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Hello- I would like to start writing fanfic 
24th-Jul-2011 03:42 am
Hello I would like to start writing fanfic and wondered if anyone had any advice/guidance for me? In particular I would like to write a spander and have a couple of baby story ideas in my head that I might try. Any help would be much appreciated as I have never really written fanfic before (though I have read a lot) and am not 100% sure on all the rules and what is and is not acceptable. I would also very much appreciate the offer of a beta should I get that far :-). Thanks.
24th-Jul-2011 03:54 am (UTC)
First, get a beta. Make sure that this person is willing to put up with whining, grouching, spelling errors and bad grammar. (it'll happen. Bad grammar that is)

Do not write in present tense. (he goes. They do. Past tense. He went. They did.) Most novels are written in past tense.

Use headers and give warnings. Some people have 'triggers', things that bring back bad memories or just squick them. Main character death, cutting, rape and suicide are big ones.

That is all I can think of. I'm sure there's lots of others.

Good luck.
24th-Jul-2011 05:43 am (UTC)
The only advice I would offer is, just write.

There are no rules, beyond those of the written language. Canon gets broken, as a matter of course. Characters get twisted, regularly (although going too far out-of-character does put many people off). I doubt there is a single sexual act that Spike and Xander have not indulged in, somewhere on the web. Even the most over-used and tired of tropes can be given a new twist.

Write a story and then talk a friend into reading it and telling you what is wrong with it (because something will be) and also what they like (because it is nice to get encouragement, too).

One of my teachers said that you learn to write well by reading well - read stories and think about what you like about the style of writing, and what you don't. Read the well-written stories and try to decide why the writing is good.

That's it, really - just write.
24th-Jul-2011 09:25 am (UTC)
I agree with Yanagi that a good beta will not only help you with the basics of spelling, punctuation and continuity, but they are someone who will give you honest feedback. Mechanics aside, write to please yourself.
Tell the story that is buzzing around in your own head and we will all enjoy it with you.
24th-Jul-2011 10:08 am (UTC) - Long winded way of saying go for it!!
1.Write for yourself - if you try to write what you think people want to read, the story won't flow. Be true to yourself - it's not about being popular (although feedback and comments always help) - but about getting that story that's in your head out.

2. Don't be embarrassed - the number of times I have hesitated to post a story because I've been embarrassed by the sex I've written or had them doing something that works for me but makes me wonder if people will think I'm a freak - I have a fab friend theladymerlin who often has to listen to my freak-outs at things I have written and she talks me down and reminds me that if I get turned on by it, other people probably do. Of course, she also tells me when I'm so far off the planet that I need a space ship to get back! Which brings me to :

3. yanagi_wa is SO right. A beta/reader is an important part of this process. windchild85 and theladymerlin have both helped me on many an occasion, as has whichclothes I self-beta but only because I have done beta work for other people. for long fic that I do bit by bit, I often get someone to look over them for me.

4. Write in a way that works for you. I am so pants at writing a multi chapter then posting it when it's finished. I literally suck at it. I guess I feed off of comments, see how people are reacting to what I have written, etc So I write a chapter, post it, write a chapter, post it - other people only post stories they have finished. Shorts are different - they tend to come to me in the middle of the night and almost write themselves. The next morning I beta, read through and consider whether or not I need to hide my laptop after 10 p.m.

5. Be seen. Post your story or a link to your story wherever it's relevant so you get decent exposure - bloodclaim and eternal spander for Spike/Xander, nekid spike, ultimate xander - get your story out there so people will have a chance to read it. Posting on just your LJ means only your f'list will see it - you want as much feedback as you can get so you know when you get it right, or when things need work.

6. Author Comments: If you are willing to accept concrit, say so. But also say if you're delicate and need people to be gentle; whether you want them in comments or by pm; if you want people to point out spelling errors, etc. That's what author comments are for.

