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What factors makes certain fan-fictions better than others?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Hαn Sαlsα, Dec 2, 2019 at 4:47 AM.

  1. Hαn Sαlsα

    Hαn Sαlsα Hαn Sαlsæd First

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    There's a lot of writers on different fan-fiction platforms who publish stories. Most are bad, some are mediocre, and a select few stand out in quality.

    There's definitely a lot of factors involved but most of all I'd like to know what your guys' opinions are on this. What makes those select few stand out?
     
  2. Silirt

    Silirt Order Member DLP Supporter

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    It's a lot of what makes original fiction stand out- good concept, character, conflict, and all the usual measures, but fanfiction presents a different set of challenges. You're writing in a universe that's already created, and no one faults you if you invent no new characters or locations. I've legitimately never seen it happen before. No one has ever criticized a story for sticking to the main cast and taking place exclusively in the usual haunts of Hogwarts. Basically, there's less of a premium on creation and originality by the nature of the medium. By contrast, authors are expected to stay within certain confines, ambiguous though they may be. This is because the readers want more of the original material, but they can't get any more from the creator, so they look for something that's a mix of original content and more of what they enjoyed reading/watching.
    If you've read Taure's post on 'constructive' and 'destructive' approaches to canon, the best fanfictions will take an almost entirely constructive approach; it's hard to think of anything good that took a destructive approach. The authors that are well-received have built on the canon as it is, explaining weird things in a manner that makes the story more interesting rather than less interesting, more logically consistent rather than less logically consistent.
     
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I don't think this can be easily condensed - like Silirt said, there's no 'one thing' that makes fanfiction good. There's a wide range of things just like there is for original fiction.

    That said, for me personally, pacing is the biggest make-or-break for fanfiction for me. I'll keep reading something mediocre/crappy if stuff keeps happening and I'm drawn along for the ride. I might still rate it poorly on other metrics but I'll still read it. If the pacing is crappy then I probably won't read it regardless of how fantastic other aspects of the story are.
     
  4. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    The ability to get on with the story (no infinite summer).

    The ability to have each scene serve multiple purposes.

    Moderation and restraint in character and plotting choices.

    Understanding of character voice.

    Appreciating that good action is about characters struggling to achieve meaningful goals, not special effects.

    Not defining the story by pairings.

    Pacing the story to have moments of downtime and normalcy as well as action.

    Showing care and respect for the universe.

    Knowing that the everything revolves around Harry Potter.
     
  5. Zenzao

    Zenzao 500 Club King –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    Bill Weasley takes exception to this line, my good sir.

    In all seriousness, I think Taure hit the crucial elements. All of those speak to me, even if I still struggle to represent those factors in my writing.
     
  6. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Death Eater DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    Taure’s factorised the topic with his usual precision.

    I’d disagree with this one though, in that I think he’s right and this makes a good scene.

    I think having a scene serve any sort of purpose at all, every time, is the cut off between shitty fanfiction and 2/5 readable if not recommendable fiction. There’s so much that doesn’t manage even one purpose, let alone more than one.
     
  7. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    This is the most important one. Because if you don't respect the source material you might as well not write fanfiction for it.
     
  8. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    Halt's definitely not definitive guide to making fanfiction good (again).

    First, we have to understand the bare minimum qualities a story should have to be palatable. How do we go from bad to mediocre?

    -Understanding dialogue tags and action beats
    -Refraining from technical writing sins like walls of text, all tell no show (and it's oft unmentioned cousin all show no tell), purple prose, misspellings, incomprehensible grammar, etc.
    -Understanding scenes need purpose
    -Understanding that people might come for the world building, but they stay for the characters (e.g. Get good at characterization).

    All of this of course isn't exclusive to fanfiction, but acts as advice for good writing.

    That gets us to the mediocre stage, the things DLP might read when we're bored. How do we go from there to ignoring our real life to be embraced by your words?

    In a word, refinement.

    Everything I've mentioned aren't tick boxes that a story either has or doesn't. They exist on scales and at some arbitrary point I (and everyone else) decides something is or isn't bareable.

    I actually find that being consistent to the Canon characters voice isn't as important as many would have you believe (Harry in particular). Many of the most popular DLP stories don't capture Canon Harry at all.

    What matters instead, I think, is that your protagonist remains interesting. Whether by making them competent, sympathetic, or proactive (or some combination of all three) and putting them in situations that challenge them.
     
  9. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    I don't sure how to describe it properly. Some fanfiction feel 'sharp' while others feel 'dull'. Sharp is a lot better.
     
  10. Eilyfe

    Eilyfe Chief Warlock

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    Usually a combination of sympathy, escalation and prose. Make me like a character, then make that character do stuff (or have stuff done to them). If you can package that in a readable way, perhaps even good prose, then you've got yourself a reader.

    Advice which is likely as useful as telling someone that getting to the moon requires a lot of spacefaring knowledge.

    Luckily, if you screw it up, writing neither costs lives nor money, which is why I feel much better giving such a cheap answer, followed by saying that the way to make these things more specific is trial and error and failing a bunch. FF-readers, at least the nice ones, will let you know if you screw up in einer sympathy, prose or escalation.

    Edit: I'd also say that prose, escalation and sympathy can be seen as sliders. If one is exceptionally high, it often keeps me reading despite the rest. Since you can never know which reader values which slider though, it's best to keep all three at a high level -- which, again, is easier said than done.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019 at 10:40 AM
  11. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Honestly, I can read a story about almost anything as long as the voices and dialogue are on point.
     
  12. Agent

    Agent Groundskeeper DLP Supporter

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    If you manage to hit most of these then your story will at the very least be a decent time waster:

    1. Readable with not too many mistakes (At most 1 or 2 a chapter). This included spelling, punctuation, grammar, the whole lot.

    2. Good understanding of the voice of characters. For example, Dumbledore is highly unlikely to say "Yeah" and Ron is never going to use the word "Melancholic".

    3. Good understanding of the personality of characters. No matter how much you hate the fanon version of him, Ron is still Harry's best friend and Dumbledore isn't going to steal money from Harry's vault.

    4. The pacing needs to be correct. While there's no point wasting 100K words on Book 1 unless more stuff happens, you can't just rush through it in a single chapter.

    5. While I'm not going to say "No filler", every scene does need to have some kind of purpose. Not a purpose for the characters (Not every scene has to be Harry training) but for the reader. A scene can show us another side of a character, it can show motivations that were previously unknown, clues and foreshadowing that can be referred back to later. A 2K scene with Harry handing his homework in with no significant dialogue is pointless.

    I think all of this makes a good story but for a great story you need one more thing:

    A unique premise that is executed well. And I do mean just that. Not just Harry in Slytherin or Harry raised by Voldemort or Harry goes to another school. Say what you will about jbern but his concept of Harry being his father was a unique premise that I'd never seen before and he executed it pretty well.

    The trap that some people fall into is that they try to add too many "Unique premises" into their story. I think jbern kind of fell prey to this cause he added the Sorting Hat's personality which most people didn't like. He still made up for it with his main premise and jus due to his technical writing.
     
  13. Mal'sSerenity

    Mal'sSerenity Second Year

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    Proper understanding of the English language? Seriously, I've read some stuff that just about made my eyes bleed.

    And all the stuff Taure, Halt, and Agent said too. I can't really think of much to add that they haven't already mentioned.
     
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