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Fanfic-writing Tips/Sounding board

Discussion in 'Author's Roundtable' started by Docta Corvina, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

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    So, after having a conversation with another aspiring fanfiction author here on the forum, I thought that it might be useful to have a place to gather tips for people just starting out in the world of such writing. We have threads for those of us already well into the writing process, but I thought it might be beneficial to also have a thread for people who might be considering embarking on their own tale or who simply just need a little guidance in getting started. So, my fellow authors, please do offer whatever insight/tips you may have! =)

    Of course all of us have varying approaches. And it will be interesting all around to see how others have dealt with their writing and offer what works for them. Here's what I said in response to the questions posed to me.

    Length of chapter(s)/sections:

    Basically, you want your chapters to be long enough to be sure that you get as much told as you need, to keep the story moving at a decent pace. You don't necessarily want your readers to feel bogged down by super gigantic chapters. But on the other hand, you don't necessarily want them to be *too* short either, otherwise you might not keep people hooked on the flow of the story. "Long" and "short" are annoyingly subjective terms, I'm afraid. I'm not sure what Word processing programs folks use (if any), but when I first started "Kathodos" I had been keeping my chapters anywhere between 4-7 Microsoft Word document pages long. That seemed to be a middle-ground sort of length. Of course it's not forbidden to go less than that or longer. Lately my chapters have been on the longer side, going from 7-16 or more pages. I'm finding myself writing more each chapter as the story progresses and becomes increasingly more complex. Again, it's about finding a balance to help keep the story flowing for your readers.

    On the topic of "dirty"/nawti content:

    Again, it's totally up to you as the author. As you've likely noticed, some writers will put sex into their stories. And it doesn't have to be superfluous either. In other words, sex can in fact help tell a story, it can add dimensions and plot points that couldn't be expressed as well in other ways. It comes down to what you see for your story. For some, it just works. For others, it doesn't nearly as much. The only thing I would say is not to necessarily let it completely overtake your story - unless you're setting out to write pure smut fic and smut fic only. I mean, for godsakes, it's a natural human activity, and it's referenced in the game enough that seeing it pop up in fanfic shouldn't really seem so far-fetched.

    If you're wondering about the level of "dirty", or how graphic it should all be, again, that's up to you and how comfortable you are with it. Of course if you do go that route, you'll need to offer warnings of said material, since not all readers will want to see it. Not to mention, not all users/readers/visitors on the forum will necessarily be of what is widely considered an *appropriate* age for it - though, that can diverge into an entirely different discussion which is less than necessary to have at the moment. So I'll stop there. :p Just be sure to place warnings/disclaimers on chapters with raunchier bits and you should be fine. The problem usually arises when people come across sexual scenes they weren't expecting - and depending on the person, they could be pleased or disgusted! And really, the same sort of idea applies to excessive violence as well. Just always let people know what they're sailing into if it's particularly graphic.

    How much lore to include in a work?:

    As with all the other points, this is again somewhat subjective. I myself have been sprinkling lore throughout my story and will continue to do so. I like showing that kind of continuity with the ES world. However, I don't think it's necessary to drop a ton of lore just for the sake of doing so. Again, you can work with the lore instead of merely using it. You can make references that do well enough to show your familiarity with the overworld, but at the same time not seem like an article on the ES Wiki. :p Keeping it casual is just fine. Be generally familiar with history/background of Tamriel, be more familiar with specific aspects that directly feature into your story.

    Author Pacing:

    When embarking on writing (be it fanfiction, original, etc.), I cannot stress enough that you take your time! Pace yourself. DO NOT RUSH. Especially if you realize that you have hurried your composition and you yourself notice the adverse effects it has on your work, you need to slow down and give it the attention it requires and deserves.

    Rushing a chapter, hurrying to get something done and posted, is often a detriment. You end up with not only missing grammatical and spelling errors, but also the richness of the content suffers. For example, you devote much less time to meaningful dialogue and character relationships as a result. You also may not address important plot points or present plot devices in as meaningful of a way as you might have desired or planned to, and the narrative can certainly suffer for it.

    So my advice is this: I understand that having content to post frequently is something that keeps people aware and interested in your work. But you are doing yourself and your story a disservice if you know you are moving too quickly and you find yourself having to apologize for things seeming "rushed". My "Kathodos" chapters, admittedly rather long these days, take me anywhere from 3-5 weeks on average to write. That's partly because I work full time and it's a free time issue. But it's also because I want to make sure that I'm addressing what I need to address, including what I mean and need to include, and keeping an eye on technical mistakes.

    Some people naturally write more quickly than others and that's fine. But just make sure that you're doing right by your story and giving it the time and attention it needs and deserves. It will more than likely pay off. :)

    Miscellaneous tips:

    - Much of this process is very 'trial and error', so don't be afraid to just sit down and write a good deal of your first chapter out - and then come back to it later with fresh eyes and edit and re-draft it. I spend a lot of time just looking back over my chapters and editing once I'm done actually writing the bulk of it out. Sometimes things you didn't see before or things you were struggling to show/express become clearer the next few times around of looking at them.

