Emily's Guide to Writing Fanfiction

We already seen my general writing guide right?

http://www.quibblo.com/quiz/iQjHh_G/Writing-Tips (Writing Tips!)

Well I have a chapter on fanfiction in it (I think), but this is an expansion of it.

Chapter 1


Keep Canon Well Canon

We all know (and possibly love) Snape flocking in like an overgrown bat, being a spy, creepy obsession with Lily, attachment to the Whomping Willow, severe favoritism of Slytherin, interest in Dark Arts, and general dislike of Harry Potter.

Keep that.

Don't make Snape adopt Harry (unless it is an alternate universe or crazy scenario and then tell your readers that). Don't make Zeus humble and love Percy. Don't make your OC a new demigod and they don't freak out at all and know exactly what's going on. Don't make Harry not have a hero complex. If it's during Harry's third year--your characters think Sirius Black is a mass murder with Voldemort (actually most people in the Wizarding World would think that until he died--unless you were a Death Eater or a Death Eater's kid. Maybe.) Don't make Katniss a medical prodigy. Don't make Peeta a jerk. Keep canon characters canon.

Self Inserts Are A No

There are two types of self-inserts:

a) The natural kind. I'm going to use Callum as an example: he shares my humor. Like the stuff coming out of his mouth would (and some probably have) come out of my mouth. (Oh and we're in the same house--but I didn't know that when I started writing. It was a discovery made from researching and the fact I found it too easy to slip into Slytherin Child Mode when writing.). When you write a character, a little bit of you will appear. That's okay. It's unavoidable.

b) The one where you actually take yourself and drop yourself in the story. This happens to be the breeding grounds for Mary-Sues. We don't want to admit our bad qualities, and even if you know yourself well some things that you don't see in yourself are painfully obvious to others. This kind of self insert--do not do it. You'll end up with the character being more famous than Harry, smarter than Hermione, funnier than the twins, richer than Malfoy, and the one Gryffindor Snape loves (I've actually seen this). Not good right?

Avoid Stereotypes

Now some stereotypes have grain of truths and you can use that. Now since I have about fifty pages of Harry Potter Notes, I am going to be using House Sterotypes for this.

-All are good guys, can do no wrong.
Counterpoint: James Potter. James Potter (both it seems) was an arrogant bully. He wasn't Pettigrew who so went over to the dark side, but a "light side hero" who just was an infuriating git. Sorry if you like James Potter but it's true. McLaggen. Who likes cocky McLaggen who insults Ron and Hermione escapes from after dumbly inviting him to a party?

-Nerds and Academic Little Geniuses
Counterpoint: Possibly. However Ravenclaw is really big on open-mindedness (why Hermione wasn't Ravenclaw) and might not excel academically, as they want the knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Yes some are brilliant little students, but not all. I never got the sense Luna excelled academically but she was a perfect Ravenclaw. That open-mindedness.
Ravenclaw Gone Wrong: Lockhart. But please, don't make your character this way.

-Idiots. Nothing going for them. Always nice. Ect.
Counterpoint: Because hard work, loyalty, kindness, and fair play indicate that? Hufflepuff has the best traits human beings can be. If I ever was in a tight spot, I would go to a Hufflepuff for help. Hufflepuffs have bad days too, so no, they aren't always going to be sunshine and rainbows either. Tonks was a Hufflepuff and she had a bit of a temper when it came to her name. Cedric was brave and certainly not an idiot. The Triwizard tournament isn't a cakewalk. If he hadn't died he had his whole life set out for him.

Evil house.
Counterpoint: Well it's hard to argue this when you have Voldemort and Umbridge as alumini but lets give it a shot. Every house has some nasty people. Now Slytherin has the double edged sword of ambition as a trait. Is it good? Is it bad? Depends on who you ask. Cunning, well again double edged sword. And it goes on like this with their traits. Now having an interest in the Dark Arts wouldn't make you a terrible person. It would make it easier to push you to the Dark Side but just having an interest doesn't make you evil.

