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How to Write (Great) Fan Fiction - Part One: Before You Write

               Anyone can write fan fiction. That is easy. Even I can write fan fiction and that's saying something! Writing excellent fan fiction, though? That is an art. It takes time, practice and a little bit of knowhow to get it right.
              I am Zoni. I am a writer and a fan author. I decided to create this tutorial series to help budding fan authors (and maybe even some of you seasoned pros) improve your skills, learn a better way to write and get more out of your fan fiction.
               In these tutorials, I will show you how to write a complete piece of fan fiction, from beginning to end. I will show you my method for taking an ordinary story and raising it to above-average standards. I have a very set routine for how I write, and it lets me get more done in less time without sacrificing quality. So, I will be showing you my personal method and how you can make it work for you. While this first section of the tutorial is entirely text, the second part is actually a PDF. Hopefully that won't bug you too much!
               Since this is a fan fiction tutorial, I have used examples from series I write for. For me, that is primarily Kuroshitsuji, Inuyasha and U-Kiss. If you do not follow any of these fandoms, that's fine. You should not have any trouble with using this tutorial.

               Before we get started, let us cover some basic fan fiction vocabulary:

                              Fan Fiction - Any poetry, prose or role playing that is done in a universe other than one you own.

                              Media - Also called your source, your media is the original form of whatever you are writing about, be it a book or a movie. If you are writing a Harry Potter fan fiction, then the Harry Potter books and movies are your media.

                              Direct Reference - A direct reference is any line, quote or term that directly refers back to the original material. For example, 'Holy rusted metal, Batman!' is a direct reference to Batman.  

                              Fandom - The fans and community for your chosen media. This may consist of your readers, other fan fiction authors and just fans in general. These people are your best asset!

                              In Character - When a character behaves in their normal and expected way, they are in character.

                              Out of Character - When a character does something outside of the bounds of their normal personality and/or capabilities, they are considered out of character.

                              Plot Hole - Any unexplained or unresolved story lines or elements are called plot holes. If you do not have a logical reason for it, it is probably a plot hole. A plot hole can also involve a story being inconsistent, such as when a character who is missing an arm magically grows it back without explanation.

               Well, now that we have covered some of the vocabulary, let's get started!

               [What is fan fiction?]

               Fan fiction is any poetry, prose or role play that is based off of someone else's works. Yes, even role playing counts as fan fiction if you are playing in the world of Harry Potter or Doctor Who. Think about it. You are telling a story about those characters or that world. Why would that not be fan fiction?

               [What makes fan fiction 'good' or 'bad'?]

               There are many things that determine whether your story will be shuffled into the good pile or the bad pile. Think about the last piece of fan fiction you read. What did you notice about it? Were there things that you liked? What would you have changed to make it better?
               Spelling, grammar and formatting definitely top the list for things that will set your story apart from the crowd. Right under that, believability and characterization.
               In the last story that you read, were the characters put into realistic situations? Did they behave in ways you would expect them to? If they did, you probably enjoyed the story. If not, you probably felt that the story was poorly written or a waste of time.
               As a fan author, it is your job to get to know the characters and learn how they will behave in any number of situations. It is not an easy thing to do. You will probably have trouble with it when you first begin writing. As a general rule of thumb, if you cannot picture the character doing something, then they probably would not do it. If they would not do it, you should not be writing about it!
               Along with the characters and grammar, there is one other thing that will definitely bring your stories to the front of the line. Research.
               I'll say this until you're sick of hearing it, but the devil is definitely in the details. Telling a story is great, but the time and effort you put into the world and people will really bring it to life. Even if you do not know much about a series, it is usually pretty easy to spot when the author of a story doesn't know what they are talking about. It might take you a little longer to find out what style of tie that character wears, but is it really worth losing readers because you didn't bother?


Before You Write

               Even before you sit down and start outlining the basic plans for your fan fic, you have a few things that you will need to do first. You wouldn't just throw a bunch of paint on a canvas and expect a masterpiece, so why are you trying to do that with words? Before you write, you will have to make some decisions.

               [Choosing Your Fandom]

               More likely than not, the reason that you decided to write fan fiction is because you had a fantastic idea for a particular series or character. Good for you! Inspiration is a wonderful thing to have.
               However, before you decide what media you want to write for, go look over some of the fan fiction that already exists for your particular source.
               When you write a story, you are not just posting words up on the internet. You are becoming part of a community of writers and fans. Never forget that. What you are writing for does not matter. When you publish your story on a website, blog or gallery you will be contributing to that community. You wouldn't join a club without finding out what they were about. So, don't post fan fiction without learning what the other authors are doing!