    - It has always helped me to roughly sketch out major plot points and directions for my chapters and my story overall. You obviously don't need to play omniscient author and already know everything that will happen and everyone who will appear and all that. I have new things occur to me as I write all the time. I just think that having a rough idea of where and how you want your story to flow would be helpful going into it. Nothing says that you can't change it up somewhat later. ;)

    - Spell check and grammar check are your friends! :D I know not everyone uses a Word processing program that automatically helps with this. But there are some online spelling/grammar checkers, such as Spellchecker.net. Nothing more readily distracts from a story than spelling and grammar errors. Obviously we all make mistakes, it's natural. But making a good effort to have all of your more technical ducks in a row is extremely important. Some people around the forum, particularly those who often post in the Fanfiction area, could possibly be willing to beta-read your work, and offer another pair of eyes to catch spelling/grammar errors, as well as offer insight/tips on the writing itself. Using a beta-reader is not absolutely necessary though, and it's of course dependent upon finding someone who agrees to it. Bottom line is that you should always make sure that your writing is as free of errors as possible.

    - Most importantly, just write as long and as much as you can and see where it takes you. That's the best way to start. And have fun with it! =)


    I will add to this as thoughts occur to me - but for now, my fellow authors, please impart your wisdom!
     
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    Latest Given Reputation Points:
    death raider: 16 Points (Awesome guide Docta!) Feb 5, 2013
    Aliera e'Kieron: 8 Points (Thank you so much for the tips - very useful for me! :)) Jun 24, 2013
  2. Uther Pundragon

    Uther Pundragon The Harbinger of Awesome
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    I like this! How did I miss it? I'll be sure to add my own at some point! :)
     
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  3. ShadowMage

    ShadowMage Article Writer

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    Copy&Paste much? lol
     
  4. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

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    ^ Yeah, I did - with some additions here and there. What of it? :p

    I'ma add to it as I think of things, so don't be hatin' on mah copypasta. :cool: ;)
     
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  5. ShadowMage

    ShadowMage Article Writer

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    I know I am teasing!!! :p
     
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  6. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

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    ^ I know, it's all good! :p
     
  7. Jersey Dagmar

    Jersey Dagmar Just in time for the fiyahworks show! BOOM!

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    Also remember to take breaks from your writing. Don't try to pop out a chapter once everyday. I usually go for a chapter a week. Makes it very much like a TV Show. Even putting the story on hiatus isn't a bad thing either. It allows you to gather new ideas, work on other projects and the like.

    And why do I feel all that sex talk is directed at me? Hmmm...
     
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  8. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

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    It was a question that was asked. :3 Trust me, you're not the only one who's ever written sexy time into their fanfiction. You know that as well as I! :p
     
  9. Uther Pundragon

    Uther Pundragon The Harbinger of Awesome
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    If I attempted to write sex into my fiction it would be about as exciting as watching cardboard get wet.
     
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  10. ShadowMage

    ShadowMage Article Writer

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    Maybe I asked it 'cuz of you... maybe I didn't.
     
  11. Jersey Dagmar

    Jersey Dagmar Just in time for the fiyahworks show! BOOM!

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    Yea, I seem to be the most notorious for it around here. Not that I'm complaining.
     
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  12. ShadowMage

    ShadowMage Article Writer

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    There's no prob. with it. It is... interesting :p
     
  13. ShadowMage

    ShadowMage Article Writer

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    Hey, does anyone know if Jersey is ignoring me?
     
  14. Jersey Dagmar

    Jersey Dagmar Just in time for the fiyahworks show! BOOM!

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    I'm just not an avid talker, that's all.
     
  15. ShadowMage

    ShadowMage Article Writer

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    K thanks,
     
  16. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Thanks this is helpful i've started writing out my first fan fiction and was trying to figure out how much to write before posting the first part.
    I'm a Word user so i think i'll try for about two three document pages per chapter. For a first attempt i'm not doing much plotting bar an overall idea of what i want to say. I've decided to blend aspects of my current Skyrim character into this story though it isn't a description of his exploits. Should be ready for chapter 1 upload by the end of today start of tomorrow.
     
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  17. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

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    Same here. I'll allude to sexual events having taken place, because they do, but probably won't actually write them in-scene.
     
  18. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    I would have a similair problem, i think i'll stick to alluding to s-e-x. Without writing the actual scenes.
     
  19. bananban

    bananban Member

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    Maybe you could write a bit about the "show don't tell" rule, I see that WAY too often in stories everywhere. People go off on long tangents telling the reader about something, rather than letting the narrative and action speak for themselves. It get's annoying and, when I read a big exposition like that anywhere in a story, I have trouble continuing it at all.

    Also, I wouldn't tell you to expand on this too much because it could become a nightmare, you could consider briefly going over characterization. The dragonborn is a Mary Sue in-game, being a prodigy in everything and a friend to everybody and whatnot, but that does not make a good character to read. If it helps, I tend to break up my character's traits into three areas: skills, personality, and appearance. If I buff one, I take away from another.

    Maybe I should post something I've been working on for Skyrim on this site... hm...
     
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  20. Jersey Dagmar

    Jersey Dagmar Just in time for the fiyahworks show! BOOM!

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    If people are good at writing characters, the Dragon born wouldn't be a Mary-sue. Not everyone makes a character for this game with themselves in mind.
     

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