I Was Asked A Question... · 12:25am
I had gentlereader DraconeKing ask me the following question in the comments of The Great Slave King: Any advice for writing fanfiction? I always stop at the first paragraph and give up.
After a bit of thought, I wrote a response to them. Since I spent some time writing it I thought why not post it as a blog post so it doesn't accidentally get erased.
Thank you for your comments gentlereader, the first thing I'd suggest is deciding what kind of story you wish to tell. An adventure tale, extolling the exploits of an unlikely hero and his compatriots against some great evil and impossible odds. A romance, where two strangers become unlikely friends then lovers, after they realize they have more in common then they ever though possible. Or maybe even a tragedy, where the protagonist loses something dear and precious to him, and struggles to cope with their loss and grief, until they finally come to terms with themselves and finally find peace.
Once you have an idea of where you would like to begin, I'd suggest deciding on an overriding theme for your story. Perhaps you want to write about friendship, and how the hardships the protagonist face become easier to overcome because of the bonds and friendships they formed with the other characters in the story. Maybe it might be about the power of love to change even the most embittered soul, and how the protagonist learned to trust again after finding solace with the one who refused to stop loving them, even if they didn't deserve it. Or you could even possibly write about how none are beyond forgiveness and redemption, once the antagonist has been laid low and defeated after a hard struggle, and instead of the protagonists vanquishing their foe, offer him the chance for penance.
Once a theme has been decided, determine who your main protagonist is. Will they be a wide eyed innocent soul, who's destined for far greater things then the humble village of his humble beginnings. A wronged soul, who seeks vengeance against those who stole that which was the most precious to them. Or even a bitter and jaded warrior seeking tranquility, whose grown weary of their journey along the stony path of conflict which life has offered them.
Now that you have discovered the protagonist, determine their motivations. What events have shaped and molded them into who they are today. Perhaps it some unspeakable tragedy which has greatly wounded their heart. Finally finding someone to love, and hoping to win the heart of the one who has already won theirs. Or even someone content to live within mediocrity, because they simply gave up.
Once you know who the protagonist is, you need to discover the world they live in. What sort of land do they call home? What are the people like, their culture, their religion? What about the countries beyond their land's borders. How do they differ from the main settings?
Now that you know the protagonist, their past, and where they live. You need to discover the event that changed everything. Perhaps a raid against their village from a much larger army, started them on their journey. They could have been content, living their life when they show up. The person that somehow managed to get beneath their skin and worm their way inside their heart, prompting them to change for the better. Or maybe they committed a great evil, and in their shame they ever wander, desperate to escape themselves.
Now that we have some momentum, you need to determine the challenges the protagonist will face. Essentially, what happens between point A, and point B. Maybe they came to a new town for a job, discovered that one of their coworkers is actively sabotaging their efforts, gets blamed for a massive cock up, discovers the truth and reveals it their boss, ensuring their coworker gets their comeuppance. Or maybe a lonely king is under threat from a law requiring him to find a queen or abdicate the throne by a certain date, however for personal reasons objects to marriage and tries his best to elude the law's requirements with help from royalty from a neighboring kingdom whose citizens are pushing they get married as well, in the end they discover friendship and love, and learn that maybe being married isn't so bad, especially if it's to each other.
Finally a good story is a lot like dancing. There's a rhythm, cadence, and a beat every story wants to follow. The easiest stories to write have three movements, the beginning, where everything is explained and the protagonist faces great peril that has been spoken throughout the story, the evil twin steals their favorite toy, the romantic rival sweeps their interest off their feet, their company is being threatened by a hostile takeover by corporate raiders. The middle where the protagonist is brought low by their challenges and peril, and they are unsure if they will actually make it, the castle is under siege and supplies are running low, the young student lost their master and must now rely on themselves for answers, their best friend was murdered before their eyes and the killer managed to get away. The end where the protagonist and story meet their resolution and climatic end, the grand wedding where they exchange their vows of everlasting love for each other, the retirement to a small peaceful village where they are free to pursue their true passion, painting scenic watercolors, winning the final round of the tournament to accolades and great honors.
Remembering these simple rules will help you write whatever story you want. I suggest starting out with a simple outline, Determine the type of story, then its theme, decide upon the cast and live in their world for a day. Decide on the challenges they might face, and a simple outline of how you want to arrange the acts. Once you have this simple framework, the rest is easy. Write what comes naturally to you, and above all else have fun. Remember as long as you're happy with the story, no one elses opinion matters. Well unless you write for money, then pander to your audience. Hopefully you found my thoughts enlightening.
P.S. Look out for the next chapter of The Book of Water: The Heart of Winter shortly.