Ask yourself these questions:

­• What type of story do I want to write?
Does this media have any questions that it leaves the viewers/readers/fans asking?
Do I know the characters and world well enough to write about it believably?
Do I have access to the media?
Will I have any readers?
Will I be happy with the feedback I will get from this fandom?
Will I be able to find answers to any questions I might have about the media?</i>

               [What type of story do I want to write?]

               Nothing condemns a story to the bad fan fiction pile faster than a story written for the wrong series. Does that sound impossible? It isn't.
               If you are an anime fan, you are probably well aware of stories that have Inuyasha becoming a rock star. Or, let's see, Harry Potter running for President of the United States. If you really want to write about a rock star, there are plenty of real rock stars that you could write about. The same goes with the presidential campaign. Always make sure that your story is appropriate for the media you are writing for.
               How do you do that? It is simple. Ask yourself one question - would it happen in the source material? If the answer is yes, you are good to go. If the answer is no, you probably should not try writing it.
               The thing that makes great fan fiction so enjoyable is the fact that it feels like an extension of the original. If something is too far outside the bounds of the original universe, you will never be able to feel like you are reading more about those characters and that world.

               [Does the media have any questions that it leaves the viewers/readers asking?]

               Obviously, you are going to need something to base your stories off of. While some of the best fiction I have ever read came from someone wondering 'What would happen if so-and-so did this?', you will find plenty of inspiration in plot holes. Yes, I said plot holes. If a movie leaves something unexplained, don't you find yourself wondering what happened? Write about that. The more plot holes you find, the more possibilities you have for great fan fiction. Open-ended plots are always great, too.

               [Do I know the characters and world well enough to write about it believably?]

               To make your fan fiction enjoyable, you need to make the characters believable.
               It's not about guessing and saying 'Well, I guess he would do this...'. It is about knowing. Pick a media you know well. Before you write anything, spend some time getting to know the characters all over again. Sit down and watch a couple episodes. Read through a few volumes of the manga. Heck, turn that movie on while you are doing dishes. A great plot can only carry a story so far. In the end, it will be your portrayal of the characters and the world they live in that will really make the words jump off the page.
               From the moment you start planning, those characters are your new best friends. Do you want some practice, just to make sure you know what you are doing? Try interviewing the characters. Make a list of basic questions and then try answering them from that character's point of view. If you get stumped on a question - go find the answer!
               I'll be honest. Eventually, you will probably come up against a situation that even the most obsessed fangirl could not give you an answer to. What should you do in those situations? Look at your media.
               For almost every situation, your source should have an answer for you. It may not always be obvious, but it is there. Look for situations that are similar in nature, or watch the way your character reacts when similar things happen to the people around him. If the situation is so far fetched that you cannot figure out the right reaction, maybe you should take a look and see if that situation even has any business in your story.

               Being a fan author gives you a lot of power. You are a god. You can choose whether characters live or die, fall in love or break up. You can even become a mad scientist and do crazy, weird experiments on them. Just remember to use your powers for good rather than evil. Unlike original fiction authors, the characters in your story are already dictated. While your readers will expect you to bend the rules, be careful that you do not break them.
               One thing most people do not consider is that you need to know more than just the characters. Getting to know the characters is a good start, yes, but you need to know the world, too. How many doors down from her bedroom is the bathroom? How long will it take your traveling group to go from point A to point B? Find out. Never assume you know the answer, either. Check. Even the most minor details are important. You may very well spend more time researching than you do actually writing the story.
               Does Bruce Wayne have a lamp on his nightstand? I don't know, but I could find out. As an author, it is your job to find out and put those things into the story. They may seem minor, but you can be certain that one of your readers (and probably most of them) will adore you for the extra care you have put into it. Details like that are nothing to feel silly over. I spent four hours researching where a particular mirror hung on one character's wall for one of my fan fics. It took a while, but the effort paid off.

               [Do I have access to the media?]