7. Warnings. My first story I kinda killed Xander (don't worry, I brought him back in the next chapter). But I didn't warn people and they were (justifiably) unhappy. So now, anything that might be trigger/concern I warn about - character death, non con, etc - if it would give away too much of the story, make it so people need to highlight it but use warnings. They are important.

8 Headers: I use the things here to build my headers as it keeps things neat, etc.

Finally, dive in. Just do it. You won't know if it's in you til you try. So go for it.

24th-Jul-2011 11:04 am (UTC) - Re: Long winded way of saying go for it!!
24th-Jul-2011 11:16 am (UTC) - Re: Long winded way of saying go for it!!
Love you too sweetie x
24th-Jul-2011 11:40 am (UTC) - Re: Long winded way of saying go for it!!
That's pretty damned good advice... I'll try to take some of it ;-)
24th-Jul-2011 11:55 am (UTC) - Re: Long winded way of saying go for it!!
I can't take credit for it - it's stuff people have said to me that resonated and helped me in the past.
24th-Jul-2011 11:02 am (UTC)
Skaragasm as also said this, LOL! LOVE YOU SKAR! She told me this as well;)

The only thing I can tell you and it applies to everythings, is write for yourself first and do what makes you happy.

Also a beta is always awesome;)

Edited at 2011-07-24 11:03 am (UTC)
24th-Jul-2011 12:36 pm (UTC)
Can't really improve on the advice already offered, but would add that riters_r_us has a lot of links to writer resources and writing advice in the tags. There is a short beta list, some suggestions on how to find and treat a beta, ideas on where and how to post, and so on. Let me know if you want to links to specific entries. Good luck and go for it!
24th-Jul-2011 12:47 pm (UTC)
Woo, just getting started? Congratulations, fanfic may be one of the best ways to learn how to write period. You've got a framework to work with, an audience that is *generally* eager to see what you've written, and people who will very happily tell you what's wrong with it (which, if one's soul is feeling sturdy enough, is a good thing).

My first guideline: Trust the story. You had an idea, you've played with it, turned it around to look at the angles, and you think you can work with it. Go for it.

Second guideline: Trust yourself. You've probably read tons of fic, you know which ones you like, you know which ones make you cringe. If you think what you've written rocks, it just may rock hard. If you read it and you twitch a lot, take that as a hint. I burned my first fics--but I've still got the versions of them that I finally got to work. I read them still--35-year-old Star Wars stuff--and there are turns of phrase and bits that still make me proud.

Third guideline: Don't write a perfect first chapter and never get to the rest of it, ie, keep going and don't get too hung up on making the previous bits spotless. However, as Lawrence Bloch says, writing a crappy first draft just teaches you to write crap. Make an outline, make notes, work out the choregraphy in your head, when a bit of good dialogue comes to you write it down (so much "brilliance" I've lost because I was sure I'd remember it . . .). But when you start the actual writing, take a little time and do the best job you can while still moving forward. Many people will disagree with me on this, saying that finishing the draft is the most important thing of all. I can't imagine spending all that time writing a story and then having a pile of . . . stuff to have to clean up to make it at all readable.

Fourth guideline: Do what works for you. Fix everything as you go, or fix nothing till your done. Chant the Vedas before every writing session or chainsmoke your way through cartons of Marlboros. Whatever works to get the story out in a way you're proud of is the right way.
24th-Jul-2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
You've gotten excellent advice, so i only have one thing to add. I don't know where you're from, but if you're from the US - get a Brit-picker. Nothing throws a reader off more than to have Spike talking about 'flashlights in the trunk of the car'. He's from *London* (apparently) and if he's kept his accent for 140 years, he's kept his British way of speaking.

If you're from the UK or Europe - get an American-picker. Xander doesn't have 'trainers' or 'jumpers' or a 'mum' - and it will make your readers roll their eyes and backbutton out. Watch some episodes during your writing process so you can retain the rhythm of how the boys talk, and don't overindulge in the use of 'bloody', 'Peaches' or 'pet'.

