This guide was compiled by the LEGO Universe Stories Wiki administration, featuring interview-type responses by: super-author Dude777477, with the critically acclaimed A Hero Rising to his name; TheNightwing44 (formerly AwesomeMe44), sole creator of the smashing hit The Journey of Vanda Darkflame; and lastly, but certainly not least, ZackaryX, the literary mastermind behind the Truths of the Universe series. Responses may have been edited to fit a policy-compliant formatting system, while all essence of the original responses (with the exception of said minor grammar and formatting changes) has remained intact.
Before I start writing a fan-fiction story, are there any things that I should verify or sort out, any plot details, etc.? What needs to be done before the writing process begins?
Dude777477: Before you begin writing, you need a basic outline of the plot. Only important details need to be included, and they can be brief at that.
TheNightwing44: Well, what I like to do before I start writing is plan out the personalities of the characters and the tone of the novel. When a lot of people on the Message Boards write stories, all of the characters sound the same; that's because they don't do much planning ahead of time. I like to set different tones for each character, like making one really cocky/arrogant and having another character be all shy and everything. And make sure the tone of your story doesn't go jumping around, like having twenty chapters be a dark, sinister story and the rest being a My Little Pony-happy story.
ZackaryX: I find I work best when I work backwards. Start with the end of your storyline, with whatever you want to be in the big grand finale. Then question yourself; how did that happen? Where did this come from? Make sure to come up with a general plot first. Make sure everything is realistic. The details will be filled in as you go.
Are there any scenarios that should be avoided when planning out a story's plot?
Dude777477: Anything that you know has been done before. If the story isn't original, the chances are people won't want to read it.
TheNightwing44: Some scenarios you might want to avoid are gruesome scenes, like describing some guy's head getting sliced off with a Paradox chainsaw thing in the most detailed way possible. If you get into really little details at times like that, then it kinda disturbs the reader and they may not want to read any further. Also, try to avoid repetitive things, like someone smashing several Stromlings, and you describing every smash almost in the exact same way. There's really not much else to avoid, besides long, dragged out, and boring scenes, like that part in Eragon where they travel through the desert and use, like, 100 pages for it.
ZackaryX: Tons of scenarios should be avoided when planning a plot. First and foremost, never, EVER base your story entirely on action. A character narrowly dodging death is cool, but when it happens every chapter, it gets old really fast, and your plot dies. Mindless action is never a good base for a story.
When ending a story, you can never end it with the whole plot being a dream. It's lazy, unsatisfying, and unacceptable, UNLESS dreams have some form of power in your plot and there's a sequel to follow up that ending, OR if the character(s) know they're dreaming the whole time, and are trying to wake up.
Ais much more acceptable in story endings than a .
Try not to follow clichés, but also don't go complete hipster author on me. As in, just because a plot element is cliche doesn't mean it's unacceptable in your story; just don't base your entire story on the plot of something else. Be original. Come up with your own story.
How many main characters should there be, within reason?
Dude777477: That's completely up to you, but I wouldn't have more than 5 or 6 main characters. Stories can become hard to follow with too many characters. That said, a story with only one main character throughout the whole story can get boring. If there is only one main character, make sure you include characters with smaller roles throughout to keep the reader's attention.
TheNightwing44: I'd recommend one to three main characters. Three would be walking on thin ice, in my opinion, because the story could get really repetitive having a trio of friends talk throughout the story and doing the same things. With two or fewer, though, you'd get a lot more action and could add plot twists without accidentally breaking the good theme you've already established with the characters. Think of it as cars driving attached by a single rope (sorry, really weird example). With one or two, you could turn a heck of a lot easier and drive faster, but with three, turning and what-not would cause the back one to go flying off, causing a wreckage in the story. It's really what you want, but I'd recommend one or two, with three being taken as a personal challenge.
ZackaryX: Main characters are an aspect of the mind. As an author, you need to know something: Many authors feel like their job is to describe the story to the reader to the best of their ability; that is NOT what a successful author tries to do most. Detail is good to have, but it comes before something else: relativity. Basically, can the readers relate to the story? You can be super detailed, but if your readers simply don't relate to the main character, then your story will fall. Concentrate on making the story so that people can relate to it. Actually make your main characters human, show their thoughts on things. Then you can concentrate on detail.
