First Time Fanfic Writers

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by theman54, Dec 10, 2005.

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  1. theman54

    theman54 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 26, 2005
    I see first-time writers writing starting on their first fics all the time. I notice that at first, the stories don't gain much popularity. The writer isn't well known and the story isn't looked on that much.

    Much of the time, I will notice imperfections in the writing and I can notice the inexperience in the writer.

    From here, the writer can take three directions.

    1. Give up, stop writing, never finish the fic.

    2. Continue to write, but never really go anywhere, and never really manage to make any imrpovements to the writing skills.

    3. The writer perseveres, takes advice, and manages to gain experience and improve writing skills. The writer gains some respect and manages to establish a small fanbase.

    Give me your thoughts on this, what were things like when you started writing and how have things progressed?
  2. Sekotian_Jedi

    Sekotian_Jedi Jedi Padawan star 4

    Feb 12, 2005
    Okay, I'll bite.

    When I first started...hmm... [face_thinking]

    Well, I started off with a plot that I really wanted to write, since writting was something I wanted to get better at and gain experiance. I asked a fellow JCF member I knew if he would want to be my beta, he agreed and Mists of Deception was started.

    Since I wasn't very good at creating compelling and different characters I asked a few users I knew and asked if they would sponser a characrer name and profile. In retrospect it was a semi-subconcious system to establish a base interest. When I started writing I always was open to suggestions and asked a few more talented people I knew for advice. The feedback was incorperated into my writing.

    how it has improved.

    Well, I guess it has, my writing skill has become margenally better and I don't make as many gramatical errors my beta needs to correct. While my work is stilled ignored by the overall population of the JCC FANFIC community, I have gained a few loyal readers who are there after the posting of every new post. So I'm happy with how things have turned out so far. :)
  3. AlisonC

    AlisonC Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 27, 2005
    My first fanfics never got any recognition. In the case of my Dune fic, that was a good thing; I realized later that it had one of the most overpowered Mary Sue OC's that I've ever seen. Afterwards, the low readership was discouraging. I've never been one to write popular plots and popular pairings unless the mood strikes me, and that's rare, so I knew that I'd probably never get the massive review counts that some do.

    I think I had the advantage of having several years of creative writing under my belt before starting with fanfic, so there was less "What's the matter, do I really stink?" concern and more "What can I improve on so that I'll get more readers?"

    Very few writers can continue writing and not improve at least a little bit. For me, reading rants on a rather popular fic-mocking board was a major help to me, because I saw what people didn't like and learned how to avoid most of it. As for the rest, I really don't care. I write strange pairings because I like them, and I do my own thing with plots. I write partly because there are things I want to see and don't see elsewhere, and realize that it's up to me to be the first (and possibly the only). That's okay, but it wouldn't work if I didn't have some feedback and some experience. Otherwise the confidence wouldn't be there to help me continue. I realize that a big chunk of readers are looking for certain things and I don't generally provide them; it's like bringing cake to a party when the majority of people prefer pie, and there's plenty of pie already there. The cake is for the few who like cake or want to try it.

    At this point I don't really have a fan base but there are a few people who have commented on my work and liked it. To know that a few exist is enough, but hopefully, someday, there will be more regular readers.

    I'm still fairly new to this site. I've gone from no readers to a handful. My first fic had 8 or so consecutive posts with zero comments and the average ended up about 1/2 a review per chapter. My second long story ended up more like 2-2.5 per chapter, and I recently got 7 on a one-shot. That makes me happy, even if I never get the 50/chapter that some have.

    New writers need to try to find their niches, and that can only happen by trial and error. I'd advise to get a beta - at least a part-time beta to check over shaky parts. Also, write what one likes, whether it's the flavor of the month or not. That provides a lot of extra motivation - if you're really into the plot and characters, it makes it easier to write, and the enthusiasm often shows through and makes for a better story.
  4. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    When I joined, my spelling, typing, and ideas were all pretty bad.