               This is an absolute must. It doesn't matter what you are writing about, you have to have the original on hand. If it is an anime, make certain you have all of the episodes at your disposal. It does not matter if you own the DVDs or are watching them via YouTube. With book series, it is great to own copies of all the books. Even better than having all those paperbacks? E-books. It will save you a lot of time if you can search for a phrase and reference certain scenes rather than having to sit and flip pages for an hour while you look for something.
               If you are writing for an anime or manga, you will have a difficult decision to make. Most series have both an anime and a manga. The plots, events and characters tend to differ between the two. You will have to decide which one you want to write about, and make sure you have the source material available to you.
               Another word of caution - some anime series have sequels and OVAs that may also change the universe. Kuroshitsuji, one of my favorite things to write for, has multiple OVAs, a sequel series and two musicals. For that particular fandom, one of the main characters has a vastly different personality depending on which one you are watching. I always have to decide what version of that universe I want to write in before I even start planning a story for it.
               It is possible to write somewhere in between the various sources but it requires keeping an even closer eye on the details, just to make certain you do not create more plot holes. It can also get confusing for readers, who may not be familiar with some of the source material you are referencing. In the end, you will need to use common sense to decide what works best for you and your readers.

               [Will I have any readers?]

               Different fandoms attract different people. If you write for a newer media, you will probably have fewer readers than you might if you write for an older and well established title.
               Just because a series has a small following does not mean that you won't get many readers. It may just take more work for you to achieve the same amount of attention that you might get with a more popular media. Luckily, there are lots of ways to make certain that people hear about your writing, but we'll talk about that in another part of the tutorial.
               As a fan author, I am willing to bet that you are writing because you actually want people to see what you can come up with. If you prefer to keep your writing private then feel free to ignore all of this. If you are a bit of an attention whore, though, you will probably find yourself struggling to write when you do not get the responses that you wanted.

               [Will I be happy with the feedback I will get from this fandom?]

               Readers are good. Feedback is better. Some fan communities will give more feedback than others, regardless of the quality of the stories written for them. Others will give no feedback at all.
               Different fandoms also tend to give different types of feedback. With some, you will get many favorites but few comments. Another, you might find yourself overwhelmed with comments but no favorites. I have run into one or two that have garnered a lot of e-mail and private messages, but not had a single comment or favorite on the story itself.
               Just because you are getting a lot of comments does not mean that they will all be good comments, either. It is a good idea to look at comments for stories that are similar to yours to get an idea of how critical the readers are. Some fandoms are very aggressive toward even the most minor mistakes. Others overlook all errors and just delight in a good piece of fiction. Believe me, no matter how hard you try, you will wind up with typos from time to time.
               Keep in mind that, no matter how mild a fandom may be, every community has its crazy people. Yes, I know. Crazy people reading fan fiction? Say it is not so! Crazy reviewers vary from the mild to the truly offensive. I tend to get one or two absolute nutcases per story. You can generally expect a variety of oddball responses, like that one guy who feels the need to tell you what needs to show up in your story. Or the girl who gets mad when the main character flirts with someone other than the girl she wanted him to wind up with. You may even get very aggressive comments and e-mails if readers become too upset. I have received actual threats over some of my Kuroshitsuji fan fiction.
               If you get a reviewer who is too offensive, do not forget that you can always block them, report them and (sometimes) remove their comments easily. Also, just because a comment is critical of your work does not necessarily mean that it is insulting. If someone is kind enough to give you an honest critique, you should always take time to thank them.

               [If I need help with something, will I be able to get answers to my questions?]

               Of all the questions you need to ask yourself before settling on a fandom, this is one of the most important. When you write for any media, you will inevitably come up with questions that you just cannot answer. You cannot remember everything, and your readers will not expect you to. However, you still need to check your facts. Never assume.
               Depending on what media you write for, you might have a wide variety of resources at your disposal if you need information. If you are not that fortunate, however, you will quickly discover that your most valuable resource is actually the very community that will be reading your stories. If you are on the fence about something, present it to your fellow authors and fans. See what they have to say. Heck, put it to a vote.
               Along with forums, you would do well to keep quick links to Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers on hand. Google is your friend, but sometimes it is quicker (and easier) to dig through Wikipedia for some information. Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers both have the same problem, however. Take the information you find there with a grain of salt - it may be incorrect.
               That being said, never underestimate the power of the fan-wiki. Other fans may have information that you do not have access to. Interviews with the original creators, drama CDs and Japanese magazine articles that do not frequently get translated make their way onto small, little known fan websites and wikis. For things like character height, background information and character differences (between manga and anime, or book and movie, for example) those websites are absolutely invaluable.


Gathering Your Tools

               You have gone through and made sure you know what media you are writing for. You are excited about getting into the fandom. You have got inspiration. Great! Now, it is actually time to get yourself ready to write. Step one? Gathering all of your tools.
               As a writer, you will obviously have to have eight different programs and an expensive word processor just to get started. Right?
               ... right?
               ... actually, no. You just need Notepad. Or any other basic, no-frills application that lets you input and save plain text.

