So You Want to Write Fanfiction
"Good writing is like good plumbing; it's there when you need it, but nobody really appreciates it except those who made it." - Anonymous
So you want to be a good writer of fan fiction. The first question you should ask yourself is why.
Fanfic writers aren't the ones that get the sexy babes or the hot studs.
Fanfic writers aren't the ones that get tons of money.
Fanfic writers aren't the ones that are admired by everyone else.
The stereotype of a fanfic writer these days is some fat, ugly person (usually somewhere between the ages of 9-25) hunched over a computer endlessly typing. While there are a few people like this, that's not everyone. Everyone is different, and so are writers.
Section I. Before you begin
Don't think you're going to become great overnight. It takes a lot of time and effort to become a successful fanfic writer. Don't try to take shortcuts or think that things will be good if you cheat a bit. Copypasta will always leave your readers with a bad taste in their mouths. I've been writing for over *mumbes* years now. It takes a lot of time and effort.
Do the following instead:
1. Study psychology.
This will teach you how a person thinks. No two people think exactly alike; even identical twins have their differences. Studying psychology will help, for example, a teenage girl writing a Fullmetal Alchemist story with Roy Mustang in it have Roy sound like Roy and not some squealing teenage fangirl trying to sound like Roy. (More on that later.)
2. Study sociology.
This will teach you the proper way characters interact with each other. How two people can interact with each other can vary on many factors; sociology helps one understand this a bit.
3. Study mythology.
Mythology is the art of telling the story. One of the most difficult tests for a tale is time. However, stories from ancient times are still retold today. Why? There are several reasons. The underlying message of it is timeless. The story was well-constructed and delighted later generations, so they kept on doing it. All great tales of humankind invite the reader to a greater understanding of humanity. They point the way towards the greater revelation to a deeper understanding of life. Whether it is the dangers of hubris or the rewards of real love - great stories will have something to say about it all. Even the comic book writers - at least the ones people like - try to do this as well.
A simple fact is this: if you make a lesson entertaining, people will learn. If you make your entertainment with a point, people will listen.
Section 2: Getting started
The key to getting started is to find what works for you. First, use something that you feel comfortable with - be it pen, pencil, a computer, whatever. I write using MS pocket word on a palmtop PC because it allows me to take my writing with me wherever I go. Thus, when I'm stuck in a line or having to wait (like now), I can merely take out my palmtop and write. Although many fanfic writers are not wealthy enough to afford such a thing, one can substitute a small, cheap notepad for this. Just make sure if one uses a pen that it's not out of ink. I try to write at least one hour each day, although twenty minutes is enough. Some people aren't comfortable using computers. For example, Dr. Wayne Dyer uses only a pen and paper to write. It works for him, so one should not mess with it. The younger generations are usually taught on computers, so most likely, the younger you are, the more comfortable you'll be with them. Since fan fiction is vastly predominant on the internet, this is what I will be concentrating on here. Most of what you will see from here on out works with fan fiction.
When writing fan fiction, gather as much information as possible. If you're reading this, then you have access to the internet. There is a web site for practically everything, just search for it. I actually saw one story that had a note at the beginning that read: "I don't know how cocaine affects the human body, so I'm just going to guess."
He couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with his guesses. I couldn't help but think, "This is why we have a Wikipedia, troll."
One never will know when a good idea will come. It's important to carry some way to transcribe that idea with you (be it paper and pen, a cell phone with text to yourself capabilities, a palmtop PC or whatever) at all times. For example, one time I was driving down I-45 in Texas going from Dallas to Houston when a good idea struck me. I had to pull over to scribble it down, and that got some weird looks. Had I not had a palmtop PC handy, I would have had to search for something to write on and write with (which I probably wouldn't have found.)
Section 3. Constructing the Framework
"If you fail to plan, plan to fail." - Anonymous.
It's crucial to have everything plotted out (if only in one's mind) before beginning. It's like a statue. Start with a block of granite (the language that one uses,) take out the proper tools, and chip everything away that's not part of the final product. The tools one needs are proper spelling and grammar. The final product is the story itself. Outlines are good structures to the story, but don't be a slave to them. It's a bit like a frame for a boat; the boat will float without one, but it will be much sturdier and better with it.