    I got some suggestions, but not very many, so my stuff mostly just improved over time--I've been writing here for 3 anda half years.
  5. oqidaun

    oqidaun Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2005
    I had been writing original fiction and playing around with writers groups for quite some time when I stumbled into fanfic. I moved from being hypercritical of the genre to getting into it after being dared to write a fic of my own in the Matrix fandom. I had a alot of support for my first major endeavor because of the message boards it originated out of--I've always tended to write the cerebral and weird and had a lot of compatriots who were interested in that sort of thing. Unfortunately, when I started posting it on fanfic.hell I had the honor of having "the best most underrated fic" on the net--I garnered something like 15 reviews, but had a strong following elsewhere.

    When I posted my first piece here (a bit of a larger work that I've since put on the back burner) I watched in horror as it vanished from page 1 in under an hour with nary a review/comment or reader. My master at the time (the uber helpful spiritgrrl) suggested I write a vignette something shorter to let people get a taste for my brand of writing. So, I hammered out a Mas Amedda vignette. TWO comments! It has been said that my style of writing is a lot like boiled cabbage--you either love it or are completely turned off by it. I'm not surprised by this. [face_laugh]

    Regardless of my poor showing on day one, I continued to plug away and kept writing. I've had a lot of internet experience and understand that you just can't waltz into a community and expect to be the next best thing--you have to earn people's respect and make a name for yourself. Early on, I banded together with Scroob and GAV and then cuddled up to Correllian_Ale. I got involved and wrote lots of reviews. I still write lots reviews and make a point of encouraging other writers. I never lose sight of the fact that I was new here once, too.

    Probably, one of the best things I did was to get involved on a couple of threads at the Resource. I started participating in the OC Dueling Circle, Fluffy's psychotic challenges and just about anything else that caught my fancy. I then started my own personal OC crusade to unite the OC writers on the boards. If you think someone who skips in with the Vader fic du jour and doesn't get much notice ends up with some emotional issues, you should meet the OC lot--especially those who rarely have a canon character grace their fics.

    So how has my writing improved...
    Probably in terms of reception. People know my name in some way shape or form and tend to have an idea about what kind of story they're going to get pounded with. Also, I pull back from some of the esoteric tangents I tend to get wrapped up in. Additionally, I've learned to mark a flashback very clearly.

  6. Magenta_Moonshadow

    Magenta_Moonshadow Jedi Master star 3

    Aug 14, 2005
    Speaking from personal experience, it's very hard to take the plunge and post a story for the first time (especially when you're new to the fanfic community), but although I've only been writing for around five months, my three vignettes (links are in my siggie) have been very well-received and I've encountered only friendliness and encouragement! [:D]

  7. Meredith_Kenobi

    Meredith_Kenobi Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 20, 2005
    I first started out by writing a story line I had wanted to write for a really long time. I did a WIP, and actually gained five readers who respond to every single update of the sequal to my first fic (Thanks guys! You know who you are). A mistake I made when I was first starting out was that I posted almost every night. This can be a good thing, but it's hard for your readers to keep up. Over time I've gained experience and post like every three, four, or five days. I think my writing has improved some, and over time can only get better. I would advise any new readers to just keep writng--you will eventually gain loyal readers, and you will most likely become a better writer--accept construtive criticism, and learn by it. :D
  8. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 31, 1999
    For as long as I've been here, it's always been the general rule that new fanficcers rarely got more than a few loyal readers for their first few fics.

    Even back in early 2000 when I was starting out in fanfic and the community was much smaller than it is now and there was less of a crowd to get lost in, two or three consistent readers was about what a person could expect for their first stories.

    What got me started was doing some beta reading for another fanficcer. Even though I was supposedly doing the 'favor' for her by proofreading her finished story that she wanted to put on her website, I think I got a lot more out of the bargain. Our e-mails back and forth over the course of several weeks discussing possible plot loopholes and character motivations really showed me how much thought this person had put into her story and made me plot out my own first story in much more depth than what I had originally planned.

    A good beta reader can help you make your fics better, but being a beta reader and having to do a critical analysis of someone else's story helps immensely when you're plotting out something of your own.

