The Mazrim Method:
So, you want to write some Fanfiction, huh?
And you can't seem to find any good ideas, or else you wouldn't have clicked on that link on the main page. Unless you're just curious. Curiosity is all right too, hey, it gives the Fanfiction section of the site more hits! :P
Anyway, you came here to learn how to write fanfiction. Fanfiction is in fact quite different from normal writing, in that you hardly have to do any development of characters. One can say "Magus" or "Aeris" in their story and not need to explain anything about who that character is. Chances are, the people who will be reading Chrono Trigger Fanfiction or Final Fantasy 7 Fanfiction will have already beaten those games, or at least played them far enough to be interested in others' renditions of Magus and Aeris. A beginning plotline, as well, is usually provided by the designers of the game that the fanfic is based on, since most fanfiction starts directly at the end of a game or even in the middle of it (ex. the many game "novelizations" being made out there). So, mostly what matters to a good fanfiction writer is the ability to evoke strongly images and feelings in the minds of the readers, to make them feel that they are really there, in the story. Either that, or the good writer must be able to make the reader laugh out loud while reading the fanfic; I'm not sure which is harder.
Here's the Mazrim Method for Writing Fanfiction:
Step One: Make a list of your five favorite RPGs at that specific point in time.. Then, pick number two. This is the game that you can write a fanfic about. It's high enough so that you actually like it a lot, but not so high that you try to pass off everything in the game as rigid fact. That brings me to one of Mazrim's major Do Nots for writing fanfiction.
Don't stick word for word, little thatched house for little thatched house, to the game!
Some of the worst fanfiction that I've ever read came not from the fact that they were written poorly, nor from the fact that they were too gory or lemon-y. Rather, their badness came from the fact that they spent way too much time trying to get everything about the game exactly right. Some extreme fanfiction authors will, without trying to be funny, use "HP" or "MP" in their stories! More than once, I've read, "Oh no, I'm all out of MP! I can't cast Fire3!" Now, while this may sound quite humorous, be aware that the author isn't trying to be funny! Honestly, would you hear any realistic person say something like this? Or, less extreme, when someone uses the name of something like "The Land of Summoned Monsters," to describe where Rydia and the "Espers" live. It is quite obvious that this is the result of a poor translation error: Can you imagine a real group of people using the term "Land of Summoned Monsters" to describe a place where mythical beasts roam? Think of something more interesting, like "The Heavens Underground," or something else, my creative mind isn't working today. And nothing peeves me off more than if an author borrows a somewhat contrived plot device from a game (can anyone say FF8?) and uses it in their story to make it more like the game. DON'T DO THAT! It's evil and horrible and calamitous and disgusting to deny your own talent like that. Anyway, just write what comes naturally to you. Don't steal too much from the plots from Final Fantasy or wherever. Remember:
The Game Plots and Characters
Are not Meant to Be Walls;
Step Two: Take that RPG that you picked before, and think about a few things that you really liked about the plot of that RPG. Maybe there were specific characters, places, believable villains, relationships between characters, philosophical ideas, or some other aspects of the game that you really admired and enjoyed. For example, in Final Fantasy IV, I was really interested in how Kain lost his mind periodically, but when he was "free," he really tried to be a good person. Or how Cecil almost mirrored Kain in that he had demons of his own, but managed to purge them. Or about the effects on Edge when he lost his parents...Or whether Rydia would rather live with those monsters who brought her up or humans... Hence, I came up with the beginning plot and characters for my story, "Feral Wind."
Step Three: Choose a starting point. Do you want to start directly after the game? One hundred years after the game? During the game? Many years before the game? This is entirely your preference. I prefer to have my fanfics start a few years to a decade after the game's end, since that way I'm not so constricted in choices of the plot, but I still have a bit of a stepping stone to base my fanfics around. With longer timespans, you can insert your own little plot events, which is sometimes fun, depending on the kind of writer you are. So sorry, but you'll have to figure this step out on your own.
Step Four: Think. How can you present the ideas that you chose from before effectively starting from this point? Where will you base the story? Who will be the main character(s)? What will they be doing? Why? What do you want them to do in the future? How do you think the story will unfold in the next few paragraphs/pages? Will the story be from a single point of view, or multiple points of view? You might want to go back to Step Three and change your setting around a bit to match up with your ideas. If you easily forget things, you might want to write some of your thoughts down on pieces of paper or in your favorite word processing program. You don't have to plan too much, just enough so that you can get your story going. Once you start writing, it will be amazing how quickly you can come up with new ideas. Continue doing this until you find that you can't stand another minute without writing down your ideas for a story (or at least feel confident that your idea will make an interesting, engaging story), and then proceed to the next step...
Step Five: Write! Let yourself be taken in by your story...I don't want to say too much here since then you'll think too much about the writing process, but if there is any advice that I can give you, it's to not be too afraid of changing around your ideas, and not to be afraid of diverging from the settings and ideas of the game. As I said before, the game settings aren't supposed to be walls, but instead beginnings. It may happen that after you've written a page of your fanfic, you realize, "Oh, crap! What I was planning ISN'T good after all, at least not in the vein that I'm writing in!" Well, then screw the plans. If you are on a roll in your writing, that's MUCH MUCH more important to a good fanfic. Don't stop to think, "Oh no, this is bad, I'm going away from my plans." Just write. Once you're maybe half done, or you reach that first writers' block that all writers encounter at least a third of the way into their story, you can start thinking about what you want to say next, or whether you want to change anything that you wrote before. Basically, do whatever you think needs to be done in order to turn your ideas into a well-written, finished piece of work.
Step Six: Ah, the last and final step. After finishing your fanfic, I'll bet you're pretty proud. Well, you should be! It's hard work to create a great piece of writing. However, you're not done yet. After you're done partying, eating pizza and drinking soda, go back to your computer screen and scroll up to the beginning of your story. Then, read it carefully, from start to finish. If you encounter any mechanical or spelling errors, fix them immediately. If, while you read or after you read, you realize that you've made a continuity error (you say that something is one way at the beginning of the story and a different way at the end of the story), then you should fix it the best that you can. Also, if you don't like the look of anything that you've written, change it so that it looks right to you. The writer is usually correct about his own work.
Step Seven: Send in your fanfic! You can send your fanfic to me at email@example.com, and if you've followed all of these directions at least partially, I'm sure that your fanfic will be accepted into the RPGClassics Fanfiction Archive. Also, if you want to send a fanfic in just for editing or proofreading, or even if you just want to talk about fanfiction or writing in general, send me a message. While I don't check my mail often enough, I'll happily give you a response. If you want to have a more fluid conversation, my ICQ # is 71143993. Thanks!
Librarian of the RPGClassics Fanfiction Archive,