Post by HiVolt
Over my time as an active member of this forum, I've read mountains upon mountains of Fan-Fiction. I've read them on this board, on other forums, and on Fan-Fiction dedicated websites. The quality of each work varies drastically. There are those that could have been written by contemporary authors, and there are others that seem like they've been penned by a 5-year-old with just barely a small grasp on storytelling. Don't worry, nobody on this site (whose stories I've read) fits the latter category :D.
Before you read on, if you did not know, there are in fact two guides to fiction writing on this board. One written by MorecofRivendare, and another written by Ivokk (sadly this one is currently incomplete). I suggest that you read both of these before continuing (links below). They touch on a multitude of subjects and offer a great number of references. But this guide is different. I am not writing this to tell you what would be a good thing to write about, what are some common mistakes or bad practices, etc. I am going to tell you how you can make your story something that the Wowhead community, or other communities if you post your stories elsewhere, finds enjoyable and entertaining.
In this guide, like my others, I have devised a set of rules for you aspiring writers to follow. Like the other sets of rules, this one is not fool-proof, but then nothing ever truly is. If you follow these rules, your writing will be enjoyable and well received among any Warcraft community.
- Rule 1: Write what you know.
Nobody likes to read a story where it seems like the author doesn't know anything about the subject. If you think it would be an awesome idea to write about Medivh, that's great. But, if you don't know anything about him and write about him anyway, there's a good chance that your story is going to be hated by all readers. The biggest mistake that any fiction writer can make is to set a lie in print, and then publish that lie. If you want to write an alternate version of an already established character, that's fine, but you must make sure that it is well known that it's not an attempt at writing the character as that character is already known.
For instance, if you write about Anduin Lothar, he should be viewed from your story as the same Lion of Azeroth that he has been depicted as in the lore. If you write him as a sniveling coward and don't indicate that your story about him is not meant to be seen as he is in the lore, then people will likely not enjoy it.
There is one remedy to this, and that is research. When writing a story of any kind, research is key. Morec detailed this in his guide, but I'm adding emphasis to make sure that it's understood well.
Knowing the characters you include is only one step. You need to know absolutely everything that you're writing about that is applicable to your story. If your story takes place in Ashenvale and you're writing it as though it's a desert, then it's not Ashenvale unless it's some sort of an alternate timeline. That is something you need to make known to your readers before they delve into the story.
- Rule 2: Put yourself into the character's shoes.
As a general rule, when writing fiction, you shouldn't make the character a better version of yourself or the story a version of the life you've wanted to live. When you do that, you get things like this
Instead, what you need to do is act. Empathy is the key to knowing what a character would do or say. When you write a scene, you need to walk through that scene in your mind, putting yourself in the role of each character it features. If something doesn't feel right with you acting it out in your head, then it's probably something that needs to be changed. In order to do this, you need to know the character. If the character is normally a power-hungry monster then you need to make sure that, barring some drastic event, they are seen as such and that they act and speak as such.
Acting is the only way that one can place themselves into a character's shoes properly. You need to think like the character. While you are writing, you need to take on their persona. Every minute detail of a character's persona should be synced with your own.
- Rule 3: Imagery is an absolute necessity.
The visual sense is the strongest sense among human beings. In fiction, the story we read plays out in our minds like almost like movie. It only makes sense to write a story as though it's readers were watching it on a screen in front of them. But, there are some things that that we cannot see, like smells and textures, and these are just as important to the reader for immersion. Imagery is often mistaken as being only a visual trait of a story. Imagery consists of every sense: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. In order for the reader to immerse themselves in the story, they must be able to know exactly what each of their senses would feel in a given moment.
Our senses help us process emotion. Coupling a sound or a smell or a texture to something that the reader can visually picture is the best way to evoke an emotion, and the best stories evoke an emotional response from the reader.
- Rule 4: Proofread, Edit, Proofread, Edit, Proofread, etc.
There is absolutely nothing that can take me directly out of immersion in a story than a grammatical error or an inconsistency. This is perhaps the most common mistake of all writers. Now, a few spelling errors and grammatical mistakes are okay, so long as they are revised and corrected. But, when you publish your work, you need make sure that there are as few as possible, at best there should be none. Absolutely no one wants to read a story in which every other word is misspelled or every other sentence is a fragment.
The best way to correct these things is to use an outside program that allows you to spell-check, and once you've done that, copy and paste the story into a post. Most programs will tell you if a sentence is a fragment or if a word is misspelled. Words that are of Warcraft origin need not be included in this. I know many people spell names and such in the wrong way, that's fine; I know I'm guilty of that myself. But for words in a normal English vocabulary, there is no reason you should be misspelling anything.
- Rule 5: Accept ALL Criticism, Know your Community.
Like my other guides, this one is centered around your work being well-received by the community. Like my other guides, this rule is essentially unchanged.
Whether or not you like this idea, if you post your work, anyone registered on this forum can comment on it. If they don't like it, they could either ignore it, give their criticisms, or tell you that it sucks and that you suck for making it. You need to be prepared to receive all comments on your story, no matter the amount of trolling or flaming contained within. If you are unable to do this, you probably shouldn't post it.
Take all constructive criticism into account. People that give these comments, don't do so to deride or complain, but genuinely want to help you make your story better. And one thing that you must remember, never flame others for giving criticism or flaming you, and never feed the trolls, just don't do it, mon!
Now, if you are serious about writing Fan-Fiction, here are some references that can help you in your endeavors:
(Most of these can be found in Morec's Guide)WoWWiki
- This should be your first destination when writing a story. It's absolutely the best site you can use for reference material.Morec's Guide to writing Fan-FictionIvokk's Guide to writing Fiction
General Writing Tips:
- Fan Fiction Writing Tips - This is an article that helps aspiring fan-fic writers with some "Do's and Dont's". There are a few things in this article that you may not agree with, but that's fine, it's only a reference.
- Overcoming Writer's Block - If you're like me and have a tendency to write constantly, if you have trouble progressing a story, or if you just don't know what to write next; this is a list of some things you can do to overcome writer's block. I've used a few of these methods and they've helped immensely.
- Tips for Writing Dialogue - This is another short guide on how you can write engaging, interesting, and effective dialouge.
- Fantasy Name Generator - This is the most useful tool I've ever used for naming characters.
- Languages - This page has a link to almost every known language in the WarCraft universe. Using a language as a base is a very good tool for naming characters.
- Free Translator - If you like to give a meaning in our world to your character's name, this site has translators for 16 languages, including Spanish, Latin, Swedish, Swahili, Japanese, Italian, and quite a few more.
- Behind the Name - This site has literally thousands, possibly millions of names from myriad different languages, mythologies, and fiction.
- Character Archetypes List - This is a large list of many fictional character archetypes, complete with examples of each, and more in-depth descriptions of others.
- Online Alignment Test - This is a test that you can take, while thinking about what your character would answer in the questions, to find out what his/her alignment would be. This can help get you more into the mindset of the character.
- Character Building Workshop - This is a page dedicated to characters in fiction. It has tests that you can take regarding your character, archetype descriptions, and many other things. It is more designed for writing in a non-fantasy element, but it can really help if you find you're having trouble coming up with a good character.
- Mythological Character Archetypes - This site has a description for each of the archetypes for mythological characters. This can be very helpful if you want to stylize your work after an epic(Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Illiad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, etc.).
- Developing Engaging Characters - This is a short guide on what you may be able to do to develop a more interesting character.
- How to Avoid Making A Mary-Sue - This is a good resource to help you avoid making your character into a Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu.