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December 16, 2006
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How to Write Fanfiction in 100 Easy Steps

1) Write a story about your favorite book/movie/play/TV show, starring your favorite characters in situations of your devising. This is called fanficiton.
2) Gloat. It’s almost as good—no, better!—than the real thing. The original author/creator/director should hire you to do their job for them!
3) Discover FanFiction.net. Feel unoriginal for a moment, then console yourself that no one’s fanfiction could possibly be as good as yours.
4) Browse fics from your favorite book/movie/play/show. Read a few at random.
5) Die a little inside seeing the way fourteen-year-old writers molest the characters of your beloved fandom and the English language in general (even if you are fourteen yourself).
6) Be glad your fics aren’t that terrible. Make all haste in posting your own, taking care to check the grammar and spelling along the way.
7) Submit your fic. Feel benevolent for nobly sharing your genius with these talentless wretches.
8) Check for reviews every two minutes. Why has no one reviewed it yet?
9) Look up “talentless.” Learn that it’s not a word. Make note never to include it in a future fic. You don’t want to be like those untalented wretches.
10) Check for reviews again. Decide that everyone is either offline or too much in awe of your brilliance to say anything. Or maybe you’ve shamed them all into editing their own sorry fics. That must be it.
11) Continue checking for reviews, staying up late until your parents yell at you to go to bed.
12) Find it impossible to sleep. Everyone’s probably leaving you reviews right now! Console yourself by penning ideas for your next fic in a notebook while sitting up in bed.
13) Stop writing when your mom wanders in wondering blearily why on earth your light is on at this ungodly hour. Tell her your muse works at night, but turn off the lamp and fall asleep when she leaves.
14) Get up before sunrise the next morning to check for reviews. Before you turn on the computer, wisely prepare yourself so as not to let your expectations get outrageous. As you log on, tell yourself that you will be content with only sixty-five reviews (though you expect somewhere around one hundred fourteen).
15) Find only one review. Decide everyone is still asleep.
16) Read the review.
17) Feel disappointed.
18) Read the review again.
19) Deduce that “lol thats great1” is not as inane as it seems. It can’t be one of those fourteen-year-old manglers of the written word reviewing you. It’s probably an aged English professor, so wizened that her arthritic fingers can’t punch the keys properly. **Hottysgurrl937** is obviously an ingenious online nom de plume.
20) Type a very gracious, dignified reply to **Hottysgurrl937**. Decide “You’ve my most heartfelt of thanks for your charming review” is a bit much. Opt for “Thanks!” with a smiley face instead.
21) Resume checking for reviews every two minutes, sometimes taking a break to type the new fic idea you got last night.
22) Look up “manglers.” Learn that it’s not a word. Resolve never to become one who mangles the English language.
23) Check for reviews again. Find none. Track down some of the terrible stories you found yesterday and read them again to restore your confidence.
24) Browse the site some more. Come across an interesting summary. Begin reading the fic.
25) Find the new fic to be well-written…very well-written. The author uses some words you don’t know, and the descriptions are long and wordy and don’t use “is, are, am, was, were, to be, it” very much at all. The plot is extremely engaging and entertaining, and when the characters talk, it sounds just like them; you can hear them in your head. You can picture this easily happening in the real book/movie/play/show.
26) Waver between awe and envy. This author is amazing, doing such credit to the characters! But they seem almost…BETTER...than you. You hadn’t believed this possible. You feel a bit hurt and embarrassed, like someone has just put you in your place.
27) Read the reviews of this fic. There are no squeals of “lol that’s great1” here. Even the reviewers seem to have vast vocabularies and an intimate understanding of the characters and plot. They exclaim to the author how they loved such-and-such mythological reference, or the color symbolism in the third paragraph, or the obscure Shakespearean quote at the end. Feel the hurt/embarrassed sensation intensify.
28) Notice that there are only twenty or thirty reviews. Smirk, feeling quite talented again. Clearly, this author is not as gifted as they seem. If they were really so great, they would have received far more reviews. Sixty-five at least.
