Fanfiction Special

By: Helen Szeto

Note: This article was written in 1998, and a lot of the links listed within the article have since become out of date. Whenever possible we have attempted to update the links, but many are not updated, especially the email links. If you know the new address for some of the links in this article, please do not hesitate to Email .

Many thanks and gratitude to my pre-readers and sources of inspiration: Ms. Amanda 'Greenbeans' Anderson, Mr. Tim Nolan, Ms. Diane Pandora Waldron, Ms. Ysabet, Ms. Joan McDougall, Ms. Jennifer Wand, and Ms. Kristyn 'k-chan' Lier. These are only some of the people that have encouraged me and contributed to the creation of this document. Their participation in a 'town meeting' form of dialogue have provided much of the basis for ideas in which I will be explaining shortly. All errors in explanation and description are to be ascribed solely to me and no other. These are names that you, as readers, would recognize as net-published writers, and others, are simply avid Sailormoon fans.

Part I

This work is intended to serve as a response to and expansion of the article: A Guide for Writing Sailor Moon Fanfics by Amanda 'Greenbeans' Anderson. In particular, I will focus upon several key issues that are introduced in the Guide. These will include: 'Net or public response to fan-fiction; implied and overt expectations of fan-fiction; development of ideas as well as other matters varied and sundry that are considered critical to writing fan-fiction.

Many readers of fan-fiction will probably NOT respond to the writer in any form or fashion, but this article will serve as my response to the many good (and bad) fan-fiction writers that post/publish upon the 'Net.

I'll be looking at the entire process of fan-fiction in a 'reverse' order -- from the readers' point of view, as opposed to the writer's (which Amanda Anderson covers in her article). Amongst some of the most treasured (and sought after) items upon a writer's list is that of public response or reader feedback. This feedback is not only an indication that someone has read the fan-fiction in question, but also, that the story triggered some sort of response -- enough to have caused the reader to write an e-mail of response.

I only respond to writers and stories that get a 'rise' or a response from me. Literally, if I may quote from Pluto-san:

"I wouldn't bother to make the time to see you."

Or in the case of fic-reading:

"I wouldn't bother to make the time to respond to you."

Fic-reading is time-consuming and every writer expects/hopes for a response. If I responded to every fic that I read, I'd have no time to do anything else. I probably represent the above-average fanfic reader. I read between eighty to a hundred different fanfics over a session. If a story is bad, I will have read it once and then it doesn't stick in my memory long enough for me to express my distaste. A good fanfic is something that catches my attention and holds it. Every fanfic that I've reviewed and/or sent comments to the author has had that something that has hooked me to the story.

During the summer of 1997, I read close to 450 stories. I've sent comments to about ten to fifteen authors, which included: JetWolf, Pandora Waldron, Greenbeans, Jackie Chiang, Tim Nolan, Troy Stanton, Chris Davies, Ken Wolfe, Levar Bouyer, Victor Naqvi, Doug Helms, John Biles,...

That is only a minute portion of the many authors of SM fanfics.

I will come back to this list of authors later but the first question that I ask is: what elements have a reader responding to the story?

In fact, Levar Bouyer has written up ten tips for writing Sailormoon fanfiction:

  • No Sailor Earth!
  • Conserve your sailors.
  • Think, then write.
  • Be careful with reincarnation.
  • Be consistent with names.
  • Stay in character, or give a good reason why [you don't].
  • Thou shalt only occasionally kill.
  • You aren't required to be in the fanfic.
  • Don't try to cross Star Trek with SM.
  • Be your own man/woman.
  • Asterisks, not capitals.
  • There are no rules.

I point to several important notes: character development, emotional reality, plot/storyline development, and style as well as the uniqueness of the fan-fiction itself.

Continue to Part 2 »



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