Writing Wednesday (9) - Dos and Don't Dos of Fan-fiction Writing

Disclaimer: I'm not an author nor am I an editor or any kind of expert. I only can share my aspiring adventures with you, but I do hope, it'll help many other aspiring writers and we can go along the road together. :)

I've been reading a lot of fan-fiction lately. Really, I binged on them big time. There's this Doctor Who fever I just can't seem to get rid of and I constantly go for more and more and more. Fortunately, there are brilliant writers among the Whovians whose stories I can enjoy and whose ideas always leave me in awe. (Not to mention the fluff and angst. I love it!) Then there is the rest, mostly fan-fictions based on Hollywood created, meant-to-be-funny, cliched teenager shows. (Not like I have anything against tv shows targetting teenagers, me being one of them as well, but some of them are just stupid. Period.) I'm talking about the kind of huddled up, over-dramatic, un-edited um....pieces of writing, if they can be called that, the ones that are prone to be written in a rather puny writing style which can be inconvenient to read, but in fact, I could live with that. Not everybody can be a potential writer or an aspiring author, still they have the right to scribble down what conceives in their minds nevertheless. Which makes me roll my eyes though, is when they really put no effort into making it better, not even what they could easily help, including all those spelling errors, unexistent paragraphs and please give your reader and yourself as much respect that you do not type it out that XY's phones's ringing and then jot down the names and a couple of one-liners, but you actually write it down like you could have seen it in a book. (Please say you have...) I know I have already talked about fan-fictions once and I probably will again not one time, but today I would like to delve into it in real depth, starting with the most important dos and don't does of it.

DON'T DOS OF FAN-FICTION WRITING (I know it's more common to start with the DOS, but I feel DON'Ts are more imperative in this case and this order would be most benefitial):

  • DON'T inidicate shouting with capital letters. You can add after the sentence something like: she screamed at him at the top of her lungs. Your readers hopefully will know it implies the rise of your character's voice.
  • DON'T type out names. (E.g. Sophie: I can't do this anymore. / Alex: Why?) It's a book like thing, not a screenplay so don't go lazy on the dialogue, please.
  • DON'T go lazy on the descriptions. It urges me to walk up to a wall and bash my head against it when I see this *alarm clock beeps* or *phone goes off*. I mean, really? Go read a book now.
  • DON'T begrudge on likes/favs/votes/views/etc. I'm sure you've met this "I'll post the next chapter if I get (insert number) likes/favs/views/etc. Despite how much people tend to do it, I do not recommend doing this to you. It's annoying. Moreover, there's a big problem with those people's attitude. If you only crave for attention then write well or do something else you're good at instead of bribing your readers into liking your story.
  • DON'T create plot holes. Just don't.
  • DON'T use cliche. Like, no, they don't have to meet in a Starbucks and obviously if you write about one of the most famous teen bands of our generation than your protagonist surely will recognise them, especially if she's a fan. Unless she's been living under a rock for the past few years. But then she can't really be a fan, now can she?
  • DON'T over-dramatize. It can be so ridiculus, I've abandoned not one fan-fic for it. For instance, there's a fan-fiction based on a tv show which is set in real life. It's a family drama, but also a comedy and from the mildest type, no action, kidnapping or supernatural forces. In fact the worst case was a bang on the head from a quite furious bride. In the fan-fiction, the protagonist feels a little sick one morning. Ten minutes later she faints, bangs dow the stairs and with that, obtains a huge gash on her leg. To top of this, the lawyer tends to her injury, who has apparently acquired some medical skills in that ten seconds this dreadfull fall happened. Why pile up all this sillinness? So that the love of her life can fuss about her. But let me tell you something. For one, I 've fallen down fifty steps lanked with metal - no gash. For second, it felt so madly over-dramatized I almost stopped reading it completely.
  • DON'T overuse swear words. Seldom, it's justified. Most of the time, it's not cool. No no.
  • DON'T switch perspective. It's also a basic rule of writing so I can't say it enough times.
  • DON'T leave it un-edited. At least read it through once after you have finished writing it.
  • DON'T leave (many) grammatical mistakes in it. If you're not acing grammar, or your native language is not English, at least run a spell-check. There are numerous sites for that on the Internet.
  • DON'T use an exclamation mark after every single sentence. Again, it's annoying.


  • DO use capital letters when applicable. (*Cough, cough* names, first letters in a sentence...)
  • DO describe. Not too much as being over-descriptiveness can be irritating to read, too, but I would chose that any day over another phone go off or kiss happen between asterisks. Let alone the screenplay dialogue effect. (See second bullet point among DON'Ts.)
  • DO encourage your readers to read your story. I know I said don't bribe them into it. And I won't go back on that statement. But there are much better ways to gain fans. Surveys have proved that leaving author's notes at the end of/between chapters encourage people to read your story. It establishes a kind of connection and in them you can even express how much you'd appriciate if they took their time to vote.
  • DO update. Of course it's okay if life intervenes time to time. But if you're always promising to bring the next chapter in a week, and  in fact it happens in a month, people will not want to follow the story even if they like it.
  • DO have a suspenseful plot. Do I need to explain this?
  • DO use a wide variety of vocab. It improves your writing style which can only be an asset, can't it?
  • DO break the chapters off into paragraphs. Reading a one page long text in one big column is extremely tiring. If you don't believe me just try it.
  • DO write coherently. Sometimes I read and am not be able to make out what's going on. In one second the character is in love, the second she'Ss angry and all this without any sort of explanation or incentive.
  • DO read through/edit your story. I will talk about this later more elaborately, bit in just a few words, you ought to eliminate the spelling errors, make sure you didn't change tense or POV, check if your text is broken off into as many paragraphs as possible and if it's coherent. In the very least.
  • DO use punctuation marks. A comma can make big difference.
  • DO it for your own entertainment and not for the attention or the praise. Share your story because you've come up with it not because you expect people to exalt you for it.
  • And +1: Always be original! There's nothing better than to read about something incredibly creative with your favorite characters, but it's only a pleasure if not all the fan-fics are the same.

P.S. I saw Parajunkee's Snark Weel Book Blogger Challenge, but decided to not participate because I thought there would be nothing I could go off about. Well, I guess I was wrong. I could have written quite a snarky rant about terrible fan-fics.

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