Main Author: Gary Kleppe

Contributing Authors: Ronny Hedin, The Eternal Lost Lurker, Anand Rao, Akari Ukryuu Has a Posse, Matthew Lewis

What is a fanfiction?

If you don't know, what the heck are you reading this guide for?! Next question.

Why do people write fanfiction?

Primarily because we're bored. Also in order to promote our favorite characters (see below).

It's legal to write fanfiction, isn't it?

Don't kid yourself, pal. In the US, Fanfiction is a felony in twenty-seven states. Ever notice all those series in the RAAC archives that never got finished? It's because the authors were finally tracked down by the law.

If you do insist on writing fanfiction and posting it on the internet, play it safe. Instead of using your real identity, post under your dog's name. Then when the copyright owner files a lawsuit, the dog is entitled to free legal representation from the SPCA. Note: Do not post under your cat's name, or you are likely to be sued by your cat.

In the words of one writer, fanfictions are not made, they are committed. The same is, or should be, true of many fanfiction authors.

What should I know about the mechanics of writing?

Good writing is made up primarily of letters, which include a through z. Especially important are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y. Without these, yr wrtng mght nt b rdbl; this is a condition known as consonation, which can be relieved by a good vowel movement.

Numerals (0123456789) are sometimes used, but not all that much, so don't worry about these. What are important are punctuation characters, so don't forget to use plenty of them

Is spelling important?

You bet. Stories with lots of spelling errors are a pain to read. Take the following example:

"Oh, Gosunkuge!" Ranma pirred sedductively as she lesuirely stroaked the boy's cheste. "Shou me waht it meens to be a womman!"

In the above sentence, the reader is distracted from the scene by the
misspelling of "Gosunkugi." The cure for this is to *always* remember to
run your fics through electronic spell-check before posting. The above
example would be corrected to:

"Oh, Gonophore!" Ranma picked selectively as she elusively streaked the boy's chaste. "Shout me want it meets to be a wombat!"

Don't forget, its important too pay special attention to you're homonyms, as their awl to easy two get wrong.

Which is the best format for fanfiction, prose or script?

Neither. The best format for fanfiction is doujinshi. This is especially true for lemons. If you don't have time to produce really good-quality artwork, then you'll have to settle for one of the other formats.

What are some tips on good writing style?

To make your story more vivid, use the active forms of verbs whenever possible. Here are some examples:

Bad: Ranma's head was flattened by the giant spatula.
Good: Ranma's head was actively flattened by the giant spatula.

Bad: Ranma was a corpse.
Good: Ranma was a rotting, maggot-infested corpse who would not be attending any more parties.

How do I get the inspiration for a story?

Inspiration is known to originate from ancient Greek deities called the muses. When trying to come up with a story idea, the best method is to sit around and wait for your muse to come by. Trap the sucker in a cage and make the muse write all of your fanfiction. Writing is hard work, so you don't want to have to do it yourself, especially since the muse is probably in your country illegally and can therefore be forced to work for no pay.

How do I keep everyone in character?

You can't. Face it, if they were really in character, they wouldn't have agreed to appear in *your* fic. Just try to fake it.

How should I indicate character thoughts?

Character thoughts should be included in such a way as to not interrupt the flow of the story, and never quoted the same way that actual spoken dialog is. For example,

Bad: "That's odd," Akane thought as she stared at her husband. "Ranma never has a second cup of coffee at home!"

Good: <BEGIN AKANE'S THOUGHTS>That's odd,<END AKANE'S THOUGHTS> Akane thought as she stared at her husband.<BEGIN AKANE'S THOUGHTS> Ranma never has a second cup of coffee at home!<END AKANE'S THOUGHTS>

How do I write good descriptions?

Don't bother. Readers will just skip past them anyway. Instead of describing a mountain (for example), just tell them "It's a mountain." If they don't know what one looks like, tell them to go find a picture of one. Such people shouldn't be reading your fic anyway.

What about exposition?

Exposition is the process of revealing information that the readers will need to know. Ideally, this should be subtly worked into the actual scenes of the story; for example:

Kasumi smiled. "Good morning, Akane!"

"Morning, Kasumi, Nabiki." Akane sat down at the table next to her sisters and started to chow down. "Looks like it's going to be a nice day!"

"Yeah, I suppose." Nabiki slurped her food. What neither she nor her two sisters knew was that there would be a new student at her school that day -- the gaijin master of martial arts net spamming who would win her heart and change her life forever.

"Hey, Kasumi." Akane handed her sister an empty plate. "Got any more biscuits?"

Remember that the readers you get are not going to be the brightest
people in the world, so be sure to repeat things often enough for them
to get it. Example:

Ranma stared at the document from the hospital which clearly showed his birth mother was not Saotome Nodoka. The document also showed that Saotome Genma was not his father. "They're... they're not my parents?" he said.

Many writers choose to completely forego the process of exposition, letting the story speak for itself. The advantage of this is that you can then write up explanatory notes for your fic that you can then send to readers for a price. This is a nice loophole in the restriction of not being allowed to sell your stories themselves.

How many japanese words should I include?

Ideally, your fanfic should be entirely written in Japanese. Since hardly anyone will be able to understand it, they won't notice any of the problems with your writing. If you can't manage this, at least write the dialog in Japanese and leave the narration in English. If you don't know how to say something in Japanese, just put in whatever combination of syllables looks good to you.

What kinds of fanfictions are there?

The most important kind of fanfiction is the lemon. Lemons are stories that explicitly depict sexual activities, so named because they leave a sour taste in one's mouth, if not other places. A lime is a lemon with most of the really good bits taken out. WAFF (Washington Apples Fan Fiction) stories are kind of like lemons, only they're not.

Why all the fruits, you ask? Because a fruit is actually the ovary of a plant. Technically, in the case of apples, only the core where the seeds are is really a fruit. But I digress.

Another kind of story you'll run into is the darkfic. For the appropriate effect, any darkfics you write should be posted on your web page with font color #000001 against a black background. If you send your fics out through E-mail or post them on Usenet, this isn't possible; in this case, you can approximate the right mood by reading the fic with your monitor switched off.

Then there's the self-insertion. This is where you put yourself into the series. The cast automatically accepts you, and helps you out. Remember that you're still the author of the story, so you can give yourself knowledge of the series, super powers, and if you put yourself in Ranma 1/2, you have to fall for Nabiki, who also falls in love with you.

A crossover is when you put two (or more) series together, mixing characters and situations. We recommend mixing very disparate series together to maximize the possibilities; Pretty Sammy, Legend of the Overfiend, and Ghost in the Shell would make a good crossover.

What kind of fanfiction is it okay for me to write?

There are two main schools of thought on this:

1. "Fair is fair. Since I want to be free to write whatever kind of fanfiction I want to write, everyone else should likewise feel free to write the kind of fanfiction that I want to write."


2. "No, they shouldn't."

What do you think about this issue?

We're not going to tell you.

Why not?

Because you don't really care what we think. You're only asking so you can argue for your own opinions.

Oh yeah.

Next question, please.

What anime or manga series should I base my fic on?

Nobody really wants to read Ranma fanfics, and there are enough of them already anyway. The same goes for Sailormoon fanfics, Evangelion fanfics, and Tenchi fanfics. You should only write stories based on La Blue Girl. People only read fanfics to see what kind of crappy, disgusting sex scenes the writers can come up with, anyway.

Remember, when you write in a series that no one else writes in, you can be the best writer in that series -- which might be pretty unlikely otherwise. If the series is also extremely obscure, this has the added bonus of fewer people noticing how out of character your portrayals are.

Taking this approach a step further, why not write an "Original" fic, meaning one that isn't based on any existing series? This is a good thing to do, because creating everything yourself means you don't have to worry about staying true to the original series or characters. Everybody loves Original fics, and when you do one, you'll be sure to get lots of comments about it. Trust us.

How can I promote my favorite character in my fics?

This is a case where subtlety is for the birds. (If your favorite character is an avian, do not take this last sentence literally.)

Some people believe that you ought to be honest and even-handed in showing your favorite character's flaws. Nonsense. As in the field of international terrorism, your credo should be: admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations. Your favorite character should be portrayed as a selfless, kind-hearted angel of mercy who only wants what's best for all concerned. He/she should be shown sacrificing (or nearly sacrificing) his/her life to save orphans from a psychotic murdering rapist. Likewise, his/her important rivals should be shown as the kind of people who would inevitably drag anyone connected with them down into a life of utter misery.

How can I get people to read and c&c my fic?

Cash payment usually works. Remember, it's not illegal to pay people to read fanfiction.

What is the best way to respond to negative criticism?

If people send you C&C, they are not only saying that you are wrong, but that they are better than you. Some would say the thing to do is to flame the arrogant bastards thoroughly. Well, contrary to what these people think, flaming your critics is not a good idea. Simply respond in a calm, friendly manner. Politely explain to them that you are right, they are wrong, and that unworthy peons like them have no idea what constitutes a good fic anyway.

Should you feel the need to deal more harshly with a particular critic, one prominent author recommends the following easy method. Get a paper sack, fill it with dog excrement, and go to the home of the person who criticized your work. Set the bag on fire and place it on the door step. Ring the doorbell and run like hell. Watch from the bushes as your critic steps on the bag and justice is served.

Alternatively, a hitman also works wonders. Less mess and fuss. If you don't have the money, or you just like the personal touch, doing it yourself can be fun too. Just remember to plan it out carefully, including your getaway and alibi.

What about positive c&c?

People who tell you that you're good are wasting your time. You already knew that.

Should I read and c&c other people's fics?

No. Your goal is to be known as one of the great writers of fanfiction, and doing this will lower your status. The only exception is that you should C&C all of *our* fics, since we were cool enough to have written this guide.

What about pre-reading? Should I do it for others?

Yes. Try to become the pre-reader for a really good author, and then when he/she sends you something, take it, change the name, and pass it off as your own. It saves you the effort of writing it yourself. What can the author do about it? Fanfiction isn't legal anyway.

Should I try to get others to do it for me?

Opinions are divided on whether this is a good idea. On the one hand, it is an admission that your work isn't perfect to begin with. On the other hand, it gives you people to blame when something wrong with your fic is found, especially useful in case a reader shows up at your door with a gun wanting to meet the person responsible for a particularly offensive scene.

Any final pearls of wisdom for the masses?

We, the authors, hope this guide has provided you, the reader, with loads of valuable and insightful tips. If our little hints and suggestions have in any way influenced you as a writer, we hope you'll write us and let us know so we can disclaim any responsibility.