    Like someone else already said, it you don't give up after your first fic, it's hard not to improve. I've lost track of the number of times somebody has said they cringe when they go back and read one of their early stories. It's just natural I suppose.
  9. Jaya Solo

    Jaya Solo Jedi Knight star 5

    Jul 12, 1999
    First off, welcome to the Fan Fiction boards if no one's told you that before. :)

    Second off, there's already a thread that sorta deals with this topic: [link=]New/Returning Author's Thread[/link]. I'm pointing it out because we don't want too many threads on the same topic. :)

    And you might want to check out the [link=]Fan Fiction Orientation Guide[/link]. It has all sorts of helpful information about how to survive on the Fan Fic boards and even some tips on how to get your fic noticed. :)
  10. -Z-

    -Z- Jedi Youngling star 2

    Dec 20, 2003
    When I first joined, pretty much no one read my stories because I used all original characters, original plots, and nothing canon besides the setting.

    It actually hasn't changed at all since then.
  11. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Jun 25, 2002
    Give me your thoughts on this, what were things like when you started writing and how have things progressed?

    I had the benefit of A) having written/told what were basically fanfic stories to my siblings and cousins since about age 6, and B) being stupid. The first fanfic I posted to the net was in the X-Files fandom, and honestly, I wrote it for myself and my sister, with no one else in mind. I only posted it because that's what all the cool kids seemed to be doing, and I sort of liked the idea of being "in print." I had no idea I was supposed to expect feedback at all. I only included my e-mail address in the header because the archive I sent it to had a "How To Submit" section that told you to include it. I was therefore shocked and pleasantly surprised to receive 4 or 5 nice replies to what was actually a dreadful story. (My sister liked it, though.)

    It wasn't until I got involved on a Usenet fan board that I realized fanfic authors actually wrote stories for *each other.* I'd been writing for the same handful of relatives for so long that the idea of focusing on a wider audience just completely failed to occur to me.

    I was very lucky in that the feedback addiction didn't start to take root until I'd posted 5 or 6 stories, so my expectations of a reader response increased roughly with my readership. My expectations never exceeded reality until the very end of my time writing in that fandom, when I peaked out as a respectable but niche-type writer. I got a lot of nods at fanfic awards time, but I couldn't break through the glass ceiling . . . or hypertext ceiling? Whatever. By that time four years had passed, and I had become capable of being disappointed by a response to a story. I suppose my abilities had made me . . . arrogant. In any case, I decided that I was going to remain a "Best Underrated"-type forever, and thus officially obtained Bitter Old Fanfic Queen status. (I really need a shirt that says "Bitter Old Fanfic Queen" . . . If I ever go to a SW Celebration, I'm having one made.)

    The really painful withdrawal happened when I switched from writing XF fic to writing SW fic. All I'd ever had was a niche, but I was *used* to my niche, and this time being a complete unknown who got very few responses was depressing. I still don't have the readership here that I used to have elsewhere, but then, I haven't produced nearly as many stories. Also, I might suck. One must never forget that possibility.

    As for how things improved--I would say that the quality of my writing improved largely due to practice and the intervention of some very wise betas over the years. It really had nothing to do with the volume or quality of the reader feedback I received. No--I take that back--I once sent something to an archive that actually specialized in a different genre, and when I got a few responses saying, "Why did you send us this?" I made a mental note not to post there again. Other than that, feedback has not played a tremendous role in my development as a writer (although I will sometimes alter an individual story to accommodate a reader request).

    I hate having to say to new writers: "Low expectations are your friend," but they worked for me.

    Oh, and shout out to oquidawn as a fellow Matrix fan and "Best Underrated" winner. Let's hear it for cerebral, weird, barely-noticed things! And for underrated fanfic authors with obscure usernames beginning with a lowercase "o!"

  12. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Nov 3, 2003
    Oh, fanfic. When I first started writing, I didn't even know that such a thing existed. I just had an idea one day, when I was in 6th grade, that my friends and I should rewrite and perform the Star Wars trilogy as a Hope College versus Calvin College parody for our gym teacher. Yes, I know that's weird, but 'weird' is the key word for my life.

    Once I figured out that other people did it, I had the unfortunate experience of reading some bad stuff and taking my cues from it instead of from good stuff. I still have nightmares of a Mary Sue named Beth that I may have to kill off in a story one of these days, just for closure's sake. Now, this was all stuff I did in my spare time, and my humour/parody stuff never suffered what my more serious attempts did. I would sporadically write until my junior year of high school, when I fell off the face of the world of fanfic after my older sister's car accident. Didn't have time to write and help take care of her, so I just kinda let it slide until one day about two years later, when I had a random idea and decided to post it here, just for giggles. I'd been meandering around the FanForce boards, and knew there was fanfic here, so I figured... what the heck? Why not? It was a simple little satire using canon characters to make fun of bad fanfic about themselves. It got a much larger response than I ever anticipated, but then I went back to school and had no life.

