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On Writing Fan Fiction (Rules & Advice)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Fan Art' started by Fozzie Bear, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. Fozzie Bear Moderator

    UPDATE! 9/20/2009

    I love creativity and do not think it should be hindered, but there are a few rules that need to be designed for Fan Fics.

    CHARACTER INTEGRITY
    The first big rule is: Character integrity must remain intact. You wouldn't buy an ugly Muppet doll or other merchandise, right? In other words, write the Muppets saying things they would say on TV or in their movies, and have them act and perform the same way. Do not go out on a lim and use Fan Fiction to promote a personal agenda. There have been stories in which some light bashing of lifestyles has occurred or even Muppets accepting the Christian faith. I am Christian, but I cannot condone Muppet characters doing something they wouldn’t do in a movie or any other media. If you forget what a Muppet’s personality is, or what he/she may do in a situation, I suggest going back to watch an episode of The Muppet Show or one of the three Muppet movies that Jim Henson was a part of.

    Keep in mind, as with my moderating, anything is allowed that The Muppets or any other JHC associated work has done or said.

    I understand it is the author’s way of living up to his fantasy of the things the characters may do in his mind, however the quality of the characters as we know them is what is expected.

    STORY QUALITY
    In the following posts of this thread, you’ll see that there are suggestions for making strong prose. Stories should have a beginning, middle and end. Grammar needs to exist properly to make Fan Fics interesting. As I mentioned in the original post of this thread: Write your story in FULL in a Word Document which will help you correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence fragments.

    Writing in FULL in a Word Document will also allow you to get a complete plot, and you can begin posting a chapter per day, or as I did once two chapters per week.

    Any stories that do not get completed will be locked, so PLEASE don’t abandon your story unless you allow a moderator to know why.

    Do not write stories in script form.

    Script form is allowed for The Muppet Show Outline fan fictions.

    Do not write in texting or instant messaging formats such as: LOL or U r L8, unless it is a character sending a text which I don’t know that a Muppet would do that.

    If anything else occurs, I’ll update here, so check back often and read all the following posts as they are beneficial.

    ======================
    Originally posted a LONG time ago...
    ShanaynayXD and Muppet fan 123 like this.
  2. redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Great advice Kevin! The other thing I'd recommend, although I don't see anyone doing this here, is to not write in script format (example: Kermit: Piggy, I can't help you right now. Piggy: Kermie, I need you). Most people here aren't doing this though, so it's not a problem, but thought I'd mention it because I've seen it other places and it just makes the story too choppy. The other thing that was recommended to me in my first fan fic is to make sure there is a space between each new person's line. Again, it helps the flow for the reader.

    We have some unbelievably talented writers here, I love everyone's fan fictions and look forward to reading them each day. Keep up the good work everyone!
  3. Fozzie Bear Moderator

    Another writing tip: Description. One of the reasons I needed to re-write my Pigs in Space fiction: I didn't have enough descriptions about the places they were going into. I didn't have to describe the interior of the Swinetrek to fellow fans, but for someone else I would need to, so I am adding that description, too. Describing air, scents, visuals...all the things that the 6 senses need to operate by need description in a story and I left that out of a lot of my story.
  4. ryhoyarbie Active Member

    I'll add descriptions of places that are not people aren't familar with. However, people already know the Muppet theater, the Electric Mayhem bus, the Muppet boarding house, and Fozzies car from the Muppet Movie.

    But good advice Kevin. I'll be sure to do that.

    ryan
  5. Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Another piece of advice, for those who are critiquing the work (and we do that really well here) it's nice if you don't just say, "Wow, I loved that." But pick out even jsut one really meaningfull sentence and say why you loved it. "I liked this sentence, "I sneezed" because you really picture the color and the sound and....gross! lol" You see?

    And, as I said, we are already quite good at doing this, so don't worry about it.
    Muppet fan 123 likes this.
  6. Skeeter Muppet Active Member

    All good advice, guys. Fozzie Bear, I second what you said about spelling and grammar. I would also like to extend that advice to a friend of mine known as "the paragraph". In the world of fanfiction, the poor paragraph is abused almost as much as spelling and grammar. Some authors just can't be bothered to use them, and so post their stories in huge blocks of text, thus killing the reader's eyeballs.

