Thankfully I still had a copy of this. I claim no ownership to this information except the part I did type. Originally posted at Pojo's back when the fanfictions existed.
This thread may be used for general advice to future writers. However, make sure what you ask would not be more suitable for the Author’s Cafe if you wish to ask a fanfiction or writting related question. This was not here when I orignally posted it
As I have read the various works posted on this board, I have noticed many of the same problems over and over. Here are some general guidelines to follow when writing your fics:
1) Proper Use of the Keyboard.
There are several useful keys on the keyboard:
Enter/Return: This is one of the most useful keys. Use it whenever you have finished with one idea and are ready to move on to the next paragraph. Use it when one person has finished speaking, and another is about to start. When doing so, hit it twice, to produce a blank line between paragraphs. This makes it a lot easier for your readers to tell where your paragraphs start and end. Large blocks of uninterrupted text are hard to read.
Shift: Another important key. Hold it down when typing the first letter of a sentence, the first letter of a name, or the letter 'I' when using it as the first person singular subject pronoun.
Caps Lock: Often used as a substitute for the 'Shift' key. Don't do it. Text should not be in all capital letters unless someone is SHOUTING!
The Spacebar: Hit it once after every word or comma, twice after a period.
Tab: Unfortunately, this does not work to indent paragraphs on these boards. This is why a blank line between paragraphs is essential.
Other Keys: Your keyboard, unless it is defective, comes with a full complement of letters. Don't be afraid to use them. There is no reason to type 'u' instead of 'you', or indeed to use any abbreviation you learned in a chat room. There is no penalty for taking a few seconds longer to type complete words.
2) Tips on Composition.
Paragraphs: Use these as your basic unit of composition. Each paragraph should be used to set forth a single idea. If a paragraph seems to long, it probably contains multiple ideas, and should be split up for clarity. If it seems too short, expand on the idea.
Sentences: A sentence should contain exactly one action or statement of existence. If it contains more than one, split it into two or more. If it contains less than one, finish the sentence. Run-on sentences are often confusing, while fragments make the reader feel that something is missing.
Description: Make sure that your reader can visualize what is happening. Don't just say something like "Joe walked along enjoying the scenery". This gives no indication of whether the scenery he is enjoying is a redwood forest, a beach at sunset, or the Grand Canyon.
A description is not just a list of attributes. When describing a character, don't just list their name, age, height, weight, hair colour, and current pokemon team. Bring this information out gradually when the person appears in a story.
Don't have Joe meet a trainer named Fred who is 12 years old, has green eyes and red hair, is three and a half feet tall, and whose pokemon are squirtle, pikachu, butterfree, grimer, tauros, and krabby. Have Joe see a short, red-haired kid with startlingly green eyes, and talk to him. Have names mentioned early in the conversation. The pokemon may be either revealed in a battle, or introduced individually during the conversation.
3) Other General Advice
Plot: Try to be original. "Joe is 10 (or 11 or 12) years old and about to start his pokemon journey. He goes to Professor (insert tree here) and gets a (insert pokemon here)" has been done too many times already. "Joe is a 10-year-old from Pallet Town and about to start his pokemon journey. He accidentally sleeps in, and by the time he gets to Professor Oak's lab, all the starters have been taken, so he gets a Pikachu" is so old everyone is sick of it.
Try to be reasonable. A new trainer is not going to start with a legendary, or even rare, pokemon. The standard starter pokemon were selected for a reason: They are easy for professors to obtain whenever new trainers are about to start, they can be controlled by beginners, and with proper training, they can become quite powerful.
Likewise, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to catch any of the legendary pokemon. They are simply too powerful. If you have seen either of the movies, think about it. Mew or Mewtwo can deflect any attack you try with minimal effort.
Consider the scene in The Power of One where Ash's Pikachu (which has been known to defeat rock and ground types) meets Zapdos. Compare their relative power levels. Now think about how hard it would be to defeat Zapdos. This can be applied to any of the legendary pokemon. No trainer will have one unless it has a good reason to want to accompany that trainer.
Characters: Make your characters real. Give them strengths and weaknesses. Inherently superior trainers who win each battle effortlessly are boring. So are incompetent members of Team Rocket. So is the gym-leader-who-can't-stand-being-defeated. The stock "Rival" character is also getting old.
Whatever you do, don't just refer to people by labels from the GameBoy games (Rocket, Cooltrainer, Lass, Bug Catcher, etc). Remember that these are real people you are working with.
