Yes, bad fanfiction! The ones that give you shivers and deserve a good WTF??!! You know them. We all know them.
Fanfiction serves a nice purpose: our playground into the “What If?” Unfortunately a good portion (if not the majority) of fanfiction out there is pathetically written and researched. Most authors (and here I use it loosely) seem to regurgitate their ideas on paper or the keyboard. And they expect us to take in that vomit?
I’d like to list some nice steps and good ideas that everyone can incorporate into their writing process. These should improve the quality and content of their stories.
1. Read quality books and authors. This isn’t really a step towards writing, but a good habit to have. Try to learn how these authors reveal the plot and understand how their writing style enhances the storytelling. And my gawd, look up any words you don’t know. A good book should contain several of these. It’s never bad to improve your vocabulary.
2. Research anything you want to include in your stories, dangit. Don’t know it? Wiki it! I am sick of writers trying to excuse themselves from their own willful ignorance. If you searched and couldn’t find what you were looking for, that’s more understandable. If you know you don’t know something, research it! For instance, if you want your story to take place during 10th century Japan, research the culture, the clothes, the behaviors and social mannerisms of that time. Just because today’s Japan wears yukata and kimono, does not mean people wore the same things in the same way 1000 years ago.
3. Don’t rush the story. Writers shouldn’t rush their stories, so please take the time to write about character development or transitions in the story. If you don’t take time to explain changes in character or story, you’ve just produced a plot hole. When that happens, you’ve not only lost us readers, but probably our interest. This lesson is most important when pairing two unlikely characters together and writing about let us say their blooming love. If it’s not in canon, you must put in the extra effort to show your audience that this pair is possible. Slowly build up your characters’ relationship and address their doubts to their emotions based on their personalities. Your writing should be good enough so that you don’t have to directly explain to your readers why a character did something.
4. Edit your current masterpiece. If you’ve been writing a while then you should know this. If you’re new to fanfiction, you should also know this. Read your story several times and ask other people to read it too. I assure you they will have spotted something you could not. Use spellcheck! There is almost no excuse for misspelled words. Use a thesaurus so that you don’t annoyingly repeat the same adjective or verb. I’ll take this opportunity to talk about another fanfic I stumbled upon. The author had to use the word “evil” at least three times in the same paragraph to describe the same character. I have my personal opinion on using such a strong word so easily, but using it three times like that was beyond lazy and uncreative.
5. Avoid excessive imagery of the characters. Exactly what it says. Imagery is good in doses, but if you write one whole paragraph (or more) about the individual colors of their clothes and their fair looks from the narrator’s POV then you’ve just bored a good many of us. We have imaginations too and we don’t want to waste time reading how exactly each fiber of fabric is placed (unless it’s somehow relevant to the plot or character personality). We have one Charles Dickens, the world does not need your meager imitation.
6. Be humble. There is always room for improvement. This is just an overall good characterisitic to have. If where you are publishing allows reviews, read the critiques. The ones that give you excessive compliments are wonderful as confidence boosters, however the critiques are the ones you need to read. No one’s writing is perfect, I know mine’s not.
These aren’t the only good ideas to learn, but it’s a good place to start. Anyway, have fun writing!