#1 Edited by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

So, you’ve got your idea for your magnum opus and you’re sat at your typewriter (or, you know, something a little more contemporary) ready to unleash it onto the world.

WHOA THERE, BUDDY!!! Before you get started, there are probably some things you may need to think about. Here are some tips that I hope will help you along your path from inspired doodler to, possibly becoming the next Alan Moore (by the way, if you do become the next Alan Moore I will personally take all the glory and assume that ever iota of your ability came from reading this wee thread. If you actually ARE Alan Moore and you’re reading this, then I retroactively claim all credit for everything you’ve ever written since birth. Thank you.)

KNOW YOUR STORY

Before you begin to write your tale, firstly spend some time thinking about what’s going to actually happen in your story. An easy mistake is to think that an idea is a story. The idea is just the start and it is the detail that makes it into an actual, fully functioning story.

Make sure you organise your information; so you are revealing your details and plot points in a way that the reader can clearly understand. This kind of stuff can make the wheels fall off your story. Another thing to think about is HOW are you going to give the information to the reader? Will it be revealed in a letter? A flashback? A letter delivered? A conversation? The options are endless and may make the difference between an awkward plot point and smooth sailing. The best way around these kinds of logistical messes is to do a rough draft. Don’t worry about nailing it completely, just use your first draft as a rough guide and as a way of nutting out what happens and where.

The greatest danger when crafting a tale (or not crafting a tale) is writing yourself into a corner. We all know that when the Silver Surfer meets Thanos in your conclusion in chapter twelve it is going to be truly amazing, but how are you going to rectify all the remaining plot points when he’s sitting in a bar in Pittsburg at the end of chapter eleven?

These kinds of details can derail your whole epic yarn and leave you disillusioned and unable to finish. Be sure you don't write yourself into a corner.

SERVE THE STORY

The primary purpose of writing, especially fan fiction is to entertain. If you want to tell people what you think then set yourself up with your own youtube channel.Hubert Selby Jr, the amazing writer of the novel, Last Exit To Brooklyn said that the writer has no right to impose themselves between the reader and the character. Don’t like politicians? Writing an Archie comic? Keep your opinions to yourself. No one wants to hear them. A reader wants to read about the latest adventures of Hawkeye, not about your thoughts on euthanasia.

There are, of course exceptions to this rule, which still end in amazing stories (V For Vendetta, The Dark Knight, Preacher) yet these are generally by writers who have truly mastered their craft. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Serve the story, not yourself.

KNOW YOUR FORM

Present tense? Past tense? First person? Third person? The maid or the Justin Bieber sympathizer with the limp? These kinds of questions could make the difference between a great story and an average tale. Think of Marvels if it hadn’t been told from the perspective of Phil Sheldon? Would it be as effective a tale? Probably not. What if MAUS had been told from the perspective of a Nazi soldier? What if Crisis On Infinite Earths had been told in the form of a journal written by an albino hedgehog? They would be very different tales, wouldn’t they? Put some serious thought into what form, what angle you want to approach your story from. It could make all the difference and could also make the writing a lot more interesting for yourself.

KNOW YOUR CHARACTER

Whether you're writing fan fiction or spinning yarns with the epic scope of the Spot The Dog series, you need to know your characters. They serve as your voice, the instruments through which you tell your story. So who are they? Where do they come from? What do they want? What's their purpose? What are they struggling against? Even the most erratic of characters have consistency. Look at The Joker; as described in The Dark Knight, he is an "agent for chaos." Unpredictable, unhinged, prone to wild behaviour swings. Yet, when written properly, he is still consistent as a character. This is the benchmark for good writing; consistency of character.

Spider Man, as a general rule, doesn’t swear like Grandma on Thanksgiving. The Punisher is, generally speaking, not known as a first class joker. Superman doesn't kill. Iron Man is not a clumsy dork. Jesse Custer doesn't collect stamps. If your are consistent with the character you are writing, then the reader has something to grab onto, someone they can relate to and recognise. It also makes your job easier, as a character that you truly understand becomes a pleasure to write and will, essentially begin to write itself. Find out more about your character than you will ever use.

It will only benefit your story.

RESEARCH

Don't let your story suffer just because you haven't hit the library (does anyone use the library these days?) Writing a cop story? Learn to write proper procedure. Want to write a military story? Learn to use the appropriate jargon and read about the hardware. Good writing creates a willing suspension of disbelief in the reader. You know the end of Jaws? When Brody ______'s the ______? (I censored the last bits so as not to ruin the end of Jaws for those who haven't seen it yet when Brody shoots the shark and blows it to... OH CRAP!). This ending is completely unrealistic and fabulously over the top but, as viewers... WE DON'T CARE! We have an absolute and willing suspension of disbelief because the movie has been written so well. We WANT to believe. Steven Spielberg stated that if viewers were still watching by that point, then he could do whatever he wanted with the audience. And he was right.

“Willing suspension of disbelief” is your best friend. Don’t break it by simply not learning more about your subject. If i'm reading and loving the latest issue of Daredevil and i suddenly read that ace attorney Matt Murdock spent his afternoon in 'the lawyer place' defending a 'murdering guy', then my willing suspension of disbelief goes out the window, shortly followed by my copy of Daredevil.

WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

There is a big difference between your average comic book reader (mid 30's and slightly embittered) and your average Sonic The Hedgehog comic book reader (mid teens, slightly embittered). Keep in mind who you are writing for, because if Archie drops the F-Bomb while down at the malt shop with Jughead, you're certainly going to hear about it. Consider the content of your story also. If writing a big, fun, cosmic Avengers story, then a The Boys style sex scene between Ultron and Jocasta probably isn't going to go down too well (and that's not as sordid as it sounds).

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTHS

Just because you have a strong comedic sense in your writing, doesn’t mean you can’t write a brilliant Punisher story. Look at Ennis’ first run on ‘Welcome Back, Frank.’ It was a brilliantly fitting Punisher story that had a thick streak of black humour running right through the middle of it. Good writing is good writing, so if you have a great sense of humour, or write in a bleakly humourless fashion, then use them. Peter David brings humour to everything he writes. Gerry Conway brings deathly drama to everything he writes. What they have in common is that they are both great writers with singular visions.

Don’t try to write like someone else. You are giving up the best quality your writing has; your unique and individual voice.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

People will very rarely give negative advice just to hurt you. Usually, you’ll find that criticism is given purely with the intention of helping you. Listen when you can. You can only improve, no matter what is said.

Put your ego aside and don't be afraid to learn.

HAVE FUN!!!

This is not rocket science. It is an amazing and beautiful creative process if you allow it to be. So screw everything i just said and HAVE FUN DAMMIT!!!!

(A big shout out to for putting this BRILLIANT thread together. A fantastic idea and fantastically put together. A doff of my hat to you, sir!)

#2 Posted by GR2Blackout (2564 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice.

#3 Posted by AweSam (7376 posts) - - Show Bio

Good job. Love the pictures too, they're awesome.

#4 Posted by primepower53 (5591 posts) - - Show Bio

I just...I don't even. I just REALLY like this.

#5 Posted by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

@primepower53: @AweSam: @GR2Blackout: You guys were a hard act to follow, so thanks for the kind words, i really appreciate it.

#6 Posted by Imagine_Man15 (1801 posts) - - Show Bio

This was fantastic! The best guide I've seen to date, and very insightful.

#7 Posted by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

@Imagine_Man15: WoW! Thanks, man. From the guy who wrote the most awesome Justice League series' never made (the SHOULD have been made) it is high praise indeed!

#8 Posted by CapFanboy (5366 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger: Though I do disagree with some things in this post, it is well-written and well thought out. I think it's more how to write in general though rather than how to write Fan-Fic

#9 Posted by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

@CapFanboy said:

@feebadger: Though I do disagree with some things in this post, it is well-written and well thought out. I think it's more how to write in general though rather than how to write Fan-Fic

Is there a difference? And i'd love to hear what you disagree with.

#10 Posted by CapFanboy (5366 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger: Mainly the research bit, I find Fan-Fic to be a more relaxing way of writing myself. A way of writing without worrying too much as really, it's for me. Actual writing is more for your readers rather than yourself and as such should entertain and grip them rather than be for your own amusement. But either way, this was a brilliant post :)

#11 Posted by Imagine_Man15 (1801 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger said:

@Imagine_Man15: WoW! Thanks, man. From the guy who wrote the most awesome Justice League series' never made (the SHOULD have been made) it is high praise indeed!

Thanks, now I feel all warm and fuzzy inside :)

Just so you know, season 4 should be up soon. There has been a bit of a delay on it, because I've been channeling most of my free time into work on my novel as of late, but that being said, season 4 of my Justice League series is about three fourths of the way done now... I just need to get around to finishing it.

And you said that me liking your article was high praise... but to me, you just liking my work is an infinitely greater praise. Thanks again.

#12 Posted by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

Thanks Imagine Man and i look forward to reading Season 4 (and the novel if you choose to share it here).

#13 Posted by UnderDogs_OverBoard (1137 posts) - - Show Bio

nice

#14 Posted by 4donkeyjohnson (1720 posts) - - Show Bio

These are very well done, thoughtful and can be useful. Good job feebadger!

#15 Posted by batkevin74 (11196 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger: Well done, I don't think I read this over initially

#16 Posted by xxxddd (3593 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger: You put alot of effort into this, and thanks for the help, I'm writing Hawkeye now(I won't be on for another week because I'll be working a developing a plot and figuring out how to make hawkeye a superhero).

#17 Posted by batkevin74 (11196 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger:

#18 Posted by xxxddd (3593 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger: What's the difference between pitfalls of writing and a writer's block?

#19 Posted by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

@xxxddd: Well, pitfalls generally refers to common mistakes made in writing, like plotting conundrums, which tense to write in, which character to follow, how to get from point A to point B and such. Whereas writer's block is usually in regards to being unable to focus an idea into a coherent story or starting point for a story. A lot of people misconstrue writer's block as being an absence of ideas, but this is rarely the case as we, all of us, have an abundance of ideas. Writer's Block though, is generally about not being able to focus those ideas or be enthused enough about them to forge a story.

Does that help? :)

#20 Posted by xxxddd (3593 posts) - - Show Bio

@feebadger: Thanks for the clarification.

#21 Posted by dngn4774 (3501 posts) - - Show Bio

Thank you for putting this up. Alan Moore would be proud.

#22 Posted by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

@dngn4774: So cynical am i, that i can't tell if you're being facetious or not :) So i'll just say a heart felt thank you and then back away slowly...