How to write good Fanfiction: Introduction
An Introduction to Fanfiction 101
Fanfiction can best be described as a literature's retarded cousin and the foreground for amateur writers and bored pubescent children, trying their hand at porn with absolutely no idea what they're talking about. Or, at least this is the reputation it has. Technically, fanfiction is a story where the characters/setting/plot are from a pre-existing fandom (ie, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Glee, etc). A fandom is the term used to describe the internet following of a book, tv show, movie or video game (essentially anything with a story line…and in some cases, without, such as Tetris). And any fandom can, and probably does, have fanfiction.
People who write fanfiction typically write it because they are fans of the particular franchise and wish to express this through writing their own scenarios, stories, pairings, etc. This principal works in the same way as those who draw fanart. It's simply another outlet. But most fanfictions out there specifically focus on pairings (often 'crack' or 'slash' pairings), where two (or sometimes more) characters from the franchise are written in romantic or erotic situations.
A crack paring is the pairing of two (or more) characters that would ordinarily never get together in the canon (the official story line). And a slash pairing is the term given for a gay pairing, usually used when pairing two male characters, crack or legitimate.
And while the majority of fanfiction on the internet is written by 12 yr olds, or at least looks like it was, there are some good quality authors producing good stories. In fact, some fanfiction writers have gone on to become published authors, such as Jayda Jones, of Havemercy and Shadow Magic, who started off with a particularly popular Harry Potter fanfiction called the Shoebox Project, which can still be found on LiveJournal.
This is a common dream for many legitimate authors who write fanfiction. These same authors, myself included, are typically writing fanfiction for practice, as a writing exercise. In this way, fanfiction can be a brilliant tool, as posting the work online allows for feedback from readers. The typical comment received on a fanfiction isn’t usually all that helpful, but by requesting constructive criticism, you may get helpful individuals who are willing to give such feedback. In any case, some sites have a Beta community; that is, people who are willing to read and edit your work prior to posting. These volunteer editors can prove useful in honing your story into something good.
One of the biggest mistakes of authors is the use of a Mary Sue, or Gary Stu character. A Mary Sue is typically a character of extremes. Often a self-insert of the author, a Mary Sue is something most writers create when first starting out in the world of Fanfiction. It’s almost a rite of passage. But those who continue writing Mary Sues long after they should know better are often frowned upon in the community.
One of the most famous and probably worse fanfictions ever written, is the infamous My Immortal, a Harry Potter fanfiction in an alternate universe (AU) where all the characters are gothic/emo/punk versions of themselves, and the focus is on Ebony "Enoby" Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way (of various spellings), a blatant self-insert Mary Sue and quite possibly the most annoying and frustrating character ever invented. The original posting of this story has been removed, but can still be found on fansites, in its entirety (including the special “hacked” chapter, added by a friendly hacker, which is also coincidently the best chapter in the whole fiasco). This is the best example of everything NOT to do when writing fanfiction. Read at your own discretion. But beware, the level of abuse this story plays on the English language has been known to give headaches or cause eyes to bleed. If you want a general description without the migrane, Encyclopaedia Dramatica has a particularly entertaining article about it. (So is the story, though, if you can endure it. It’s so bad, it’s freaking hilarious).
Anyway, thus ends your introduction into the world of Fanfiction. More in-depth articles will be posted in the future. If you have a specific area of Fanfiction you would like explained, feel free to leave a request.
Until next time, happy trolling. :)