AN: I feel funny posting an AN to this thing, as it isn't even a story. This will be a well-meaning writing advice and fanfic-review compilation from a literature nerd with literally no qualifications in the topic. I probably won't give perfect reasoning for all my arguments, and it'll be subjective as hell. Enjoy!


One: Why you write

Here's the thing: there's not enough time in life to read or write bad fanfiction. Now what you consider good or bad is entirely subjective, so I use another distinction among pieces of fiction. There are stories that give something to the reader, and there are stories that don't. The second group is easier to write and easier to read. You read it, and when you finish, you're the exact same individual, only with having had a few laughs or having shed a few tears on the conveniently meaningless comedy or tragedy. I'm well aware that these works have their own niche as tools to let off some steam, and that it's fun to read something like that, but let's face it, it's what it is: meaningless. The stories that belong to the other type are those, that have a meaning. A message that they want to convey about life, the world, humanity or literally any topic that's relevant to the reader. Admittedly, these stories take effort to write, and require some willingness from the reader. Willingness to absorb the message and even possibly change their attitudes according to it. This makes these harder reads, but only for some capacity. Naturally, an author doesn't need to write something on par with – I don't know – Hamlet or Paradise Lost. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, the important part is the intent, the – so to say – soul of the story. Now, that we've established our two kinds of stories, I'd like to get a disclaimer out of the way: the advice in this whole compilation of essays is for those authors who wish to give something with their stories. If you're only writing for your own fun, it's a moot point, as you'll write whatever you want, and it's perfectly fine that way. Keep in mind, however, that with that, you also give up the right to be upset at negative feedback, as you admittedly don't care about your audience.

So, let's assume, that you want to give something to the person reading your story. How do you do it? There are a few ways, but first of all, you've got to decide what you wish to give to the reader. Most of my own attempts at writing usually go down on this particular plot point. But if you're lucky and you don't need inspiration deep from your heart and soul to write something, then think of a message. I'll give a few examples: world peace; religious peace; why humanity is going to die; why humanity is already dead; why we should totally stop killing each other despite our differences; etc. (Yes, I'm a very optimistic person, who really believes in a bright future, why do you ask?) What I've already mentioned, though, is that you don't need to solve life's greatest problems. The message might just be that people should be nice to each other. The important bit is that it should be there.

After you decide what message you want to convey with the piece of fiction you are writing, you can get down and find out how you're going to convey the message. There are countless ways to show your thoughts on the issue you chose to be at the centre of your story. One of the easiest ways is to go with an allegory. Even your whole story can be an allegory in and itself, if the central message is really the centre of your story. The allegory is a personification of your idea. For example, in the Bible, the forbidden fruit is the allegory of… well, there are a few theories about that, to be fair. It might be sex. Or knowledge. Or something else. An easier example is the Garden of Eden. It – at least in my opinion – clearly represents the innocence of Adam and Eve. Or, if we take a look at the Harry Potter books, I'd say Hogwarts is a representation of culture. Or a cultured society. You might've noticed that the meaning of some of these allegories is quite ambiguous. Well, that's mostly because there are two perspectives in play. The author and the reader. The author wants to represent a concept, and the reader will somehow interpret the representation. There is no sentence that can't be interpreted at least two different ways in a piece of fiction.

Another option is, that you model your thoughts in the story. This is literally the easiest thing ever. Examples include: if you think politicians are corrupt, depict them as corrupt. If you think education is useless (then shame on you, it just needs to be improved), depict school as a hindrance for your protagonist. The message will get through.

You can also have character based messages. The best example for this is Harry Potter. Harry is a very selfless boy with strong emotions, and in the end, he's victorious due to his willingness to die for his friends. (I'll have a rant on the topic 'Why Super!Harry ruins the message of Harry Potter' sometime later) This obviously conveys the message that we should be selfless, and love our fellow humans, as we're all in this life together. This is an easy device to show the concept you want to show.

The last – and for some definition the least – thing on the list is being painfully direct. If you ever read Jules Verne, especially the Two Years' Vacation, you'll find that a character literally explains why it's important to go to school even while stranded on a desert island! ("We must, of course, continue with our education. The older boys can teach the younger boys, and we'll build an utopistic free state of children. Learning's important, get it?" Heh, fat chance of this happening. If you want to read a realistic book about children on a desert island, read the Lord of Flies. You won't like it, but it's painfully accurate. But I digress.) I admit, however, that having a raisonneur character is completely justifiable. They're the guys who basically say what the author wants to say verbatim. Look at Dumbledore. Or any and all uncles from any and all Moliére plays. You can be direct, but do it with style. Don't give lessons of several pages (Looking at you Voltaire!), have them tell your opinion in a short and apt way, preferably in a well-flowing dialogue.

One last thing. As I've already mentioned, all works of fiction can be interpreted in lots of ways, and that's completely okay. People will take different things away from your writings, because they're different people. This could mean that your effort to show your thoughts was in vain, but it really doesn't. If your message inspires a positive change in someone, it was all worth it. You gave something. It might not necessarily be what you intended to give, but you gave something regardless. And we all know that it's better to give.

Now you have seen a new perspective on creative writing. I don't have the illusion that all writers who read this will suddenly only write books worth the Nobel-prize, but I hope I managed to give you something. Also, you probably won't manage to handle all these advices perfectly on the first try. I certainly didn't, but you know what they say: practice makes perfect. So write!


AN: If you agree, don't agree or have any thoughts on the topic, leave a review. If you liked this, and are ready for more, follow the story, because I intend to write a few other pieces of writing advice, fanfic trope analysis and fanfiction analysis. Next I'll probably try to tackle the ridiculously big topic of fanfiction as a whole. Stay tuned.

AN: I crosspost this to tumblr too, the link is on my profile. Also, this website hates links.