    It wasn't until the following spring, after my whirlwind love affair with Knights of the Old Republic, that I posted anything else. Now, KOTOR writing has been something of a new beginning in my fanfic life, and has meant a few things- I don't get a ton of readers due to the fact that I write in an obscure era. I've gotten more over time, certainly, but I can remember the days when the only person I could count on to reply to anything of mine was SenatorLeia73. I learned that you can't just waltz on to the boards and expect everyone to be wowed by your piece about a computer game that most of them haven't played. I started participating in Resource threads (most notably the OC Dueling Circle- that's what really got me rolling), partook of challenges (airplane sex, anyone?), and generally tried to leave comments on the stuff I read. I don't always, though I'm trying to improve on that.

    There are days when I feel like if I wrote Vader angst vigs that I'd get twice as many readers as I do now. Sometimes it's tempting to write one just to test the theory. However, you write what you love, and I love the KOTOR era. I love the characters it brings to the table, and I love inventing new characters to join the fun. I may not get a lot of readers, but the ones I have are supremely awesome. And there's even notable portion of them that have never played the game, but they keep reading anyway, which warms my soul. :)

    I still write the occasional parody on a whim, but even those now mostly reside in the KOTOR era. Fact of the matter is, I've moved to KOTOR and while the readership isn't there, I've decided that I don't care. I'm not sure where I was going with this, but I think my thesis is something along the lines of this: Write what you love, screw the readership. Quality is not measured in the number of reviews a piece gets (witness oqi's work), so just be happy with what you write and try to improve it as much as possible without abandoning what made you like it in the first place.
  13. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 13, 2005
    I discovered fan fiction by accident, back in the dark ages (1997). One of my classmates had published a story online, and in looking it up, I fell into a nest of gundarks... Actually, I found a massive fan fiction site. This was probably before This was essentially an archive that had fan fiction about, well-- Just about everything. I had never heard of fan fiction before, and I couldn't believe it.*

    I mean, there were movies and books that had inspired me (and really, don't we all have those?) but I had never imagined that people would, instead of using that inspiration to write their own works, write in that world.

    So I must admit that I'm still surprised I've decided to experiment with fan fiction myself. I think it's clear that I never went through the formitive stage of making up stories about my favorite characters. I wanted my OWN characters.

    (And guess what I wrote about when I started fan fiction.)

    When I registered here, I never really thought I would post anything. At the time, I was working on a long fan fic (which I won't be able to post here) that I hoped would help me perhaps get over issues that were holding me back in my Real Work. I couldn't find the kind of stories I wanted to read. Well-- If they weren't there, I would have to write one. So I did. Then I decided to post it, and never expected to post another story. But I did. (Right now, I have a writer's block so absolute and total I can't even consider writing, so I shan't address the question of whether I'll post a story in the near future.)

    My interests in fan fiction writing are fairly limited. You see, I only started writing it because of my interest in Padme's handmaidens. My first interest was in all original characters, in exploring planets mentioned in passing, and characters who weren't heros, who did not save the world, but I started writing fan fiction to understand the handmaidens.

    Sure, I could have scraped off the serial numbers just enough to have an original story, about a Queen/Senator and her handmaidens, but for some reason, I knew it would just be Star Wars with the names changed.

    I never expected much feedback. I was surprised that I got a response on my first story here-- I figured because I was new, I might not get any readers. That's clear in my "Golly gee!" response (Though I did not actually say "Golly gee!" Thank goodness for that).

    I do guess, though I can't know for certain, that I might get more readers if I would-- Well, post more regularly and on a schedule that I ever have, but since this is not feasible, I don't fret about it. It would also help if I wrote about the big Canons. But the truth is, other people do that. I don't feel a lack I want to fill. Besides that, I write so slowly continental drift may be faster. I don't have time to write things I don't really, really want to do.

