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Crossovers are AUs which blend at least two canons. They present their own set of challenges. The difficulty of combining two canons is directly proportional to the degree of synchronicity between them. Most crossovers fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Same-World Crossovers

  • Same-Rules Crossovers

  • Kitchen Sink Crossovers


Same-World Crossovers )
Same-Rules Crossovers )
Kitchen Sink Crossovers )

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Whenever you choose to write your story in a modified canon—that is, whenever you choose to add or change certain canon elements—you are writing in an Alternate Universe, or AU. Some people argue that virtually all fan-fiction is technically AU, and that’s definitely one way to look at things. Fan-fiction does, by definition, explore beyond canon. However, for the purpose of this manual, we will define an AU as a story which contains certain elements that render it incompatible with canon, as opposed to a story which did not transpire in canon (but could have!). There are five principle types of AU1:

  1. Predictive

  2. Divergent

  3. Contextual Reassignment

  4. Swaps

  5. Crossovers


We’ll be looking at crossovers more thoroughly in the next section.
Predictive )



Divergent )
Contextual Reassignment )

Swaps )

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While fan-fiction writers do not receive monetary compensation for their work, many are happy to receive feedback on their stories. Some writers are hoping for constructive criticism, others want positive reinforcement. Some just want to know that someone read their story.
Remember )

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When posting fan-fiction online, there are certain rules of “netiquette” that are generally observed. These include the use of summaries, tags, ratings, warnings, and disclaimers.
Summaries )


Tags )

Ratings )

Warnings )
Disclaimers )

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The following elements are not objectively “good” or “bad”, but they can be difficult to write well.

Original Characters )


Over-Description, Purple Prose, and Data Dumping )

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While an outline helps you create a framework for your fiction, research helps you flesh your story out. Your research will usually fit into one or both of the following categories:

  • Canon

  • Worldbuilding

Canon )
Worldbuilding )
Wait a minute... )

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Sometimes, the hardest part of writing is getting the first five sentences out of your head and onto your document. At other times, your biggest problem may be that you can’t jot your ideas down fast enough. While creative bursts are something to be cherished, creativity without discipline and direction often burns out, leaving a writer blocked in the middle of a story, with no clear idea how to proceed. For this reason, if you mean to write a multi-chaptered work, it’s helpful to begin with an outline.
Plotting the Story )


Working with an Outline )

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Introduction )

Is This Plagiarism? )


1 Based on the works of Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, and Jane Austen, respectively.
2 A.C. Crispin, Introduction to Time for Yesterday by A.C. Crispin (New York: Pocket Books, 1990), accessed June 25, 2012.
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Playing in someone else’s sandbox


Best practices for fan-fiction, from planning to posting—and beyond



By Ellen Fleischer



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


This work would not have been possible without the advice and support of the Yahoo! Bludhaven group and the posters who patiently shared their wisdom with me at [profile] ffr_discussion . Since aliases and pseudonyms are a large part of online life, I regret that I am unable to credit everyone by name, but I would still like to thank: Mary Brokaw, Char Edwards, Syl Francis, Bluejay Silver, Xenith, [personal profile] archaeologist_d, [personal profile] cat63, [personal profile] rhiannon_s, [personal profile] celestlyn, [profile] in_excelsis_dea, [profile] deepbluemermaid, [personal profile] flo_nelja, [personal profile] ozqueen, [personal profile] vampirenaomi, [personal profile] the_physicist, [personal profile] yamx, [profile] beesandbrews, [personal profile] lionessvalenti, [profile] r_dahlia, [profile] sir2moons, [personal profile] lady_ganesh, [personal profile] mimiheart, [personal profile] jenna_marianne, [personal profile] edibleflowers, [personal profile] mithen, [personal profile] tinpra, and [personal profile] casusfere.

A special round of applause goes out to my beta-readers, [personal profile] aiyokusama, Kathy B, [personal profile] dungeonwriter, and PJ Zatken, and to Wei-Ping Gao, Nevena Mancheva, Chris Vitti, and Adam Yasui of the Seneca Tech Comm class of 2012 for reviewing my first draft.

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As many of you know, I earned a Certificate in Technical Communication last year. As part of my coursework, I had to create a user guide or best practices manual on... well, pretty much anything. The projects that the instructors showed us from years past included some "conventional" guides for software and gadgets, but also included topics like "How to Eat Sushi," "How to Look Like Audrey Hepburn," and "How to Build a Steel Drum."

Under the circumstances, I felt comfortable writing a Fan-Fiction Best Practices Guide.

After some consideration, I've decided that I'm going to start posting it here.

Before I do, let's get some basics out of the way:


  1. I'm not the fandom police, and I'm not the world's greatest authority ever. Far from it. A lot of what I've included in the guide is basic commonsense and stuff I've learned not to do from hanging out in rant and discussion communities.

  2. It's a guidebook. It's giving guidelines, not rules set in stone. e.e. cummings could write like e.e. cummings, ignoring capitialization and writing poetry like:

    anyone lived in a pretty how town
    with up so floating many bells down


    Most of us can't get away with that. However, there might be a couple who can. My guide is not addressed to them.

  3. Following my guidelines won't guarantee that you'll receive scads of reviews, accolades, or abs of steel and a voice like a nightingale. On the other hand, they may help.



Do I have any credibility left?

Okay. As far as reproduction and copying goes, I took out a creative commons license: Creative Commons License
Playing In Someone Else's Sandbox: Best Practices for Fan-Fiction, from Planning to Posting—and Beyond by Ellen Fleischer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Basically? You can quote me, share me, and make modifications so long as you also share alike. No commercial use permitted.

Oh and I know a decent amount of html, but putting in hyperlinks not just to a specific post, but to a specific point within the post isn't something I'm so sure about. As I figure it out, I'll probably be going in and improving the entries.

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