Section 4. Where can I find a good idea?
In his book Writing for Comics, author Peter David said that the writer must drag stories out of the ether. With this, I must "respectfully disagree." The ether is very happy to give one a mountain of ideas, as long as one asks for them correctly. This is, in part, an offshoot of studying mythology. It's not enough to read the metaphor; one needs to understand what it means. Perhaps one of the best ways to get ideas is to look around and let the imagination run wild. For example, recently I attended an anime convention where the hotel put the check-in area out in the parking garage. While it was only a minor inconvenience, it did serve as inspiration for a moment in Secret Agent Fangirl the series I'm writing. Just look around. There are mountains of ideas just waiting for one to take.
There is one bad idea no matter what it is: stealing someone else's idea. If one does use another's idea, at least give that person credit. At least try to contact that person and ask them if it's okay to use that idea. Not doing so is one of the many ways flame wars start. In a flame war, everyone is burned in the end.
Now that one has some ideas, let's se how to shape them into stories.
Section 5. Important Concepts and Character Creation.
I believe that one of the most important concepts in writing is the dirty window of perception. Briefly, it states that we all view life through a dirty window that consists of one's beliefs, attitudes, past experiences, etc. There's some debate about one's genetic makeup in this as well. Once one understands this concept, one can make characterization easier.
Let me make an example here. Take two different characters: Chiyo-chan from Azumanga Daioh, and Hellsing. Both of them stumble across a dead body with a sword stuck through the heart. How will they react?
Chiyo (screaming her head off) : ZOMG IT'S A DEAD BODY WITH BLOOD EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hellsing: Dead body. Meh.
This is more of an extreme example. Their reaction was different because of the lives they've led. Chiyo, at least in cannon, hasn't been exposed to lots of death and destruction. (Although there are some badfics out there that do this to her.) Hellsing, on the other hand, has this as almost a daily occurrence. The point of this is to think carefully before you write a character. Ask yourself this: if I had been raised as the character was, how would I react? What would I do in that situation? Doing things out of character for a character is a big no-no. One would not expect Chiyo to grab a pair of Uzis and start firing randomly, yet there is a story where she does this.
Original characters are not so easy to do. Invariably, there is a small part of the writer in his/her original characters. The trick is not to go overboard with this. Try to create a character with uniqueness to him/her, but not so weird as to put off the audience. It's also important that your characters have something the audience can identify with. In the case of one of my characters, Kimiko, she is often seen having to deal with the annoying things in life, just as we all do. It can get to you at times, but she does the best she can.
One should try to make the character believable. One way to do this is to show flaws in the character. In the case of Kimiko, she has flaws - She can't sing or dance, for example. In one story I've written, Kimiko is forced to dance, and falls flat on her bottom for it. Another way to do this is to show the character undergoing a shared experience. An example of this is at the beginning of Secret Agent Fangirl. Kimiko gets an annoying call from a phone solicitor. It's endearing because she has to deal with this. Heroes are better when the audience identifies with them. Similarly, the bad people should be hated. This is done by having them do something wrong or unlikable. In the case of Loudmouth (Kimiko's nemesis,) he is shamelessly perverted. He hits on a girl even though she's not interested.
However, there is a bunch of pitfalls when creating an original character. That's addressed in the section seven.
Section 6. Beginning: The disclaimer
Every good piece of fanfiction written has a disclaimer in front of it. One must remember that this is a legal matter and that it is done out of courtesy for the creators of the characters of which one writes. To use an analogy, writing fan fiction is like playing with someone else's toys: one has to be careful about what one does, as trouble ensues when things go wrong. A good disclaimer will consist of the following:
1. The creator of the fandom. Whether it's listed as an individual, a group of individuals or a company, it really shows that one cares if one mentions the creator's name.
2. The writer of the fanfic is not the creator of the fandom.
3. The writer is writing solely for fun and not making any money from this venture.
Legally speaking, should the creators decide to haul the fanfic writer into court, the burden of proof is on the writer that nothing was gained from this. Since most fan fiction writers aren't that wealthy, the creators will be putting the writer into severe debt. It's not worth it to omit this part.
