1. Intelligence is required. No matter how interesting or humorous a plot you may have, it is always better to read a well-written, intelligible fiction than a thrown-together piece of junk riddled with spelling/grammatical mistakes.
2. Plot is important. There are such things as PWP's (see PWP section), but other than that, plot is what really makes a story. What is happening is what makes the reader go on and want to read more.
3. Creativity is a must. No one wants to read the same thing that they have seen from 50 other writers. Try to be original, and if you see an idea you really like, improvise it a little without copying it outright.
4. Every element in the story matters. From the plot to the series to what happens to the characters, everything ties together to make the story what it is.
OVERALL WRITING SKILLS
Some writers are just naturally gifted and have a way with words. Others struggle with how to make complex sentences and use intricate words. If English is not your first language, it can sometimes be difficult to write a worthwhile story in English.
Some, like me, just have an overactive imagination and brains to back it up.
There are others who simply do not take the time to look over what they have written to check for mistakes. I have no spell check feature, and so I go over what I have written when I finish it to look for mistakes. There are always some that I miss. It happens, and is nothing to worry about. If looking over your work seems too tedious, then I would suggest getting a spell checker or learning to do it. If you don't care about your work, chances are your readers won't either.
The first rule of writing fanfiction is learning to write in a different way. If you are used to talking in txt speak or like to abbreviate words in normal speech, you must let go of that momentarily for the fic-writing process.
Let's look at two examples:
inuyasha watched kagome as she tlked 2 miroku wishin he cud tlk 2 her 2
This first example shows no capitalization, no grammar or punctuation, and many spelling errors. Simple words and thoughts are used.
Inuyasha watched wistfully as Kagome talked to Miroku, and he vaguely wished he could find the courage to talk to her also.
This second example features capitalization, correct grammar and punctuation, and everything is spelled correctly. There is a deeper thought, and more complex words are used to elaborate on Inuyasha's feelings.
Most people would rather read something that is written like Example 2, simply because it is easier to read and understand. Writing is not a hard concept; all it takes to become a good writer is practice and common sense.
COMMON WRITING TERMS
OOC - Out of Character
OC - Original Character
AU - Alternate Universe
PWP - Plot What Plot? or Porn Without Plot (for hentai)
BD - Bondage
BL - Boy Love
POV - Point of View
A title is quite possibly the most important attribute of a story. It draws the reader in, and can be used to describe the story in a few words if titled well.
A good title can be anything from a line in the story to something that simply relates to it.
Sometimes, a story can be given a title that has nothing to do with it, but can still be intriguing. It is up to the author to use their better judgment to decide on the right title.
Chapter stories are best for a story that is going to be long. Chapters separate the different sections of the story and give the author time to finish in between.
A good chapter should only reveal what is neccessary for that part of the story and should end with the reader wanting more and eagerly anticipating the next chapter.
Many writers choose to write in past tense, using terms like "he did" or "she wanted". This is the common form of writing used in many published works, becuase most stories are told as though they have already happened.
Sometimes a writer chooses to write in present tense, a form of writing that can sometimes be confusing. Terms such as "she is doing" and "he talks" are used, as though the story is playing out at the precise moment that the reader is reading it.
The choice of tense can be an important part of the story. When choosing a particular tense, especially present, it is important to know how to write it correctly and be consistent. Some stories fade in and out of present tense because the writer is unfamiliar with how to write in that tense.
Sakura looks at Sasuke, tears welling up in her eyes. She opens her mouth to speak, but falls silent at the look he throws her.
That example was written in present tense. Note the way everything is written to be happening right now, using the words "looks", "opens", "falls", and "throws".
Sakura looked at Sasuke, tears welling up in her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but fell silent at the look he threw her.
That example was written in past tense. Everything is written in a way that shows it has already happened, using the words "looked", "opened", "fell", and "threw".
Writing in past tense is often easier for a good many writers, but there are those who are accustomed to writing in present tense. Whatever tense you choose to write in, remember to stick with it throughout the entire story.
POINT OF VIEW
There are three main points of view from which a writer can write a story.
The story is written from the point of view of one of the characters.
I turned at the sound of my name to see Winry waving her arms in the air, and the metal suit that was Al motioning for me to join them.
The story is told by an unknown source, and focuses on one character's thoughts and feelings. Other characters are present, but we only see into the mind of one. Harry Potter is a example of this.
Hinata thought she saw Naruto wink at her, and she blushed. He heart soared as she saw him walk toward her, not knowing what he was thinking.
Third Person Omniscient
The story is told by an unknown source, and the reader can see what every character is thinking or feeling.
Ritsuka wanted so badly to be away from Soubi at the moment, but his eyes did not show it. Soubi thought about how he could have upset Ritsuka in such a way, and it troubled him.