               What about a spell checker, word count and all of that fancy stuff, you say? You don't need it. You have not even started planning yet. Why would you need all of that extra stuff? You will not need to look at anything like that until your story is completely finished. Even then, your internet browser should have all, or at least most, of the required functions built in.

               So, now that we have covered what you will need to write your fan fiction, are there any tools that you should avoid using? Yes.

• Dictionary - If you do not know what the word means, you have no business using it. Take that dictionary and toss it in the trash!

• Thesaurus - The best writing is always simplistic and easy to understand. As with the dictionary, if you cannot think of it off the top of your head, you probably have no business using it. The only time I find it acceptable to use a thesaurus is when it is three in the morning and you find yourself using the same word twenty times in five sentences, but at that point... you probably oughta just go to bed.

• Japanese to English Dictionary - Or vice versa. I have seen people whip out some bizarre phrases that they obviously got off of a translator and it never works out well. You are writing fan fiction. It is geeky enough without you trying to add more geek to it, I promise.

               [Getting Rid of Distractions]

               The biggest problem that most authors have with trying to write a story is the fact that they are constantly distracted. Chatting with your girlfriend, watching a movie, reading a book. How are you supposed to write if you are doing all that? You need to get rid of the distractions around you. That is part of why I encourage you to write in Notepad, rather than OpenOffice or another program with all the shiny buttons to distract you from what you are supposed to be doing.

               Before you sit down to work on your fic, go ahead and grab something to eat. Get something to drink. Take a bath. Whatever it is, get it done before you sit down to write. Turn off your cell phone. Put up an away message. Are you getting the idea?
               Without distractions, you will be able to concentrate on the task at hand. That turns the meandering, weak story line you were working on earlier into a powerhouse of literature - and all because you were able to give it your full attention.
               With distractions, you are more likely to let plot holes slip by or pay less attention to things like how a character is behaving. You can usually tell when someone slacked has off on a story you are reading. It would be pretty embarrassing for someone to be able to think that exact same thing about you.
               Yes, I know. You are busy. Fan fiction is just a hobby. It does not matter - it is still an art. Even the busiest person can set aside ten minutes a day to devote to writing. Tell your friends and family you want some time to write. They will understand. Even if it is only for that ten minutes, you will be able to put forth your best effort for that entire span of time.

               Should you listen to music while you work? That is up to you. Some people do well with music, some do not. For me, it changes from day to day, but I find that classical music can help me to think better in general.
               If you do listen to music, take care that you do not accidentally start typing the lyrics to whatever you are listening to - it happens. And if you find yourself constantly flicking up iTunes and flipping to the next song, close it. That is just another way to distract yourself.


Japanese (and/or Korean) vs. English

               You have decided on your fandom. You have Notepad open. You have even managed to turn off the television so you could focus. Great! Now what?
               Before you dig in and get started with your planning, there is one last decision you have to make. If you are an anime or manga fan fiction author, you need to decide whether you are going to use English or Japanese (or Korean, or Mandarin or Hindi or...) terminology.
               There are a lot of things that will factor into your decision. Many series have phrases, terms or titles that are awkward when translated into English. On the other hand, it is problematic if your readers have a hard time figuring out what you are talking about.
               Whatever you decide, you will need to be consistent. do not write 'Kaze no Kizu' for one of Inuyasha's attacks and then turn around and have him call it a 'wind scar'. That's confusing. it is weird, and it is just generally a bad idea. Pick one and stick with it.
A few things to consider when deciding what to do with your Japanese/English phrases:

Will I lose some of the meaning if I switch languages?
Is there a secondary meaning in Japanese that I might want to keep?
Will it make sense in English?
If I keep the Japanese term, will my readers know what it means?
What should I do about name suffixes?
Should I translate a name?
How should I spell a name?
What should I do with Korean vocabulary?

               [Will I lose some of the meaning if I switch languages?]

               If I wrote Inuyasha fanfiction and had Sango call Miroku by his first name instead of calling him 'Houshi-sama', a lot would be lost. A change like that implies that their relationship has become much more personal than it was previously. it is also a step away from correctly portraying the characters. Simply put, it would make a major change to the characters (and/or the story) all for the sake of simply switching out a word. Sango will never call him Miroku, and so I will never write her as having done so unless I have a good reason for it.
               A lot of terms are things that we just do not have words for in English. Don't try to force something if it is not going to work. At the same time, putting utterly useless things in Japanese is annoying to readers. Using 'koibito' instead of 'lover', for example.
               If you are doing it because you have a hard time writing the word 'lover' with a straight face, then maybe you should not be using it at all. Nothing can ruin an excellent story the way random Japanese terms can. Ask yourself: Does this need to be here or is there a word in English that I can use? If you cannot find a suitable English word, use the Japanese.