On the other hand, one should keep the disclaimer simple. It's better not to add your personal touches to this. Here are some examples of disclaimers I've seen:
(From InuYasha story with an obvious Mary Sue in it): I didn't create InuYasha but I think he's really hot! Oh, I really want him bad! He WILL be mine! *wants InuYasha*
You and about 53,234,821 other fangirls. Get in line.
(From a Pokemon fic): I had fun writing this!
(From a Transformers fic): Meh, whatevah.
Someone this unclear on writing a disclaimer shouldn't be writing.
(From a Naruto fic): OHGODPLEASEDONTSUEMEICANTAFFORDITNOW!!!
(From a Fullmetal Alchemist story): Don't own
Don't own what? A brain?
(From another Fullmetal Alchemist story with a very obvious Mary Sue in it): I didn't create fullmetal alchemist but I did create Sarinethina and darnit, she's the best character in there!
Look Pygmalion, I don't care how much you love your obvious Mary Sue. Harping on her from the start is only going to turn the reader off.
Section 7. The Pitfalls and cliches.
Captain's log: Stardate: 1973. Iggy and the Stooges release "Search and Destroy." Roe vs. Wade, a Supreme Court decision in the USA, legalizes abortion. NASA launches the first space station, Skylab. In that same year, a fanzine for the original Star Trek called Menagerie, a story appeared called "A Trekkie's Tale." It featured a young, (age 15) brave and smart second Lt. named Mary Sue Whipple and was written by Paula Smith. Ms. Smith was parodying many of the bad things she was seeing in the stories that were being submitted to fanzines at the time. Mary Sue was said to be perfect and won the hearts of all the Enterprise male crew. In fact, she was so perfect everyone hated her. This is the origin of the name Mary Sue. Since then, Mary Sues cropped up all over the place, but especially online. The Male version, the Gary Stu (also known as the Marty Stu) is also very perfect. The first Mary Sue is unknown. Perhaps she was Isis from ancient Egypt, Psyche from Greek mythology or somewhere else. The first Gary Stu is also unknown. It could possibly be Gilgamesh from Babylonian tradition. Some theories state that they actually predate the spoken word. In caves, there are pictures of hunters bringing down the massive animals with their spears. It is conceivable that they are Gary Stus.
So why do people hate Sues and Stus? First, they tend to make other characters around them act out of character. (For example, let's say a Stu bamfs into Naruto. If he hasn't won the heart of at least on girl, he's not a Stu per se, unless he goes around killing everyone successfully. In this case, He'll easily take down many people in no time at all.) Secondly, Mary Sues/Gary Stus bring with them many cliches and make plots very predictable. "Everyone loves Mary Sue/Gary Stu!" and Mary Sues/Gary Stus always save the day are but two of the millions of cliches out there. Cliches drag the plot down and turn your readers off. They don't want the same old stuff, unless you make it new and dynamic.
I'd also like to take a moment to talk about Johnny Depp syndrome (a.k.a. Heath Ledger syndrome.) Just because one thinks an actor/actress is TEH SMECKSY is no reason why one should write about his/her characters getting romantic with someone (especially an obvious Mary Sue/Gary Stu.) In Depp's case, I didn't mind it so much when he was playing Edward Scissorhands or Captain Jack Sparrow. However, with him as Sweeny Todd... No. Sweeny Todd was a psychopathic killer. However, the Suefics had him as being "misunderstood." No. That is wrong, very wrong. In the case of Heath Ledger, it wasn't so bad when he was in Brokeback Mountain. However, as the Joker...
Another pitfall is review whoring. Sure, you want as many reviews as possible, but that shouldn't be the focus of it all. I have stories that have over three thousand pageviews without any reviews. If one writes stories just for reviews, one shouldn't be writing. Review whoring is very dumb, especially when one holds the next chapter hostage by saying "I want X number of good reviews or no more chapters!" (Readers find this especially annoying.) Write fan fiction for the love of the craft, not to boost your ego. If you want to inflate your ego, go play some videogame. It will save us all the trouble.
The third pitfall also relates to reviewing. It's having your friends give rave reviews to your work even if they didn't read it. This will not help you one bit. The herd mentality will prevent someone from giving the feedback that is really needed. To use an analogy, creative ability is like a garden. Each story made is like a plant in that garden. Constructive critiques are like fertilizer and water; they help the garden grow better, healthier and stronger plants. Having your friends dote on the story is like putting sand and salt on the garden. Soon, nothing will grow.
