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On Writing Fan Fiction (Rules & Advice)

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

  1. Yva Minstrel

    Yva Minstrel New Member

    I just want to clarify that when I said I get into description, I don't mean that I write the characters in such a way that one can grow quickly aggravated by the description. However, when I introduce a character into the story, I do describe the canon characters a tiny bit. Of course, I loved your Kermit description, that was a brilliant way to describe him. I could actually see him in my mind's eye as I was reading that one sentence. So, yes, very effective storytelling there. Frogs are generally green in color, so I also see the 'useless' description there.

    The only time when I think physical descriptions are vital are in crossovers when a reader perhaps knows one fandom and not the other, then it becomes hard for someone to read a story and actually follow what is going on without the description. That is, if I wrote a 'Fraggle Rock' crossover with 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolage Factory', then for the Wonka fans, I'd have to describe the fraggles, and for the fraggle fans I'd have to describe the characters from my chosen Wonkaverse. With original characters, unless you have some sort of description about them, then no one will be able to see into the writer's mind. Since I have written a novel, then I think that the original characters are sometimes easier than the canon characters. Of course, being someone who cannot tolerate Mary Sues (the perfect character with the flowing hair etc.), I can see wherre original characters can come off over the top. My rule of thumb is to describe the character a little, and as the story progresses, add small details about him/her. That generally helps with keeping the 'Sueisms' out of the story.

    I know that we don't need 2 pages of description about a character, but it also helps when we have more than just a brief overview. And when we can use description, your example is spot on as to how we can play with the language.

    So while I can see where you're coming from, and don't think it's off center in the least, I think that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

    In all honesty, when I was talking about description, I wasn't just referring to people or characters, but I was also referring to the places where they are. If two characters are sitting around 'chewing the fat', and there's no description as to where they are, then one could very easily assume that they are on a roller coaster, or at a loud disco, when the writer actually intended for them to be inside a church or sitting on the banks of a peaceful and quiet river. So, yeah, there can be too much description at times.

    Your words about keeping it relavant to the story is really well stated, btw.
  2. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    Well said, Yva. Like I said, each side has their valid points. XD
  3. Redsonga

    Redsonga Active Member

    And just because a character looks unique does not make them a mary sue I don't think...Everyone has things that makes them different, and if the character is from another culture or a race of being of course the canon characters are going to be interested and 'look' closely in the form of description...But suddenly having all the bow and say how beautiful or smart someone they just met is, that is when it becomes dangerous ground I think. If the author mirrors this love by going on and on about her hair, that kills it IMHO...

    For example, Mudwell the mudbunny was a new character in the series and he drove the plot of a fraggle rock episode, with Wembley becoming best friends with him...but no one ever went on and on about how magical he was for being such a rare animal, and even though he became Wembley's best friend in a very short time before he died he was never presented as a perfect creature that could do no wrong...
  4. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    Everybody--real or fictional--has their faults, IMHO, for nobody should be--or is--perfect. To er is human or anything with human qualities.
  5. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Well, that, and I also try to write fics for my Mom, who knows very little about the characters I know about. So, no matter who is "canon", she just isn't going to get them if I don't manipulate the story to evoke their character. I consider it a challenge to write for non-fans. I also like taking one-note characters or background characters (I prefer it if they have a name but just wasn't a big part of the plot) and putting them in the foreground.
  6. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    Agreed. It took me ages to explain to my mom who each superstar was, what their personality was like, and what their most well-known moves were within my hardcore WWE phase (Sure, I watch it still, but not as much as I used to since The Attitude Era), because she wanted to know why I liked the product so much. Of course, due to their branching out into other mediums, she's grown to like Hulk Hogan & The Rock (among others), and because my sister has decided she has a crush on John Cena--despite the fact that he's obviously too old for her--mom watches when he appears too.
  7. Redsonga

    Redsonga Active Member

    Hmmm..well, I can't say I write for a reader that knows nothing about canon...I think my style of writing, at least with fraggle rock is the sort you have to at least come to the table knowing and caring about the characters already on some level. When a story is about change on whatever level it helps to have a feeling for where they started at emotionally...if that makes any sense...

