Write fanfiction guiltlessly. Do it not only because it’s good practice, not only because you don’t feel like putting your energy into original stuff, but because you do feel like putting your energy into fandom. Write fanfics of epic proportions or tiny one-shots; write fluff or angst or cliches or tropes; publish the roughest version or keep the twelfth draft for only yourself. Do it without feeling bad. You owe no one anything; the act of creation is a gift in and of itself, and it doesn’t matter if you’re creating fanfic or original stories or whatever else you want. All that matters is you enjoy it, because why else would you do it at the end of the day?

Write fanfiction guiltlessly.


my dad–also a writer–came to visit, and i mentioned that the best thing to come out of the layoff is that i’m writing again. he asked what i was writing about, and i said what i always do: “oh, just fanfic,” which is code for “let’s not look at this too deeply because i’m basically just making action figures kiss in text form” and “this awkward follow-up question is exactly why i don’t call myself a writer in public.”

he said, “you have to stop doing that.”

“i know, i know,” because it’s even more embarrassing to be embarrassed about writing fanfic, considering how many posts i’ve reblogged in its defense.

but i misunderstood his original question: “fanfic is just the genre. i asked what you’re writing about.” 

i did the conversational equivalent of a spinning wheel cursor for at least a minute. i started peeling back the setting and the characters, the fic challenge and the specific episode the story jumps off from, and it was one of those slow-dawning light bulb moments. “i’m writing about loneliness, and who we are in the absence of purpose.”

as, i imagine, are a lot of people right now, who probably also don’t realize they’re writing an existential diary in the guise of getting television characters to fuck. 

that’s what you’re writing. the rest is just how you get there, and how you get it out into the world. was richard iii really about richard the third? would shakespeare have gotten as many people to see it if it wasn’t a story they knew?”

so, my friends: what are you writing about?

Tolkien and writing

This is really, really good writing advice.



One of the things that’s really struck me while rereading the Lord of the Rings–knowing much more about Tolkien than I did the last time I read it–is how individual a story it is.

We tend to think of it as a genre story now, I think–because it’s so good, and so unprecedented, that Tolkien accidentally inspired a whole new fantasy culture, which is kind of hilarious. Wanting to “write like Tolkien,” I think, is generally seen as “writing an Epic Fantasy Universe with invented races and geography and history and languages, world-saving quests and dragons and kings.” But… But…

Here’s the thing. I don’t think those elements are at all what make The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings so good. Because I’m realizing, as I did not realize when I was a kid, that Tolkien didn’t use those elements because they’re somehow inherently better than other things. He…

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Douglas Adams is the best when it comes to describe characters

they need to teach classes on Douglas Adams analogies okay

“He leant tensely against the corridor wall and frowned like a man trying to unbend a corkscrew by telekinesis.”

“Stones, then rocks, then boulders which pranced past him like clumsy puppies, only much, much bigger, much, much harder and heavier, and almost infinitely more likely to kill you if they fell on you.”

“He gazed keenly into the distance and looked as if he would quite like the wind to blow his hair back dramatically at that point, but the wind was busy fooling around with some leaves a little way off.”

“It looked only partly like a spaceship with guidance fins, rocket engines and escape hatches and so on, and a great deal like a small upended Italian bistro.”

“If it was an emotion, it was a totally emotionless one. It was hatred, implacable hatred. It was cold, not like ice is cold, but like a wall is cold. It was impersonal, not as a randomly flung fist in a crowd is impersonal, but like a computer-issued parking summons is impersonal. And it was deadly – again, not like a bullet or a knife is deadly, but like a brick wall across a motorway is deadly.”

And, of course:

“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

the one that will always stay with me is “Arthur Dent was grappling with his consciousness the way one grapples with a lost bar of soap in the bath,” i feel like that was the first time i really understood what you could do with words.



I find it kinda odd how people talk about writing “flawed” characters like the flaws are an afterthought

Like “cool cool we’ve got this perfect hero now to just sprinkle on some Irritability and Trust Issues then microwave for 6 minutes on high until Done”

But I’ve personally found it feels a lot more useful to just… think of the flaws as the Good Traits except bad this time

The protagonist is loyal? Maybe that means they have a hard time recognizing toxic relationships and are easily manipulated by those they want to trust

The hero is compassionate? Maybe they work too hard and overextend themselves trying to help people and then they refuse to ask for help when they need it themselves for fear of burdening others

They’re dedicated to their ideals? Maybe they’re also too stubborn to know when to quit and they have trouble apologizing for their mistakes

If they’re creative, they can also be flighty. If they’re confident, they can be arrogant. If they’re brave, they might be reckless. If they’re smart, they could be condescending. Protective can become controlling, and someone who’s carefree could very well also be emotionally distant

In my opinion, the best “flaws” aren’t just added on afterwards. The best flaws are baked in deep, ‘cause they’re really just virtues turned upside down

Additionally: the same, but backwards. A person’s greatest strengths often (but not always!) come from fighting their weaknesses, but in emotional situations they may fall back on old habits and reveal that the underlying weakness is still there, it’s just usually manageable.

For example, I know people who have ADHD (myself included) and have had to develop really strong organizational skills to combat it. So we may actually have some parts of organization down pat, like scheduling and writing everything down and making sure everything has a place, and yet we’ll still be the first to forget our hat, our wallet, or what we were about to say when we opened our mouth half a second ago, especially when we’re tired or stressed.

This helps write complex characters with seemingly contradictory but still believable traits: a woman who is insecure may always speak very positively about her accomplishments and write little uplifting “you can do it!” notes around the house for herself, but when she’s fighting the big bad she may run away because she doesn’t think she stands a chance.

A man who has been told he talks too quickly to be understood may develop perfect enunciation and diction. But he has chronic pain, and when it kicks in it takes up enough mental energy that he starts speed-talking like an auctioneer on crack.

Overcompensation is human, and having a break in that overcompensation is even more human. Just worth bearing in mind.



Editing? Oh you mean fic patching.

  • Protagonist now has more complex motivations.
  • Protagonist now remembers key facts about important people. He no longer develops convenient amnesia between cutscenes.
  • Protagonist now has a cooldown on certain adverbs. Adverbs have been buffed by 30% to compensate.
    • Developer note: Adverbs are important to writing but they are sometimes overused. This change keeps adverbs relevant while encouraging the use of adjectives and verbs.
  • The horse now has a name.
  • Deuteragonist snark power has been increased to 150, up from 75.


Types of foreshadowing:

  • Carefully planned to set the pieces for a later plot development
  • Totally accidental, “whoops haha look at that, I’m a genius.”
  • Writer types a line, makes a sudden connection to a future thing, starts laughing at the dramatic irony only they recognize and writes a personal in-joke.