Guide For New Writers
Welcome to the wide world of fan fiction. A little overwhelming? It's okay. It was overwhelming for all of us at first.
To help you minimize the mistakes you'll make at first, we've compiled a list of important things that we think new writers need to know as they jump into this wonderful world.
alternate universe (a/u): Setting a piece of fiction outside of the realm of the show, changing something that already happened on the show.
archive: Websites where fan fiction is posted. Most accept submissions, but some are only for particular mailing lists.
archivist: The person who runs an archive.
archive fic: An announcement written as a piece of fiction in which the characters discuss a website, writer, or other item as thought they know that the sites or writers exist.
beta reader: A person who will read a story prior to it being posted and check over the story for any possible content or grammatical errors to improve your story.
canon: A story that could happen within the show itself. Also, keeping with canon refers to making sure that your story has the history of the characters right up until the point you are writing them from.
flame: A personal attack in response to a piece of fiction. Usually phrased with derogatory words and aimed at the writer rather than the writing. This is not the same as a critique in feedback.
future piece: A piece set some time in the future. Usually at least a year, often more. Different from an a/u piece in that an a/u piece branches off from a point somewhere already in the show's timeline.
filk: A song with lyrics that are specific to the show. May be original music or may be set to a song that already exists.
jossed: When the television show puts your fic into the realm of a/u by altering what you perceived as canon. Refers to Joss Whedon, the creator of BtVS.
Mary Sue: Usually an original character who appears to be the ultra-perfect version of the author inserting him/herself into the fiction.
posting: To send a fic out on a mailing list or submit it to an archive.
POV: Point of view. Usually indicates that the story will be in the character's first-person point-of-view, and possibly introspective.
PWP: Porn without plot or plot? what plot? Refers to a story that consists of nothing but a sex scene.
slash: Fan fiction consisting of a homoerotic/homosexual/homoromantic plot.
'ship: A relationship between any two characters on the show.
'shipper: Someone who supports a particular relationship.
spoilers: Information about an episode or plot line which you have not seen. Effectively "spoiling" the plot.
songfic: A story where a particular song that has something to do with the idea of the story or which inspired the story is integrated into the fic.
unconventional (UC): A relationship which is not a canon relationship. Can refer to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
This is an example of the header that mailing list owners will ask you to post at the top of each section of your story. What is required in each header varies at each mailing list and archive, so be certain to check before posting.
TITLE: Sleep To Dream 1/?
SERIES: Dreamtime, part 3
AUTHOR: Bob Jones
FEEDBACK: Yes, please, privately.
ARCHIVE/DISTRIBUTION: My site, list archives, otherwise ask.
SUMMARY: Angel keeps having dreams about Darla.
SPOILERS: Second season of "Angel."
CONTENT/WARNINGS: Angel/Darla, sex, violence, profanity.
DISCLAIMER: Joss Whedon, et. al, are the owners. I simply write non-profit work.
NOTE: Don't mind me, I'm just an example.
To break down the header:
Title: The title of your piece. The numbers after it indicate the part number and the number of parts total (part 1 of an unknown number of parts). If it is a one-part story, include a 1/1 in the subject line of your email or in the title section.
Series: If your story is part of a series, include this line. If not, you can remove it.
Author: Put your name, or your pseudonym, here.
Email: People need your email to feedback you.
Feedback: If you want feedback, include it here. If you have a particular requirement for your feedback (sending it privately instead of on a list, etc.), it also goes there.
Archive/distribution: Which websites your story can go on. If you don't care, state so. If you want people to ask first, say so. If you don't want it anywhere, also say so. Be forewarned, however, that many mailing lists have automatic archiving, and your story, if you post it there, will be archived there.
Summary: A brief description of what your story is about. This is where you sell your story to the audience, so make it as concise and punchy as possible.
Content/warnings: What is in your story that might be something you want to warn people about. This can include the pairing, or a major emotional trigger, such as sex, death, violence, etc.
Rating: What the rating would be if it were an American movie. The rating system is:
G: All audiences
PG: All audiences, but with parental guidance.
PG-13: Parental guidance for anyone under the age of 13. Equivalent to what you see on the show.
R: Parental guidance for anyone under the age of 17. Usually with sex, violence, and profanity.
NC-17: Absolutely adults only. Graphic sex and excessively graphic violence.
Disclaimer: Where you state explicitly that you don't own the characters in this story. You can have a long, legal-sounding version or you can simply say "These aren't mine."
Notes: Anything you want to say before the story begins. This can be a dedication, an acknowledgment, a introduction, etc.