Now, on the number of main characters, it's best if you keep that small. Once again, too many cannot be related to. If people are trying to process the thoughts of twenty people, and you're trying to fit all that in, it just won't work. One main character is good, two to five is still good. More than that can get a bit messy; only use as many main characters as you feel you can handle.
Which perspective is best to use: first- or third-person?
Dude777477: It all depends on the setting. Sometimes it seems like third-person is overused, but there are some cases in which first-person just doesn't give the same impression as third-person, or vice versa.
TheNightwing44: In all honesty, I hate first-person. It directs all of the attention to the protagonist, making them seem as though they're the only thing happening in the story. It's too opinionated. I don't recommend third-person omniscient, either, having everyone's thoughts sounds really weird. So, I recommend third-person limited, as long as it's focused on the protagonist only.
ZackaryX: Well, it all depends on what you're writing. Remember, relativity is the very core of your story; so, with your plot (which you should have the general plot thought out before decided which perspective to use), decide which perspective would fit into this and let people really feel the character's emotions and thoughts. It's true that usually works best with first-person, but with a really widespread story, third- could be better, as first- could seem like a desperate attempt to pull together a sloppy cast.
Action scenes can be tough to write in such a way that readers won't speed up and miss details. Any tips?
Dude777477: Use a variety of descriptive adjectives to paint a clear picture in the reader's mind. This will keep the reader's attention throughout the scene.
TheNightwing44: You're right, that's a tricky one. What I recommend is starting it off intense, so that the reader understands the intensity and continues reading on. If you start off the scene kind of bland, then it loses the attention of the reader and they just want to get to the next chapter. Here's an example if you're not understanding what I'm saying:
"George was dangling on the cliff, only one hand desperately grasping at the jagged rock above. As the Ultimate Stromling approached to knock him off one last time, George began to suddenly think that the Malestrom Sea below wouldn't burn him up or infect him. As the Stromling raised his sword-arm, George quickly weighed his options. Seeing as he had nothing to lose, he let go of the rock, plummeting towards the vast ocean below right as the Stromling had slammed its sword down."
ZackaryX: Action scenes can be tough, yeah. And you've got to keep the readers intrigued. So, like I said before, always apply the key of stories to every story questions you have for yourself. That key is? That's right; relativity! Detail the action scene, and throw in the characters' thoughts and emotions with it. Remember, mindless action can't carry you through a story.
The most common reason that stories lose readers is because the readers get bored with it. What is the best way to keep a story from getting boring, without overdoing the action?
Dude777477: There are many ways to accomplish this, but the most effective are probably to vary sentence style and length, use an assortment of descriptive adjectives (as mentioned above), and add some subtle mystery that makes the reader think a bit.
TheNightwing44: This is one of the questions frequently asked. You're right, overdosing the action can be terrible for the story. I recommend you don't make chapters based on relaxation. For example, don't make an entire chapter being someone sitting in the Nimbus Plaza meditating or trading. Keep the story going, even making a chapter having someone jog through Nimbus Station would be better than sitting in Nimbus Station. I'm not saying you should have them be sprinting from a sandstorm plowing through Nimbus Station, but maybe just have them have an objective, not be nice and comfy.
ZackaryX: Once again, if they can relate to the characters, they'll keep coming back to find out what happens to these characters. They never get bored if they feel like they're in the story themselves. Another way to keep your story interesting is to make sure you've got detail; yes, it's still important. Not too much detail, though. Medium length, kind of. Not completely short-but-sweet; more like, you want to leave them with a good aftertaste.
Is it okay to kill off characters, and if so, to what extent?
Dude777477: I would say yes, but to a lesser extent than what would be typical in non-LEGO fanfics. Nothing that wouldn't be appropriate for the audience that LEGO appeals to, of course.