Sometimes, truth will hurt. However, it's not what life gives one that builds character; it's what one does with the things live gives that builds character. In the words of the cliche, you have to hurt someone to love them sometimes. I'll go more into depth on this later.
Section 8. Character interaction and conflict.
Characters not interacting with each other in a story invariably will be boring. There are really five types of interaction; romantic, platonic, apathetic, confrontational and a mixture of the above.
Romantic interaction means the characters like each other enough to be lovers. They find each other to be TEH SMECKSY or have qualities that the other desires. This can be overt ("I love you") or covert ("I want to tell you how I feel, but I just can't.") Covert romantic interaction often involves conflict, which will be discussed later.
Platonic interaction involves interaction on a friendly level. The characters are nice to each other, but do not show romantic interests. They're just friends, be it people of the opposite or the same gender, or genderless beings.
Apathetic interaction is usually not very involved. The beings just don't care about each other. They're either talking just to talk or one has information the other needs. Characters interacting on an apathetic level don't do a lot of interaction. Another example of this: in the old days, it was required for men to tip their hats to a woman. Often a man would simply pass by a woman and tip his hat. He wouldn't slow down, and neither of them cared to talk to each other.
Confrontation involves two characters disagreeing about something. It need not be violent, but there should be some form of disagreement. It can be based on a misunderstanding, covert or overt act, or anything else.
There are three basic conflict types, and I'm taking the liberty of politically correcting the language from the normal way it's depicted.
The first is entity vs. entity. Two beings, be they human, alien, robot or whatever do not get along. (This is normally written man vs. man, but this kind of conflict can be woman vs. woman, or genderless being vs. genderless being, etc.) The conflict results from the interaction of the two entities. It can result in one of four ways: one side is defeated; both sides call it a draw, an outside entity interferes, causing the two parties to stop fighting or both sides end up losing.
The second conflict is entity vs. nature. This is some entity enduring or being at conflict with an act of god. An example of this is the tale The Strike at Sulphur Creek. In it a young man in Alaska finds some gold in Sulphur Creek. As he starts to return to town to cash in his find, a blizzard hits. Now it's a fight for him to survive. The entity is facing off against something that is not controlled by a specific entity. (Thus an entity-made storm is entity vs. entity.) Whether it is a meteor strike, a thunderstorm, a hurricane, a dust storm or whatever, the entity must struggle to overcome the adversity. (In the case of Sulphur Creek, the man makes it to town only to find it has been destroyed by the blizzard.) Another example of this is a story where a woman had the floor buckle under her and she fell into the basement of the place and fractured her leg. Since she was alone in the place, she must struggle up a bunch of stairs with a broken leg to get help. In this case, the nature was her falling and the broken leg.
The third conflict is entity vs. itself. Usually the entity in question is faced with a difficult decision, or is told to do something contrary to its nature, and must decide to obey or not. Once that decision is made, there can still be conflict against itself. It can lead to problems.
Character interaction can be mixed, and often the results of this are disastrous. An example is when character a wants to interact on a romantic level, whereas character b wants to be confrontational. Another type is when both characters want to be at one level but believe the other wants it at another level. They are nervous about things usually. ("Does he really love me? I can't tell!")
Character interaction can change an infinite number of times in a conversation. It can easily and instantly go from romantic to confrontational to friendly and back as much as one needs. It's all dependent on the character's motivations.
Section 9. Plot
Without a plot, characters will not know what to do. There needs to be specific goals for the characters to achieve. Otherwise, they just mill about doing nothing. They need something to aim for, a goal to achieve. It doesn't need to be grandiose - just something simple will do. In the case of The Strike at Sulphur Creek, the goal was simply to travel from the mining camp to the town.
Characters can have multiple goals, or discover that the goal they wanted to achieve would lead them to an undesirable situation. (Fullmetal Alchemist was like this; once Ed and Al found out about what it took to make a philosopher's stone, they found themselves mired deep in a plot to take over hatched by Dante.)
