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Veronica Mars Fanfic Resource Journal
Articles on Writing
Tips on Organization 
31st-Dec-2005 02:25 pm
By mastermia with invaluable suggestions by herowlness

Every writer needs some kind of organization to be successful. Just as there are a million ideas in the world, there are also a million different ways to organize yourself. Some writers are lucky enough to have story ideas pop into their minds complete. Others have a scene or the niggling of an idea and have to flesh it out as they go along. In either case there are several decisions that every writer needs to make in regards to their piece and that is to decide on plot, setting, time, characters, point of view and tone.

Plot – What is your story about? Is it a love story, a mystery or just good old fashion smut? Having at least a broad idea of where you are going is important to keeping you on track.

Setting – Where will your story take place? Is it in Neptune or somewhere else? Part of creating a believable story is to make the setting an integral part of it.

Time - What time is your piece set in? Is this a future fic, a flashback fic or set during a specific episode? When the piece takes place can affect relationships and other characterization details. It can also affect the tense of the piece. It is important that you match your tense with the action of your piece or readers will be lost.

Characters – Who will be making an appearance in your opus? Will you be using established characters, or be adding an original character, or ten, to the mix? Are you following cannon or setting the piece in an alternate universe to make specific changes?

Point of View – Who is telling the story? Will there be a narrator, or will the piece be omniscient? Will it be first, second or third person?

Tone – What is the tone of the piece going to be? It is going to be dark, light, serious, funny, arch or sarcastic? It can be a combination of them all, just remember to keep the characterization constant.

All of these decisions don’t have to be set in stone. Just thinking about them before starting can be enough for short pieces, especially if you do not have the whole thing plotted out in your head. If you are writing an epic or an intricate mystery plot, making notes of key plot points is essential.

One idea is to keep an outline of what has happened and what will happen. It can be just a few words, or a more fleshed out version of each section of the piece. This gives you a brief reminder of what you have written so that you don’t repeat yourself, and also allows you to plant hints of where you are going. Note cards also can be used. This allows you the flexibility to “shuffle” plot points and to lay them out in different patterns if you are uncertain of where you want to go.

Which ever method you use for organization, the goal is to improve your writing by making it clearer and easier for your reader to get wrapped up in the story you are telling without being distracted by jarring POV switches and tense changes. Even if you are one of the lucky writers who can keep a clear path in your head, I suggest that ever writer have a beta, or three. Someone else to read your work is invaluable before you post it. They can catch characterization, canon, grammar and continuity errors and those pesky typos that are there no matter how often you read the piece. So the best suggestion I have to stay organized is get a beta, but don’t forget the other stuff I listed as well.

Is there a tip that you think might help other writer’s with their organization and is not covered here? Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments, as various techniques work best for different authors.

1st-Jan-2006 03:46 am (UTC)
This is all you, babe. You wrote it, I just edited it a little.

And, great job. =)
7th-Jan-2006 12:34 am (UTC)
Well, I appreciate all your suggestions!

Thanks again.
3rd-Jul-2006 09:12 am (UTC)
This is unrelated the article above but has been... just... I need to say it.

I've been reading fanfic for what feels like the last 10 years, but it's probably closer to half that. I went from pop, popslah, qaf, and now vm (non-slash). I'm a lot more discerning now then I was in the beginning especially in regard to quality. I can admit publicly that that line between quality and tacky can blur in the fic I enjoy. LOL.

I also recognise that VM is a new fandom, not necessarily covered by 'new' writers. However, my one... peeve... about the fic in this fandom is that they are poorly warned. I know that that seems pretty trivial and minor and all those other adjectives, but...

I understand that a writer might want to write a death!fic and sometimes (often) I (a reader) will read one. But I think that it's in poor taste not to warn a reader about it, especially Major Character Death, there's an emotional involvement. I understand that a writer mightn't want to give the plot/conclusion/pivotal moment away, but... I think it's kind of manipulation.

If I was properly informed of an incoming death then I can choos to read or not, and was going to then I'd be emotionally prepared.

I been reading QAF fanfic (example: bjfic.net) for about 3 years now, and I'm coming from a very structured system of warnings, so I'm not use to coasting through a fic and then BAM! dead major character. This was about me needing to vent this peeve. Delete at will.
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