If you’re anything like me, I bet you’ve read a lot of fanfiction in your life. If so, I’m also willing to bet that you’ve often disliked some of the fanfiction that you’ve read, but have sometimes been unable to pinpoint exactly what it was that you disliked – you simply had a feeling that something was off about the story. But one of the best things a fanfiction writer can do is identify the mistakes that other writers make in order to avoid making the same mistakes. The following are some of the biggest mistakes that fanfiction writers make.
1. Too Much Description
Don’t get me wrong. Description is vital in any story – in some ways, it’s the backbone of the story. It’s what allows us to create vivid images in our mind as we read, after all. But too much of anything is never good. I’ve seen fanfiction containing gigantic paragraphs filled with description, but all this really does is slow down the story. You should only describe the most important details of a setting and then move on if you don’t want your reader to get bored.
2. No Voice
When I’m just not feeling a story, this is usually the culprit. If a piece of writing lacks character voice, that means it lacks the main character’s personality. But how can you infuse the character’s personality into the narration? You can do this by filtering everything happening in each scene through the character’s unique perspective. What do they notice that other characters probably don’t? How does their backstory influence how they interpret what’s happening? What language do they use to describe the world around them? For example, if you’re writing Harry Potter fanfiction, a fight scene happening through Snape’s perspective would be written much differently than a fight written from Luna Lovegood’s perspective. Their internal monologues would reflect who they are as people. As you can see, voice is a way to add life to a story and give more insight into the main character’s thoughts and perspective.
3. Dialogue That Isn’t in Character
In fanfiction, dialogue that isn’t in character can really take a reader out of the story. The characters’ speech needs to accurately reflect their personalities. For example, we can all think of a character who typically speaks in a formal manner. Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series comes to mind. It would feel strange to see him using more informal phrasing in a fanfiction story, since that completely goes against his characterization. If you’re having trouble with writing dialogue that is in character, think about the character’s personality and how they usually speak. This will help you get a feel for how to write suitable dialogue for that character.
4. Not Enough Dialogue
When there isn’t enough dialogue in a fanfiction, this usually signals that the writer is glossing over scenes that they really shouldn’t be glossing over. If there’s little dialogue, there’s probably a lot of narration describing events that happened, but few scenes where we get to see the characters having conversations and interacting with each other. But readers love dialogue! Don’t be afraid to dive into a scene and come up with a compelling conversation that helps the plot move forward.
5. No Conflict
Sometimes, fanfiction stories contain too many scenes where the characters are hanging out and having fun, rather than focusing on resolving the main conflict of the story. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with letting your characters have fun for a bit, but keep in mind that a story needs conflict in every scene. Otherwise, there isn’t enough tension to keep the reader hooked and wondering what happens next. So, next time you decide to have a scene where the characters are simply relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, find a way to add just a little bit of tension and conflict.
These are some of the mistakes that fanfiction writers make. Keep these in mind the next time you write fanfiction so that you make sure to avoid them. Your readers will be more engaged as a result.
Featured image via northeastern university