Yes, it has been nine years to this day since I made an account on FanFiction.net. My account is now as old as the average fanfiction writer. Clearly, I must have been feeling patriotic if I chose to make my fanfiction account on the fourth of July. (Yes, yes, the post says it’s the 5th of July, but I’m writing this from the future or at least GMT+10.) Let’s also momentarily disregard the fact that I am an Australian and that my country voted against becoming a republic.
All jokes aside, I feel a weird sort of nostalgia for my fanfiction gig. For me, it’s basically the same thing as writing blog posts or translations. It’s a form of creative fan writing, that’s it. Fanfiction might have a worse reputation, but it’s an art form like any other. If my writing sucks, it has nothing to do with the medium and everything to do with my skill.
Technically, I retired from fanfiction in 2013. I left because fanfic culture is insular as hell and I wanted to try new things. But occasionally, I still get that itch to write fanfiction, because there are some ideas and emotions that are best expressed through fiction.
Here are my user stats for anyone who cares:
|You are on the favorites list of 302 members.|
|You are on the author alert list of 272 members.|
|You have submitted a total of 2094 signed reviews.|
|Total words archived : 700,741 words.|
|Average number of words per story : 10,949|
|Total views to Profile Page : 25,910|
Bear in mind that over the years I deleted some stories because they were so abominable. Who knows how high the real word count is?
Also, here is the full list of fandoms I have written for: Chrono Trigger, Inuyasha, Bible, Ranma, Naruto, Prince of Tennis, Evangelion, Professor Layton, Code Geass, Golden Sun, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, World Ends With You, Hunter X Hunter, Tales of Symphonia, Tsubasa Chronicle, Hikaru no Go, Gundam Seed, Eureka Seven, Kuroshitsuji, Card Captor Sakura, Tales of Graces, Legend of Zelda, Chihayafuru, Kimi to Boku, Kuroko no Basuke, Kimi ni Todoke, Haruhi Suzumiya series, Hyouka, Sket Dance, Sword Art Online, AnoHana, My Little Monster, Special A, Fullmetal Alchemist, Pet Girl of Sakurasou, My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, Barakamon, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Aldnoah Zero, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and Durarara!!
…Yeah, I was pretty busy there for those last nine years.
A Short List of Noteworthy Fanfiction
For reasons I still can’t entirely fathom, my stories were most popular with the SAO fandom. My most popular story overall was Double-Edged Sword, a “what if” story where Kirito is the damsel in distress. You can tell it was a NaNoWriMo novel because two of the battles last for three entire chapters each.
My two Suguha-centric oneshots, Game Over and Reset, were also popular. Reset was about Suguha pining for her oniichan’s dick, while Game Over dealt with the heavier theme of euthanasia. Neither makes for feel-good reading, I must admit.
The other fandom I found mild success in was Kurobasu. The Legend of Kuroman was a series of humorous sketches, featuring a running gag about Kuroko being a superhero who saves the world from the shadows. My personal favourite was Equilibrium in Vertigo, which serves as a (non-canon) prequel to the anime series proper. The story was about Aomine and Momoi’s strained friendship and was as accurate a depiction of the confusions of adolescence as I could muster.
My most “literary” fanfiction is The End of the Affair, which I have mentioned a couple of times already on this blog. It was also my most polarising work of fiction to date, in that it made people on Anime Suki mad. One reviewer described it as “if Urobuchi wrote a rom-com”, which never fails to make me laugh. I also thought it was amusing when someone on Reddit called it “a fanfic for yukino shippers“.
Looking back, the foundations of The End of the Affair lie in an earlier fic: Tatsuta River (Chihayafuru). The story is bleaker and the prose is less refined, but it deals with similar themes. There’s also The Colorless Green (Sakurasou), which is an adult future fic as well, but miraculously doesn’t end with suffering.
Finally, there’s my most recent story Knight and Princess (Aldnoah Zero), which is still an ongoing work of feminist propaganda.
My advice to aspiring fanfiction writers? Read widely and try to write outside your comfort zone. Also, read reviews and criticism, not just about fanfiction but about the series that you are writing about. Bonus points if you write your own criticism as well.
Shipping is not everything. If you like romance, go ahead and write it, but don’t feel the need to base your story around pairings simply because everyone else is doing it.
Being “in-character” is not everything. A strong author’s voice is far more important. If you want to find out if your characterisation is consistent, you should show your story to someone who is unfamiliar with the fandom you are writing about. If they can grasp the overall tone of your story and the personalities of the characters, then you’ve succeeded in writing “in-character” in the way that matters.
Plan your shit. You don’t have to write a step-by-step outline or multiple appendices, but at least have an idea of what you’re doing and how you’re going to get there.
Mary Sue litmus tests are full of crap. Badly written original characters usually piss readers off because everyone else in the story acts inconsistently. Focus on internal consistency and believable relationships between the characters and I guarantee that none (or barely any) of your original character’s surface traits will make them seem “Mary Sue-ish”.
And finally, remember that your OTP is shit. I mean it. If you can’t imagine your OTP not being together, it’s a shit OTP. People are individuals with complex desires before they are one half of a couple. Try to understand the people you write about. Try to empathise.