29) Check your reviews again. Still only one.
30) Pull up your new fic again and edit what you have so far. Try to eliminate the use of “is, are, am, was, were, to be, it” and find the task frustrating and impossibly difficult. Use the thesaurus to replace as many words as possible with grander synonyms that you remember vaguely from school vocabulary tests.
31) Work on your fic for over an hour before checking for reviews again. Find two new reviews and let out a delighted, terrified gasp.
32) Stare at the screen, almost too excited and anxious to read the reviews. Almost.
33) Read the first review.
34) Look up “Mary Sue” on Wikipedia.
35) Feel insulted.
36) Make a list of reasons why the original character you introduced in the second paragraph is most certainly not a Mary Sue, comparing her to the abominations of those untalented fourteen-year-olds who mangle the English language.
37) Conclude that your character is not a Mary Sue, and resolve to defend her in an author’s note at the beginning of your next fic.
38) Read the second review.
39) Frown.
40) Ponder what the reviewer could mean by “In the future, avoid clichés.”
41) Finish your new fic. As you check over the grammar once more for good measure, admire the big words you put in. No one can accuse you of lacking talent now.
42) Check your reviews again. No new ones.
43) Post your new fic with affectionate thanks to **Hottysgurrl937** in the author’s note. Make no mention of the other reviewers. List the reasons why your character is not a Mary Sue.
44) Decide to be realistic and wait longer for reviews this time.
45) Browse the site. Leave the fourteen-year-old losers lofty reviews telling them that their characters are Mary Sues. They’ll be grateful for your constructive criticism, and that you deigned to take time out of your busy day of writing GOOD fanficiton to help them.
46) Check for reviews. Find none. Realize it has only been twenty minutes.
47) Return to the page of that one really good author you found earlier. Check out some of their other fics.
48) Find that another fic has twenty chapters—there’s no way you’re reading all that!
49) Go back to the story of theirs that you liked.
50) Click “Submit review.”
51) Stare at the blank window with your fingers hovering over the keys. Fail to come up with anything intelligent to say. Exit the window without submitting anything.
52) Check for reviews. Not even **Hottysgurrl937** has left you a comment.
53) Begin to feel discouraged. Log out and IM your friends, telling them you suffer from writer’s block.
54) Deny your brother access to the computer. When he asks if you’re doing homework, reply that you’re practicing for your future career, that you’re doing something imperative (you found that word in the thesaurus). When he points out that you’re just chatting on instant messenger, call him a stupid punk. After he leaves, resolve to come up with a cleverer insult next time, like “putrid philistine” or “insolent knave.”
55) Write an entry in your online diary about how the one thing you want most in the entire world is to be a writer, even though last week you wrote that you wanted to be a marine biologist.
56) Delete the entry in which you foolishly claimed that marine biology was your one true calling. You’re much better in tune with your dreams now. You’ve definitely found the one thing you want to do for the rest of your life.
57) Glare at your brother when he returns with your mom in tow. When your mom accuses you of spending all morning on the computer and not letting your brother have a turn, explain that you’re perfecting your art. When your mom asks if you’re doing homework, plead with her.
58) Get kicked off the computer by your insolent, knavish brother.
59) Call your friends on the phone and lament that your mom neither understands nor supports your dreams. When you friends say, “What, becoming a marine biologist?” shout at them for not reading your online diary and hang up. Some friends.
60) Wander the house restlessly. Periodically peer in at your brother on the computer and glare at him. Become angrier when he doesn’t notice. Putrid philistine.
61) Begin asking your brother if he’s done yet every five minutes or so. Refuse to stop it.
62) Reclaim the computer when your brother logs off, saying he can’t concentrate if you’re going to keep bugging him. Open your mouth to call him something insulting and clever, but forget what it was you were going to call him.
63) Log on to FanFiction.net and check for reviews. Find none.
64) Write another online diary entry on how unappreciated you are.
65) Leave more fourteen-year-old writers condescending reviews, telling them their Mary Sues are hopeless and that they should just quit writing.