Spelling/Grammar: Write your story in a word-processing program. Use the spellchecker, but don't depend on it completely. It can tell whether your word matches the spelling of a real word, but it cannot tell whether it is the word you wanted to use.
Use grammar checkers with extreme care. They cannot actually understand what you are saying, and often make mistakes.
4) My Personal Advice:
Note that the contents of this section reflect my personal preferences. Other good writers may disagree with me.
Battles: I generally dislike sentences of the form "(pokemon species) used (name of attack)". You are describing what the pokemon does. In a real-world battle, the pokemon would not "use Bite on" its opponent; it would "bite" its opponent. There are, however, exceptions to this. If there is no verb for the action, go ahead and say "Bulbasaur used Leech Seed". Still, try to avoid "used (name of attack)". Better options would be "fired a hyperbeam at (enemy)", "hit (enemy) with (attack)", etc.
Additionally; the GameBoy battle format makes no sense in the context of a real battle. A pokemon in a real battle would not just attack, then stand there waiting for its opponent to attack. In a real battle, you would have no time to go in and administer a potion or antidote to your pokemon. Watch the TV show for a reasonable depiction of what battles would be like.
GameBoy Terminology in general: Try to avoid it. In the real world, referring to something as "Level 17" is meaningless. Pokemon have varying levels of power and experience, but don't just summarize all of this with a single number. In the world of your fanfic, pokemon are real, living creatures. They are individuals. They have their own strengths, weaknesses, and skills.
The only thing worse than referring to "levels" is referring to "hit points", "power points", or any of the "statistics" (attack, defence, "special defence", etc). Avoid use of these terms at all costs.
-Original text by Murgatroyd
Characters are fun, aren’t they?
The characters of a story determine much of whether or not the story is likeable. If a story has a killer plot, but has unbelievable characters, chances are that it’ll fall. People like to be able to connect with the characters they read about. It’s what keeps them tied into the story. Most people feel that they need to know what happens to the characters. If they die, if they succeed in their quest, etc.
Character development doesn’t always have to be deep, but readers definitely appreciate a good character. How about some tips…
Don’t make a character unbelievably strong. If you have a normal kid, he acts and reacts like a normal kid would. You can’t have a normal kid get shot and get over it in half an hour. A normal kid isn’t going to forget a bullet wound… If the kid is even conscious.
This is true with trainers, too. They cannot have an unbelievably strong amount of power. If you have a story about a kid, it usually doesn’t work if the kid has eight legendaries.
It is quite possible to have a strong character. Sometimes the strength can be attributed to special powers, if you work with fantasy. These are the easiest to deal with, perhaps because they can be there because they were inane.
With ‘real people’ in fics, this can be somewhat hard. There can be characters who have unbending will to go on, or even derive pleasure from pain (Anyone seems “Tomorrow Never Dies”? Stamper is a prime example of this…). To make a character like this believable, the characteristics must be hard and strong.
As an example… Salvador is a strong guy with a hard will to continue. He never fails to work hard, especially when it is for his work (he works for the Rockets). He is willing to take any and all pain necessary on the way to achieving his goals. Throughout the story, Salvador has sustained minor injuries, and kept his strong will. When he is faced with an agent of another Team, however, he will sustain a much larger one…
"Salvador narrowed his eyes in concentration, debating whether or not he should leap forward and attack or not. There were certainly other alternatives. He could try to throw his empty gun at the man. He could hold back for a few moments, though it would most likely lead to being shot.
After a moment, Salvador decided that he could take it no more. His way of doing something was to go ahead and do it. He wasn’t going to change that because a guy had a gun at his head. If he was killed, that was it. He wanted to go down fighting.
He leapt forward with a speed that surprised him, but, unfortunately, failed to surprise the dark man. Even as Salvador lunged forward, reaching for the man, he could hear the gun being fired. Salvador felt the dark man step back, and then felt the force of the bullet piercing into his chest.
He cringed in agony, almost screamed. He felt bones shatter around his organs, felt a bolt of heat near his lungs. For a moment he tottered and nearly fell to the floor. However, he was able to hear his earlier thoughts, those that had stated that he didn’t need to worry about being killed. These thoughts kept him standing.
Salvador saw the form of the man in front of him. Though it was becoming blurry, he knew he could attack, maybe even hit. Maybe he was going to die, but he didn’t care. Once more, Salvador lunged forward."
Of course, a character doesn’t need to be strong all the way through to have moments of strength. A person can definitely find courage during a traumatic moment, before a possible death or the like. Strength lies deep in everyone. Depending on the character, it can be found at different levels.