               [Is there a secondary meaning in Japanese that I might want to keep?]

               I love Japanese word play. You can find it in almost any anime, manga or J-drama series. There are definitely times that you will want to keep some of that in your story. It is a great way to make a direct reference, pulling in material from the media you love and sharing a sort of inside joke with some of your readers. It can also be done well, if you are careful. Look for those alternate meanings to phrases while you are deciding whether to use English or Japanese terms and phrases.

               'I am one hell of a butler' is a phrase from the series Kuroshitsuji. It works just as well in English as it does in Japanese. It's a fun play on words, because the man who says it is a demon. In addition to that, the original phrase can also be translated as 'I am a demon and a butler.'
               Despite the fact that it is an obvious play on words, many authors still have that character randomly walking up to people and announcing that he is a demon. Or, worse still, saying 'I am a butler to the core' which really just makes him seem like a very creepy Mr. Clean. Using either of the last two translations kills the pun, and it makes him seem very out of character. In addition to that, it also kills some of the plot of the series that the story would be based off of.
               On a similar note, if you get tired of using the same phrase for something,  check and see what other people have done to circumvent that problem. For example, the dub of Kuroshitsuji has that character saying 'I am a devilishly talented butler'. Okay, so nobody can take the Kuroshitsuji dub seriously, since half the British people in it are voiced by Texans, but the phrase itself is not terrible. There are some series you will not want to do this for, of course, but looking into alternate translations is not necessarily a bad thing.
               For another Kuroshitsuji example, a character named Grell occasionally addresses the character Sebastian as 'Sebas-chan'. This is a fairly obvious pun involving Sebastian's name. And yet, check any fan fiction site out there and you will find someone writing 'Little Sebas' (or worse, Bassy) in their story rather just including 'Sebas-chan'. Strange, but it happens. A lot. It really, really shouldn't. Readers would not have a hard time understanding 'Sebas-chan', especially if they're a fan of the series. 'Sebas-chan' is also an integral part of the interactions between those two characters.  You will not get many non-fans reading your stories, so you do have a little bit of room to play.
               While direct referencing, especially for phrases with double meanings, is wonderful, you should resist the temptation to overdo it. I am sure that if you think hard enough, you will be able to come up with your own clever plays on words, as well.

               [Will it make sense in English?]

               Along with being easy to understand, you also need to make sure that the phrase will not sound ridiculous once translated. Some things just do notwork well in English. If you cannot find a decent translation for something, and people will know what it is, leave it in Japanese.
               For example, think about Chobits. Most people who watch or read the series know that 'persocom' is a term that is used to refer to personal computers. It also has a special meaning with the Chobits series, since it refers to the humanoid computers that walk around and take center stage in the plot. If you started refering to persocoms as PCs in your fan fiction, some people would be very understandably confused. In that case, it would be better to use 'persocom' rather than saying PC.
               Even if it makes sense in English, that does not mean that you will necessarily want to keep it. Some things just sound really, really dumb when you translate them. Try reading a few sentences with the translated term out loud. If you cannot read it with a straight face, and your story is not a comedy, maybe you should nix the translated term.
               Another excellent example is easily found in Inuyasha. The term 'youkai' is a word that is an absolute must. You will find it in almost every piece of fan fiction out there. In the American versions of the series, it gets translated as demon. That is not an accurate translation and it is not very flattering. We do not really have a word for it in English. 'Youkai' is a term that is best left in Japanese.

               [If I keep the Japanese term, will my readers know what it means?]

               If the term you are using is something from the media that you are writing for and it is important enough that it needs to be in your piece of fiction, then your fans will probably know what you are talking about.
               Inuyasha readers will know what the Shikon no Tama is, and what it means when Kagome says 'Osuwari!'. While I do not use it myself, a lot of fan fiction authors for Kuroshitsuji use 'bocchan', and the readers will definitely know who says it and what it means.
               These words are very basic vocabulary for their particular fandoms. it is okay to use words like that if you feel the English translations are awkward. (A quick note: 'bocchan' should be avoided in Kuroshitsuji fan fiction, as the characters are British. 'Young master' is perfectly acceptable.)
               If you do not think that your readers will be able to understand the Japanese term, ask yourself why that is. Is it something that only shows up in one episode of a three hundred episode series? If so, you can explain what it is an give your readers clues to remind them about that episode. However, with something like that, you may have to give a full explanation. With long series, you cannot expect all of your readers to have seen the show in its entirety.
               If the term is incredibly obscure, you will probably want to find another way to approach it. You can do that by using a translated term or by creating your own explanation for things. Just remember, if you are having to explain too much... you might just want to create your own plot device, rather than having to rehash something that you do not think anyone will remember.

