Note from me: These are some guidelines that I have posted to help others understand what I look for in fiction. This list is a combination of several other pages like this that I have seen on many other sites. These guidelines do not, in any way, define "good fiction", they are simply a reflection of what I like to see when I read... whether it's online or not.
1. Like to write. That seems obvious, but so many writers out there write just for the feedback, or just for their readers. If you love to write, then go for it! And the minute you stop liking it, then stop.
2. Like to read. Again, it seems obvious, and yet so many writers don't read enough. Reading books (or anything other than fanfics) really gets you prepared for writing. They will also show you different writing styles that have been tested and accepted. Always find your own writing style, but there are some basic guidelines to follow, all of which can be found in published stories.
3. Proper spacing/punctuation. Quotes are required around any text that is spoken. That's these little guys " ". You space once after a comma. Speaking of commas, they are your friends. Use them. But don't go haywire. Here is a great site if you need help with grammar: Guide to Grammar and Writing (It has been brought to my attention that it is now acceptable and "correct" to use one space after a period on computers. I personally don't type that way but it looks like most programs autoformat them that way, and it looks fine - so do what feels right for you.)
4. Proper spelling/grammar. This is crucial. It is very very hard to read a story that is littered with bad spelling and poor grammar. Most programs have a spell/grammar check, and I'd highly recommend using it. The occasional typo is of course acceptable, and even expected. Take the time to read over your work to make sure it flows nicely. I find that reading it out loud can help pinpoint trouble sentences. Remember that how and what you type is a reflection on yourself. If you want to be taken seriously, take the time to make the work presentable.
5. Know what
you're talking about. I dont mean that you have to be an expert in
sound recording to write about *Nsync recording an album, but you should have some grasp
on the basics. If you're writing about someone
with a medical condition, do a little homework. If
you're writing about someone from
6. Character names. This is a personal preference of mine. I like characters with original names, but if your readers can't pronounce it, it will only be a distraction. If you're going to call a character "Ari" (even though her name is Arianikly) then just call her "Ari" and be done with it. On a side note, there's no need to give all of the characters full names, unless it is a crucial element of the story. We know that when you say "Lance", it's Lance Bass, there's no need to introduce him. On the same note, you shouldn't start of your first paragraph with - "Michelle Louise Hatfield brushed her hair in the mirror." We rarely need to know her entire name off the bat, no matter how much you love it.
7. Character descriptions. Working descriptions into the story is a great way to let your readers know what your characters look and act like. However, taking up a paragraph describing her raven black hair that falls just past her shoulder blades, but not quite to her bottom, with soft waves that looks like a ripple in a pond after a pebbles been thrown, which is thicker than the thickest forest and even softer than satin that's just overkill. We also don't need to know their entire wardrobe (unless it is important to the story - which I have yet to see). Yes, some description is fine; such as: "She pulled on a pair of jeans and a green t-shirt" is fine, where, "She pulled on her dark blue Old Navy boot cut pants with a daisy embroidered on the pocket, and a matching pale pink t-shirt with a matching butterfly in blue across her chest. Her socks were the same baby blue and matched her butterfly headband perfectly." Is overkill.
8. Take the good
with the bad. No matter how great your story is, there will be
people out there who will not like it. When
writing fanfiction (or any other kind of story actually) you need to be ready to take both
the good and bad reviews. If you won't be able
to handle someone critiquing your story, then don't put it up. If all you want are glowing reviews your best bet
would be to just show it to your friends. (Side note: this is a great write up I
found on how to give and take reviews: Reviews )
(Side note: this is a great write up I found on how to give and take reviews: Reviews )
9. First person vs. third person. This is a matter of preference. But whatever you choose, stick with it for the whole story. Don't write one chapter in third then jump to first person. It's very hard to follow that way and can be confusing. First person = I said. I went. We are going. Third person = Justin said. She went. They are going.
10. Be original and have fun. Give your characters (both famous and original) some depth and character. JC isn't always serious. Joey isn't always a player. Chris can be serious. Lance can be obnoxious. Justin can be a moody brat. On the same note - not all female leads have to be drop dead gorgeous with stereotypical personalities. Make them as real as you can. Have fun with the creation of all of your characters, you alone can define them :)
Again - these guidelines are not here to tell you how to write. You need to write however you feel comfortable, just know that this is what I look for when reading, and what a great majority of the readers out there also like to see.