Traditionally, the plot was seen as a bell curve - Start, build up tension to the climax, then down (denouement,) then resolve things. Lately, however, fluctuations have appeared in the line. This is because of stories where tension builds, eases and builds again to the climax and denouement. Tension can go up and down anywhere in the story. The key is that things are resolved by the end of the story.
One cardinal rule one should never break is this: make the story believable. It's NEVER a good idea to make the reader go what the hell. That'll invariably get you sent to the badfic websites. Every story, especially sci-fi and fantasy ones, requires a bit of suspension of disbelief. They key to it all is moderation. Moderate what you do and how everything progresses.
One other thing one will have to decide is the viewpoint from which to tell the story. The types are:
1. First being omnipotent: One being is telling the whole story. This being is more or less standing outside the story, understands everything and is merely describing what goes on. Many stories are written like this, mainly because it's easy. If one is just starting out, one should use this.
2. First being limited: One being tells the story. However, this being does not understand everything, and is often involved in the story itself. The Strike at Sulfur Creek is told from the point of view of the man caught in the snowstorm.
3. First being multiple: This type is rarely used, as it's very tricky to do right. The story is told from the point of view of more than one person. That is to say, one paragraph was written by one character while another was written by another character. The best example of this that I know is the Doctor Who novel The Romans. It's difficult because one can easily fall into a problem where character A tells us something he/she/it should not know by accident. It's also fun because sometimes characters can see things differently, and this can confuse the reader.
Section 10. Beta Reading
This is something that is crucial for good fan fiction. Have at least one person read your story over before publishing it - two if possible. Someone else can catch some of the problems that may be missed.
I've been blessed with one of the better beta readers, a man by the name of Icehole. Although his career in fanfic was brief (he wrote from about 2000-2002) he still gives me good advice whenever he can. The point of a beta reader is to look at a story subjectively and tell the writer what is wrong with the story. Then the beta should give tips on how to improve.
Spelling and grammar are important. It's annoying for a reader to come across a misspelled word. There are web sites that will correct one's spelling and grammar; they'll be in the end. There is really no excuse not to do this. People will appreciate those that take the time to do things right more. One's ego should be put aside for the quality of the work.
The first beta reader should be oneself. Once finished, go back over and read it from beginning to end. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. summed it up best when he talked about editing oneself:
"Be merciless to yourself. If the words do not leap off the page, cut them out."
In other words, when a story is finished, it's only half-done.
Also don't forget to spell and grammar check it before sending it to the beta reader. A good beta might do this for you, but it's better not to risk it. Also remember the beta reader is doing one a favor by helping one see some of the mistakes made before one publishes.
Section 11. Reviews
Reviews are nice, but they don't always come. They shouldn't be the focus of one's writing. What one really should be looking for in your stories are pageviews. Many fanfic readers are too lazy to leave a review. Some leave reviews like "YOU SUCK!" without saying why. On one story I had someone tell me that s/he didn't like how I criticized their work, so they were going to leave negative reviews on all my works. (This is why many of my AFF.net stories are often rated one star. "Guest" [that was the person's handle] wrote reviews like "This story is so bad that they only way to fix the problem is for you to stop writing.") Just ignore them. What one should be looking for is constructive critiques. This will really tell you how to improve things. If someone tells you "I think it would be more in character for this character to do this." Do NOT go fanbrat on them and tell them they're wrong. They are trying to help.
Reviews are your friend, but if you don't get any, look at the pageviews. If you're getting tons of pageviews and no reviews, you're doing something right. Some sites will let you favorite a story. If you're getting favorites outside of your friends, then you're doing something right. AFF.net lets one do this, and I've been favorited a couple of times there.
Now let's talk about giving reviews. It's not helpful just saying it's bad. Tell them what you didn't like, and what they can do to improve the situation. Be polite and helpful, as one never knows how an author will react. In the case of "Guest," I was trying to be helpful (IIRC he had Asuna from Negima being all sugary-sweet, which is a bit out of character for her) but he took it as a personal assault to his self-worth.
Finally, it's not necessary to thank the reviewers, but they appreciate it if one does. It also helps to address the concerns of the reviewers as well.
