* * TIPS FOR WRITING FAN FICS AND STORY IDEAS * *

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Jayk-Moonstray, May 6, 2002.

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  1. Jayk-Moonstray Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2002
    star 1
    Does anyone have any? In the back of my mind I have a few ideas and I don't know how to establish a solid plot, character history, etc. Can anyone help me out?
  2. TheFallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2001
    star 4
    A nifty thing called spell check. :)
  3. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    Find yourself a beta reader. Beta reader is someone who proofreads your story before you post it, corrects possible errors, gives you suggestions about writing and the story. :) Betas are very helpful.
  4. Darth_Tim Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 4
    Well, if you already have some ideas, you aren't totally out of luck. All I can say is that I find I get plot ideas from being open-minded to occassional passing thoughts, which often, in turn, give rise to other ideas.

    -Tim
  5. Jayk-Moonstray Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2002
    star 1
    Surely there are some more people who can help me out!
  6. Jedi Girl of Corellia Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 2000
    star 6
    Get a ton of paper and had write 'rap sheets' for your characters. You'll want to include everything about them. What there favorite food is to who they liked in kindergarten. Make changes, use whiteout, whatever you need. Even doodle a little sketch of the character if you want. I also like to make a timeline of their lives. But remember you can always change it!
  7. Herman Snerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 1999
    star 6
    Well, if you're writing with a previously established character, half your work is already done for you. The character is basically set, you just need to fit him into your story, unless you're writing and Alternate Universe fic, in which case you can basically do whatever you want.

    Original characters take a bit more work. If you just say, "My character is named Bob, he's a bounty hunter and he's the very best and never fails," you can expect few people to be interested in reading more about him. The reason is that the brief example I just gave is incredibly two-dimensional and is a blatant example of a Mary Sue character.

    A good idea for any original character is to first establish a backstory. Since we're not starting from the birth of your character, there's already been many years of the character's life that we've skipped over to get where we're at. This information is good to know before hand because experiences can dictate how a character responds to any given situation.

    For my first fic I basically just made my original character a reflection of myself and plopped him into the story and had him react the way I would. In a later story, currently unfinished, I again used an OC as the main character but this time went a different route.

    First you need to decide what it is your character does. Is he a spy, Jedi, smuggler, bounty hunter, pilot, or politician? Or maybe something else. Then you need to decide how the character got to where he is when the reader first meets up with him. Is he a green recruit going on his first mission, or is he a crusty bounty hunter out on one last job before retiring?

    Species selection is also critical. There probably aren't that many Gungans with red hair and wings, so don't try that. ;) Decide upon a species and then select the appropriate physical attributes. Look over yourself from head to toe and give your character just as complete of a description. Of course this is a family friendly board so you can skip some parts. [face_mischief]

    Now for relationships. Is your character an only child? A parent? An orphan? Though it may seem trivial, this sort of thing is good to know in advance so that it can be weighed into all decisions. It's a pain to decide at the end of your story that the hero is going to be reunited with a mother/father/brother/sister and then you realize you have to comb back through your story and fix all contradictory passages.

    Now comes personality. Do you want to write about a brash young pilot, a seasoned veteran who calmly faces danger, or a coward trying to come to terms with a past failure? Is he like Indiana Jones in that he can calmly face down a swordsman yet is scared to death of snakes? There's one point I always try to remind myself of when establishing a character: a person is made up not just of virtues, but of faults as well. Your character might be a bully or a wimp. Neither of these is exactly an admirable trait, but we all know exactly the type of person and that makes your character more easily come across to the reader.

    If it helps, make a detailed list of everything about your character and keep it handy. Reference it constantly and try to remain true to your original vision, even when it's tempting to take the easy way out.

    One final thought, just because you flesh out every detail of your character's life doesn't mean that you have to include it in your story. You may decide that your character has an irrational hatred of Ewoks, but if your story takes place on Hoth it's not likely to be an issue. Save some of that extra information for the sequels. :)
  8. Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2000
    star 4
    I'll chime in with plotting. Two suggestions.

    1) Write an outline (duh!) :) I know it's the logical thing, but lots of people don't do it, and then they run into writer's block. When I start a story I often have an idea (The Romanovs imprisoned in Siberia in a galaxy far, far away and two Jedi have to save them). Then I start asking myself: how do I get them out? Well, out of where? Out of prison. Well, what's the prison like? etc.

