For FanFiction Readers: What do you look for in a fanfic?

Discussion and questions about the FanFiction section of MSCL.com. You can also post excerpts of your unfinished stories here if you're looking for feedback or ideas.
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BuffaloLawnmower
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For FanFiction Readers: What do you look for in a fanfic?

Post by BuffaloLawnmower » Aug 28th 2011, 7:39 am

What makes a fic "good" to you? What are your personal preferences? (For MSCL-specific fics or for fics in general) Also, this isn't meant as a judgment toward readers or writers who have different preferences than me and isn't meant as any kind of attack or criticism. These are just my own preferences and I genuinely just want to see what other people like.

My own views: (these are true for MSCL fics as well as other show/movie/film fics)

--I tend not to like really big year jumps/really big changes in the characters' lives. I'm more open, though, to stories where the gap is smaller (such as 1-5 years); would also be open to a story in which the characters were much older but were telling about their lives in flashback, and most of the story wasn't set in a big 'year gap'.

--I do not like stories where a character gets knocked up or "family" (marriage and kids) stories. Just not my thing. Not saying that all of those stories are badly written; just that it's not a subject matter that interests me personally. True of fics in general, not just MSCL.

--I'm not a fan of stories that are very unrealistic (exceptions made if it's a 'crack fic' or if it's a satire or parody and is meant to be funny and outrageous).

--I prefer that the characters still be recognizable. It's one thing for the characters to mature but still be themselves; it's another thing for them to be so different that they are no longer the same characters.

--In a similar vein, I like stories that seem like they could be a part of the original series and that keep the spirit of the original.

--I tend not to read stories with really explicit content or certain kinds of traumatic/very extreme situations; very few exceptions to that. Swearing, I don't mind in moderation, or else if it's really fitting to a character (though it isn't really fitting to any of the characters on this particular show), but if it's every fifth word or so, that can get annoying. Not a fan of gratuitous violence or 'umming', either. If something is subtle or implied, or if it is absolutely necessary and essential to the story, that's different; whether or not that makes me uncomfortable depends on the circumstances and sometimes my mood.

--I'm open to different pairings. I'll read stories with pairings that I don't ship and sometimes even ones that I don't even like. The main thing, to me, is that the pairing be written in a realistic and believable way, and that the characters aren't "OCs in original character clothing", so to speak. This is especially true if the pairing would likely never happen on the original show. I really appreciate a fanfic writer who can make a pairing that is highly unlikely in the original seem plausible without significantly altering the characters or their circumstances.

--I prefer stories that use the existing characters and don't like OCs. I tend to prefer stories that happen in the original story's setting, but am open to different settings, if they make sense, if the setting is accurately depicted, and if it's done well.

--Grammar, spelling, sentence structure, formatting; if I have difficulty reading something to the point that I can't understand it, I tend to get frustrated and give up. (I don't mean a few typos; I'm talking about if I literally cannot follow the story).

--I tend to be more interested in character development and in the personal stories rather than the plot, though the plot is also important to me.

--Lastly, I like stories that are well-written. I like stories that are interesting without resorting to 'tricks' or 'bells and whistles' (such as gratuitous violence or sex, or a deus ex machina/diablos ex machina situation--again, unless it's a crack fic). I like a story that will make me think--something that 'stays with me' for awhile.

Anyone else have any preferences?

*I keep trying to shorten this, hence the high number of edits, but wanted to make sure that I included the important stuff; don't want to 'hog the board' or have a tl;dnr situation*

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stburr91
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Re: For FanFiction Readers: What do you look for in a fanfic

Post by stburr91 » Aug 29th 2011, 4:28 pm

BuffaloLawnmower wrote:What makes a fic "good" to you? What are your personal preferences? (For MSCL-specific fics or for fics in general) Also, this isn't meant as a judgment toward readers or writers who have different preferences than me and isn't meant as any kind of attack or criticism. These are just my own preferences and I genuinely just want to see what other people like.


--I tend not to like really big year jumps/really big changes in the characters' lives. I'm more open, though, to stories where the gap is smaller (such as 1-5 years); would also be open to a story in which the characters were much older but were telling about their lives in flashback, and most of the story wasn't set in a big 'year gap'.
I agree, I much prefer the fanfics that pick up where the original storyline ended.
BuffaloLawnmower wrote:--In a similar vein, I like stories that seem like they could be a part of the original series and that keep the spirit of the original.
This is really the biggest thing for me, if the fanfic doesn't have the same feel as the original show, I lose interest quickly.
What's amazing is when you can feel your life going somewhere. Like your life just figured out how to get good. Like, that second."

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Jody Barsch*
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Re: For FanFiction Readers: What do you look for in a fanfic

Post by Jody Barsch* » Sep 11th 2011, 11:27 pm

BuffaloLawnmower wrote:--I'm not a fan of stories that are very unrealistic
--I prefer that the characters still be recognizable.
--...I like stories that seem like they could be a part of the original series and that keep the spirit of the original.
--Grammar, spelling, sentence structure, formatting
-- ... I like stories that are well-written.
I'd like to see someone's list that didn't include these things -- who said they didn't care about basic grammar, didn't want to recognize the original characters as their true selves, and didn't want stories that were true to the show or well-written. :mrgreen: Just teasing, that was a great list. (Wow, I had to google a lot of those fanfiction terms.)

Not having read a ton of fanfiction, and only a minimal amount of non-MSCL fic, I don't have any hard and fast rules. If reading ff is what I'm doing -- I'll read anything -- doesn't mean I'll finish it. For that matter I'll write anything -- doesn't mean it's good, or that even I like it.

Years later, babies, sex, none of those bother me on a whole, it just matters how and why it's done. (I haven't come across any excessive violence, but I guess I wasn't a big fan of the old story that had Brian dying of cancer.)

Too much detail turns me off -- I don't need the minutia of everything surrounding the characters.

Over explanation and/or re-establishing things from the series, or overuse of nick names or things like "umming" -- that the characters themselves probably forgot that same day aren't things that will make me stop reading, but are things I don't love.

Some stories' dialogue would benefit from reduction -- some of the effectiveness is lost through the sheer volume of words coming from character's mouths.

I know some people dislike music tie ins, and some people hate script format, while others are strongly against prose form for TV and film fanfic, but I don't care either way.

As far as MSCL stories go, I get very protective of people's representations of Patty, and don't love to see Graham and Patty splitting, but again, I'll go with any premise if it's readable.

Speaking in regards to earnest writers, I don't think anyone sets out to write a bad story, or to write something that comes off as false or crazy, nevertheless, sometimes it happens. Generally what I've found is that in stories that authors have put real time into, there's always something to appreciate and value -- you might not agree with the storyline, or the voice of all the characters, but if you focus on what you do like, and maybe point out a few things they could tweak, we all benefit as readers and writers.
stburr91 wrote:... no matter how many people read it, fan fiction is all about the writer not the readers. Have fun with it, enjoy the process and write what makes you happy.
Kickstart The Riches movie!

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