• Member Since 28th Nov, 2014
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ChasingResonance


I write stuff and help people write stuff. If you want something written, or need help writing, I can help. Always move onwards!

More Blog Posts8

  • 136 weeks
    Update

    It's up! Act 1 Scene 4 is completed and out for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

    0 comments · 102 views
  • 136 weeks
    Not dead!

    Hello all 14 of you who actually see this. Turns out, I'm not dead! Crazy, right? Anywho, school got a bit consuming and RL took over for too goddamn long, but I'm back on track! Next scene of act 1 is almost finished and will be uploaded soon, putting an end to my unexpected 1-year hiatus. I'll see what happens after that, but expect updates a little more regularly. Until then, keep moving

    Read More

    0 comments · 77 views
  • 190 weeks
    Yikes

    Well, I'd like to apologise to the readers of Coin. I had meant to upload the next chapter about a week ago, but never got around to it. In waiting, I got sick, and lost a lot of what my plan was. Hopefully I'll have the chapter finished in a couple days, currently planned for Saturday. Again, sorry about that. I know I left the story on a bit of a cliffhanger (sorta), so I'd like to get that off

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    0 comments · 106 views
  • 233 weeks
    Developments

    New story out. It was submitted at 3pm on Tuesday, but wasn't approved until 11:30pm. So naturally, no one saw it.

    Read More

    0 comments · 71 views
  • 236 weeks
    RL is Annoying

    Yeah, so after releasing the story Memories of an Ancient and getting on a roll, RL decided to slap me in the face and say "LOL, nope!". Long story short, school starting again soon and family matters means I'm going to have to put this story on the far backburner, so I hope too many of you didn't get your hopes up too much. It'll be a while until chapter two. However, I did make

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    0 comments · 80 views
Apr
13th
2015

Tips to Writing a Fanfic #1: Getting Started · 1:50am Apr 13th, 2015

So. Okay, this is rather awkward. I honestly have no idea how to start this off well. Because of that, I’ll just jump straight into it.

Now, nearly every writer at some point has said, “Where do I start?” No, the answer is not ‘Chapter 1’. This post is going to cover the basics of formulating a story, brainstorming, timeline manipulation, and story development. Yup. This is going to be a long one, so get comfortable.

Ask most people what the first step in writing anything at all is, and you’ll get the response of “the brainstorming stage”. However, I am not most people, and will immediately tell you that starting with the brainstorming is one of the worst possible things you could do, and that anyone who disagrees can discuss it with my 6.8 SPC. You see, the first step of writing is actually figuring out if you want to write something in the first place, and what you even want it to be about. This is the first step, and isn’t actually brainstorming. I’ll explain it like this: brainstorming is one of the most vital pieces of writing a story, but can’t even begin to happen until a topic has been chosen and effort has been put into committing yourself to making it. What good is brainstorming if it’s for something you don’t want to do, or don’t know what it’s for? Therefore, this can actually become the most important part of story writing: deciding

1. Decision & Commitance.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the details that go inside of that. What could I possibly mean by committing? Well, the level or amount of time one is willing to spend will greatly impact the story. The less that a person is committed to writing their story, the worse it could turn out. There are likely to be more boring plotlines, more inconsistencies, less details, and overall more mistakes. More often than not, these are the stories that end up abandoned or cancelled. I mean, why would you put effort into something you don’t want to do? Prime examples of this are stories/papers written for school. Come on, you’ve all had one at some point in time. It’s hell. Being dedicated to what you are writing is huge when it comes to successful works. Let’s take a look at one example: whatmustido’s story “Diaries of a Madman”. This is a story that has spanned the course of three years, compiling 130 chapters to date, and over 1.779.000 words. Yes, it is still incomplete and still being written. This is one of (if not the) largest stories out there. For scale, that’s about ⅖ of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’m not sure about you, but I’d say that that’s pretty damn committed. It’s success is huge, and has allowed for immeasurable amounts of possibility. I don’t even hesitate to say that whatmustido’s dedication has most certainly been a gigantic reason behind it’s success.
Attached to that is the decision part. What on earth do you want to write it about? What is the genre going to be? How long do you want it? These are all questions that come into play for step one. Often, the inspiration for these stories can come from anywhere, at any time, in any place. Take me, for example. The story I am writing is based off of inspiration I got on Christmas Eve of 2014, at about 2 a.m. I was attempting to beat insomnia, when I got this great idea for writing a story. I stayed up until 4 a.m. writing down all of the ideas I had before I forgot them, because something just told me I could work with it. If you want to know what that inspiration was, well . . . you’ll just have to wait until I release the story. Now, inspiration is a fickle thing; It comes and goes, rarely sticking with what it originally was. This is perfectly normal. I was once asked, “How do you get inspiration?” I nearly gave myself a concussion from hitting my head on the brick wall next to me repeatedly. Let me set this straight: you cannot force inspiration! If you try, you’re most likely going to waste a ton of time, and it probably won’t actually be your own inspiration. I’ve seen countless examples of people who claim to have gotten their inspiration whilst reading someone else’s works. That is not inspiration. That is you wanting to make a story based off of ideas you got from something else. Say you’re reading Kkat’s “Fallout: Equestria”, and suddenly decide you want to write a Fallout/MLP crossover as well. As I said, not inspiration. However, were you to be observing a local police case, and got the idea to write about the Canterlot guard and things that happen within the ranks/ the good they do, that would be inspiration. Now, don’t get me wrong; writing your own Fallout/MLP fanfic is entirely fine, but it wasn’t created by quite the same type of inspiration that most stories should be. Of course, there are ways that you can try to coax ideas and inspiration into being, but that all comes from you. Check this out for a couple of ideas in that regard, if you feel that you need it. What the world is looking for is something unique, and it’s your job to deliver.
Alright. Now that you’ve gotten inspiration, what’s next? Well, next would be to select a genre. Obviously, your ideas will only fit inside certain genres, unless your topic is ridiculously broad. If it is like that, fix your inspiration; make it more refined. The genres you choose first should be the ones that are dead-set and cannot be changed. Next would be to pick the additional genres/subtypes that you want to add to the story. Say that you know that you’re going to be writing a romance novel, and your fleshed-out topic has that locked in. However, you want to make it more exciting. Why not make it an adventure as well? This is something that you can totally do. The secondary genres are going to be your flexible ones; they will constantly be changed until you have a finalized product. Third on this brief list is to find genre conflicts, and fix those accordingly. What exactly do I mean by genre conflicts? Well, not all genres are compatible. Some of the most common examples are “Slice of Life” and “Adventure” or “Comedy” and “Tragic/Sad”. If you don’t know why, I suggest you look them up. If any of what you want to add has a conflict, you’ve got a big problem that should get sorted out before you even begin. As for genres, what FiMFiction provides aren’t technically genres: they’re tags, hence why they don’t call them genres. If you want a list of genres, here’s a list of some of the ones available. 35 Genres and Other Varieties of Fiction.