    A new paragraph should begin when someone new is speaking, when there's a slight change in the action, a change in subject or when there's a change in scene (during which case the line break is also helpful). As I've said before, you could write the best story ever, with an excellent plot, well-rounded original characters, in-character canon characters and clear of spelling and technical errors, but not as many people would want to read it if it were clumped into one huge block of text.

    Another important part of fanfiction, believe it or not, is research. Say you're writing a Fraggle Rock fanfic, and Gobo is reading a postcard his Uncle Matt sent him from Shanghai, China. But you've never been to China before, so what do you do? Wing it and make stuff up as you go along? No. You research what Shanghai is like, finding out some sights that Matt might write to Gobo about. With the Internet research is ridiculously simple; just type what you're looking for into a search engine and you're halfway there.

    And now we get to publishing, posting your work in a public arena such as a message board (like this one), your blog or an online fanfiction website. Keep in mind that you've put your fanfic out there for anyone and everyone to see and read. Nearly all of us here in the fanfic forum have nothing but praise for each other's work; I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that, just that not everyone's going to receive what you write with praise. There will be people who will critique your work.

    That said, learn to tell the difference between constructive criticism and a flame. Con crit may seem harsh, depending on who its coming from (I know a couple reviewers at FF.Net who don't pull any punches), but it's advice that is intended to help you become a better author. Constructive criticism is not a flame; flames are abusive towards you and your story, and have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Constructive criticism is also not suggestions from other reviewers who want you to stick their original character into your story or write your story a certain way because they can't be bothered to write their own story. Constructive criticism nothing less than what an editor would do to a manuscript you were intending to publish. The reviewer who gave you con crit did not do it because they hate you or your story.

    So, the proper way to respond to constructive criticism is to take the advice of whoever left you the con crit, implementing it either in your next chapter or your next story. Don't ignore it or take it as a personal attack against you and your story, and don't flame a person because he or she gave you con crit.

    -Kim
  7. Boober_Gorg Active Member

  8. TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    While writing fanfiction, I have found that one of my best friends is the "Preview Post" button. It lets me check that I have all the brackets and dashes I need and all in the right places, so I get "Moi am a bit hungry" instead of "Moi am[/i] a bit hungry," "Moi {i]am[/i] a bit hungry," "Moi am a bit hungry" or "Moi ]i[am[/i] a bit hungry."

    It also comes in hand for quoting and commenting on other people's work. For example, If I want my post to read like this:

    Then I have to be careful that it doesn't turn out like this:


  9. theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Aww thanks Kev! Great advice by the way. Especially like Beau's advice.
  10. Harvey Towers Active Member

    Show don't tell

    I have commented on this is a couple of fanfics themselves but I may as well post it here too. One important thing to remeber when writing any descriptive story is the principle of "show don't tell."

    There isn't that much beauty or poetic meaning in jut using a simple verb in a sentence like "Sweetums is tall." Try instead to demonstrate the character trait by showing how the character has to deal wiht it: "Sweetums ducked through the doorway of the guest stars dressing room." That is a basic example but you get the picture.

    Another cardinal sin falling under this rule is saying something like "Fozzie told a joke while Statler and Waldorf heckeled" when what all us Muppet fams really wnat to hear is a particular joke Fozzie might say and how our old box-buddies react to it. You'll also probably get a laugh from your reader.

    I'll try and post some more general tips as they come to me. By the way, I think making this thread a sticky wouldn't be a bad move...
  11. TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    Agreed, this would make an excellent sticky.

    Another thing I thought of:

    Let the characters push the story, so that they almost write it for you. Never force a story. If it's not coming to you, just take your time with it. Go outside, or some place quiet, where you can think. Or sometimes it helps to- and no extremes necessary here, but- sometimes it helps to have a little bit of a life. You'd be amazed how many times you'll be having a conversation and all of a sudden think, "Oh, this would be great to go in my fanfic!" It happens, really it does. And as much as I pester for more story more story more story, I would actually prefer you take your time with it and get the story right than rush it and mess it up.

