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Fanfiction

Writing a Fanfic

by Ambigore
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      So, you're thinking of writing a fanfic? Good for you! Creating a fanfic is both enjoyable and educating at the same time. Writing a fanfic is simple, but writing a GOOD fanfic takes more effort. The most popular form of a fanfic is a short story, which this guide will focus on.

      Writing a good short story involves the use of appropriate narrative techniques relevant to the genre. "Wha?" I hear you ask? In other words, when you make a short story, you should follow some basic rules and guidelines.

GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!
      When you write a fanfic, for goodness sake, make sure you know every aspect of the game, its plot and the characters. I can't stand fanfics that make mistakes. For example, what was the name of Barret's wife? If you know, then well done. If you don't, then perhaps you may need to do a little more research. For the record, Barret's wife was named Myrna.

      Having a deep knowledge of a game makes it possible for your fanfic to become credible and interesting. Additionally, you can create plot twists or answer unsolved in-game riddles, such as the location of Master Zangan, Tifa's mentor (who survived Sephiroth's attack on Nibelheim interestingly enough). Therefore, for your fanfic to be credible, learn as much as you can from the game and use that knowledge to your own advantage. Add references to various events in your fanfic to make it more interesting, or elaborate on past experiences of a character, such as Cloud's witnessing of Aeris' death. The more knowledge you gain and use, the better your fanfic will be.

TITLE
      Creating a title is easy, so I'll be brief. Interesting titles could be ambiguous, give a hint of the story's plot or foreshadow the ending. An example would be a fanfic about Aeris with the title '...I'll be coming back when it's all over.' Lets say the fanfic ends with Cloud having a dream of Aeris saying farewall in the Sleeping Forest before her death. She disappears before saying her last words to Cloud, '...I'll be coming back when it's all over.' Immediatelly the reader will relate this qoute with the title and go 'Ah, cool!' or something to that effect. Can you see what I am getting at? Having an interesting title will make your fanfic that bit more interesting too.

      Another excellent example is the movie 'Independence Day'. After watching the movie, the viewer realises the title is actually quite ambiguous. It may refer to the celebration of the USA's Independence day, but it can also refer to humanity's victory over the invading aliens.

STRUCTURE
      Short stories often vary in length and structure, but they usually follow this formula: introduction, body and end, as if you didn't know that!

      INTRODUCTION: A short story will usually have a short and quick introduction. A long, stretched introduction for a short story isn't necessary as it is pointless and creates boredom (remember, this is a short story). Depending on the length of your story, try to limit your introduction to about three or four paragraphs. Your introduction should answer important questions such as Where, When, Who and maybe Why. To allow your introduction to flow smoothly to the main body of the story, consider introducing the main character towards the end of the introduction. Then, in the next paragraph, begin with describing the character in action. Of course, every short story is different, so do what you think is best. Just keep in mind that the transition from the introduction to the main body of the short story should be as smooth as possible, and that the introduction should answer all important questions.

      BODY: Well, this section is entirely up to you. If you're planning to write a short story, attempt to keep the pace of the story relatively quick to prevent boredom. Slow-paced stories are more suitable for novels and trilogies. Use brief but lush description to keep up the pace.

      END: Interesting short stories tend to finish open-ended and rarely give a firm conclusion. Quotes, ambiguous statements and characters' thoughts are ideal for finishing a short story. Unless it's vital to your story, try to avoid a mother-of-all-battles climax. These endings are much more suitable for novels. Like the introduction, keep your ending short, perhaps limiting it to a few paragraphs.

CHARACTERISATION
      Characterisation is the dramatisation of a character. In other words, characterisation makes a character interesting. Characters are vital in a short story, in case you haven't figured that out. To make your short story interesting, you must make your characters interesting too.

      Although it may not sound politically correct, consider using stereotypes for characters. For example, Aeris is your stereotypical innocent female. She's young, sugar-sweet and passive with her 'Oh Cloud, you're so brave' remarks. It may not seem right, but stereotyped characters tend to be more easily accepted by the reader than 'abnormal' characters (such as an evil warlord who loves flowers and candy).

      Ideally, make each character unique. Each character should have a different personality and interests to make your fanfic the best. In a short story, however, try to avoid creating too many characters or the story will become confusing. Large numbers of characters are best for novels.

      When dealing with in-game characters, keep true to their personalities. In this case, it pays to keep attention on how a character interacts in a game. Take note of the way they speak, they gesture, their clothes and so forth. Especially take note of how each character introduce themselves in a game. The scriptwriters of a game use techniques to give a first impression of a character. Identify those techniques and use them in your fanfic. For example, in Final Fantasy VII, Cid was introduced being abusive to Shera and using expletives. The player immediatelly got the impression he had an attitude problem. Identify those techniques, use 'em well and you won't go wrong.

LANGUAGE
      Okay, now you must use the right language for your fanfic.

      First of all, consider your target audience. With most fanfics, your audience will most likely be in the young to middle age group with an average understanding of English. Therefore, avoid using sophisticated words at all costs unless needed. You will not be impressing anybody.

      Description in a short story shouldn't be too long. Make it brief, but lush. A good way of describing something is using a simile or a metaphor, such as "The ocean was as green as an emerald" or "The man sang like a wounded dog."

      To keep the pace of your short story quick, you may want to consider using 'passage of time' techniques. These technqiques are designed to indicate a large amount of time had passed in a story. This is used to keep a short story's pace relatively quick. Use such beginnings as "The next day..." or "It was dusk when Joe finally came home..." and so forth to indicate passage of time. You may also want to use the three dots "..." whereever needed, such as "Joe pulled the lever as hard as he could... it snapped!"

      And finally, cursing should be avoided in a fanfic, as a rule of thumb. Only add curses if it is vital to characterisation, otherwise your fanfic will appear too 'crude'. Considering that Final Fantasy VII was designed for a general audience, your fanfic should be suitable for the same audience too.

SYMBOLISM
      Try using symbols in your fanfic. Symbolism makes your fanfic interesting and sophisticated, giving it a professional shine. Symbolism involves symbolising something important in a story. For example, a hero stabbed in the back by his friend symbolises betrayal. Aeris with her pink dress and pony tail symbolises femininity and innocence. Midgar and the pollution surrounding it symbolises mankind's greed and ignorance to the environment. You get the idea. Use symbolism to help get your messages or themes across to the reader. Symbols can take any form or shape, as long as it is relevant. It could be an object, a location, a character or whatever.

      Well, this guide is pretty brief but hopefully you can glean a few tips off it. If you're serious, you may want to search the web for Literature or English for more detailed explanations on writing techniques. These help heaps, and I'm talking from personal experience. Hopefully I'll be expanding this section with more tips for the fanfic writer in the future, so stay tuned. If you're writing a fanfic and you're unsure about something on FF7 (plot or characterwise), then feel free to e-mail me at klacoste@hotmail.com. Keep you're questions short and brief and I'll see what I can do. Just don't ask any stupid questions like what was Cloud's favourite cereal or whatever, okay? And, once you have finished your fanfic, PLEASE SEND ME A COPY. I'll gratefully post your fanfic up for all to read. Thanks.


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