Section 12. Actual Posting
Many sites will let one post stories. For everyday stories, I post here, and for adult material, I post at AFF.net. Where one posts is up to the individual. The larger archives will give one the potential for more pageviews, but then you'll also have troll flames as well. I personally do not have a fanfiction.net account, mainly because when it first started out there was someone named q amp that plagiarized and was banned. When I put in quamp, the system thought "Oh, this is q amp making a tiny variation in his name" and thus refused to let me sign up. I'm not upset about this; even the best writers have had roadblocks to their works. For example, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is considered a literary classic. Yet when she tried to have it published, no less than seventeen firms rejected it. In more recent times, someone pulled off the stunt of submitting it again to a bunch of publishing firms, only changing the characters' names. Only one out of about fifty firms caught the plagiarism. The rest merely rejected it.
Another question that gets asked is "Should I wait until I'm done and post everything or post one chapter at a time?"
Use your own judgment on this.
I tend to wait until finished, but some people work fine by posting a chapter at a time. However, should one do that, one may run the risk of having to alter an earlier chapter because of a curve ball the story threw in its progression. Then you'll have reviews saying "But you said in chapter X s/he couldn't do that!"
Section 13. Fun with Fonts
A font can help get the personality of a character across. It can also be very annoying to a reader as well. The lists below can include hundreds of other fonts as well.
A stiff, formal-looking font like this Edwardian Script can convey that a character is very stuck-up or of the upper classes. Others like this include English111, and English 157.
Curlz font here can convey sugary-sweetness to the text. Other fonts like this include Wendy Medium.
You Murderer will convey acute psychosis or utter evil. Other fonts in this category include Creepy, Earwig Factory, X-cryption and Creepygirl. (Although in the case of Earwig factory, one has to increase the size of the text to make it readable.)
Blackadder ITC here is good for pirates or pirate-era stories
Chinese Takeaway here is good for conveying someone oriental who has trouble with English, or parodying chopsaki theater.
keypunch is good for robots speaking or robot-like voices. Another font like this is Circuit Bored.
However, you should keep this to a minimum, and don't go overboard with it. I usually try to limit myself to three maximum per story, and no more than two within the same paragraph. As you can see here, too many different fonts don't look very good next to each other. Usually, one font is sufficient to convey your message.
Section 14. Miscellaneous Stuff
"The future of Rock and Roll isn't the cigarette hanging from the lip or the guitar slung right, because that's been done before; the future of rock and roll is the guy sitting in his bedroom doing something nobody's ever done before." - Elvis Costello
The above quote can be applied not just to music, but also to writing, acting, art, or almost any other pursuit. Since many of the fandoms I write in are anime/manga, I'd like to take a moment to talk about the use (and abuse) of foreign languages in fanfic. It's okay to do this, but do not go overboard with it. For example, in one story I read, the author had used a Japanese term (incorrectly, I might add) then went into an author's note about how s/he was so TEH SPESHUL for doing this. Using a foreign language does NOT make one TEH SPESHUL. It does make one TEH ANNOYING. Remember that much of your American audience (most people who read and write fanfiction are American) are monolingual in English. The ones in other places except Japan aren't likely to know Japanese either. Use it sparingly, and only when necessary. If you want a character to be speaking Japanese, use brackets or the <> symbols and note that it means they're speaking in another language. Which brings us to another point: if one does things the same way every time, that will turn readers off as well. Getting too bogged down in cliches can really hurt a fic.
Another thing one should do if writing characters from another culture is to study that culture. It's bad when American fanfic writers, in their ignorance, think of Japanese schools as just like theirs only with school uniforms. Japanese schools are quite different. Just research things before doing them. Another thing that fanbrat writers do is assume that Japanese people talk as they do in anime. That is VERY wrong. For example, recently in an anime a female character said ore desu when talking to her boss. There are several problems with just those two words:
1. Ore is used by male speakers only. Ore is said to have a "rough, masculine feel" to it. While Japanese women may use ore, it is strictly when speaking to herself.
2. Ore is a very informal word. There are four levels of politeness in Japanese; rude/condescending, friendly, plain polite and very polite. Ore is usually put at the first level. Desu is put at the third and fourth levels. The sentence should have been "watashi desu" or "watakushi desu" as she was speaking to her boss.