Point of view can really make the difference in a story. First person can make the story more interesting and give a better insight to how a certain character feels, but third person shows the interaction between all characters equally.
Genre is also another major part of a story. It is what really makes the story. You could call it a theme.
Romance, horror, action, adventure, angst, humor, and drama are popular and widely used genres. A genre is the overall theme of the story. If the characters end up falling up love, the the genre is romance, and so on.
Stories can have more than one genre. There can be romantic comedies, with the genres of romance and humor.
Make sure you know what elements of your story need to be categorized into what genre.
SERIES AND CHARACTERS
Choosing which fandom to write for and what characters to write about is the core of the fanfiction writing process. Without first making the decision of what series to write for, your process is dead in the water.
Original stories are a different thing entirely. This tutorial is for writing fanfiction. Fanfiction meaning fiction written about an existing fandom by a fan.
Keeping the characters' attitudes and demeanors in mind is important to a fiction, unless it is meant to be a PWP (see PWP section). Making characters OOC can be done, in which the characters act in ways they normally would not in the actual series.
Many people make their own characters (see OC's section) and put them into the story. Some also turn those OC's into Mary-Sues (see Mary-Sues section), which are never acceptable in any situation other than for personal viewing and/or as a joke.
A pairing is when two characters are paired together lovewise.
If a story has pairings, it is important to write the relationship between them in a way that is believable. Stories that feature random or crack pairings are often not very good. The writer should decide on a pairing that they have the ability to write well, and the story will turn out much better if the characters paired together work in harmony.
A story can be many different things.
Songfics are very popular in the fanfiction world. They are stories that include or revolve around a real-life song. They are often scorned for the fact that they contain copyrighted material, but they can still be written if due credit is given and the writer follows the rules.
Songfics can be total crap if the lyrics are used randomly and are put into a story that has nothing to do with it. A good songfic should display most or all of the song used and should relate very much to it. The lyrics should not be changed to fit the story, save for if the story is a parody.
Hentai (THIS SECTION MAY CONTAIN MATURE CONTENT)
Hentai, and the term is used loosely, is anime porn. There are many imperative things one must remember when writing hentai. I have attended a hentai-writing panel at a convention that was conducted by a very shameless woman, so I was informed on how to go about it correctly.
First, anatomy. Anatomy is the single most important element in hentai. It is next to impossible to write a decent hentai with knowledge of correct anatomy. When writing sex scenes, every part of the body described must be right, for if not, it becomes utterly ridiculous.
A common anatomy mistake, especially with yaoi, is to the location of the prostate. This part of the male body is mentioned in many a yaoi, but many times is described in the wrong place. Without going into detail, a story can involve someone putting something in a place where, in real life, would cause the receiver much pain and/or would be physically impossible. This is because the writer has irresponsibly put the receiving part in the wrong place of the body.
Secondly, the key to hentai is to keep it tasteful. Sex scenes can be a pleasure to read if written correctly and in good fashion.
Thirdly, there is no rule on how clean you keep it, but keep in mind the audience you may have. Going into explicit (and I mean explicit) details may not be the right thing to do for your writing style.
COMMON HENTAI TERMS
Lemon - Strong sex scene that goes into explicit detail.
Lime - Some sexual but rarely explicit content.
Citrus - No explicit sex; maybe touching and kissing.
Hentai is broken into three categories: Het,yaoi/yuri and shota.
Het is the term for a pairing involving a male and a female, otherwise known as heterosexual.
Yaoi is the term for a pairing involving two males.
Yuri is the term for a pairing involving two females.
There are a few things to keep in mind when writing yaoi or yuri. Yaoi is often written by females, and yuri is often written by males, which sometimes makes it hard for the writer to understand how a relationship involving two persons of their opposite sex would work out.
Yaoi and yuri can sometimes prove hard to write. A problem that most yaoi/yuri writers face is the fact that they are writing about two of the same sex. Therefore, when saying he, or him, or she, or hers, the reader may not know which of the characters the writer is referring to. So sometimes the writer may overuse the character's names to make the distinction clear, and that can make for a dull, repetitive story. This is a problem I myself face. All that can be done is to use clear details to make it easier to figure out which character is being talked about.
As said before, anatomy comes into play the most for yaoi and yuri. A common break of this anatomy rule is MPreg.
MPreg is a story written about a male becoming pregnant and/or giving birth, and usually consists of yaoi. While impossible, a writer can creatively make the situation seem able to happen. But more times than not, MPreg comes as an error-ridden piece of junk in which the writer fails to explain just how the male is able to carry a child inside of him, saying "it just happens". A good MPreg, one that is creative and shows a lot of background thought, is hard to find.
The most important thing to remember: yaoi and yuri are not always accepted with open arms. A hentai writer would do well to remember that.
Shota is a story written about a character having sex/raping an underage character. These stories are usually frowned upon for the fact that they contain sexual content with minors.
