Writing Tool: EditMinion

EditMinionEditing is a tough job, especially when you simply want to bask in the glory of a finished story. EditMinion is a new tool you can use to catch basic errors in grammar, excessive adverbs, repeated words and other style-related errors.

To use it, paste your text into the wizard and click the edit button. EditMinion will analyze your text and highlight a range of errors. Generally these are quick-fixes, so your return on the time invested is pretty high.

While it’s no substitute for a beta reader, Editminion does a great job cleaning up a manuscript.

Give it a try here: EditMinion



Take Your Writing to the Next Level with NaNoWriMo

This is the first installment in a series that will lead you through the preparations for a successful NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo TipsSpread Your Wings

As much as this is (and will remain) a site dedicated to the art and craft of writing Fan Fiction, I’d like to start talking a bit about how to take your Fan Fiction writing skills to the next level.

With the breakout success of Fifty Shades of Grey and the rise in Self Publishing, becoming a published author is within just about anyone’s reach. That is, if you are will to work for it. In my opinion, no one is better positioned to take advantage of Self Publishing than Fan Fiction writers. Now this is not to say that you should change all the names on your latest fic and slap it up on Amazon, but Fan Fic writers are a prolific bunch. We all love to write, so  National Novel Writing Month  seems like the perfect step up.

November is just around the corner and I’ll be doing it this year. I’d like to invite you to join in. Whether you’ll be writing Fan Fiction or transitioning to original fiction, NaNo is a great opportunity to sharpen those writing skills.  You could finish a WIP that’s been languishing or tackle that new idea that’s been knocking around in the back of your head. In the next three weeks, I’ll be providing you with a series of posts to get you in shape and make sure you have a story to write (and all the tools you need to do it) on November 1.

Ready to go? Let’s get started.

How to ‘Win’ NaNoWriMo

I’m going to be realistic here. I’ve started NaNo a few times and wound up not finishing. Mostly because I can’t stand wasting time writing crap. For some writers, 50,000 words is a win. I want 50,000 words that I can actually turn into a story or novel that someone would want to read. So our goal here is to produce quantity and quality, which is a little different that then NaNo mission, which is pretty much “write words, edit later.” For some people this is a great option, but I am all about the goal!

There will be worksheets for this process, so start a file on your computer, a file on your desk or even a three ring binder. You’ll need to keep them all together so when you actually sit down to write your story, you have everything in one place.

What do You Want to Write?

What tickles your fancy? Makes you secretly giddy? What do you dream about writing. Personally, I’m obsessed with Fantasy novels and Castle. So I’m going to combine epic romance with magic for my NaNo  project.

Download WorksheetDownload the Idea Creator Worksheet and take fifteen minutes to fill out all the questions. Even if you are skeptical or plan to write a totally original story, this is worth doing. It will expand your thinking and help you to incorporate additional layers of story into your project.

The worksheet asks you to examine your favorite books, tv shows and movies on a deeper level. Look at the overall qualities of the book rather than specific details. Take that information and reassemble it into an idea for your next story or novel. Some questions to consider:

  • Why couldn’t you put the book down?
  • Why can you watch the movie over and over again and still be just as in love with the story as the first time?
  • How would your favorite characters act in a different period of history?
  • What if history were different?
  • Swap their backgrounds. (For example Castle becomes the cop and Beckett the writer.) What does that do to their characters? The story? How they meet?
  • Put your characters into a famous story–say Snow White or Beauty and the Beast.
  • Create your own characters (we’ll make sure it’s not a Mary Sue!) and spin them off of your favorite show or book.
The possibilities are literally endless (and giving me some great ideas!) so brainstorm away. Hop on Netflix or YouTube and watch some of your favorite scenes. You never know what might hit you and just think, you can have fun and work on your novel at the same time.

Further Reading

Robert’s Rules of Writing – Robert Masello’s fun, creative book of writing advice. It’s a quick and easy read and one of my favorite books on writing.

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo – Chuck Wendig tells it like it is.  (He enjoys swearing, so if that is not your thing don’t read this!)

How to Write Fan Fiction – In my one of a kind book, I bread down how to write a great story–including a complete discussion on writing multi-chapter/novel style stories.

Get Inspired with the Fan Fiction Prompt-O-Matic

Fanfiction Prompts to Inspire You

How to Write Fan Fiction is your one-stop-shop for inspiration.

I’ve just set up a new feature at How to Write Fan Fiction–the Fan Fiction Prompt-O-Matic. (Check it out, just to the top left of this post.)

Every time you visit, you’ll get a brand new prompt. Sometimes, all it takes is a single word to set your imagination on overdrive, so if you are looking for inspiration for your next Fanfic, How to Write Fan Fiction is your one stop shop for prompts. (If you want some help working with prompts, head over to  How to Write with Prompts.) And don’t forget, we’ve got prompt tables for those of you who really want a challenge.

Once you have your Prompt, you can use the Mind Map Worksheet to really work out your idea. Spend between 5 and 10 minutes writing down everything you can think of that relates to your prompt. More than once, I’ve had a story outline itself with this process. Prompts are a great way to brush up on your writing skills–just writing a drabble (100 word fic) a day, keeps your creativity flowing. Drabbles often provide the seeds for longer stories–after you’ve had a while to let things simmer in the back of your brain.

If you have any prompts that you’d like me to add to the list, please submit them via the Contact page on this site. And when you write your story, please come back and share a link in the comments of this post so that we call all read it.

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: 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!