               [What should I do with name suffixes?]

               As a general rule of thumb, it is best not to keep name suffixes in English. They are pointless, and they tend to make people sound like idiots. However, this is a case-by-case thing, as with most other Japanese-to-English problems.
               In the Japanese version of Inuyasha, Sango addresses Kagome as 'Kagome-chan'. Is anything lost if I remove the -chan? No. it is perfectly fine to nix that particular suffix.
               If a character is referred to by their last name, you can always turn it around. For example, if a character is named Kobayashi-san, he can become Mr. Kobayashi. The meaning is still kept and it probably will not sound of place. Well, unless Kobayashi-san is actually a 16th century demon samurai. In that case, keep the -san. If something sounds weird, it probably is.
Another thing to take into consideration with name suffixes: dropping the suffix is very personal, and could be considered offensive. There are times when it is acceptable in fan fiction (such as if the characters you are writing about are actually British), but it is definitely something to keep in mind.

               [Should I translate names?]

               A couple of people mentioned this, so I felt that it might be best if I do as well. Under no circumstances should you translate character names. The character's name is Hana, not Flower. It is Ahiru, not Duck. It is Yuki, not Snow. It is Yugi, not Game. You get the idea? Good. Do not translate names.

               [How should I spell a name?]

               One of the great mysteries with anime and manga fan fiction is how to spell character names. Face it, sometimes there is not a right answer. However, 99% of the time, there is an answer.
               So, how do you find out? Look at your source material. Not just your subtitled anime, try to get hold of copies of the original manga and have a look. If your character ever sees something written down, you might have a rare chance to see how the original artist spelled their own character's name. It took a good, long while for me to find a piece of manga that had the name of a character from Kuroshitsuji - we discovered that, in the original, her name is written MeyRin on an attendance sheet for something in the manga. It was not translated, it was from the original. It only shows up once, and it is not terribly noticeable, but I was able to find out the correct spelling by looking for it.
               If there is not anything written, consider whether or not the character is referencing something else. Alucard from Hellsing is obviously Dracula backwards. If your series has a habit of naming characters after other fictional or historical figures, you might even be able to piece it together from that.
               If you are not sure whether or not your series does this, check into it. Many series do things like this without the fans even knowing! Many characters from Kuroshitsuji, for example, are named after people that were involved with the Jack the Ripper murders. I only discovered this after randomly Googling various character names, so you'd be surprised what can turn up.
               You can also always ask on Yahoo Answers and fan forums. If you do, make sure you ask for references - find out where people got their answers. it is always good to check, and that way you will know for the future.
               If all else fails, use common sense. do not try to add in more letters than neccessary, and do not try to make a name look 'cool'.
               One very last note on this subject is that, just because an American company holds the license for something does not mean that they know how to spell the character's names. Always check the original, not the translation. The character that I mentioned researching the name for earlier - MeyRin from Kuroshitsuji? One of the American companies that holds the license for Kuroshitsuji lists her name as Maylene. I will stick with the original mangaka on that one.  

               [What should I do with Korean vocabulary?]

               While this tutorial originally only touched on Japanese vocabulary, I find myself increasingly involved in Korean fan fiction. As such, I wanted to touch on the subject of Korean vocabulary since it is probably one of the most widespread issues in the fan fics that I have seen.
               For some reason, K-pop fan authors feel the deep need to avoid English words wherever possible. That results in lots of stories that are halfway in Korean, halfway in English and very intimidating for newer fans or people who don't speak Korean.
               Words like Oppa, hyung, dongsaeng, saranghae, umma, bbo bbo and various other bits and bobs can be found peppered throughout almost every story on sites like and its ilk. However, that doesn't mean that it is correct.
               If you are writing K-pop fan fiction, I will encourage you to avoid Korean vocabulary in your stories. The reason for this is mainly that I cannot think of a single Korean word that is absolutely necessary to add to a story. These are all terms which can be replaced by an English equivalent or avoided entirely. In addition to this, many of these terms are severely misused or abused. Play it safe. Don't use them. You don't need to have Soohyun say "Saranghae." for your reader to know that he loves someone. Just stick with English. Your readers will thank you for it.