Now the traits to use for each house are:

-They believe that they are always right
-Chivalry (and that's debatable--look at the Weasley twins)
-Stand up for themselves and others
-More "in-your-face" about their views
-Troublemakers (to a degree)
-Hex Slytherins and Ask Questions Later

-Like learning
-Open minded
-Might be "loony" or in their own little world
-Starts random research projects for the sake of learning
-Seems to have less rivalry than any of other houses (except in Quidditch with Hufflepuff) [Harry Potter wiki]

-Hard workers
-Don't really brag
-Not really competitive

-Cunning (which, is actually a form of intelligence)
-Underhanded methods
-Leadership [Harry Potter Wiki]
-Self Preservation
-More subtle than in your face
-Interest in Dark Arts (more than other houses--though Ravenclaw could be pushed too for the forbidden knowledge).
-Fraternity (Slytherins stick together and look after their "own")
-Traditionalism (or elitism as it veers into)
-Curse Gryffindors and Ask Questions Later

And guess what, you don't have to use all the traits of the house! Percy--Gryffindor. Trouble maker--no. And you can use other house traits too. A smart Gryffindor is fine. A smart Hufflepuff--please do that. I beg of you.

Now maybe making a Slytherin valuing fair play is off, but you can mix traits. Just make their houses more prevalent.

And your character doesn't have to have all the qualities of their house. Look at J.K. Rowling's Gryffindors. They are all Gryffindors but they aren't all the same.

And depending on your "group" you will get different treatment. And each group would have a natural ally with another group. Here Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs would be natural allies. Ravenclaws and Slytherins (if Slytherins did do outer house interactions more) would be natural allies.

And this goes with any grouping stereotype. Divergent, Percy Jackson, ...
There is a very fine line between traits and stereotypes. Don't cross it.

Don't Be Too Exceptional

In real life, speaking twenty languages is impressive. In fiction it's annoying. If speaking two languages or three is relevant to the story and you can explain why (example: Nisha [Perfidious Chances] can speak English, Latin [as she is a Roman demigod] and Hindi [as she is from an Indian culture family]. It makes sense.) She doesn't speak Spanish, and that will be important later on. But her speaking Spanish wouldn't make sense.

I goes back to the story I said earlier: if you are smarter than Hermione, more famous than Harry, funnier than Fred and George, richer than Malfoy, and Snape likes you as a Gryffiindor (or really, any non-Slytherin) then your character is too exceptional.

It's also know as a Mary-Sue.

Have a Plot
We all want a story to have a beginning, middle and end. We just don't want to read about your OC's adventures. We might read a collection of a canon characters adventures though.

Pet Peeve: "It's FanFICTION"
Yes, it's FANfiction. So you are writing to the fans who like this world to remain canon like. A Tom Riddle Love Story (Tom Riddle can't love as he was conceived under the effects of a love potion~ JKR fact) won't fly. Especially if he's at Hogwarts as the same time as Harry Potter. And fictional pieces have logic you know, shocking yes.

Know the Setting
Harry Potter (Harry Era) is in the 90's. So the internet just became big-ish, there isn't iPod touches, or the top 50 pop songs of this year. It's also in England which has very different mannerisms than Americans do (or any other country). So be aware that it's colour not color and mum not mom. Stuff like that.

You don't have to do my extent of research but you may find it easier to write (and keep in with canon) if you research a bit. If you are a sweet person writing a son of Ares P.O.V., well I hope you are experienced as that's a jump, but research might help you capture that persona better. You may think you know the world, but you don't. Use that process and research. You might even enjoy it and find interesting things.

Third Person P.O.V. Is Good
It allows you to see the character(s) objectively and gives you as an author a better idea of their character, flaws, strengths, etc. Along with how other characters actually interact with them and not just their personal, biased perception.

Follow the General Rules of Writing

Fanfiction can be a great and fun tool for writing, if done right. I do it. I read it. I like some. And some make me want to pull my hair out. Comments and Rates are welcome. And if you have a specific question, ask.

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