*we all have, but you get the chance to be better than us! :)*

Have fun!
24th-Jul-2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
My advice, don't worry so much if it's not perfect. Everyone has to start somewhere and not all of them are gems. Having a beta is a great idea, I don't know what I'd do without mine. And if you get one, be sure to credit them in your headings. Everyone likes to appriciated for the work they do.

It's also important to get the right beta for you. If you just want someone to correct your sentence structure and grammer, great, there are betas that will only do that. But, if you're like me, you also want someone to bounce ideas off of. My beta is great for that. Sometimes I write two almost completely identical paragraphs and ask my beta which one works best. Sometimes, she even gives me ideas on how a sentence might sound better somewhere else in the story.

Also, don't try to force the idea out. It's like someone holding a gun to your head and making you write. Not only will it feel and sound forced, but you will soon resent the story and just want to get it over with, no matter how badly it ends. If you have to take a few days or weeks between scenes, take them. Don't rush it. If you don't like it, many people won't. Go where the muses send you. Personally, I've sort of stalled a bit on 'Sir'. Not because the muses have completely deserted me, but because the other stories I write have taken over. I will get back to 'Sir', but only when I've cleared my block on it. And, if you hit a writer's block, don't worry, everyone has at one time or another.

I also write my stories out in long-hand in a notebook first. Mainly because I can't carry my computer around with me everywhere. This might help keep the ideas flowing, it does for me. And, as an added bonus, when I start typing my story out, I find that a lot more ideas and conversations come to me. I might hand write five pages, but I type out 20 or more, because once I really get into fleshing everything out, more comes to me. Does this make sense? I have one fandom story that was suppose to be a 3 chapter story, but the more I write, the bigger it gets. Now, I'm not sure where it'll end, but I'm enjoying the ride!

Sex scenes. If your not comfortable writing them, don't. Write what you feel. Vanilla sex is great if that's what your characters want and that's what you're comfortable with. In fact, one great story 'Tiny Smiles' hardly has any sex in it. Lots of hugging, kissing and cuddling, but no actually sweaty, get-down dirty sex. Great story and it really didn't need it. Some of the stories that I've read started out as great, only to turn into a bad 70's porn movie when it came to the love scene. And I'm not talking about the good porn, but the bad, cheesy ones with the terrible words like 'love muscle and meat stick' and they just jump each other's bones because they're expected to. If you're uncomfortable writing it, we'll be uncomforable reading it.

And, if you're uncomforable writing it, but feel that the story needs it, ask for a writing buddy to help you. I'm sure that there are people out there who will be glad to help. Just make sure that you give them credit.

And, if you are inspired by someone, credit them in the heading. For instance, Bee has inspired a plot bunny in me with the story of OCD detective Spike. Only this story will have Xander as a detective, no OCD and the plot will be completely different. Notice that I said 'inspired'. And Bee, thanks for adding more little voices in my head.

I'm adding this as a warning, once you start writing fanfic, you will probably never stop. Which is a good thing for everyone. I started off with only one story idea in another fandom, gave it a shot and now I'm hooked for life. Everyone has to start somewhere and lj communities are a great place for first time writers. Don't worry if your first story doesn't catch on like fire. You'll do better with practice, I have. The thing is, everyone has to start sometime and when you feel confident enough to post, everyone will be eager to read it. I know I will. Happy writing and watch out for plot bunnies. They bite.
24th-Jul-2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you all very much. I'm going on holiday in the next few days and will have no access to the internet or my laptop. However my friend who is taking me is an avid fan of Buffy and Angel so we will no doubt be watching a lot of it :-). I will take my notepad and pen and work on things and when I get back I'll look into getting a beta. It feels nice to have a plan.
24th-Jul-2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
Hi, I'm glad people have given you so much good advice on writing. Here's a little bit more:

You really should reply to each commenter individually by clicking the 'reply' button directly under each comment. If you comment on your own post (as you've just done here), only people who have the post tracked, or are refreshing the page regularly, are likely to know you said thanks. It takes a few more minutes, but it's worth the time.

Good luck with your writing! I hope to see you posting here soon. :D
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