The main point is, don’t make a weak suddenly character act strongly all of the time. Readers won’t swallow that too well.
-Alternate points of view
These are very useful when developing a character.
While one character is thinking about his or herself, you realize what he/she feels about the traits he/she has. A reader can also make insights about the character by what he/she thinks of others.
"Lydia knew that she didn’t like Chad very much. The truth was that she hated him, loathed him. The boy always seemed to be in some sort of trouble, whether it was because he had been caught talking one too many times in class or because he had been caught stealing from the local convenience store.
Maybe it’d be better to say that Lydia distrusted Chad. She didn’t know him very well, and didn’t want to. He seemed to be the kind of guy who would stand in a dark ally, smoking a cigarette and waiting, just waiting for some innocent bystander to walk by and…
Lydia shook her head vigorously. Of course Chad wasn’t doing that, he was too busy with homework and the cross team. Still, it was a feasible idea, one that could happen in the near future. She felt this strongly, and couldn’t shake her dislike for Chad."
In reading this from Lydia’s POV, you should be able to realize that she dislikes Chad. You can see that she distrusts him because of his actions. She seems to be stuck on certain ideas, and has a sort of prejudice towards those who seem ‘untrustworthy.’ She judges before she understand anything. You can also see that she has some sort of imagination.
To carry development even further, it’s good to write what other characters observe about their fellows. For example…
"Julia didn’t understand why Lydia always seemed to walk on the other side of the hall when Chad walked by. It was always a movement that could almost be absent-minded, a simple move to the other side. Julie didn’t think so, though. Not when it was always done.
Julia didn’t think Chad was a bad guy at all. He certainly didn’t deserve to be avoided like he was some sort of disease. Although Lydia was her friend, Julia sometimes had trouble understanding Lydia’s short-sightedness"
This further pushes the fact that Lydia doesn’t look below the surface. It also shows that she has perhaps made wrong judgment of Chad.
Obviously, you can do a better job of conveying information by using various POVs than I just did. It is a very useful technique, and I recommend it.
Name can be quite helpful in defining a character, too. A character’s name can reveal certain traits about him or her, contradict his or her traits, have a strong meaning to the story, or mean nothing at all.
Using a variety of names can be helpful. While it’s fine to use names such as ‘Rob’, ‘Jim’, and ‘Amanda’, it’s good to mix these in with less common names. I suppose this isn’t quite ‘character’ information, but it stays here because I don’t feel like putting it elsewhere.
Names such as ‘Angel’ can be used to either contradict or convey the characteristics of a character…
"Angel fit her name to a level of perfection that seemed undeniably firm. Her practical, caring behavior, along with her endless amount of forgiveness, seemed to fit nearly everyone’s idea of angelic. Her hair seemed to be spun of gold, and her body had been shaped to a soft faultlessness."
"Angel’s eyes blazed with anger as she watched the man before her. She had a short temper, and certainly wasn’t the most mild-mannered person in the world. Both Angel and the man knew that she could kill him without a second thought. For a moment, however, she simply glared, piercing eyes glaring out from under her black bangs, standing with an intensity that seemed to scream that she was a murderer."
So… I really have no way to wrap that one up.
I guess, while names can mean something, convey a characteristic, or symbolize something, it’s perfectly fine to have them be meaningless.
A character must, obviously, stay constantly in character. By this I mean that you should make sure that if a character does something, it is befitting of him/her. It’s fine for a character to do something that SEEMS out of the ordinary… as long as you explain the reason for the actions.
For example, if you have a character who seems to be the perfect angel, you can make him/her do something ‘bad’ by a number of methods.
First, you could use a traumatic happening. Have a close death, or a near death experience.
There’s always the ‘hidden character’ method, too. The angelic personality could be a cover-up for the character… and as the writer, you don’t have to reveal this fact until you want to.
Isn’t that fun?
-Original text by Crimson Rose
A story goes through four different stages from beginning to end. These are as follows:
1, Exposition - this is where you introduce the main characters and let your readers know a bit about their background. Traits which should be revealed at this stage are:
Pokemon owned (for humans)
Name of trainer (for Pokemon - optional)
Unusual traits/special powers (if applicable)
Other traits should be revealed as and when they become relevant and it's important (especially if you're writing a mystery story) not to reveal too much too soon.
Complication - this is where conflict arises. Note that this doesn't have to be a war in the literal sense - you can have conflict over a number of situations. In "The Chimera Children", the conflict was between two human/Ursaring hybrids and the organisation who wanted to eliminate them.
