Fan Fiction
Advice on Writing Fanfic

Many aspiring Daria fanfic writers have asked the same question over the years: what constitutes a good Daria fanfic? While the ultimate answer is still, "Whatever the reader likes," the following advice by fanfic author Mike Yamiolkoski is a good start towards achieving that goal.

Remember, though, that this advice is not a strict set of rules on what you must do. Rather, treat it as it was intended: suggestions from an author who's observed much fanfic over the years, and has gotten a feel for the good, the bad, and the ugly in fanfic. As he says at the end, it's still your call when writing your story.

How to Write (Good) Daria Fanfic
by Mike Yamiolkoski
I posted this on the Paperpusher's Message Board in response to Thomas' "How to Write Bad Fanfic."

  1. Be familiar enough with the show to know who's who and what's what. I get turned off by a fanfic that makes glaring errors.
  2. Re-doing a clichéd plot is fine, as long as there's something new in it. But better to come up with something totally new.
  3. Melodrama is not to be used to spice up an otherwise tired story. Melodrama may be used to explore how characters might react to extreme situations, however.
  4. Don't let new characters take over the story. This is still about Daria, Jane, and the gang, after all. If someone of the author's own creation is going to be the star, they'd better be at least as interesting as the characters we know.
  5. For God's sake, learn how to spell and punctuate. Don't make your reader wade through a swamp of poor grammar to get at the story beneath.
  6. If you're going to have an established character act in a way totally unlike established behavior, have a reason for it.
  7. Know a little about proper storytelling. If you just mentioned that Monique is dead, having her show up at the Zon without a very good explanation is not a good idea. In short, blatant inconsistencies in the plot should be avoided.
  8. Use footnotes sparingly, if at all. We are smart. We can often figure out the joke without having it explained. If we can't, it's probably not a very good joke.
  9. Just because you get rave reviews on FanFiction.Net doesn't mean your story's good. Just because someone trashes it doesn't mean it's bad.
  10. Get honest beta readers. People who won't tell you what's wrong with your story aren't doing you any favors. I don't beta read because I've learned that when people ask for your honest opinion about a story, they often mean "read this and tell me it's perfect" and get very upset when you tell them it's awful. I am lucky enough to be married to the best beta reader on the planet, who has no problem telling me when my stuff is pig doots.


I really should go vacuum the living room now.