Tuesday, February 28, 2012

KariAnn1222's (Rather Obvious) Guide to Fanfic-Diving/Reading That Doesn't Make You Wanna Pull Your Hair Out

So, you finally finished the last novel in that series or watched the latest episode of that TV series you love, and now you're ready to find some entertaining but well-written fanfic. Great! That is, until you get to, say, FanFiction.net, perform a search for, say, Hunger Games fanfiction under “books,” and you find that you're a bit staggered by the results. “Where to begin?” you may be thinking right about now.

Well, let's start with the obvious: First you might want to pick a genre or two. What sort of story are you looking for? Romance, drama, adventure, angst? Personally, I always leave this field blank for the sake of finding more potential gems in a genre I'm not expecting.

Next, to narrow down your choices, you might want to select the two characters you’re interested in reading about most. However, keep in mind that just because you run a search for stories featuring Peeta and Katniss, for example, it does NOT guarantee that every story listed pairs them romantically; it simply means that those two characters are the most prominently featured. To get an idea of the romantic pairings, scan the summary and the author’s notes. Also, glancing at the genre might help give you an indication of whether there’s romance: If a story is labeled “friendship, drama,” there’s no guarantee.

Also, you might want to select a rating. I personally prefer stories with an “M” rating because I enjoy edgier writing (and, okay, the occasional well-written smut scene), but I’ve discovered gems suited for younger audiences as well.

In keeping with the theme of the obvious, once you’ve performed your search for your preferred pairing, rating, and genres, a quick scan of the titles and summaries will tell experienced readers whether or not the story was written by a 13-year-old first-time writer or someone a bit more seasoned: Are the words and names spelled correctly? Did the author bother with capitalization and punctuation? If not, then that’s a fair indication that the story is just as sloppily written, and you can just skip right on over it. And if something looks promising, scan the first chapter to get a feel for the writing style and to see if it’s something you might enjoy. Personally, I’m so distracted by improperly punctuated dialogue that I won’t give it a chance if I look at the first chapter and see that. (The occasional typo is forgivable and easy to overlook, but consistently punctuating dialogue incorrectly says to me, “I didn’t bother. I don’t really care.” And if I don’t think the author cares, I’m not going to give his/her fic a chance.)

Perhaps most importantly, always check the “updated” and “published” dates before beginning a multi-chaptered story not yet marked as “complete.” That will give you an indication of whether it's abandoned and, if not, how often the author updates. For example, if a story was first published in 2009 but only has ten chapters - even if the most current was posted recently - chances are good that the author is too busy to actively work on it, so you may be waiting...well, indefinitely for the next update.

On a similar note, to further help avoid disappointment, check the author's profile page: Does he/she have multiple incomplete stories? Does it seem that he/she has a tendency to start a story, get bored with it, and start a new one? If so, I'd hesitate before getting into one of his/her fics, since the chances are good that the author will eventually lose interest. In other words, look at an author’s track record: If the author has more multi-chaptered stories marked as “complete” than “incomplete,” chances are good that you can count on him/her to finish what he/she starts.

Lastly, seek out recommendations through Twitter, message boards, fandom friends whose opinions you trust, et cetera.  You may not always agree with everyone's taste, but it tends to make the weeding process a helluva lot easier.

So, once you’ve gone through the sometimes rather daunting process of finding a story and/or author that’s to your liking, please be aware that the large majority of multi-chaptered fics eventually DO get abandoned for whatever reason, since this is all done on a voluntary basis and fanfic writers aren't getting paid to do what they do. Sometimes real-life obligations take precedence, or their circumstances change and they don't have as much time to write as they previously did. If you're not prepared to accept that, then my advice to you would be to stick to performing searches for completed fics only.

Happy fic-hunting!


No comments:

Post a Comment