Some thoughts on fan fiction from broughps (as posted on IMDb a couple of years ago at the request of others, and no, the post is no longer there):
Different people write their stories differently. When I wrote my fanfic I had an idea that wouldn’t leave me alone. I knew (and this is important) how the story was going to end. A lot of fanfic writers just seem to ramble on and don’t appear to have an ending in sight. I knew how I was going to present the chapters (“current” times and flashbacks, with each child having their own chapter) and just basically sat down and wrote. Some chapters took a couple of days to write others took at most five days to write. Occasionally a character I wasn’t focusing on tried to take over (and yes characters will write their own stories if you let them) and I had to go back eliminate pages of material and get back to the main characters. I never wrote out an outline, but I did write out a timeline. When you’re using real history it’s important to get it right. Also important to internal structure of the story.
So – not trying to be harsh -
1. Have, at least in your head, a basic outline/plot idea. If you only have ideas for characters and not a plot don’t bother starting until you get a plot idea. Now you can always play with those characters in your head, putting them in different scenarios and see if an idea clicks.
2. Let your characters tell their story within that outline. If you have to rein them in because they go off on tangents don’t feel bad. Kill your darlings – in other words you may love something but it doesn’t really matter to the over all plot. Get rid of it.
3. Know the ending before you start. Don’t just write for the sake of writing and don’t post any chapters until you know the ending. I wrote more than half my story before I started posting and gave myself an end date (mine coincided with the end date for series/season 3 of RH). There is nothing more frustrating than reading a story and the author never finishes or takes months/years to update.
4. Do your research. If your story takes place in Britain make sure you use Brit terminology, likewise if it takes place in America. (Reading Southern Vampire Mystery fanfic that uses Brit terms drives me batty. It takes place in flipping LA for pity sakes.) Also make sure you’re using the correct historical terms. Robin Hood was interesting in terms of terminology because the show used both historical and modern terms.
5. Be consistent with the characters and settings to whichever show/book you’re writing for. OOC will drive people nuts. It’s not that hard to go back to either source if you’re not sure a character would or wouldn’t do something. I had to do that a couple of times with my RH fic. Make sure the characters sound realistic, in other words don’t have six year olds sounding like they’re 30.
You probably shouldn’t have asked for advice. Fanfic writers have almost driven me to a huge rant on my LJ page. In fact I had a two page list of fanfic pet peeves. [biggrin]
Most important just wait for the story idea to hit you strong enough that you just can’t not write the story.