               Well, you have got your tools. You know what language you will be using for your terminology. Your media is ready to be referenced when you need it. And, you have finally finished that cup of coffee you have been sipping on while you read this. It looks like you are finally ready to get started with your planning! On to part two!
How to Write (Great) Fan Fiction, Part One: Basics

Last updated on 11/30/2012!

This first installment in my How to Write (Great) Fan Fiction series covers the basics of getting started on the path to writing fantastic fan fiction. By learning to write efficiently, you can cut down on the time it takes to create fan fiction. This tutorial series teaches you how to create professional, memorable fan fiction that leaves an impression on your readers.

As a fan author, I've always found most fan fiction severely lacking in the quality department. I've been told that most of mine is a cut above the rest. In the interest of helping other fan authors out, I decided to create a tutorial series based off my personal writing method. Let me know what you think!

Part Two: [link]
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Callian31 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015
Well, I thought this was a handy reference. And something I'd like to point out that you said when you mentioned Black Butler. The reason people will use Bassy is because that's what Grell calls Sebastian in the anime's English dub. Other than that it is a very good reference for people beginning with fanfiction. Would you mind if I put a link to this in my profile on so other people can read it. Also, while getting a Japanese to Enlish dictionary would be nice I CAN'T FIND ANY!!!!! And I don't have any cards or that sort of thing so not like I can simply order one online. I just use translators for looooooooooong phrases. Other than that I use a site that's pretty much an online dictionary. Preference though I guess.
JustZoni Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Just a heads up, I don't use this account anymore. The new account is zoni.

I don't consider the dub canon, since most of the jokes are completely lost and some of it's flat-out inaccurate. If you need help with translating Kuroshitsuji phrases, feel free to ask me. I'm a Japanese-to-English translator.
Callian31 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2015
Well, my fics are all Bleach fics crossover or otherwise but I'm thinking of one day starting a Naruto fic. Not to mention how in my main fic I bring in numerous other cultures from all over the world so while they may not be 100% accurate I'm sticking with the translators les I spend who knows how much money on other languages to English dictionaries when it's only for a few characters that aren't central to the plot. No offence intended whatsoever towards you though. You also never answered my question on whether or not it's fine with you if I link to this on my profile.
JustZoni Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I'd prefer you linked to the profile that's actually in use, since this account is being deleted in a few weeks, which I did state before. And also, dictionaries? There are translators available online for free. As in real people who are fans and speak the language. You're talking to one of them.
Callian31 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2015
Well, if I want something translated how do I contact you. Just a note on your profile page? Also, do you know any other languages other than Japanese and it involves languages such as Latin, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Probably some Hebrew, Arabic, and other Middle Eastern Languages, German, French, etc.   The reason is I'm doing Bleach but with Soul Societies from all across the world getting involved.   No idea why it suddenly switched to Italics.
Callian31 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2015
MaliSYatesTheboxcow Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
What happens if you don't want to write fan fiction but you still want to write a story? Does this information still apply?
JustZoni Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
There are endless, endless books on writing original fiction to use. As I've said in the description and notes, you can use this for original fiction but it's not recommended.
MaliSYatesTheboxcow Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I think you misunderstood me. I don't want to write fan fiction I just want to write a story that popped into my head. I'm asking if the fan fiction information still applied ?
JustZoni Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I understood and responded. There are dozens upon dozens of books aimed at original fiction writers. Go read those if you want help with an original story. While the techniques in my tutorials can be used, they aren't meant for original fiction. Writing novels isn't just writing something that pops into your head. It takes a lot of work, and your local library can help you out.