    And as far as background stories go, if the reader does not already know the basics of the character and care about them, the reasoning for why they would be interesting enough to even want to know their history can become lost I think...
  8. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Well, look at the DC thing: whatever we all thought of it, the fact still remains that it just gave a fraction of a taste of the characters involved. It supposedly got some people interested. Some people probably also just shrugged and changed the channel. And I don't just mean the Muppet parts ... I don't watch the Tweens so I got a bare taste of them whereas non-Muppet fans got a bare taste of Muppets. The thing is, if you want to argue that a character is worth knowing, it helps if a story can back it up. I'm not saying stories that assume fandom are bad. I'm only saying that some stories (not naming names ... for the most part I find the fics here to be enjoyable ... but I'm a fan) perhaps assume too much, making it seem like an outline or a pitch rather than a story. Imagine if all of Harry Potter had been summed up (and it probably could have) in a short story. Would it have had the same emotional impact? Would the successes and failures of certain characters have the same emotional "oompf"? I doubt it. That's not to say a short story involving the characters wouldn't work ... but it's the difference between eating a protein bar and an actual meal. One might have the same amount of nutrition as the other (or it may not) ... but sometimes it feels better to get the meal.
  9. Redsonga

    Redsonga Active Member

    I'm not a fan of the stories that are just outlines but as far as actual short stories go I think it might be a little hard on them to say that just because they aren't novel length they don't have true impact. Half of the later Harry Potter books, most of all the last two, could have been edited down and they would have been much better books for it IMHO (Argh, now I have scenes of Red and Gobo camping night after night after night after night after night running though my mind..and OMG... it's getting shippy :confused:! Down you two! Not in my imagination!:confused:!)
    I dunno, in the case of my own stories, I could make them longer, but good luck ever seeing an ending then :sympathy:. My style just does not like to be any longer than the story..and if it is forced to be it starts to go on for paragraphs and paragraphs of internal monologue (even though I love this story dearly, I have be writing it for five years now. Years. I think my inner Mokey is trying to tell me something :p) ...I guess that could be emotional to the reader, but not the sort of emotion that makes happy thoughts for a lot of them:coy:.
  10. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    LOL...I say let 'em be if they ain't bothering you. XD

    Your inner Mokey could indeed be telling you something.
  11. TogetherAgain

    TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    As for length of stories, I think it depends on the story and what the author is comfortable with. Personally, I would love to write shorter stories... but my stories very strongly disagree with me on the matter. :p (My signature, "My mind's own mind has a mind of its own," is a rough explanation of about how much control I feel like I have over my stories.)

    As a reader, though, here's my issue with excessive amounts of description: I get so overwhelmed with details that I forget them and picture the scene or OC in a way that completely contradicts what the author intended. On the other hand, with too little description, a trait may come up halfway through the story that contradicts how I've been "seeing" the character-- What? She has LONG hair that has to be cut now because it got caught in the branches? And here I've been picturing her hair at about chin-length... (That's a random example that I don't think has ever actually happened to me as a reader, but as a writer I once tried to reveal a character's presence in a particular scene by describing him... only to realize that I'd never given any hint as to what he looked like!)

    So personally, I like to see (and like to think that I write) a general overview of the scene or character that has as much to do with the feel as the look, (I don't need to know whether or not there's crown molding, but is the room dark and dusty, or bright and clean? I don't need to know which cheek has more freckles than the other, but is the character slouching or standing tall?) and then mention other details as they come up. (Oh, there's a stack of dishes on the table? Okie dokie.)
  12. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    Like I said, sometimes you just need a good balance.
  13. Redsonga

    Redsonga Active Member

    If you get an idea for a scene, write it down right away :)! Also, if the characters want to 'talk' about something but you don't know exactly how what they are saying is going to fit into the story, sometimes just writing the dialogue out for as long as they have something important to say can work itself out :). If they are true to character in their voce I've found actions to move the story along follow naturally ^.^
    A lot of keeping characters in character is how they play off of one another when they speak, I think...
  14. WhiteRabbit

    WhiteRabbit Well-Known Member

    This is kinda directed towards me because I don't like the way I write most of the time but is there any way you can really distinguish the difference between romantic moments and fluff? I want to put a few in my fic but I don't want to go too over the top/Mary Sue-ish. X_X

    Also...what do you do when you put a lot of effort into a chapter--and I mean A LOT. First with editing and revising longhand pretty much all day and then taking a good two hours to copy it and then you only get three reviews? *hangs head in shame* =P
  15. Redsonga

