191: Penning the Perfect Fanfiction

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Penning the Perfect Fanfiction

The quickest way to a gamer's heart is through his imagination - and what better way to capture it than through a delicious piece of fanfiction? Peter Parrish offers five and a half easy steps to crafting your videogame-inspired masterpiece.

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It's really surprising how many games in established franchises really play out like giant fanfictions.

The Paper Mario series includes it all: Friendly members of the opponent races you usually just massacre, the Literary Agent Hypothesis, the uncharacteristically biting humor, and in the later games, a bigger evil that causes Mario and Bowser to be fighting on the same side for a while.

Final Fantasy X-2 was the first real "sequel" in the FF series, and has you on a quest to bring a character who died at the end of the last game back to life, while putting the female characters in a variety of Stripperiffic outfits. Oh, and you have to fight a brand-new villain, the logic of whose presence is dubious (terrific stuff, isn't it?).

Many of Sonic's recent games have been rather fanfiction-esque too. And the Dead or Alive X-treme series... well, you get the idea.

You are a very, very, very bad man and now I have to pick muffin fragments out of my monitor... or explain their presence to IT somehow.

Well done.

-- Steve

Let's be honest, Diddy Kong would win.

You are a bad, bad person. My inner writer is writhing in pain now. I hope you are happy.

I may have tried to read this on my lunch break at work. I may also have wound up looking like a lunatic laughing hysterically while choking on cornbread.

I shall take your excellent advice as soon as I get home. I'm seeing an unlikely romance between Kairi and Thrall. I'm envisioning it unfolding in the Star Wars universe... You see, Kairi can travel between worlds, and Azeroth is actually in the Outer Rim....

I'm gonna be a hero.

Dark Messiah-Bratz Ponys you say....

One thing you missed out on though. NO MARY/GARY SUES!

If I see one more damn "Reader Fantasy Character", I'll assume it's just Russel T gone back to his original idiocy.

Solipsis:
I may have tried to read this on my lunch break at work. I may also have wound up looking like a lunatic laughing hysterically while choking on cornbread.

I shall take your excellent advice as soon as I get home. I'm seeing an unlikely romance between Kairi and Thrall. I'm envisioning it unfolding in the Star Wars universe... You see, Kairi can travel between worlds, and Azeroth is actually in the Outer Rim....

I'm gonna be a hero.

My god, it might just work. Consider me subscribed to your fanfiction.net account until this epic tale has been told.

Actually, some advice as to the best places to publish your fanfiction would have been handy :)

Other than that, cute article, but if anyone is planning to take it seriously, be careful with #3: planning to write a 500 page epic will yield an unfinished 500 page epic 99% of the time. Start small. The deviant porn will get you enough attention even with a modest 5-pager :)

vaga_koleso:

Other than that, cute article, but if anyone is planning to take it seriously, be careful with #3: planning to write a 500 page epic will yield an unfinished 500 page epic 99% of the time. Start small. The deviant porn will get you enough attention even with a modest 5-pager :)

"I'm pretty sure nobody is going to take this seriously," he said snidely, striding manfully down the hallway with his laptop computer balanced precariously on his super pimped-out TV tray. It was totally inlaid with diamonds and also more diamonds, which is what made it so pimp. "Hark! A parody do I see!"

The_root_of_all_evil:

One thing you missed out on though. NO MARY/GARY SUES!

If I see one more damn "Reader Fantasy Character", I'll assume it's just Russel T gone back to his original idiocy.

You're absolutely right, fanfiction is rife with this. I was already pushing at the limits of my wordcount though, so I don't think I could've addressed it with anything more than a throwaway line - probably not enough to do the problem justice, alas.

And of course this piece is supposed to be taken seriously ...

I got a good chuckle out of that, nice little story. Any plans for a follow up?

This was a hilarious article that poked fun at many of the reasons why I consider fanfiction to be the bane of ANYTHING; video game, anime, TV show, or other. I do agree that you left out a major part by not mentioning Mary/Gary Sues in some way, which are ridiculously common in fanfictions. Other than that, I think a lot of the stupidity that occurs in most fanfics was mentioned.

I agree with most of the article. But one thing that really bugs me is that fanfiction is for the fans. If it's not then why write it. The thing is most people want it to be like the game, not a replica but seriously, who wants to read a comedy about the characters from a video game, if their not going to act like they do in the video game. It's possible to write a very good comedy about Solid Snake, but it shouldn't just be random stuff like "Snake beats up on old women on the side of the street, the lights up a joint." And that's the main problem with fanfiction, it doesn't appeal to the fans.

Ya' know, as tempted as I am to point and laugh at fanfic writers, I have to stop and remeber that I'm the guy who writes the stories with furries in them and thus have no ground to stand on here.

