How to Write with Prompts

Prompts Make Your Writing FlyIf you’ve been writing Fan Fiction for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the concept of prompts. They are extremely popular across Fandoms–and for good reason;prompts are invaluable when it comes to generating story ideas as well a spicing up plot lines. Let’s go over what prompts are, where to get them, and what they can do for you.

Prompts can take many forms–single words, poems, songs, tables or even pictures. They are intended to provide the seed for your story. One of the best uses of prompts that I’ve found is the prompt table–which gives you a set of prompts and you write a story for each prompt. One of the most effective ways to use a prompt table is to write a drabble on each prompt, then take a look at your drabbles and see which you can develop into a full blown story. I wrote a drabble based on a prompt that turned into one of my favorite stories–one that I would never have written if it wasn’t for that prompt.

With a little looking, you can find writing communities that will issue a prompt challenge weekly.  Search LiveJournal for comms that you can join. There’s nothing better than a weekly writing habit and using a prompt will keep you writing regularly without having to worry about coming up with ideas. Prompts are excellent for stretching your creativity and taking your brain to places it might not go on its own.

But now that you have a prompt, what do you do with it?  The best way to develop a prompt is to use a mind map. (You can find a worksheet here.) Write your prompt (or paste your picture) in the middle of the page and start writing down whatever comes to mind. You may want to set a timer. I find that giving myself a set amount of time produces the highest quality brain storming. Once your timer goes off, get a new piece of paper and start sorting your ideas. I just start crossing off the ones that I don’t like, and rewrite the ones with potential into sentences. Invariably one jumps out. Then I do the Mind Map process all over again to figure out what is going to happen in my story.The next step is to develop a story plan, and then on to the best part–writing!

Prompts spark your creativity and bring fun to your writing. So if you’re stuck in your current story or just have no idea what to write next, try using a prompt and watch your writing take off.

 

How Fan Fiction Makes You Better Writer

How Fan Fiction Makes You a Better WriterWhen I first started to write Fan Fiction several years ago, I kept it a secret from everyone that I knew, publishing online with a pen name and a lot of trepidation. These days, things are different; authors like JK Rowling actually encourage fans to write fiction based on their work. And now the field is more welcoming to new-comers than ever. If you’ve been thinking about trying your hand at writing fiction, Fan Fiction offers you a super atmosphere to learn to write. Let’s take a look at the some of the major advantages.

It’s Easy to Get Started You have a ready-to-write-in universe at your fingertips. The characters and setting have already been created, all you have to provide is an idea. And in Fan Fiction, ideas are endless. A great place to start is with the Post Episode (Post-Ep) story. All you do is pick up where the episode left off, adding your own ending. This works great for shows that leave things open ended, especially around the season finale.

You Can Start Small — If you find the idea of writing a novel daunting, Fan Fiction allows you to start on a much smaller scale. You can try your hand at several short stories (and find an audience, which is much harder to do when you first start writing original fiction) and then move onto the novella. You’ll get feedback from your readers (provided you take care to follow posting guidelines, use spellcheck, and have a general understanding of grammar) that will motivate you to keep writing.

You Have Community – One of the biggest benefits of writing a Fan Fiction story is that you are never alone. You have an entire Fandom of writers that are in the same situation as you are. When you get stuck, you’ll always be able to find someone to offer encouragement, or just to commiserate for a few minutes on the writing process. Not to mention, Fan Fiction communities are always offering prompt tables, ficathons and other writing challenges. You’ll never be at a loss for what to write!

There is a Built in Audience – Within your Fandom, there are already established archives for you to post your story. A quick Google search will give you the location of smaller archives and communities, and you can also post at FanFiction.net. Don’t forget to thank your readers for their comments so they are inspired to leave them on future stories as well.

You Can Practice, Practice, Practice – Perhaps most importantly, Fan Fiction offers you the chance to write, a lot. The only way to become a better writer is to write. With every story or chapter that you turn out, you become a better writer, so take advantage of everything Fan Fiction has to offer you, and write as much as possible.