    Now that doesn't mean I'll let you leave a story for weeks without a bit of nagging...
  12. Beauregard Well-Known Member

    *drops a spoonfull of honey on thread*

    Great tips everyone, keep them coming!!

    Also, from just that one sentence "Sweetums ducked under the doorway..." Harvey, I am eagerly awaiting your fan-fic...
  13. Fozzie Bear Moderator

    I'll sticky the thread, then.

    BTW: These pointers are for the Fan Fiction, not the outlines.

    In outlines, they can work more like a script--the way they've been getting done. We all know who the hero of the outline is: Gorgon Heap! He KNOWS how to do the outlines, and if anybody else tries it should follow his lead.

    http://forum.muppetcentral.com/showthread.php?t=15390
  14. Harvey Towers Active Member

    Lets talk about character

    When writing a new story with original characters some writiers create detailed character notes about their creations in much more detal than they are ever likely to use. This is so that they can make better judgements on how there characters will react in each situation they encounter.

    When writing a fan-fic with a group of established characters like the Muppets, it is important that you get to know the characters by researching them. And if that isn't an excuse to watch every possible Muppet production again then I don't know what is.

    Anyway, it is important in most cases that a story should be character-driven rather than plot-driven. This ensures that the characters stay "in-character." Although there may be room for some manipulation but making someone do something which is wildly out of character will leave the reader feeling cheated. To have an established, well known and much loved muppet behave out of character is doubly dangerous and willmake any good story jar with all muppet fans.
  15. EleganceLiberty New Member

    Another point I'd like to bring up is the sticky and landmine topic of placing your fan character/original characters into a fanfic.

    Let's face it: 95% of the time, an original character in a fan fic ends up failing. Why? People fall prey to the 'Mary Sue' syndrome. To make a long story short (and maybe Skeeter will expand upon this, as we're both members of the Mary Sues community on Live Journal. *waves* Hi! I'm 'scallisha' over there ^^*), a Mary Sue is an insert of the author and pretty much takes control of the story not to mention getting in bed with their favorite canon character as well. A prime example would be some girl creating a female fraggle that somehow manages to not only mingle with the silly creatures with ease, but also somehow manages to woo Boober into a romance. (No offense to anyone, but merely an example)

    However, not all OCs are bad. Herein lies the key to writing them properly so they're not obtrusive to the whole fic. If your story revolves around your OC, I strongly reccomend using a canon main (canon being the official stuff) character as a co-main character, so as the readers don't feel alienated too soon. I sometimes use this in my F-Zero fan fiction, and it works fairly well.

    Even then, OCs might be a necessity in some situations. I mean, take a moment and think: would you really see any of the Fraggle Five act as the Fraggle equivalent of a scientist or doctor? (Well, I';m sure Gobo has some skills, but not advanced anough) If there isn't an already established minor character who isn't an expert in that field, then an OC might be called for it. Doesn't need a name or an elaborate back story either.

    Also, in the vein of the post above about keeping things in character... please do so. While it might be tempting for someone who doesn't like, say... Gonzo, Oscar or Boober to totally distort the element of their personalities that one might not like. Gonzo isn't way overly eccentric, Oscar wouldn't go 'Grand Theft Auto' on a kid and Boober certainly doesn't slit his wrists and listen to Evanesence. Just... try to use restraint on writing certain characters please.
  16. Fozzie Bear Moderator

    Probably with The Muppets (Fraggles, Sesame Street, etc.) I would leave out new characters (ie, in fan fic); it would only then have interest to the author more than likely, don't you think?

    However, if it is an 'outline,' and you throw yourself in there as a special guest star (and keep the 'show' interesting) then it could work!! Nothing wrong with that.