Just FYI, this account is completely defunct. The new account is Zoni.
Honeclaws Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2015
Thanks for the tips. I agree that writing fan fiction is a useful way to improve a person's writing skills by writing a topic that they are interested in. I for one am planning to do just that even as I start my career as a author. Writing fan fiction is fun and something that I will do reagrdless, and your tips were very helpful. Thank you.
JustZoni Featured By Owner May 29, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You might want to check out my actual account (, which I've got more recent and much more useful tutorials on.
Swagiliousbat Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2014
Omg this is long SCREAM 
FrillyReptile Featured By Owner May 26, 2014
This is really helpful.
Thank you!
Mi-Kai Featured By Owner May 10, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks so much! I write fanfics on voca and this helped alot!
artysmartytardy Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014
I am righting a fan fiction and this helped me a lot :) (Smile) 
Miss-Fanfictions Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you! This should be a wonderful help when I start writing :D 
JustZoni Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
You should have started yesterday. Get to it!
PainToThus Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
I think people really shouldn't take fan fictions so seriously. It's the freedom to write a story with your own creative imagination. I'm not looking to be an author, I'd like to just entertain people with a short story. If anyone wants a little fake short story to become famous, don't expect to publish a book since they are all characters from games or movies. I think people need to relax and have fun.
JustZoni Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Too many people relax and have fun. That's why fan fiction has such a terrible reputation. People should learn to use fan fiction as a way to improve their writing. And there's no such thing as a "fake short story." If they write a short story, it's a short story. There's nothing fake about it. Don't add to the bad reputation that fanfiction has. It's possible to have fun and turn out something with quality, too.
PainToThus Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014
I guess that's why the word "opinionated" exists. If people around the world want to have fun and write a story without having complete perfection, then that's totally up to them. Mind you, this isn't a site to become an author. If people took their writing to extremes where they want it to become well known, they should be looking elsewhere than here. 
Just like Art, I see pictures that look like crap compared to others that look really well. Even though my opinion strikes out that one picture looks less perfected than the other, it doesn't mean that specific person shouldn't be allowed to post their artwork on this website. 
I agree, stories would be a lot more interesting to read if people would use proper grammar and punctuation, while having a decent background, plot and climax to the story. But not everyone can be such perfectionists if this isn't what they want for a career choice in life. I don't mind having a little substitute away from life to relax and sit down to write a made up story. If someone doesn't like it or thinks I'm not 100% perfect with grammar well then they can move on wards and look for something else.
I just think you're taking this site a little too seriously to be judging peoples creativity, merely because it doesn't meet "your" standards.
JustZoni Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I teach proper writing technique. Don't like it, don't read. Simple as that.  I'm an author, both for fan and original fiction. You're just making a problem where none exists.
CrazyAnimeLife1 Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014
The paper was a great help to me as a hopefully future fan fiction writer which is why i joined deviant art. however, i dont know how to actually write and submit it to the site, is there a specific tool on here i have to use to upload it to this site? it was not the actully writing process i needed help with. any help would be greatly appreciated.
JustZoni Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
There is plenty of information on how to do this in the site's help section.
gabbypie64 Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013  Student General Artist
The Ahiru thing from princess tutu confused the hell out of me when i first  read a fanfic of it for the first time i had only seen the english-dub
Minami-Kousaka Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2013  Student General Artist
Will there be a PDF Version for the first part, please?
JustZoni Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I had not planned for one, but I can put one together. Give me a couple of days and I'll put one up.
Minami-Kousaka Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2013  Student General Artist
Okay. ^_^
fantasyfreag Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2013
TheDoctorWho12 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks, this really helps.
JustZoni Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Glad you found it helpful. Check out part two!
ninjanate2k6 Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
what does this mean i cant submit it or... That category doesn't allow this type of deviation
JustZoni Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I have no idea what you're talking about, but DA has plenty of help articles. I am not one.
Tigressa101 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013
What do you use to write these fan fictions on because it doesn't look like Microsoft Word.
JustZoni Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
In the second part of the tutorial, I explain that I only use Notepad.
kushamisaru Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I find this extremely helpful, and I'm glad to see I already do most of these ^_^

Thank you for writing!
RopeObsession Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Is it ok using the real names of the " players " ?

I don't wanna get sued for my fantasy :)
JustZoni Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
What do you mean?
MekuPhantomhive Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
So.. I'm a noob at DeviantArt..

How the heck do I post my fan fictions without using my journal?! I'm so so confused. Ugh my head. :iconsadfaceplz:

Someone help please. :icontinoplz:
RaphSieg007 Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013
Sorry if you already know by now, but when you're on the 'submit' screen, click on 'add text', and then you can write something.
MekuPhantomhive Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013
Oh, thank you. Haha I completely forgot that I asked this. But no I didn't know yet, so thanks once again~
RaphSieg007 Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013
You're welcome!
JustZoni Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Google, instead of asking random people.
Jelly340 Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer do i post a freaking story on deviant art?
JustZoni Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You go into Submit. You select the appropriate category. You use "Upload Text" instead of "Upload File".
Jelly340 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you
amiMAGIC Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012
thank you! :)
ParadoxAnime Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Its too much for me too read right now....I'll read it tomorrow
neko-loverx3 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I NEVER relized alucarud is duracula backwords!!
Wonderful tutorial btw :)
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