Fan Fiction offers you the perfect way to stretch your imagination and take those first steps toward becoming a writer. If you long to write a novel, but have no idea where to start, trying writing some Fan Fic. As you write, you’ll develop valuable writing skills and have fun along the way.

Tips for Writing Fan Fiction: Improve Your Dialogue Right Now

Writing great dialogue is a surefire way to make your Fan Fiction story stand out from all the others posted along side it. The words your characters speak fulfill a multitude of roles in your story from revealing character to moving the plot forward. Great dialogue is the key to a compelling story, so here are 5 things you can do to improve it right now.

Know Your Characters

Authentic dialogue starts before you even write a single word. In Fan Fiction, it is critical that your characters sound like themselves. Your readers know them every bit as well as you do, maybe even better, so take the time to listen to your characters as they speak to each other-what they say and what they don’t say. Figure out what is important to your characters, what they value and what they are afraid of, and then utilize that when you write the words they speak.

Highlight Differences

Your characters must sound different when they talk to each other. You should be able to pinpoint who is saying what without  tags. (A tag is the he said or she said placed before or after your dialogue.) This is where knowing your characters comes into play-their background, their parents, the place they grew up are all going to influence how they sound when they speak.

Read Dialogue Out Loud

If you are only going to do one thing on this list, this is the one. When you read your dialogue out loud, note the words you stumble over and rewrite them. Make sure your characters’ conversation flows naturally between them, and any information they reveal sounds natural. You want to avoid having your characters ‘info dump’ at all costs. Info dumping is when you have a character announce things they already know to inform the reader.

Less is More

We don’t speak in complete sentences to each other. Dropping a word here or there goes a long way toward your characters sounding real. Long passages of dialogue will drag your Fanfic down, so cut your dialogue down to the bare minimum it takes to get the job done. Characters who repeat themselves quickly become boring! Dialogue is what you wish you’d said in the heat of the moment, not what you actually said. So take out everything that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Leave Something Unsaid

In Fandom, this is called subtext, and goes along with less is more. Oftentimes, what a character doesn’t say speaks louder than anything that could ever come out of his mouth. This is where knowing your character’s backstory (as defined by your Fandom’s canon) comes in handy as well. Perhaps there is a topic she always avoids, something that always causes her to leave the room. Using dialogue like this will also help you to slowly reveal your character’s inner conflict to your reader, enticing them to keep reading.

The good news is that the more dialogue you write, the better you will get at it. Keep your eyes open and notice how other writers write their dialogue. Note what works and what doesn’t. There is no better teacher than studying the work of other authors.

Tips for Writing Fan Fiction: How to Edit Your Fanfic

Edit Your Own Fan Fiction!You’ve just spent a week bent over your keyboard typing furiously, visions of your Fan Fiction characters dancing in your head. It was all worth it, though because now you have a finished Fanfic on your computer screen.  It’s time to post…or is it?

Sharing a new story is exciting, but before you hit that post button, make sure that your fic is in tip top shape. There are several practical steps you can take to make sure that anyone who clicks on your story loves it; here’s what you need to know to edit your own story.

Take Some Time Off – The best thing you can do for your Fan Fiction is to step away from it for a day or so. If you don’t want to wait that long, grab a snack or some coffee and take a mental break. You are much more likely to catch any mistakes you’ve made if you step away from your work for at least a short period of time. If you are lucky enough to have a beta reader, send it off for another pair of eyes to look over. Remember, you don’t have to take your beta’s advice, only list to it. (More tips for working with a beta.)

Dissect Dialogue – Editing your dialogue is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve your story. Chances are you can cut it down. Less is more when it comes to dialogue, so look closely at the words you’ve written for your characters. Ask yourself if you can hear their voice in your head when you read the words you’ve written for them. Finally, make sure it is clear who is speaking in each line of dialogue, and always start a new paragraph with a new speaker.

Proof Point of View – Every scene you write should have a clear point of view. This means the reader knows from whose perspective the story is being told. If you head hop in a scene, it can make the story confusing and hard to follow. For this reason, you should make sure it is clear whose doing the thinking, especially if you are flipping between characters. (A common reason for this would be during a sex scene, where you want to account for both characters’ reactions.)