    If I was going to, it would be for something resulting in $$. For fan fiction... If I don't feel the need to write it, why write it?

    Back to responses. I've posted several stories that got virtually none (though you could say, well, if you post an all original fest on HOTH, 1000 years after the canon, you have to expect that). Has it occured to me that perhaps my writing isn't so great? Answer: When does it not?

    I'm workshop trained, and after my thesis i meeting (which I will delicately say was humbling)... I don't worry about my ego. Mainly because it's squashed.

    I like to think that I'm at least competant. I certainly have the training. I like to think my work is cerebral and weird, and I hope I'm just flattering myself. (My original work is weird. I'm sure of that.)

    Anyway, it's true: It takes a while to become part of an online community. And for myself, I never wanted to be a star. Just wanted to quietly post my stories. When I was in my early twenties, I was much more aggressive, and competitive, than I am now. I can fail at fan fiction. I don't have to be popular--there is nothing riding on it.

    Believe me, when I realize I have to try t
  14. DarkMan77

    DarkMan77 Jedi Youngling star 2

    Mar 23, 2005
    Since i write about the same era (KOTOR) as Commander-DWH and she has already made her point, which goes for every KOTOR writer i will leave it at that.

    My story was originally posted in two parts, where i wanted it to be one, but my writing style was one which made for a difficult read. Then someone PMed me and in a kind and helpful manner told me how to improve my fic.
    Greatful as i was i saw an opportunity to go back and redo my fic which i'm now posting.

    We KOTOR writers have a small but loyal fanbase, and even though there are a lot of lurkers reading our stuff, i don't count them as readers.
    I hope that one day KOTOR gets the recognition it deserves, but my observation of people on the boards tells me it will not.
    Thankfully the era's writers like me don't care, and continue to write about the most underrated era of the SW universe.

    FanFic Greetings [face_peace]
  15. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Mar 1, 2002
    Ah, the problems of drawing in readers for a first-timer. I think it happens for all first-time writers, especially if you don't have a fan base elsewhere that follows you to tf.n(that has happened to some writers on this board)

    When I first started posting here, I got very, very few readers. I think I had about 4 (total even with multiple posts) on a story that I love and still love even after years of writing stories. The readers aren't ignoring you per se but there are so many writers here and with such a banquet of stories that it's hard to keep up. With limited time, the reader has to pick and choose what they want to read.

    I agree that the more popular stories will usually deal with the movie characters. After all, isn't that why we were inspired in the first place? I think I got a huge response on one canon story after ROTS came out (from people who don't usually follow my work) but my other stories have drawn a fair number after a couple of years of writing here.

    My advice is to be patient.

    And what have I learned? Amazing things. I've learned about characterization, pacing, POV (that's a big one for me) and how to draw the reader in with the correct title! I think I'm a much better writer for being here and learning from others on what to do and not to do. But I also experiment - much to my readers' delight and pain. So I might write an all-dialogue piece (that actually got a lot of reviews and was actually harder to write than I thought it would be) or one with no dialogue or writing a minor character's POV about what is going on in the books. I've killed off characters that I love or turned them into Sith lords.

    But above all things, you should write what you love to read. And please yourself!!!
  16. BrightFeather

    BrightFeather Jedi Youngling star 3

    Nov 13, 2005
    I am a fandom veteran. I have my own set of followers in four other fandoms; moving and finding new readers isn't anything new for me. It takes time and good, interesting stories to build a readership. And as a new writer, one should never expect to get large numbers of replies; especially with the turnover rate we have in Saga. I know I don't. Frankly, I was shocked to get as many replies as I did to the prologue of my current WIP.

    People ask me all the time why, after building a fanbase for my stories, I tend to find a new fandom. :D I guess it's just that, well, I get bored. ;) I've never completely given up a fandom--there isn't one that I'm in that I don't write pieces for still. It's just that I start searching for new challenges, and end up somewhere different.

    In the case of Star Wars, I was looking for something new to read; I'd read all the good stuff in JAG, and a good portion of the bad stuff. From a rec site, I found some great star wars stories. I read them, of course, because I grew up loving the movies. The stories caused me to rewatch all the movies. And from there I got plot bunnies. It's a vicious cycle, I tell you! Because once I get rid of those plot bunnies, they'll breed!

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