteria as a defeat, look at it as a lesson, and ask yourself "What do I need to do at the moment to meet or exceed said criteria?"
And remember, anyone can write. Don't let things like a mental handicap or low self-esteem hold you down. The reason that anyone can write is because we as humans are naturally hard-wired to create. Our ancestors' very survival depended on this ability: we evolutionarily needed to be innovative so that we would be able to come up with or "create" solutions to complex problems such as obtaining food and maintaining a family. Dating back to the Cro-Magnons who perfected this, our DNA has stayed virtually the same all the way through.
Don't let yourself believe for a second that you're not up-to-par in mind with the rest of us. We all have the ability to succeed. The only difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that those who succeeded never gave up. Never let yourself fall into that trap. You're built for success. It's in your very genes ;)
Note: This was written by Darkness Oversoul. Permission was obtained to post this. Also, the examples here are writers from the Spyro section on FanFiction.net.
Every person is psychologically different, and the way their mind works projects itself in their writing. Of course, since humans tend to be like each other, certain patterns appear in writers. Every author has a main attribute, each with a different standout ability. This attribute comes naturally to us, and is often most pronounced in our earliest writing. Of course, we naturally get better at writing, and all of these skills are honed as we go along, but in the end everyone has one strength in an area in writing that far outshines all of their others. It's good to identify which kind of writer you are so you can focus on developing that specific skill because in the end, your greatest skill is what people are reading your stories to see in action ;)
The Action Seeker
This person thrives on exactly what the name implies: action scenes, scenes where things are happening. They find it natural to tell what the characters are doing at any given moment. These people are masters of suspense, and as they get better, their suspenseful endeavors become more elaborate and emotionally wracking. These people are good at writing darker fiction.
Author examples: Tallonran
The Character Puppeteer
These people are gifted with keen intuition on creating vivid characters that act very naturally and lovably in their respective story. Master puppeteers can cause the reader to completely lose awareness of themselves, walking with the characters in the story, and feeling every emotion and experience that the characters feel. This is a useful author attribute, because it can cause the reader to experience vivid emotions. These people are ideal at writing dramatic fiction, often with lots of emotional turns.
Author examples: Dardarax, Unit Omicron
The Sensory Empath
These people are all about vibe: creating feelings within their stories that truly play through in the mind of the reader. These people find it natural to paint the world in their stories, which are often rife with depiction of scenery, character interaction with environment, and inventiveness of the culture of the world in their stories. A good Sensory Empath can, at will, conjure up scenes that not only play vividly in the mind of the reader and also control the vibe and feel that these scenes possess. A good practice for this technique is imagining a visual image, and then "translating it" into a string of words that produce the same image in your mind. These people are ideal at writing fantasy and world stories (world meaning stories with a particular setting in mind such as an Arabian village or a Medieval setting).
Author examples: Me =) Kendell
The Plot Weaver
The plot weaver is all about plot-craft, carefully plotting out the main path their story will take, often with many twists and turns and surprises along the way. A good plot weaver keeps the reader on their toes with a constant sense of forward motion and plenty of rewarding payoffs for the main characters' sacrifices. These people are good at writing mystery as well as adventure stories.
Author examples: Editor's note: This field was left blank.
The Variety Performer
A variety performer can be thought of as someone who has mastered all of the above main areas in writing, and their writing contains a healthy mix of all of these characteristics, each discretely displayed at different times in their story. A good variety performer simply has substance in their stories, and lots of it. Very well-written plot, vibrant imagery, charming characters, and plenty of suspense. These people can make anything work for them, and could technically write any kind of story.
Author examples: Riverstyxx
How does a writer create a mood?
Largely, through their choice of words.
- White: purity and cleanliness
- Red: passion and sometimes blood/violence
- Black: darkness and despair
- Green: envy or nature/new growth
- Yellow: sunshine or sickness (jaundice)
- Purple: royalty or bruises
- Grey: depression or poverty
- Brown: dirt & decay
- Orange: glow & happiness
Obviously, the context in which the colors appear will influence your interpretation of their meaning. For example:
“Queen Sunny looked pale yellow.”
This sentence suggests that Sunny is sick and she is not able to perform her usual duties as ruling monarch of the SandWings. Another example:
“A golden glow seemed to be coming from Sunny's yellow scales.”
This interpretation suggests that Sunny is bursting with energy and/or happiness. This is a completely different usage of the color yellow. Here, Sunny's scales are written in a more positive way than in the previous sentence.