TheNightwing44: I like answering this question, actually. Killing off characters is definitely fine, I've done it a lot in my Doctor Who fanfiction. Now, now, as you mentioned in your question, there is an extent it can go to before it gets REALLY out-of-hand. For instance, you could have the characters talking, and one says, "So-and-so died, the Daleks got them and shot them repeatedly." That would work totally fine. Something else that works a lot better is having the protagonist witness it, such as "As the Daleks approached so-and-so, George became worried. As they drew closer, so-and-so took out their sword. Seeing the act of violence, the Daleks shot him." That's my favorite way of doing it, as long as you don't describe it in heavy detail.
ZackaryX: It's always okay to kill off characters, but the question is valid; you should never overdo it. Remember that perfect characters get boring really, really fast. They need to be imperfect; character flaws make them up. And usually, when you kill off a character, the best one to do it to is the one with the least character flaws. The one who's the best person. "Why do the good die young!?"
Always kill characters in a realistic way; don't go out of your way just to kill one character. If it doesn't fit, don't do it. You need to use a character's death for what it's meant for: moving the story along, not pulling it out of its way.
What do I do if I get writer's block?
Dude777477: Step away from the computer or notebook for awhile, then think about the next concrete detail you have. Try to figure out the best way to progress from where you are now to this next detail.
TheNightwing44: For a writer's block, go through what's causing the issue and try to think of possible ways to go around it, like a plot twist or something. You don't want to go through it, or the chapters won't sound as good as you'd intended them to be. Let's say you want to kill off someone you don't like being in your story, but don't know how, so you get over the writer's block by making something else happen leading up to that character's death.
ZackaryX: Ugh. Writer's block. Disgusting little disease. Wish it didn't exist.
The best way to deal with writer's block is to prevent it from happening at all. Write most of your story before you even release it, then continue writing on it as you release the earlier parts. Unfortunately, if you have already begun the story, and you really don't want to start over, I'm afraid there's not much writer's block help I can give you. Try to make the writing more fun. Or just tell yourself this is something you absolutely need to do. I've never been completely sure how to deal with writer's block.
There are, sadly, so many stories that were started and never finished. How can I make sure that this doesn't happen to me?
Dude777477: This goes back to the first question - make sure you have a basic outline before you begin writing. That way, you will always know where you're going.
TheNightwing44: As I'm a victim of that, I know how to deal with it nowadays. The thing is, people start getting bored halfway through their stories, go, "meh", and toss it out. Just make sure you're having fun while writing, and don't stress yourself to make the chapters come out. :) Don't write a chapter every hour, just post one every few days.
ZackaryX: Yes, there have been at least one thousand ( ! ) stories on the message boards that were started and never finished. The best way to prevent this from happening to you is the same tips I gave for writer's block. Finish the majority of the story before people even know about it, really. Also, before you begin writing, write down a list of reasons why you want this story to be written. If you can't find a good reason for writing your story, don't start writing until you can think of a legit reason. You need some driving force behind you, otherwise you'll be running on just pure force of will, and no matter hard-headed you are, chances are that will run out eventually.
Also, make sure this list is written down. When you see something written on paper, it has more impact on your mind than something in your head.
What is the best way to end a story, and when should it be ended?
Dude777477: The best advice I can give is to not overdo it. Readers might lose interest if the story seems to drag on without end. It's up to you how to end it, but I personally like to finish off my stories with something that leaves an impact.
TheNightwing44: Surprisingly, any story I've ever created (you haven't read them) has never ended happy. I'm not one for, "They got married, moved to a luxurious mansion, and lived happily ever after!"-type endings. I prefer "As the Nexus 12 took off, Jenna had a realization. There were only 12 ships. The 13th had been destroyed. Nexus 12 was the last one. There were no more ships left. They had abandoned her. And they weren't going to come back."-type endings, they leave the reader wanting more pieces of work from you.
ZackaryX: The best way to end a story is how the story ends, and it should be ended when it ends. That may sound like an obvious and redundant statement, but if you're really writing the story right, then the plot kind of makes itself. When you feel like it's complete, end it, unless you plan on leaving the readers on a cliffhanger. Once the main points of the plot are wrapped up, that is when the story should close.
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