Lack of any real conflict is one of the main problems with writing journey fics. Even if you manage to avoid most of the pitfalls these stories contain (clichéd starts, too little description, lack of realism etc) describing Gym battle after Gym battle can get repetitive after the first few. And, when journey fics DO contain conflict, this usually comes in the form of a rivalry between two trainers or the need to foil Team Rocket, both of which have been used in the games and tv series.
As a final note, if you're writing a short story, make the conflict something, which is straight forward and easily, resolved.
3, Climax - this is it, folks! The final showdown! The conflict has reached its peak and now's the time where things could go either way. You need to build towards your climax gradually and one way to do this is by dropping subtle hints throughout your fic, a process known as foreshadowing.
Whether you include an actual battle in your climax depends on the nature of the story. You also need to be as dramatic as you can at this stage; ending your penultimate chapter with a statement like:
"Lisa and John clung to each other nervously and Growlithe snarled threateningly as the door opened"
is especially effective as it means people will need to wait until the final chapter to find out who (or what) is behind the door. You could end the story there, but, then again, finding out what's behind the door might be extremely inportant.
4, Resolution - here, the climax has passed and the characters are starting to get their lives back together again. Key questions should be answered at this stage if they aren't already and you might also want to drops hints that there may be a sequel.
Post-climax, your characters will more than likely be changed by their experiences and you need to reflect this in your ending. You can have them just go home and try to get on with their lives, but your plot might require that they make a new start somewhere else. But, whatever you do, don't waffle on about each character's subsequent life history unless it's absolutely essential. Even then, it might work better in a sequel.
-Original text by Clare
I thought of a few people may find useful waaaay back.
Imagine you are there in the written work but your unseeable to the characters, an invisible entity if you will. You still have your senses but no touch.
I apologise for using this Punchiemon but you gave me the idea and it works J In his Digimon fic Time and Time again, Eaglemon was getting electrocuted. You can enforce this with something like this.
''The intoxicating aroma of singed feathers filled the room.''
It gives more depth while not becoming too wordy for a reader. It is a little basic by my standards now however but it gives a reader something to envision.
Said, Said Said etc. It's boring! What emotions does it convey? Nothing at all.
Although you aren't the current speaker in the written work, they very rarely are stone cold and no different happy or sad in real life are they?
People will show their emotions by their face, their body language or the way they speak. This can make a character more believable and more real over some poor image randomly slapped into a world that he or she has no connection with.
Something like explained, shouted are a good example though said quietly and said thoughtfully is also perfectly acceptable.
It is best to use if you feel yourself as that person or Pokemon depending on what you're writing. If you are nothing a like, you may find your character losing touch with reality.
Take my first fanfiction Sandra and Chargon for example. I find myself very much alike her. Ok my name isn't Sandra, no really it isn’t J You are seeing me as I am. I do have a temper problem. I can be rather evil and merciless. This helps me write it easier because I know whom I'm dealing with.
However, In Search of a Sister which was dropped a few years ago now, Lisa the main character and I are very different causing a conflict between writing about somebody I do not fully understand. This can show in your writing so it is something to watch for.
I hate it as much as anyone but as much as I hate to admit it, it does help. Spell checkers cannot spot words that are spelt right but are not what you want.
Get another person to skit through your writing as they may find mistakes that you have missed or require a section explaining which of course you do not want.
Do also read though yourself though because any one can make mistakes or thought type like I have many times in the past.
Possibly something I am a little more infamous for as it seriously annoys the heck out of me. Reality is not pink; sugar coated and has helpful pixies dancing in hula skirts. A world is never perfect and a character is never perfect. Learn to draw on corruption and backgrounds to help give your world a sense of depth for a reader to identify with.
By all means make a humour that has a go at these perfect worlds of Mary Sues, there is no reason either why your fanfiction can’t be sugar fluff. Just remember too much sugar rots yer teeth, too much sugar fluff rots your fanfiction.
By: Me quite a few years ago now
This is a piece I did on Pojo's board (most of you will know me as Clare over there) about a year ago and it basically outlines the types of endings that are (as a rule) best avoided:
1, "And they all lived happily ever after" - you might have got away with this when you were younger, but you should by now realise that real life isn't like that. Have your characters marry by all means, but remember that people nowadays tend to like realism in their fanfics.
2, Main character becomes a Pokemon master - this ending is most commonly associated with journey fics, but they seldom get that far. Also, if you have a character reach this status for no apparent reason, you'll probably send people's Mary-Sue radar into overdrive.