Yeah... <_<

*frowns*

My rage burns with the passionate fire of a thousand black suns, and i will brutally and monstrously tear your soul asunder before casting it into to the pit in which even angels weep. And then Gandalf will join forces with Richard to fuse your essence into a soda. Which i will drink, epically.

In all seriousness, using the overwhelming amnount of shit fanfic to discolor the practice as a whole would be me like immediately discrediting your article because of all the poorly worded rants that utterly flood the internet. There is good stuff out there, but you tend to only see the shit unless you dig. You see people drawing idiotic stick figures every day, but you still know that works like the Mona Lisa exist.

Fanfiction may be full of crap, but so is everything else. If i may humbly suggest, it's your own fault for not ignoring the utter garbage.

*ponders about following this guide word for word*

A Challenge most absurd and dangerous. Alas, I am not worthy enough to attempt such an act of Evil. (Thank god)

I laughed a great deal. If somebody actually uses this and does something worth reading, it would be hilarious.

Great article. Especially tip #4. If I have to beta read one more chapter needlessly littered with various forms of "to be," I will reach through the internet and slap the offending writer. Learn grammar, peons!

Er... *ahem*

There's one thing I would have liked to see addressed: the cliche. At a minimum, a writer should be aware that they are falling into a literary trap. Not that I expect most fan fiction writers to pay attention to them... No, I expect most would be authors to trip on the edge of the pit of cliches and fall in without ever noticing it to begin with. The 1% of good fanfic writers out there (yes, they do exist) either notice cliches and avoid them or deliberately put up big neon signs pointing to the "cliche of doom" in their writing.

Anyway, nice article :)

I read [and riff them with a friend afterwards] fanfiction. Had to kinda think about this, on the one hand I can't tell if the author is being sarcastic with some of his tips and advice. On the other hand, if it makes people write better fics, I'm all for it.

It's nice to see an article which recognizes fanfiction for what it truly is, a creative outlet for gamers, rather than smut pieces with your favorite video game characters in them.

I've read a bit of fanfiction, and so far, my experience with it has been a little strange. Sometimes I'll find a story that is so well written I could have sworn it had been copy+pasted out of the actual game; and sometimes I'll find one where Master Chief and Harry Potter team up to fight crime in Narnia.....nuff said.....

Any writer of fanfiction could stand to benefit from reading this article; I enjoyed it a lot!

Please do a follow up :)

Finally! An excuse to write that Gordon Freeman - Snake love story set in the Mushroom Kingdom I've always wanted to!

Personally I think fanfiction is a wonderful demonstration of people with too much time on their hands.

There is only one perfect fanfiction:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=OHxyZaZlaOs

;)

That said... Dark Messiah: Bratz Ponyz could come close.
Loved the comment about Henry V as well

whyarecarrots:
There is only one perfect fanfiction:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=OHxyZaZlaOs

I've lost count of how many times I've seen those videos - truly a masterpiece.

The "birds and sun coming down from the top of the sky" always gets me.

The_root_of_all_evil:
One thing you missed out on though. NO MARY/GARY SUES!

If I see one more damn "Reader Fantasy Character", I'll assume it's just Russel T gone back to his original idiocy.

Ah, but what is a fanfic without a Gary Stu/Mary Sue? Well, my definition of fanfic anyway.

And then you see something like this, realise it's a fanfic, and can not believe your eyes. No Mary Sues? No shipping (minus the one frame where Grace kisses Romana)? A genuine plot?

This ain't a fanfic. It's so much more.

I was in the middle of writing a webcomic revolving around Team Fortress 2's Engineer and his teleporter (due to working without an exit) being able to send people anywhere and everywhere. Naturally, fun with Gmod will ensue, and when it's done, you will finally witness a brawl between the Heavy and Left 4 Dead's Tank. Oh, Francis and The Demoman are related, and the Secret of the G-Man will be revealed, by the way.

Sound cool? Anyway, I will take this article into account for ideas.

RebelRising:

whyarecarrots:
There is only one perfect fanfiction:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=OHxyZaZlaOs

I've lost count of how many times I've seen those videos - truly a masterpiece.

The "birds and sun coming down from the top of the sky" always gets me.

The dead pants are a masterpiece of tragic scene setting as well.

"If i may humbly suggest, it's your own fault for not ignoring the utter garbage."

Unfortunately, the garbage floats to the top and the few serious, misguided attempts disappear into the abyss. Mainly because people have no taste whatsoever.

It goes like this: If you actually CAN write you're wasting your talent. If you CAN'T write then you're giving writers in general a bad rep. There's no way to win.

Dectilon:
It goes like this: If you actually CAN write you're wasting your talent. If you CAN'T write then you're giving writers in general a bad rep. There's no way to win.

Precisely what I suggested in the discussion for The Art of Fandom. The only way to win is not to play.

...and then John was a zombie.

