Hello BCF world! FicSlayerMcG here, and it feels good to be back!
We’ve had some drama llamas on the site lately, which started me thinking about this particular topic. There are PLENTY of very talented writers writing fanfiction for Castle and other fandoms out there, but for every one of those talented writers, there are at least three who pretend they are that talented.
Writing is not an overnight process. In fact, when you write, you’re never really DONE. There’s always editing, always another direction you can take your story, always another point of view to find.
Look at your favorite paperback. (Or, if you’re like me, grab your e-reader and open it up to the story you’re currently reading.) The author probably went through at least four or five different drafts before the final manuscript that turned into that story you’re holding in your hands.
I hate to bring Twilight into this, but, as an example to illustrate my previous point, if Little, Brown and Company had published Stephanie Meyer’s first draft of Twilight, Taylor Lautner wouldn’t be famous. That’s right, Jacob Black didn’t make it into the book until the third draft.
I know I’m not the only one tired of seeing crappy story after crappy story pop up on fanfiction.net. Want to know how to make sure you never see a fic of yours pop up on BCF? Here’s just six quick ways you can improve your odds.
1. Use Grammar and Spell Check
This is by far the easiest way to make sure you don’t look like an idiot when you post your story for world to see. No matter WHAT word processor you use, even if it’s free OpenOffice, they have a built-in grammar and spell check. You can even make it learn words it may think are misspelled!
If you’re still in high school like so many of you are, start paying attention in English class. Not only will your writing improve, but when you pay attention in class, I hear your odds of going to college go up.
Helpful hint 1: If you have words underlined in red, and you didn’t do it yourself, that means IT IS SPELLED WRONG.
Helpful hint 2: If you have words underlined in green, and you didn’t do it yourself, it’s trying to tell you that something is grammatically wrong with whatever is written. Change it.
2. Find a Friend
No, I’m not talking about your friends in Algebra or the person you talk to at Starbucks. I’m talking about a Twitter buddy, someone you know on ff.net, just SOMEONE you’ve met online in regards to this fandom. Who hasn’t made a hundred friends because of this show? I’m one of the weirdest people I’ve ever met and I’ve met some of the greatest people. In my hour of need when I couldn’t figure out what kind of title I should put on my latest story, I had people DM’ing me on Twitter, willing to help me out.
3. Get a Beta
If you’re one of the seven people who, for some reason, haven’t made at least one friend in this fandom, there is a growing group of people at ff.net, who, for some reason, are willing to donate their spare time and read most anything that comes their way. Equating them to the real publishing industry, it’s like having your own online editor!
Personally, I don’t endorse this way, unless you’ve thoroughly checked out your beta reviewer. Make sure they’re someone you admire, or can at least get the names of characters in your show/movie/book/whatever right.
4. Actually THINK about Plot and Characterization
When I started writing this, I was going to split up plot and characterization, but then realized that would be rather stupid of me, considering they go hand in hand. We’ve had some fics with some truly OUTLANDISH plots mocked on this site. I could list them all, but these three are three of the worst offenders in my opinion.
-Kate staying with an abusive Demming
-Kate getting into an accident and turning into a sex-crazed Nikki Heat
-A fic revolving around a wet t-shirt (Honestly, I have no idea what that story is about. There are apparently sharks in inland New York too, or something like that.)
I know from experience how hard it can be to craft a decent murder case for a story to revolve around. Honestly, there are times when I don’t know how the Castle writers do it.
5. Write In Your Age Group
If you’re underage, please, just please, for the LOVE OF GOD, stay away from writing M-rated material. I don’t care if your parents let you watch R-rated movies and True Blood on HBO, just stay away. Stick to doing your Algebra homework, watching Glee, and writing T-rated fics.
You make think your M-rated fics are the greatest thing in the world and you’re so excited because you’re being all grown up, but you’re making yourself look like a fool.
6. Sleep On It
I’m guilty of this one. I finished my first piece of fanfiction one night when I couldn’t sleep, and uploaded it right away to ff.net. No editing, no grammar and spell check, no nothing.
And boy, did I regret it. I’ll never forget some of the reviews I got; in fact, I was so embarrassed, I quit writing. When I finally got the balls to get back on and write more, it had been so long that I had to choose a new name and everything.
What does this translate into? Don’t publish ANYTHING the moment you finish typing the last word. Edit, run a spell check, and READ IT a few times over, even out loud, to see if it makes sense. As I’ve said before, you’re just making yourself look like a complete tool if you post something riddle with spelling errors, missing punctuation, and formatting issues.
Moral of the Story
Your writing is a reflection of YOU. That will never change. It’s like that in high school, and even more like that in college and in the workplace. Do I judge you if you repeatedly don’t use punctuation correctly, spell names wrong, and throw characters into absurd situations and turn them into completely different people? You’d better believe it. Deep down, I’m willing to bet you do too.
(And for all the trolls out there, I was doing this LONG before BCF came around.)
Peace out, BCF’ers! Keep up the mocks!