3, Characters (human and Pokemon) walk off into the sunset - Cliché! Cliché! Cliché! If you want to end with them moving on to something else (to be explored in a sequel) give an indication of what this might be in the final chapter.
4, "It was all a dream" - translated, this generally means "I haven't got the imagination to come up with a convincing ending". Many people dislike stories that end like this because it basically makes them feel cheated, so only use it if there's no other way of resolving things.
5, Excessive waffle - your readers don't need to know ALL that happened to your characters once they reached their goal. Stick to whatever is relevant to the story at hand.
6, Cliffhangers you have no intention of resolving - there's only one word to describe these . . . irritating. If you must have a cliffhanger, I'd advise you to start planning a sequel to let your readers know how, say, Johnny survived after falling off his Charizard's back while they were 100 feet up in the air. And make sure cliffhangers are resolved in a realistic way; don't suddenly give your character magical powers unless you plan to make this a central part of the sequel.
7, An anti-climax - picture the scene: you're reading what looks like being the most exciting fanfic ever, only to find that the author gives it the lamest ending you can imagine. Don't insult your readers' intelligence by ending a fic with a phrase like "It was an Eevee" when you've led people to expect a really powerful Pokemon, possibly even a Legendary. Of course, doing this for humorous purposes is another matter . . .
8, Killing off all the characters - this could be seen as a cop-out designed to avoid the hassle of writing a sequel. If you must kill characters off, make sure the deaths advance the plot in some way. But don't kill characters just because you've come to dislike them; think of some other way to write them out of the story if you really want to get rid of them.
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines - there are no "hard-and-fast" rules when it comes to writing stories.
Description comes in many forms and there are various tricks you can use to convey what is happening to your readers:
1, Adjectives - these are words that tell people what something looks, feels, sounds, smells or tastes like. In theory, you can have a story without any adjectives, but it would seem rather bland and offer little more than a basic outline of the scene. Take this as an example:
"Jessica shook back her hair"
OK, maybe Jessica's hair colour isn't important in this instance, but let's, for argument's sake, say that it is. And, again for the sake of argument, let's say she has dark hair:
"Jessica shook back her dark hair"
Or, to take it a stage further:
"Jessica shook back her lustrous raven black hair"
If you ever need help coming up with suitable adjectives, a good Thesaurus might come in handy. Just be careful to make sure that the adjective you choose conveys the meaning you intended: for example "cute" and "beautiful" both mean something that is attractive, but "cute" tends to mean it is attractive in a childlike way.
2, Synonyms for said - not strictly description, but using words such as "exclaimed", "retorted", "muttered", "commented" and so forth is a useful tool if you want to convey a character's tone of voice. The use of "said" combined with an appropriate adverb can also help here, as can describing a characters body language. For example, if the character is impatient, he or she will probably be fidgeting, checking his or watch or doing any one of the various displacements actions people engage in at such moments.
But don't be afraid to use the word "said" on its own without any qualification if it's appropriate to the situation.
3, Metaphors and similes - these are words that compare something to something else, the difference between them being that a simile simply says that something reminds the author of something else (eg, "as cunning as a Vulpix"), whereas a metaphor suggests that the two things are more or less one and the same. For example:
"Mark is a bit of a Gyarados"
does not mean that Mark is literally a Gyarados (or even a human/Gyarados hybrid). Rather, it suggests that he has something in common with Gyarados such as a quick temper.
4, Onomatopeia - can't remember the exact spelling and I don't have a dictionary to hand so I can't look it up. Anyway, this is a very important tool for creating sound effects - try saying words like "click", "hum", "rattle", "yawn" and so forth out loud and notice how the pronunciation imitates the sound they represent. If we take the sentence:
"The trees swayed restlessly in the breeze"
as an example, notice how the word "restlessly" sounds remarkably like the sound of rustling leaves. In any case, doing this kind of thing can help add atmosphere to your writing as it enables people to "hear" what your characters are hearing. This is one of the more advanced forms of description, but I'm sure you can think of a few examples of words being used to convey sound.
There isn't much advice that I can give other than to write from your heart. Having your own style is everything. Whether you be a fan of the games (like me), the anime, or if you have your own idea of the Pokemon world, write what you feel is best, within reason.
Read other well-established fanfics, that is how I got my inspiration. Try to take criticism as a chance to improve, there are a lot of people here that know what a fanfic should be. Keep this in mind and you will enjoy your writing experience.
Feel free to add your own comments or suggestions.