Positive or Negative Adjectives
Positive: tremendous, delirious, fabulous, heavenly
Negative: heavy, ugly, rusty, terrible, horrific
Positive or Negative Verbs
- Positive Verbs: to shine, to gather, to spring, to capture, to sooth, to comfort, to light, to brood, to bloom, to fill, to meditate, to sing, to skip, to brighten, to build
- Negative Verbs: to flicker, to seep, to wring, to fumble, to shiver, to weigh, to scatter, to thread, to fight, to moan, to cry, to ooze, to mock, to break
Rhythm and Sound Effects
Fast-paced: A fast rhythm can suggest excitement, danger, or anger (depending on the writing). A writer can create a fast rhythm by (a) using lots of short words, (b) using words that contain the narrow sounds 'e' and 'i,' and (c) repeating guttural, harsh, or explosive consonants.
Slow-paced: A slow rhythm can suggest relaxation, sadness, or disappointment (depending on the writing). A writer can create a slow rhythm by (a) using lots of long words, (b) using words which contain the broad vowel sounds 'o,' 'a,' and 'ee,' and (c) repeating soft consonants.
The picture that the writer creates by using words is called imagery. To do this, you'll have to be very descriptive and use lots of metaphors.
e.g.: The SandWing had its deadly barb up against the SkyWing's neck. The SkyWing was breathing heavily in the warm orange glow of the setting sun. The cliff ended perilously behind the SkyWing as the SandWing came, ever so slowly, closer and closer, ready to push the red-scaled beast if things started to get nasty. The SkyWing had fear written all over his face, while the SandWing had rage.
How do you write about imagery?
In order to discuss imagery, you must be willing to comment on the writer's choice of words (what does a word suggest to you?) and to describe the picture that is created in your mind by the phrase/image. (In other words, your imagination must be active and at work as you are reading!)
e.g.: Looks like it's sunset, and the SandWing is threatening to use his barb against the SkyWing. It also looks like the SkyWing is backing up onto the edge of a cliff. It also looks like the SandWing's ready to kill the SkyWing.
You may also want to comment on the feelings that the image creates in you. From the example from above, my answer might continue...
e.g.: The SkyWing apparently did something to the SandWing that was greatly upsetting to the latter. The SkyWing is also very fearful of the other dragon.
Notice that I described the picture that the image created in my mind. To do this, you comment on the atmosphere and the mood the words create, and identify all of the verbs in a sentence and the feelings that they suggest. Finally, you link the image to the theme of the writing (the overall point of the writing).
Imagery and the Senses
We experience the world through the five senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound. If a writer wishes us to feel that we are there beside them, in the experience, they must give us details of smells, sounds, and textures as well as describing what they can see. For example:
"The crowd roared noiselessly as Ferocious laid down in the soft sand, drenched in red, smelly blood. His ears rung and his white-scaled opponent drew nearer and shouted noiselessly at him. He could taste both blood and defeat."
We can hear the sound of his ears ringing, the crowd roaring noiselessly, and his opponent shouting noiselessly at Ferocious because the writer uses the verbs "roar," "ring," and "shout," and the adverb "noiselessly." We can see that his opponent is an IceWing because the writer says that his opponent was "white-scaled." We can almost taste and smell the blood and sand underneath him.
Images can be VISUAL - we can see them
Images can be AUDITORY - we can hear them
Images can be TACTILE - we can touch them
Images can be OLFACTORY - we can smell them
Images can be SENSUOUS - we can feel/taste their texture
The image is particularly striking/unusual/eye-catching because…
The writer offers a vivid image of...
The description is particularly remarkable because...
The writing is full of bright, colorful imagery. The writer uses the words...
The writing is full of dark, haunting images of death and destruction...
The auditory images in the writing are particularly loud, due to the writer's use of onomatopoeia in the line...
The image is very sensuous, in its description of...
The imagery of...creates a sense of...
The imagery of...suggests that...
The image of...suggests...
The image of....as a...is... It also offers us...on how...is when compared to...
Tricks with Language
- Repetition: repeating a word, or phrase, to emphasize its importance; create a regular rhythm
- Personification: describing an object/idea as though it were alive; giving it human qualities
- Contrast: placing two very different things side by side
- Symbolism: a word becomes a sign of something than simply itself
- Simile: where the writer compares two things using the words 'like' or 'as'
- Metaphor: where two things are said to be the same
- Allusion: where the writer makes reference to 'well-known' figures or events from literature, history, or mythology
- Hyperbole: the deliberate use of exaggeration
- Ambiguity: where words/sentences have more than one meaning/are open to numerous interpretations
- Rhetorical Question: a question that doesn't require a response (a statement disguised as a question)
- Alliteration: the repetition of the same letter at the beginning of a series of words
- Onomatopoeia: words whose sound imitates their meaning
- Assonance: the repetition of similar vowel sounds
This advice is brought to you by:
The Campaign for Better Writers:
Darkness Oversoul (In-direct author)
Matau99 (Lead Campaign Editor)
Luckybird7765 (campaign editor)
Electrical-Onyx (campaign editor)
.oOEclipseOo. (campaign editor)