Something that I've never understood was this frequently seen author's note:
"Sorry I haven't updated in a week. I promise I'll try to update more often!" First of all, quality cannot be rushed. If I feel a fanfic isn't good enough, I'll go back and edit it and rework it, no matter how long it takes. If one's viewers are impatient, then simply tell them that you will not sacrefice quality for speed. Unfortunately, in today's get-it-done-yesterday world, patience is becoming a lost art. Secondly, there are no specific time limits on writing fan fiction. Nowhere is there a rule that one must produce so many fan fictions in a month. (If there was, I wouldn't be a fanfic writer.) The writer sets the rules about publishing schedules, nobody else does. (Although if one plans to turn professional, then one should try to be on a schedule, but don't be a slave to it.)
Also be specific as to what kind of fan fic it will be, and don't wander back and forth between types. For example, if you start off with a shipfic, don't wander over into a bashfic. This will turn off your readers very quickly.
Songfics are something I try to avoid, mainly because a lot of the songs people choose are crassly commercial fluff that nobody likes. (Songs like Friday by Rebecca Black, for example.) However, if you do a songfic, try to make the song's lyrics flow logically into the story. Don't have a huge fight in a songfic if your song is a romantic ballad, unless they're fighting for love.
Finally, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Some of the toughest lessons I've learned were done through really screwing up a fic. One can always go back and fix things in most places (or at least remove them.)
There will be a separate section for adult literature, as I want everyone to see this, but only the adults should be doing adult literature. Kids, just because one saw a porno film online does not make one an expert at sex. I'll go into detail on this in that chapter.
Section 15: For Further Reading.
There are quite a number of sources out there on how to write stories. These are but a few that have helped me. Simply copy and paste these links into the browser.
David, Peter. Writing for Comics
Many people bash Peter just for the sake of bashing him. Although his book didn't teach me anything new, it did confirm much of what I suspected to be true. This is just a basic intro guide for those that want further information or writing seen through someone else's dirty window of perception.
These should help you get started in studying the things you need.
Bauman, Bill. Oz Power.
Dr. Bauman takes us on a journey though The Wizard of Oz, using the story as a metaphor for various ways to overcome the challenges in life. It can be bought at http://www.billbauman.net
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This one is one of his first books and one of the most powerful. Studying mythology should begin with this book. Many libraries will have this book or it can be found at amazon.com.
Sites one can visit.
There are sites out there that can help.
The Mary Sue test: http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm - is your original character a Mary Sue/Marty Stu? This test will help you find out. Kimiko rated a six on this test.
Why, God Why: http://whygodwhy.forumotion.com/index.htm - this is a site that bashes bad fanfiction. There are really only two boards one should be concerned with: antidotes and discussion of what makes a badfic, Fanfic tropes. The rest is mostly anger and bile. However, these two boards will tell you want to avoid and what to do. Please also be aware that this site does contain a lot of adult material. (The really bad ones are kids under 12 doing porn.)
How to write fan fiction: Tips for Writing, and Making Sure Somebody Reads Your Fanfiction http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/44027/how_to_write_fanfiction_tips_for_writing.html?cat=2 Concerns itself mainly with Harry Potter fandom, but does give tips in general. Site is broken into sections.
Amateur to Amateur:
Gives 184 tips to writing good fan fiction.
Google return for fanfiction writing tips: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Writing+fanfic+tips&aq=f&oq=&aqi=
Deviantart Article #44114: Tips on Writing - http://news.deviantart.com/article/44114/
Because DA would probably get upset if I didn't include this one.
http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=§ion=&q=Writing+tutorial#order=9&q=%22Writing+tutorial%22 Results on DA for "Writing tutorial."
Spell/grammar checking websites.
These sites will check your spelling and/or grammar free. Using a word processing package without a spellchecker is no excuse.
Free online spell checker: http://www.jspell.com/public-spell-checker.html
Orangoo spell checker: http://orangoo.com/spell/
Google results for "Spell check website free" http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&num=20&q=spell+check+website+free&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g1
Google results for grammar check website free: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&num=20&q=grammar+check+website+free&aq=f&oq=&aqi=
Spell Check Plus: http://spellcheckplus.com/ - checks spelling and grammar at the same time.