How to Write a Good Fanfiction
by Al's Waiter

Alright, now I know there is a ton of fans out there with their favourite tv shows/movies/games/books and what-not. I am counted among them as well; my favourite show is ReBoot made by Mainframe Entertainment. When a fan wants to see something in particular happen, they usually think, "I can do it myself!" and step into the wonderful world of fanfiction.

People write fanfiction for a variety of reasons, which include wanting to "fix" what the writers have done to the fandom, or wanting that fandom to live on after it's been cancelled by the networks. Also, it's an enjoyable way to get to know your favourite characters, and to test out how they would react when placed in certain situations.

Fanfiction can be a great thing, but unfortunately, there is fanfiction out there that is... how do I put this nicely ... BAD! Really, really bad! Grammar is off, spelling is incorrect, plot is lacking, and you need a microscope to find what is left of the original characters that we all know and love... and even then you might not be successful. Just the thought of them makes me shudder! But the worst news of it all is that (I think) bad fanfiction out numbers good fanfiction. Sad isn't it?

The point of this essay is to help you, or someone you know, with getting their fanfiction out of their head, on to paper and posted on the internet. Let's start at the beginning (a very good place to start).

Setting is the place, time, and mood of your fiction.

1. Location is important
Where your fiction takes place is essential to your story. If you're writting a story about Spider-Man, you'll have it most likely take place in Manhattan. If you're story is about Ranma 1/2, it'll most likely happen in Japan. It's all up to what you're writing about.

2. Time
Time is also a very important factor for your fanfic. Does it take place in the past, present, or the future? If it's in the past, take care to be sure that it's accurate, because you don't want a hundred E-mails correcting you about it. If it's in the present, make sure your fic is up to date. Many people think that writing a fanfiction set in the future means that they can make the characters that we know and love so completely unrecognizable that their own mothers wouldn't know who they were. If this is the case with your fanfic, put down your pencil and turn in your paper immediately. Please. Save me the headache. If your characters must be unrecognizable, please tell the reader why. Flashbacks are good for this, and so prologues. But please... the world is begging you... don't spell prologue "prolouge."

3. Mood
Setting also involves the mood of your fiction. You're setting may be light hearted and set during the day or dark and mysterious and taking place during the night. It all depends on what your story requires.

"Time to get into character, you know!"

1. Know your characters! There's a difference between knowing a character and knowing a character.

Knowing a character is like me knowing about the Joker off of Batman. I know he's an insane, people-killing villian that has green hair, a white face and a purple suit.

Knowing a character is knowing how the character speaks, thinks, feels, acts and reacts. I'm currently writting a story that involves the Joker and I don't know him. Because of this, I borrowed some Joker comics from a friend of mine to get a better sense of him. I'm researching the Joker to write a better fanfiction and to keep him in character.

2. Keeping in character
Don't write characters that are already established in your fictions universe as how you see them. Never think "What do I want them to do in this situation? I think they'd do...". When writing, you should think, "How would the characters react in this situation? What would they do or say?" Write like this and characters will never be a problem for you.

3. Never write in a Mary Sue!
What's a Mary Sue? A Mary Sue is a fan created character in a story where s/he is perfect at everything s/he does, is incredibly cool, and everyone in the fanfiction loves him/her.* S/he's all powerful, can beat the main heroes in everything, and s/he is always the focus of the action.

The majority of people don't like to read fiction with Mary Sues in it. As soon as they figure it out (and it'll happen sooner rather than later, since Mary Sue is not very good at undercover work) they'll just stop reading. Not sure what a Mary Sue is?

Often, s/he is a relation sister/mother/father/brother/cousin/what-have-you). There is a million of these out there, there's no need for there to be more! Trust me!

4. Don't write for favourites
Now I'm not telling you to not write about your favourite character in your fiction. That's not what I'm saying at all. What I'm saying is, don't let your favourite character be completely dominating in the story - unless it calls for it.

Let me explain myself a little better.

Everyone has his/her favourite character, it's a obvious given in every fandom there is, but with favourites, there are also those characters you just can't stand! When you're writing a story and you come to a part where your least favourite character is acting/talking/whatever, do him/her justice; write that character with neutral feelings. Don't make your most dispised character out to be a complete imbsile - unless s/he is a complete imbsile.

For example, if you don't like Cyclops from X-Men, fine. Cyclops is the leader of the X-Men, like it or not and Cyclops isn't a moron who doesn't know anything about leading (Yes, Bounce, I'm looking at you). He's the leader, write him as a leader, not as a stupid idiot.

"Story Time!"
Plot - the one of the most important things to have in your fanfiction is a good plot. To know if you have a good plot, ask yourself these questions and maybe a few more if you think of them.

1. Has this type of story been done before? Has the story been done to death?

If so, think of ways to make it different. Very different.

2. Has my new character been over done?

Is your character angry at everything for no apparent reason? Is your characters' backstory like millions before it? Try to do something original.

3. Is my story interesting enough? Would people want to read my story?

If no, don't write it. Think up another one. If your story is too dull, no one will want to read it - I guarantee it.

4. Do I have flowing action?

The plot doesn't have to have all action as in fighting or what-not, but does it drag on and on with repeative diologue? Saying the same things over and over? For example, a hero of the story fights the bad guy and then afterwards, explains in detail what he did to the villian. Now that's just boring. You're going to lose your audience! That is called redundacy and it's really bad for a story.

I sincerely hope that this will help you or anyone you know to write better fanfiction. Now I know that this won't likely reach every fanfic writer on the Net but hopefully enough to lessen the amount of bad fanfiction in some fandoms and also lessen the amount of headaches I receive from reading them.

* Definition of a Mary Sue taken from Hanako of The List.