Day 2: How to Formulate the Perfect Fanfiction

What Rupee and I have learned today: it is the ultimate test of friendship to have your roommate choose a Jelly Belly flavor for you and make you eat it blindfolded. Also, the Tutti-Frutti jelly bean tastes EXACTLY like Aquafresh toothpaste. Get a pack and try it. It will blow your mind.

~~~~~

What is the formation of a typical fanfiction? Does this formation differ between what someone might consider an “okay” fanfic and an “excellent” one? Of course, this is all subject to opinion, but it was these questions I was determined to answer when I set out with today’s topic. This meant A LOT of reading.

I decided to come at this topic from three different fanfiction directions: Television, books, and (a small twist that I discovered in my search for fanfics) Anime. I have dabbled in anime in the past but I wouldn’t call myself a pro–not by a long shot–still, when I saw this was a category on many of the fanfiction websites I visited, I couldn’t help but take a peak at one of the names I recognized. So, with this little explanation out of the way, I will be using the following fanfictions as guides today: (the hyperlinks over the titles will take you to the correct page on fanfiction.net!)

1) [Peter Pan] Forget Me Not Chapter 1 by Tara1189  ….. rated T for teen

2) [iCarly] I See You, Do You See Me? by JJLHOTITEM1 ….. rated K+ for kids and up

3) [Soul Eater] Accelerando by Lisp ….. rated T for teen

I chose the first and third pieces because they are well thought out with fantastic descriptive language, and voices that match well with the characters. The second fanfiction is equally good when it comes to voice, and I also wanted to find one that was rated for kids (just to add some variety). Basically, I chose the categories I wanted and then looked for stories with the most favorites and followers (and stories that were–for the most part–not grammatically horrible).

All three take on the perspective of one of the main characters in their individual categories (either the t.v. show, anime, or novel). Now, those of you who are hardcore fanfic fans may want to skip down a paragraph or two if this is too much of a “stating the obvious” for you, but I said we were going to learn about this stuff together, and by-golly we will! Sorry, I just really wanted to put the term by-golly in a sentence.

Each story takes on a unique persona and expands the current, pre-established story by moving forward with this persona in a completely new version of the story or by taking the story in a new, oftentimes unexpected, direction.

But what makes a fanfic “bad” vs. “okay” vs. “great” vs. “utterly fantastic”? Well, I definitely believe this is an opinion-based question. While reading through tidbits of many different stories, I noticed that the number of “favorites” on a particular story did not always match up with my own opinion. Some stories with many positive reactions left me unsatisfied, while some that seem to have gone by unnoticed were excellent pieces of writing. Sometimes I agreed with the votes, sometimes I didn’t.

Still, I think that all very good (and conversely, very bad) fanfictions share the same traits.

1) They are grammatically correct. Believe it or not, this is a major point in the reception of fanfictions. I know it is a specific point for me because editing is something I am studying for a professional environment, but it is something that–I have noticed from reviews–is important to many other readers as well.

2) Bad fanfictions tend to either stick REALLY close to the source material (so that they’re practically a retelling of the same story without much differentiation) or they stray so FAR away from the storyline that the characters become confused to the reader who just want to find out what ‘happened’ to their favorite OTP. (Did you catch my use of new lingo, huh? Huh?)

3) Successful fanfictions give BELIEVABLE illustrations/descriptions of the occurring events from the character(s)’ point of view(s). If the writer does not know enough about the character he or she is writing about, then the description of events–the action–cannot be believable to the reader.

4) A bad fanfiction is one that doesn’t know WHEN TO END THE DESCRIPTION AND BEGIN THE ACTION. A scene must entice the reader to keep reading! This is true with all forms of literature,  but especially with fanfics where the reader is (most likely) already familiar with the setting and characters. Too much set-up will bore the reader and, in some cases (which I have experienced myself), cause the reader to stop reading altogether.

and, lastly, 5) All good fanfictions are thick with tension. You can tell a good fanfiction (not just by the number of votes/favorites it has) but by whether or not the author(s) is able to establish good tension from the start. Because, as I’ve said previously, the reader is already familiar with the story, a new action/drama/plotline is necessary to get–and keep–their attention. If the author is able to master this craft quickly and blend it in with small but detailed description, then I believe the fanfic is successful!

So, there you have it, the formation of the fanfiction. Parts 2 and 3 of my own fanfiction (Rupee’s birthday present) will be coming tomorrow since I kind of ran out of room on this post… Oops.

See you tomorrow my fellow adventurers, as we delve into the depths of the common elements that exist in a fanfiction!!!

Mel

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