Congratulations! You’ve made it past step one! Now we really get started. Next up is the step of brainstorming.

2. Brainstorming

This is the step that is questionably even a step at all. Once again, you’re asking, “WTF? You just said it was a step, and then said it wasn’t a step!!! What kind of crack are you on?!” The answer to that last one would be Arizona® Tea and Skittles®. What on earth could I possibly mean by what I said? Well, you see, brainstorming isn’t a step that you start, end, and then move on from. Brainstorming is something that you start, and continually use throughout the entire development of the story. This is the backbone of your entire story. The more you write, the more you brainstorm, and the more you change what you originally had, which is more brainstorming. You won’t be finished brainstorming until you’ve finished the story. You cannot escape it. EVER. This is where you write down your ideas, both random and sequenced, and stockpile your plans. However, brainstorming can’t really survive without at least some sort of organization. Yes, this is part where OCD folks excel. The more organized your ideas, the easier it is to flesh things out and form them into story pieces. A great way to do this is with lots and lots of folders and large quantities of segment separation within your individual documents. I cannot stress enough just how vital this is. I would show you my file/document/folder tree, but it would give you a headache and I don’t have enough space. Now, there is a very large key to brainstorming that makes it a lot easier: leave out details. The brainstorming should cover all of the basic, main points you want to get to, and possibly some more minor aspects, but not the actual details. Don’t start discussing the color and petal shape of Mrs. McNarny’s hydrangeas. Just don’t. As for expanding upon brainstorming, don’t sit down and decide you’re going to have a brainstorming session. This leads to frustration, wasted time, and lackluster ideas. Rather, carry around something that you can access easily to jot down things as you think about them during the day. Whether this be your phone, a pad of paper, your arm, or anything else, this is very important. Ideas will come and go, and you never know what you’ll think of when. Essentially, brainstorming is just putting your inspiration into easily manageable, concrete words, with lots of potential.

Next up on our list is planning. Now, planning is not the same as brainstorming. Brainstorming is the part of getting your ideas down, planning is the part where you put it all together.

3. Planning

Some pieces of writing will require more planning than others. Typically, longer pieces and academic papers need a lot of thought at this stage. First, decide which ideas you’ll use. During your free writing and brainstorming, you’ll have come up with lots of thoughts. Some belong in this piece of writing: others can be kept for another time. Then, decide how to order those ideas. Try to have a logical progression.

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Now, putting these ideas together is always the hardest part. You have to be able to keep consistency throughout the whole of the story, keep the writer interested, avoid repetition, and remain fluent the entire time. However, the planning stage is not the same as the writing stage, so don't you dare try to put it into paragraphs yet. This is the part where you make yourself a sort of "timeline" for your story. You need to be able to predict what your story is working towards, and how it's going to get there. I'll point you to this story and this story once again as examples. The amount of foresight required for these things is outstanding, and those two stories have managed it, especially down to the fact that they remain entirely consistent. That's not easy, folks. What's the best way to accomplish this? Well, you might consider actually making a physical (or digital) timeline for what your goals for the story are. Leave gaps for you to fill in, and allow for expansion/modification. Arguably the hardest part of this is creating an ending. You should never start writing without having a very well-developed plan for your finale.

Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There's always gonna be holes. And since it's the ending, it's all supposed to add up to something. I'm telling you, they're a raging pain in the ass.
-- "Chuck", in "Supernatural", Season 5 Episode 22: "Swan Song"

I won't ask how many times you've read a fic that *started* great, but then petered out long before it looked like it was going anywhere -- or worse, got halfway through and died just as the "good stuff" was starting. We've all seen *way* too many of them. For my part, it's one of the single most frustrating experiences I have had in reading fanfiction.

Now sometimes this is because real life overtook the writer, and despite their best intentions they simply cannot get back to the project to finish it, or have lost the spark that drove it. Other times a collaboration fell apart, or an experimental fic failed to pan out. But in many other cases, possibly most other cases, it's because of a critical failure on the part of the writer: the failure to actually *plan* their story. They start with a cool idea, be it an unusual crossover or a weird "what if", and start writing. But that's all they have, and once they get that cool idea down onto paper or electrons, they flounder and lose direction, and the story stalls out.

There's a way to prevent this.

When you get that great inspiration, hold off a moment and *think* before you write. If you were reading a story that used your idea, how would you like to see it *end*? What kind of climactic scene would make the best use of your idea?

Decide *that*, and you suddenly have a direction to write in. Even if you don't plot anything else *at all* in between the start and the end of the story, you now know your destination, and whenever you get stuck, you've got that knowledge to help you find a way out.

This can be a *substantial* aid in sustaining a story -- for instance, author Stephen Donaldson has noted that the entirety of his first trilogy of books, the infamous "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever", was driven by his vision of the final confrontation between Covenant and Lord Foul. That vision carried Donaldson through literally thousands of pages -- nearly *half* of a typical John Biles story! <grin>

In my own case, "Drunkard's Walk II" was driven by the faceoff between Doug and Quincy, which I had outlined and partially written as far back as 1998. Similarly, "Drunkard's Walk V" was driven by *its* climactic sequence, which I had come up with years before I had begun collaborating with Chris Angel on the story.

More thinking can provide even more help. For crossovers, spend time considering the way the casts will interact. Who will like each other? Who will *dislike* whom, and why? Will the villains team up, and if so, will they ally sincerely, or try to backstab each other? Or will they consider each other an enemy, a pretender, or an usurper? Is one villain so bad he will convince the other(s) to ally with the good guys? Answering each one of those questions, and the others that a moment's thought should give you, will provide you with that much more material to write and that much more help to carry you forward to your ending.

-A Fanfic Writer's Guide To Writing

Once you have all of these down pact, then you're ready to move on to the next phase: The Writing. However, that is not going to be covered in this post. That comes in the next one. Now, you might be wondering why I wouldn't put it all in one post. That is actually a rather easy one to answer. You see, these three steps that I just covered are going to take a while. I mean it. These cannot and should not be done in one day, or one week, even. Take a month or two to really get things going well. There is nothing worse than a story that wasn't thought through well enough. In the meantime, I'm going to put up a list of points for writers that can be found here. I'm only posting the shortened points, so you should probably follow the link to read the explanation of each point. This is all from section 1. These are broad guidelines that will help improve your writing in general.

1. Learn, and write in, reasonably proper English.
2. Acquire writers' references, and consult them as needed.
3. Read as much as you can.
4. Get into the habit of writing.
5. It's not the writing, but the rewriting, that is great.
6. Proofread and preread.
7. Pick prereaders carefully.
8. Pay attention to what your prereaders say.
9. Don't be wedded to your text.
10. But don't throw away your deletions.
11. When in doubt, look it up.
12. Know your source material.
15. Don't disguise original fiction as fanfiction.
16. Write for yourself as well as your readers.
17. Write for your readers as well as yourself.
18. Don't let reviewers write the story for you.
19. Grow a thick skin.
20. Don't blackmail your readers.
21. Know when to break the rules.
You'll notice that I left out 13 & 14. You'll know why as soon as you read their explanation.

Anyways, I think that that will be all for this post, everyone, so you can now use this info to get yourself started. As I stated, the next post will cover the second phase: writing. I'm hoping that, in typing this, I have helped assuage some doubts/simplify some problems you might have had about writing your own story. I'd like to say thanks to Sober and Dontaskaboutit for their support and encouragement to write this, as well as giving me something to do. As for my sources, I used three of them in this one:
Daily Writing Tips
A Fanfic Writer's Guide To Writing
Ezn's Guide to Writing (Fan)Fiction
Other than that, I'm not sure what else to say other than thanks, see you next time, and stay awesome!

-ChasingResonance

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Comments ( 1 )

This, is damn informative and excellent. Took me awhile to read through it, but damn. Thank you for the time you spent putting this together - time to figure out a way to get it noticed.

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