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How to edit your fanfiction story

2024-04-10

Everyone loves a good fanfiction story. Whether it's a continuation of a beloved series, a crossover of two favourites, or an entirely new take on a familiar universe, fanfiction invites readers to explore new perspectives and possibilities. But even the most imaginative fanfictions need careful editing to make sure they shine. Here's how to edit your fanfiction story to ensure your tale keeps readers enthralled from beginning to end.

Know Your Canon

The first step in writing a strong fanfiction story is to know your source material inside and out. This goes beyond just knowing the plot and characters. You must become familiar with the tone, the pacing, the themes, and the overall feel of the original work. The better you understand the canon, the better you can maintain continuity and believability in your fanfiction.

How to edit your fanfiction story

When you're editing your fanfiction, you should consistently check your details against the original work. This doesn't just mean the big things, but also the small details. Are the characters acting in ways that are consistent with their canon personalities? Are you maintaining the rules of the universe? Double-checking such questions will increase your fanfiction's internal realism and readers' satisfaction.

Respect the Characters

Staying true to the characterizations present in the original work is crucial. Characters should act and speak in ways that are consistent with their established personalities, histories, and motivations. Any changes or developments that you make should be justified and believable.

Remember to maintain the voice of the characters. They should sound like themselves, even if the situations they find themselves in are different. Preserve their unique speech patterns, their habits, their quirks. If you're consistent, readers will find it easy to immerse in the world you've recreated.

Engage Your Reader's Senses

Good writing engages as many of the reader's senses as possible. When editing your fanfiction, look for opportunities to add sensory details. Describe not just what your characters are seeing, but what they're hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. It adds depth and reality to your story, making it more engaging and enjoyable.

However, avoid excessive description. Find a balance that gives readers a complete picture without overloading them with information. If a certain scene feels as if it drags on too long, consider if it is overstuffed with details and needs trimming.

Dialogue

Realistic dialogue can make or break your fanfiction. During editing, read your dialogue aloud. Does it sound realistic? Is it something your characters would actually say based on their personality and the situation they are in? If not, it might be time for a rewrite.

Additionally, make sure you're not overloading your dialogue with exposition. Too much telling and not enough showing can make your story feel flat and uninteresting. Dialogue should reveal character or advance the plot. If it's doing neither, consider trimming it back.

Beta Reading

Before you publish, consider getting a beta reader. A beta reader provides feedback on your story before it is published, helping you identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. This can be invaluable in helping you revise and improve your fanfiction.

The key to successful beta reading is choosing the right person. You want someone who is familiar with the canon, positive, constructive, and attentive to detail. Remember, their aim should be to help you improve, not to tear you down.

Online Tools and Websites

There are numerous online tools and websites that can help you improve your fanfiction writing and editing. Grammarly, for example, provides spelling, grammar, and syntax checking. Writing platforms like Wattpad or FanFiction.net not only give you a platform to publish your work, but they also provide helpful feedback from your readers.

Many communities on FanFiction.net, AO3, LiveJournal, and other sites provide an exchange service for beta reading, making it easier to find someone who can provide constructive feedback. Most of these tools are free or offer free versions, and they can considerably improve the quality of your fanfiction.

Revising vs. Rewriting

When editing, it's important to differentiate between revising and rewriting. Revising involves making changes to your work to improve clarity, coherence, or readability. Rewriting, on the other hand, involves starting over from scratch. Be careful to judge which one is needed as excessive rewriting can lead to a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction.

Generally, you should revise first, focusing on the macro level (story arcs, character development) and then on the micro level (dialogues, descriptions). Only consider rewriting if your story has fundamental issues that cannot be fixed through revision.

Conclusion

Editing a fanfiction story is just as important as writing the original draft. It's during this stage that you fine-tune your work, ensuring your characters are consistent, your plot is engaging, and your writing is clear and compelling. By following these tips, you can elevate your fanfiction to a higher level of storytelling that delight readers and leave them wanting more.

FAQ

1. What tools can I use to edit my fanfiction?

You can use platforms like Grammarly to check spelling, grammar, and syntax. Writing communities like FanFiction.net or AO3 also provide useful feedback from readers and can connect you with beta readers.

2. How do I balance staying true to the source material while adding my own twists?

The key lies in seamlessly integrating your twists with the canon material. Your new elements should feel like logical extensions or developments of the original work, not disconnected additions.

3. What's the role of a beta reader in the editing process?

A beta reader gives feedback before your fanfiction is published. They identify your work's strengths and weaknesses, helping you make necessary improvements.

References

Bell, J. (2012). Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells. Writer's Digest Books.

Mittell, J. (2006). Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television. The Velvet Light Trap, 58, 29-40.

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