    Start roughing it out (write out a scene, leave a few words noting what else has to happen).

    Throw in some complications. (So the Jedi got the govt. to agree to turn over the Emperor, but the local ward boss wants to use the Emperor in a bid for power, and tries to capture them...)

    For this reason, I strongly urge that you finish the story before you start to post it! You can plug holes in the plot, insert sneaky little clues that seem like throwaways on page two that are DEEPLY SIGNIFICANT on page thirty ("OOOooh, the poisonous snake was hidden inside the tool kit left by the technician?")

    Mostly, ask yourself: does it make sense? How do I get them out of this?

    Remember that nothing beats action/adventure, and when in doubt, close your eyes and "watch" your story on your inner movie screen. Picture a John Williams score. Or listen to one as you write.

    Oh, and research helps; not just checking SW facts but looking at real descriptions of prisons, loading docks, fighter combat, etc. Heck, I took up sword fighting to help me with my lightsaber scenes! Good exercise, too!

    Oh, and most important: HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!


  9. Casper_Knightshade Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2000
    star 6
    The most fundamental philosophy to follow that I can suggest is be original. You can probe for story ideas, etc, but in the end you are the storyteller. Don't let anyone tell you that the idea is lousy.

    You write it the way you want to unless you are collaborating with another author. Otherwise that story is yours.

    Have the beginning and the end all ready figured out, then spend time writing that middle; there's fun in that.

    No story idea is bad, only the execution of telling the story.

    Again be as original as possible. Here's how:

    1.) Don't write trends. That means if everyone's writing JA, then don't write JA.

    2.) A.U.'s are more functional to work with. It can be your universe, using canon and/or non-canon themes.

    3.) A.U.'s can be evil. That means if you want a real writing challenge then write a A.U. like I'm doing: you're going with the basic SW storyline, but in intigrate your own universal realm into it, but at the same time not change the SW plot all that much.

    4.) Explore a differnt universe- See what hasn't been touched by books or movies. You may find a readership gold mine like I did.

    5.) Characterization developement - If you write like the current movie adaption of Episode Two, you won't win many fans. The only thing more stale than Episode One acting is a story with no feeling.

    6.) Be a storyteller - believe me you will have more fun as a storyteller than a writer or, gasp, an author.
  10. Seldes_Katne Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2002
    star 1
    Don't be afraid to do a little research -- sometimes looking through Star Wars "reference books" will trigger ideas or help develop them. One of my favorites is The Wildlife of Star Wars, which has inspired two stories for me and contributed to a third. Other good resources include the Essential Guides (to Droids, to Moons and Planets, to Alien Species, to Characters, etc.) Research will also yield terminology, settings, and characters unique to Star Wars and will thereby make your story sound more authentic. (And I can vouch for Herman Snerd's comment about the lack of Gungans with red hair and wings -- I've spent a lot of time researching Gungans, and have yet to meet one fitting that particular description. ;))

    Often the hardest part of writing a story is just sitting down and doing the actual writing. I sometimes spend more time getting ready to write than I spend writing. I've also found that I often have better results if I write a particular scene that's on my mind, even if isn't the next logical scene in the story. (I occasionally run into continuity problems, but those can be solved, and writing anything is better than sitting and staring at the screen in frustration.) If you find that you need to start your story in the middle in order to get the writing process going, then do that.

    I agree that it's better to have at least a first complete draft to post, even if the draft didn't turn out quite the way you wanted. By posting a first completed draft, you can ask for suggestions, point out parts that you think need work and get feedback, and actually have material with which you can work. I've found that during the writing process, my original version gets changed, sometimes drastically -- characters meant to be strictly background end up taking on larger roles, situations take strange turns, and so on. At least with a completed draft, you have material to manipulate, instead of having to pull something out of thin air.

    Definitely get a beta-reader, or at least some friendly soul who will read your story and offer both encouragement and suggestions for improvement. Two minds often are better than one.

    Writing is a fair amount of work, but it should also be, if not fun, then at least rewarding. It's really satisfying to finish a writing session and discover that my story is now three pages longer and I've significantly forwarded my plot or further developed my characters.
  11. Golden_One Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2002
    star 1
    Jayk,
    This is actually a pretty simple suggestion compared to the others, but if you go to TFN's Fan Fiction Page, you can find articles writted by talented authors explaining how to do all of that stuff :).
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