This made me laugh a lot.

pparrish:
Penning the Perfect Fanfiction

The quickest way to a gamer's heart is through his imagination - and what better way to capture it than through a delicious piece of fanfiction? Peter Parrish offers five and a half easy steps to crafting your videogame-inspired masterpiece.

Read Full Article

Become a good writer, don't involve yourself in fanfiction. Almost any other method imaginable is more likely to improve your writing skill than pirating someone's ideas.

I'm sensing some sort of sarcasm or satire in the piece...

Hey, some fan fictions are really good. Just avoid the slash stuff, and you'll find lots of good things.

One of my favorite ones is The Legend of Minda. I haven't written any game ones, but I have written a Harry Potter one that doesn't have any of that crap he mentioned in his last section of the article. (Somehow, I feel that promoting fanfics here is, wrong somehow... :) )

Excellent article!
Seriously, a site like http://www.fanfiction.net/ can be, at best, be called a "collection of rather derivative works, of rather dubious quality". The term I like to use is "A raging madhouse. A certified nexus of idiocy"

RAKtheUndead:

Dectilon:
It goes like this: If you actually CAN write you're wasting your talent. If you CAN'T write then you're giving writers in general a bad rep. There's no way to win.

Precisely what I suggested in the discussion for The Art of Fandom. The only way to win is not to play.

In the words of someone more versed in Fanfic than I, you're missing the point. Fanfiction is social, sharing stories and skills with other people of a similar frame of mind. You aren't writing for an audience of potential readers, and hence 'wasting talent', you're writing for an established audience within accepted constraints. That's why they get posted on sites like Fanfiction.net, so the established audience and those who wish to read such stories can find them. The writer does not seek the reader in Fanfiction, the reader seeks the writer. People make friends, write reviews of other stories and help each other to rise in ability inside the community.

Fanfiction is inherently personal in it's rewards, and when people try to apply the standards of 'original' literature (That's a laugh) to it, they inevitably reach an incorrect conclusion about the motivations that drive the community.

And most importantly, Fanfiction doesn't want you. This isn't an insult, it's just the nature of Fanfiction (as discussed) to not actively seek readers outside of a narrow demographic. They post what they have for people they often know to read, or for other fans of that 'universe' to find. If you wander into their community, and seek out their stories, don't go complaining about what you find. Fanfiction writers are not exclusively writers of only Fanfiction, they just enjoy the challenge and community of that subsection of literature while they pursue their own stories.

Think of it like lawn bowls, amateur pottery or pigeon breeding. From the outside, very unfulfilling. But people involved in such communities only ever do what they do for the opinion of others in that community. The nuances of it may put off outsiders, but they don't mind because they are only competing against other bowlers, other potters or breeders. And most importantly, while these people choose to spend their time on such activities, they aren't defined by them. Steve is the finance manager of a large production company, he has two children and likes to fish. His favorite meal is nachos, and he often eats them while writing the occasional 40K fanfiction. Fanfiction isn't all consuming, it's a hobby, a pastime or often a way to explore the depths of a larger network like the aforementioned 40K.

Sure, articles like this highlight the shit that comes out of the community, but can you say the average 'original' story is any better? Can you say the creative process behind that two page masterpiece about a lost and magic race of mystic ancients with tri-bladed swords called 'vrudrungs' was any more professional than the mind behind 'Full-life consequences?'. Fanfiction has it's creative sins magnified by the fact that it is dealing with known characters, and thus it is easier to identify as find as pure shit. But those sins are hardly exclusive to it's members, because every such culture is full of hacks and idiots.

Penultimately, the article gets the motivations behind fanfiction wrong. The process doesn't go [Adoration/Devotion/Fanfiction] as a huge fan of 'Twilight' decides that the world needs to know just how much she loves the movie. No, often it comes from genuine inspiration. What if? What if the imperials had won and the empire had ruled the galaxy? They think, they imagine, they have a creative impulse as genuine and pure as the minds that came up with the original material, and then they are inspired to write about it. Just like Lucas did when he watched a western or samurai film and thought 'Fuck, this would be great in space!'. To say they think [mario] and then add plot and setting is inflammatory and ignorant of how sich things come to be. Inspiration or curiosity strikes, and a story is born.

Finally, i'd argue that writing well within the constraints of another persons vision is a hell of a lot harder than with your own setting.

I could go on for much longer, but i feel like i'm pissing into a hole of faux-justified prejudice here. I would have thought a community of gamers, who constantly whine about how mainstream society keeps misunderstanding their motivations and desires, would have a bit more maturity when looking on a very similar community.

I swear an oath to kill anyone who takes this advice...

Clashero:
Excellent article!
Seriously, a site like http://www.fanfiction.net/ can be, at best, be called a "collection of rather derivative works, of rather dubious quality". The term I like to use is "A raging madhouse. A certified nexus of idiocy"

Agreed good sir! Shall you join me in my quest against fanfiction?

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