Read it Out Loud – Reading your story out loud forces you to slow down, and you’ll be able to catch any places where the text might be awkward. If you stumble over a sentence, take a minute to reword it. It’s also a good idea to read from a print out-this will help you to slow down and catch some errors you might have missed reading it from the screen. As a bonus, formatting errors will be easier to see as well.

Save the Punctuation for Last – Don’t bother with punctuation until you’re on your last read through. Chances are you’ll change more than one sentence, and you can clean up any errors you might have made on your last pass.  Need help with grammar and punctuation? I’ve got you covered with Write Better, Right Now!

Sum it Up — And here’s a bonus benefit: now that you’ve read through your story a few times, writing a summary will only take you a few minutes. Some writers choose a particular poignant quote  to use as a summary, but I recommend taking the time to write a few sentences that will hook a perspective reader into clicking your link. Writing “I suck at summaries” just doesn’t cut it. Think about how your show teases you into watch the next episode and do the same with your summary.

And that’s it, you’re done and ready to post! Easier than you thought? I hope so!

Tips for Writing Fan Fiction: How to Write Your First Sex Scene

How to Write Your First Sex SceneIntimate encounters are a huge part of Fan Fiction; nothing inspires the writer’s imagination like two characters with unresolved feelings for each other. Usually when it comes to a sex scene, coming up with scenarios is easy, but getting it on the page is a little harder, especially if it’s your first time.  Along with these tips, you can download a Sex Scene Worksheet to assist with planning out your scene.

Here’s your step by step guide to getting it on, on the page.

1. Who? – It probably didn’t take too much time for you to decide on the characters you are going to feature in your story, but take a few moments to think about who your characters are, how they react to each other and what they have at stake in your story. Understanding your character’s personalities will give your writing an extra edge, and readers will be drawn in by your authentic characterizations of the characters they love.

2. Where?-This is the fun part, so take your time and really think about the atmosphere that you want to create for your characters. Will it be fun and playful, sensual or full of fireworks? A night of lovemaking under the stars or in front of a roaring fire imparts a totally different vibe than in an elevator or against the wall just inside the apartment door. You are writing a fantasy so make sure to put elements into your story that will delight your readers.

3. What Kind of Sex? – When it comes to writing sex, it’s critical that you know what is going to happen between your characters. (This is even more important if you are writing a menage because you will have a lot of body parts to account for.) It will be so much easier to write the scene with fluidity if you know what is going to happen. So take a minute to map things out and decide who is going to do what in your scene. Things you need to consider are the type of sex (against the wall, oral, solo etc.) as well as who is doing what when. If you are planning on getting creative in your scene, make sure you do your homework. For example, if you have no experience with bondage, make sure you read up on it before you try to write it. (And other Fanfic doesn’t count!) Visit amazon.com and find some books on your topic–your writing will flow much better if you have a deep understanding of what you are writing and how it affects your characters.

4. Write a Rough Sketch of Your Scene – Don’t worry about this being bare bones, just get everything down that you want to happen. Forget about word choice, transitions and all that stuff. Just lay it out point by point. This will be the frame on which you will base your story. If it is easier for you, you can even do this as a numbered list. Use the details that you’ve laid out in the previous steps to build this frame. (Looking for more help in this area? 7 Tips for Writing Sex in Fan Fiction has an example of how to do this.)

5. Layer in the Detail – Close your eyes and imagine the scene that you’ve just sketched out playing before your eyes. Sometimes, I’ll even type with my eyes closed so that I can get an accurate description of the scene as it plays out in my mind’s eye. If you get stuck while you are writing, a good practice is to follow is Action, Reaction. So for everything one character does, have the other character react. This will bring intimacy to your scene. And don’t forget to work in drafts. You don’t have to get it all right the first time. Just take your rough sketch, and work on expanding it slowly, as if you are drawing a picture and then coloring it in.

Writing sex can be intimidating but if you take a few minutes to plan out your scene, you’ll find it much easier to get it on the page. Using this step by step approach breaks down the process into manageable chunks, and before you know it, you’ll have your story on the page.

(If you haven’t downloaded the Sex Scene Worksheet, do it now.)