66) Log off the computer and wander off to watch TV. Find your brother sprawled on the couch already watching TV. Tell him you’re done with the computer. When he tells you he doesn’t want on the computer any more, tell him you want to watch TV. Bicker until he relinquishes half of the couch and lets you change the channel.
67) Watch a Discovery Channel documentary about coral reefs.
68) Avoid the computer until late evening.
69) Make sure your brother doesn’t need the computer, then cautiously log on.
70) Rejoice when you find several e-mail alerts from FanFiction.net. At last, your talent receives notice!
71) Realize the alert is for review replies, not new reviews.
72) Find that the review replies are from the authors you accused of writing Mary Sues. They say things like “your mean” and “dont flame me u dont know me i bet ur writnig sux”
73) Check for actual reviews. Find none.
74) Go to bed feeling indignant.
75) Log on again the first chance you get the next day.
76) Find a review of your second fic.
77) Read the review.
78) Hate the reviewer.
79) Begin to write a reply in which you tell them you are NOT paranoid and defensive of your character (who is NOT, as they say, a Mary Sue) and that you know PERFECTLY WELL what all the big words mean and that you did NOT just look them up in the thesaurus and stick them in there.
80) Decide that might come off as harsh and defensive. Opt not to reply.
81) Reread your fic, admitting that the big words don’t flow with the story the way they do in that one really good writer’s fics.
82) Read the story by that one really good writer again. Feel discouraged.
83) Receive more enraged review replies from defensive Mary Sue authors. Feel hypocritical.
84) Begin to reconsider marine biology.
85) Leave that one really good author who is better than you in every way a short, admiring review in which you try not to sound too much like an untalented loser. Mention that you wish you could write like they do.
86) Log off. Stop visiting FanFiction.net for several days, weeks, or even months.
87) Ignore any and all e-mail alerts, deleting them before reading what they are.
88) When your friends ask about your writing, assume a pained look and change the subject. Tell them about that Discovery Channel show.
89) Edit your online diary entry about writing, replacing your plans to become a famous author with a short poem about not knowing what you want to do in life.
90) Experience surprise at the comments your friends leave on this entry. They say they know exactly how you feel. A couple of them mention that they liked your poem.
91) Feel brave enough to return to FanFiction.net.
92) Discover that the writer you admire has replied to your review. Not only have they personally thanked you for your comments, but also they have given you words of encouragement.
93) Dare to glance at your reviews. Some are harsh criticisms of your character’s Sue-ness, others are mindless webspeak drivel, but a few give you good advice. The person who told you to avoid clichés explains that they meant you should try not to use sayings that you hear everywhere, to try to say things in a new and unique way. One reviewer said your character is only a borderline Sue, and that if you changed a few traits, she could be genuinely interesting and likable. Someone links you to a “How to Tell if Your Character is a Mary Sue” quiz, something you would have found insulting before but now see as helpful and a bit funny.
94) Reply to the helpful reviewers, thanking them.
95) Spend days or weeks reworking your fics and un-Sue-ifying your character. Practice using “is, are, am, was, were, to be, it” less and including big words only when you think they help your meaning and fit with your style. Keep your old fics up to continue collecting constructive comments.
96) Submit your new work.
97) Try not to obsess over it. Watch TV with your brother, letting him choose the channel. Hang out with friends. Do your homework.
98) When you do check for reviews, you find more mixed reactions. Stupid webspeak, a few dogmatic Sue-bashers, and some of the helpful reviewers complimenting your improvement and offering more advice.
99) Learn to enjoy the site. Avoid most of the Sue stories, but drop by the occasional grammatically decent specimen that boasts some potential and make a few suggestions. Follow the works of authors you admire, trying to learn from them without copying. Let your brother use the computer when he wants to.
100) Congratulate yourself. You can now write fanfiction!
I don't hate writers of bad fanfiction. Actually...an embarassing portion of this is based on personal experience. I seriously believe that almost everyone goes through a "Bad Teenage Fanfiction" phase.

