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Guide to Writing Fan Fiction


For those aspiring to be serious writers, starting out by writing fan fiction is a good way to develop your skills. The basic premise is set, you have characters with predefined personalities, all you need is some creativity and a good idea. Writing fan fiction is like writing an episode or a scene for a weekly TV show, or like writing for an anthology series (eg. all those Star Trek books).

These are just some guidelines and are based on personal experience and advice from others. Most important is write for yourself - enjoy it!

Using existing characters:
Place in new situation
Place in familiar situation with alternate results
Set in past - be consistent with the existing timeline
Set in the future
Alternate universe setting - stay consistent to both the character and the alternate world setting
Are you being true to the character, if not, is there an explanation. If you change the character's original personality, consider creating a new character.

Using original characters:
Place in familiar situation
Interact with familiar characters
If you use a lot of original/new characters, include a cast of characters to the beginning of your story.
Introduce new characters gradually - if you introduce too many at a time, the reader may not have the patience to keep track of them.
Give them distinctive personalities or features, something for the reader to identify the character.
Not recommended - using new characters in new situations with minimal interaction with familiar characters – harder for reader to identify with the original show.

Start with an idea for a theme or plot, develop the scenes.
Start with an idea for a scene, develop a plot around it. If you have ideas for several scenes try to develop a plot to bridge them.
For longer fanfics, keep to an overall theme or plot rather than loosely linked scenes.
You may have a good scene that may not fit into the story as a whole and which should be left out as a standalone or possible incorporation into another story. The story should flow smoothly.
Try to keep to the existing timeline as much as possible.

Writing style:
Avoid overly long passages of description, dialogue, or ponderous thoughts. Switching between them will keep the reader more interested.
Watch the way certain characters speak. Some characters have a particular way of speaking, such as being sarcastic or enthusiastic most of the time.
Watch spelling and grammar, unless it’s the way the character speaks.
Stories do not need to be told in a linear narrative, but be careful not to confuse the reader.

Take notes on the scenes relevant to your story, and notes on your ideas, on indexcards or on the computer for easy organization.
Outline the beginning, middle, and end. Fill in scenes in the appropriate place, but don't be afraid to move them.

Inspiration/Dealing with Writer’s Block:
Things may just come to you when you least expect it, right before you’re about to fall sleep, or while you’re in the bathtub so keep a pen and notebook nearby at all times.
Rewatch, think about a favorite or problematic scene and how you would rewrite it or add to it.
Watch another show or read a book with similar themes for ideas/inspiration.
Keep writing, just skip over the problematic parts. You may find the problems can be resolved/reshaped later in the story.
Talk it out to someone.
Put it down and come back to it later. Don't think about it for a few days. Sleep on it.


Check out fanfiction links or our forum.