Many readers prefer to steer clear of shota, and it is not the most popularly written thing as a result.
If writing shota, the writer should remember to be respectful and stay within reasonable limits.
END HENTAI SECTION
Crossovers are stories that involve more than one fandom. The characters of each come together, and the plots from those fandoms often collide to form the plot.
A good crossover should include concepts from every fandom used, and the plots should blend together to make things interesting. The best crossovers involve two fandoms that clash in an ironic way, making for an entertaining and worthwhile read.
Mary-Sues are widely known throughout the fanfiction world. Seen as one of the most despicable things a writer could write, they are stories in which the writer puts themself into the story, mainly as a love interest for one of the main characters.
Mary-Sues are usually written by new writers, a good percentage of them female, who find it amusing to make a sexy character fall in love with them through a story.
Most, if not all, Mary-Sues are badly written and show very little intelligence, with the story revolving around them as a great character. A typical Mary-Sue character is unbelievably attractive, has few weaknesses, and is admired by the main characters. The writer will go to all ends to make themselves likable, and in extreme cases, will engage in sex with a character in the course of the story.
The male name for a Mary-Sue is a Gary-Stu.
I will not let myself off easy. I was also guilty of writing a Mary-Sue when I first started writing. It was not awfully written, and it showcased my talent for writing, but was shameless and stupid. I carried it out for 18 long chapters before finally giving up on it becuase I realized that it was a Mary-Sue. For anyone interested, the character I was involved with was Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist.
In any case, Mary-Sues should not be written for public display. They are embarrassing to look back upon, and are a waste of talent. Moreover, they are one of the worst things you could do as a writer. Just don't do it.
There are also variations of the Mary-Sue called You-Sues. They are stories in which the author lets the reader envision themself in the story, saying things like "You look at Cloud, and you suddenly realize he is taking off his shirt, watching you with lust in his eyes." They are usually written in present tense. These are not much better than Mary-Sues, and should also not be written, or read, for that matter.
Original Characters (OC's)
OC's differ from Mary-Sues in the fact that they are not versions of the writer themself, but are simply characters added to the existing line-up of a fandom.
A good OC is a character that contributes a lot to the story and is a main part of it. Many OC's are created as a love interest for an existing character, and can be played off well with decent writing.
AU (Alternate Universe)
An AU is a story that involves characters from a fandom, but has them in a completely different world. The characters are used and nothing else.
AU's can be very fun to write, and should display a lot of imagination and creativity for the fact that they are of a entirely made-up scenario. They are often written just to use the characters in a way that would never work otherwise.
PWP (Plot What Plot?)
PWP's, which are usually reserved for hentai, are stories without plots. Mainly used for hentai, they are stories that consist of sex and nothing else. The sex happens randomly, with no given reason and no background story. These PWP's can also mean Porn Without Plot.
While amusing to read, PWP's should only be written every once in a while, for they do not show much creative talent. A real story needs a plot to be good, and being a writer of nothing but PWP's may cause the reader to question your ability to come up with decent ideas.
Oneshots are short stories that are written with no intention to be continued.
They are best for a writer who has a quick idea that they want to write and not carry out. Oneshots are very common in the fanfiction world, and can sometimes be the best stories.
THINGS TO AVOID
There are many things a story should not include.
Random Foreign Language
Not only is a story that uses random bursts of language annoying to read, it also makes the author look silly. Japanese is commonly used throughout fanfiction, by authors that have no knowledge of the language itself.
Most random Japanese is "kawaii, baka, and neko". This shows that the author does not know much of the true language, and only uses the words that they know, often in the wrong context.
"Oh, look at the kawaii puppy!" Sakura shouted. Sasuke rolled his eyes, muttering about how she was a baka under his breath.
What makes that so incorrect is the fact that "kawaii' is thrown in randomly with English. If Sakura is speaking in English, she would have said "cute" instead. Or, she could have said the whole sentence in Japanese. Baka is also used out of place.
Stories written in one language can use another in the exception that one character speaks only that.
The snow was falling steadily, and Raito's eyes were bright as he watched the thick white flakes through the window, hearing L making a cake behind him.
"La nieve..." he whispered. "Es aqui... es invierno."
This should only be done if the writer knows the language of which they are writing, and the language that the character is speaking. (For anyone who does not know, Raito is speaking Spanish and he said "The snow... it's here... it's winter.")
Overusing curse words in a story is unacceptable, even if the character is said to have a potty mouth. It is never enjoyable to read a story that has a different swear word every two sentences.
The occasional curse word is fine, and if it contains a little more than is neccessary, that can work too. Due warning should be given.
ENDING THE STORY
With stories or chapter stories, the key to ending a story is knowing how and when to.
The end should bring closure to the story, or should leave the reader with questions that make them think.
That's the end of this tutorial! I hope you use what you've learned to become a better writer!