• Jessica Porter

The 7 Deadly Sins of Fanfiction Writing

You may think anything goes in the world of fanfiction, but these bad moves will seriously alienate your readers and the community.


1. Plagiarism


Directly copying the work of another author is an obvious faux pas, but the same goes for copying large chunks of plot or other big concepts. Fanfiction is inherently derivative, but if you were inspired by another story, it's important to give credit to the works and authors that you were influenced by.



2. Hijacking Tags


Abusing the tagging system is a big offense in the fanfiction world. Too many tags will overwhelm readers and turn them away. On the other hand, blatantly false or misleading tags are even more actively harmful. If your story isn't about BTS, but you tag it #BTS, you will only frustrate or anger readers who came to the tag seeking BTS stories. Using inappropriate tags is just lying, and nobody wants to be lied to.



3. Ghosting Your Readers


How many times have you opened a story that claims to "update every Tuesday" but hasn't been updated in months? It's very frustrating for readers to feel like they can't trust the author. Don't lie about your updating schedule, and above all else—never just disappear completely. There's no quicker way to upset your readers than to leave them hanging with a half-finished story.



4. Trusting Google Translate


The fanfiction community is incredibly global, so writers can't just lean on Google translate and hope nobody will notice. Google translations often go wrong, and a bad translation can really distract from a story. Authors need to show other languages and cultures the respect they deserve by doing good research. With all of the internet at our disposal, it's easy to connect with people who actually speak the language or find lists of phrases put together by real speakers.



5. Crazy-Long Paragraphs


Paragraph breaks help separate overwhelming large chunks of text and make the story easier to read. Smaller paragraphs are especially good for reading on mobile. If every chapter of a book is one long block of text, or the paragraphs last through multiple mobile pages, it's that much harder to read the book. Nobody wants to sift through a wall of words. Nobody.



6. Update Extortion


"Will update at 100 votes!" may be one of the most controversial sentences in fanfiction. It might seem like a good idea, but using manipulative tactics to garner comments, votes, or reviews is frowned upon in the fanfic world. Don't disrespect your readers by forcing them to engage a certain amount before you post new content. Authors should always have a consistent posting schedule that they adhere to regardless of how much interaction they receive.



7. Author's Note Rants


Many writers will post long, drawn-out paragraphs as author's notes. Often, they use these as a place to respond to criticism and not-so-subtly subtweet readers whose comments have upset them. Nobody wins when writers post these things and, more often than not, they just interrupt the flow of the story with a rant that nobody asked for. If an author has a problem with a reader comment, they should be responding to that reader directly or—even better—ignoring them and moving on. Pulling readers into the drama just makes things less enjoyable for everyone.



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