    Redsonga Active Member

    I honestly don't know. All I can say is the difference between a good scene and a bad scene (forgetting the whole mary sue thingie and other labels) is if the romance suits the characters. A Mokey/Boober romance will never be a Gobo/Red romance and to do anyting but what is true to the characters in the scene is what makes it bad IMHO. If done right the words that suit the pairing flow naturally as extenions of the characters personalities themselfs, rather than just random words the author pushes upon them :).
  16. WhiteRabbit

    WhiteRabbit Well-Known Member

    I used to be into adding a lot of OC muppet charries but I realized that it does take away from the story so I've limited to two for my newish fic. I think it helps it flow way better and people don't get as confused as to what's going on when the canons.
  17. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    When posting a new Fan Fiction, please start the title with:

    FF: Gonzo's Nose

    This will keep the titles from being confused as other articles on the forum.
  18. Gonzo14

    Gonzo14 Well-Known Member

    I've got a very very basic outline of a fanfic that i've had for over a year now, i've got bits and pieces figured out, just gotta get them all organized sometime, i'll let you all know if i figure it out
  19. Muppetfan44

    Muppetfan44 Active Member

    My take on this topic

    I finally have had the chance to read this thread the whole way through and wanted to offer my take on the subject. After reading tons and tons of wonderful stories and writing a few myself, there are things I look for when reading every fanfic and things I wish I didn't see. Most of everything I'll say has been posted previously on this thread, but I hope I offer a different take on it:

    I completely agree with everyone who said that character integrity is one of the most important things to keep in mind when writing fan fiction. If you are not true to the character and have them doing all sorts of things that all of us die-hard fans know that they would never do, the story loses quality, credibility, and interest all at the same time.

  20. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    LOL, and the funny thing is ... even if I wanted to write a fanfic parody where I forced all of that in there ... it'd still sound wrong. :)
    Well, I think I've only written Grover as Super Grover and Red as Princess Gwenalot ... but it's clear that they're just dressing up, though technically I could argue that Grover can actually fly when in costume, since it happens on the show and in FTB. However, I write them more as just LARPing (thank you, Nostalgia Chick, for teaching me a new word, LOL).
    Personally, while I'll read and be nice to stories that are ... rather ... bare in the description department, I prefer stories written as though publishing was honestly a thought that crossed their minds. I like stories where it would seem plausible it could be a book in real bookstores. I truly despise "script" stories, namely because they aren't really written as script but just lines of dialogue that assumes you can read the author's mind about what is going on, as the dialogue is rarely helpful. Now, I'll give a favorable review anyway if I can see a wonderful story concept ... but to me, they are ONLY a concept, not a "real" story. And don't get me started on "outlines" ... those have to be the most pointless things ever (no offense to those who post them). In my opinion, those aren't even close to stories ... those are what you write on sticky notes thinking about what to write as an actual story. On fanfiction.net, I got a nitpicky review (one of my few) on my Comeback King Saga, griping about all my description. I felt like shaking this person and saying, "YOU'VE GOTTEN SPOILED BY A BUNCH OF CHEAP FANFICS WHERE IT'S JUST REALLY AN OUTLINE IN PARAGRAPH FORM!" Well, that, and I explained that I was writing that way because some of my readers are visually impaired and ... even if they weren't ... good description helps set mood as well as move the plot. I could say that Jenny's office was cluttered with stuff ... or I could show the reader what was actually in her office, so that we would know some more about her character. What is better, saying Jenny's walls are covered in Broadway posters -- OR -- saying that Manhattan Melodies was slightly faded but framed on the wall? One will get the plot moving along barely, BUT ... the latter shows how Jenny feels about a moment in her past. There are too many fanfics in the world where we are forced to imagine what was in the author's head. I don't want to play telepath. I want to be in their world, not catch the Viewmaster version.
    I admit my second act to Comeback lost a bit of "epicness" from the first act. Partly, it's due to the original stories being stand-alone instead of included in a "box set". The second act was meant to focus more on the Muppet side of the story that followed up what happened in Act One. However, admittedly, I wasn't satisfied with it completely and it's why I'm writing Skeeter Rock, to "fix" some issues, LOL. It's still using Skeeter to talk about choosing one's life, but I don't feel I explored her storyline adequately in Comeback.
    I can't stand making up my own characters. I prefer, at the most, just taking a background character and deepening them out a bit. I work best when there's something to go on. I've only invented a couple of Muppet characters (Crooner Fraggle, the ancestor to Cantus and John, is my personal favorite) because I like exploring existing stuff (admittedly, because it's easier for me to write, LOL).

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