    I would like to point out that these are family forums so if you write a fan fic to be posted at MC, try to keep it only as violent as you might see in a Muppet Production (yes, it's perfectly fine to blow up a penguin or aim a gun at Kermit), and keep all 'romance' decent (no sexual situations, and no different than you would see in a Muppet Production; ie, Kermit and Piggy hugging and kissing...well, Piggy hugging Kermit and forcing him to kiss her---then again, there was that time in the VMX film...).

    I really didn't think this thread would solicit so many good responses!!

    Keep 'em coming, gang! :)
  17. EleganceLiberty New Member

    Yeah. I'd have to say Muppets in general is probably the only series of fandoms where I fail to see a need for fan characters. I do have a 'fan*fraggle' of my own, but she's strictly for the odd art piece every now and then. ^^;

    For comedy, I find the best way to get laughs -strictly IMO- is to keep the characters in character while doing a comedic story. How would they normally react to what's going on around them or happening to them? It's a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it can produce some funny results.
  18. theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    What about the music?

    All fan-fics need music! I mean what's a Muppet story without it? (MFS had Celebration at the end:p) Wheter it be "Can You Picture That?" "Rainbow Connection" "I Love Trash" whatever! Or if you really want your music to go over well, write your own songs! Everyone loves original songs!

    Do you have time?

    When you shift from place to place, or a period of time passes, put something in between, like ~~~~~ or _______ or ---------- or /*/*/*/* or^^^^^^ something like that. And don't change it throughout the fic, it'll get confusing.
  19. Skeeter Muppet Active Member

    *blinks* Well, whaddaya know? Huh, go figure.

    Anyway, EleganceLiberty defined Mary Sues pretty well. I wouldn't go so far as to say a Mary Sue is always a self-insert character. I define a Mary Sue as a character created by an author who, to borrow a line from Mary Poppins, is "practically perfect in every way". Using Fraggle Rock as an example, a Mary Sue Fraggle would be a better explorer than Gobo, a better athlete than Red, and a better writer and artist than Mokey. She wouldn't be afraid of the Silly Creatures, would be able to befriend the Gorgs, would get Boober to act like a regular Fraggle instead of like Boober and probably would dispense pieces of advice that the gang could easily get from the Trash Heap. More often than not, the Mary Sue becomes the center of everyone's attention and the story pretty much revolves around her. There are male versions of the Mary Sue, called Marty Sams or Gary Stus, but they're not as abundant as Mary Sues.

    That said, I don't think there's much cause for worry about Mary Sues in this fandom, at least where the authors at this board are concerned ;) There's not much call for OCs with Kermit and the gang, unless a new act is being tried out on the show and then it ought to be just like one of the Whatnots being used for a sketch on TMS.

    In Fraggle Rock I think it might be tougher to avoid OCs, so I'd say they would be acceptable there as long as you don't fall into the Mary Sue trap.. A good example would be Effralyo's stories about the Minstrels outside of Fraggle Rock. It's highly doubtful that they wouldn't run into anyone else in their travels, so Effralyo has to create characters for them to interact with. There are also more Fraggles in the Rock than just those who have names, and the onscreen friendships between Wembley and Lou or Boober and Tosh show that the Fraggle Five don't hang out with each other all the time. Right now I'm trying to work out a fic idea for Fraggle Rock where one young Fraggle gets chosen to be Gillis "The Maestro" Fraggle's apprentice.

    And finally, to second what EleganceLiberty said about keeping things in character...this applies to the entire realm of whatever portion of the Muppet fandom you're writing in, not just the characters. If something is a certain way around the theatre or Fraggle Rock or even Faffner Hall, explain why it's that way. Don't use "because it's fanfiction" or "because I said so" as your reasoning.

    Remember, "fiction" may be part of the word "fanfiction", but so also is "fan". If you're a fan of the universe you're writing for, then write it true to what's been portrayed in canon.

    -Kim
  20. TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    This'll sound weird, but it works. At least it does for me. When I'm trying to figure out what a character would say in a certain situation, and it's not quite coming... I put my hand up in the air and pretend I'm muppeteering that character. It looks silly, but it helps. Maybe it's just a psychological thing, but... I just thought I'd share...
    SkeetScootSquat likes this.

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