This "how to" is actually a best case scenario. You don't want to know what happens when Suethors band together or fail to find inspiring role models. Yikes!

I don't know if there's really a **Hottysgurrl937** out there. I tried to make up a generic name, but if there is a real **Hottysgurrl937**, it's entirely coincidence.

This goes out to all the "that one really good" writers out there. Thanks for your fine examples!
Add a Comment:
 
:iconasiananimegamer:
AsianAnimeGamer Featured By Owner Edited Jul 12, 2014  New member
Wow, I am so glad I wasn't able to have a Fanfiction net account when I went through my Bad Teenage Fanfiction phase. I was ten when my bad fanfiction phase started (Yes, I was exposed to the wonderful world of fandoms at an extremely young age) and Jesus lord, my stories and ocs! :iconotlplz: 
By the time I got any internet account to post anything fandom related, I had grown out of it, I had my fair share of terrible Mary Sues dancing in, defensive immature writers, Mary Sue tests, infuriating grammar maulers, and techno-hair colored ocs. I then dedicated my ff.net life to NEVER write shitty fanfiction ever (at least if I can stop it without needing the very helpful critiques) because there's enough of that in the world.
Reply
:iconthe-shm-loves-asimov:
This is almost me back in 2008, except I wasn't even good enough to write a Mary Sue. I was *that* bad.  And there were whole forums of said "Good writers."  And I ran into harsh critics and tried too hard.

Oh, sweet nostalgia! How you slap my whittled ego. 
Reply
:iconthe-shm-loves-asimov:
Adding to what I said, I went through at least 50 more steps to make up for the fact I'm an only child. Including making up a brother to post with me. And I wasn't 14, I was 13 so take everything here and multiply it by [insert your own number]. It was that sad.

And dear god, in 2009, when I actually was 14... my ego was in the exosphere because I was literally expecting stories to become pop cultural phenomena.
Only a 14 year old Fanfiction.Net noob, I swear!


I guess you can say that I've reached step 100 when I came back down to Earth and discovered that other people like this have said the exact same thing to me (Can I write like you? etc) and I had help them out of their newbie stage and I realize "Wow... 5 years ago I was in their shoes." It's humbling more than its arrogance building. And to see that others have gone through the same process as me- I already knew I wasn't alone in this, but to have some visual confirmation! Made my day!

Damn you, time. Why can't you stop and let us relieve events of our terrible, terrible, glorious youth?
Reply
:iconthe-shm-loves-asimov:
Sorry for all the self-replies, but I just had to comment here-
Unlike this above post, my true calling really *is* to become a writer. In fact, all throughout my Troubled Teenage Fanfiction Writer years, I wanted to be everything _except_ a writer, actively denied that it was my 'thing', and it was only a couple years ago when I finally accepted the realization that "I've been writing since I was 4 years old, own an unusually strong fascination with language and history, and have a basic fundamental addiction to literature": dude, you're a writer. Nay, you're an author. Now stop kicking your calling in the nads and do something about it.

 And here I am planning a novel trilogy while also prepping to work with NanNoWriMo and absolutely loving every moment of it. FanFiction.Net was a great stepping stone and I met so many crazy characters there- fictional and otherwise.

So all in all, when it comes to saying that your destiny isn't actually to write, I'll quote TV Tropes to say, with me, "TROPE AVERTED!"

Is this really what happened with you though? Is it accurate or did you exaggerate? And on that topic, are you really interested in marine biology? 
Reply
:icondimentioeviljester:
Dimentioeviljester Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This might help me out.
Reply
:iconthemanwithbacon:
TheManWithBacon Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013
Man, you're not alone with that whole "Bad Teenage Fanfiction" phase. I once wrote a fanfic/mutant crossover of Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons...and I thank the Lord every day for making me decide not to post that atrocity. XD

I've since improved my writing skills and have a good story going right now, but still, this made me laugh. Many kudos to you.
Reply
:iconaquosboost:
AquosBoost Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I skipped a lot of steps...
Reply
:iconroxxia-chan:
Roxxia-chan Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I KNOW THE FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELS D;
That used to be me. ._.
But thanks to reviewers, I'm able to do better now.
Reply
:iconmajik513:
Majik513 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013
This was absolutely hilarious and... absolutely true. OTL
I'm embarassed to say that most of these things applied to me. The checking FF. net every two seconds one? Gawshes. -.-"
(NO ONE CARES ABOUT MY WRITING AHHHHH TT.TT)
Reply
:iconbravesherlock:
BraveSherlock Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013
Thank you. I write fanfictions that are not that great. Nice to get some tips! Thanks!
Reply
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