The following is my guide to writing fanfiction.
First of all, let me be clear: there are no set rules for writing fanfiction. I cannot dictate to you what you must write nor can I say what you should write – I can only tell you what I think is best in a fanfiction. If you disagree with any of the content of this blog, then that is that – you disagree with it. You do not have to follow this guide; I would only recommend that you do. Above all else, remember – you decide the quality of your fanfiction. How readable your story becomes is up to you, and you alone.
Without further adieu, let us begin.
Setting Up Your Fanfiction
One of the biggest problems I see with fanfiction stories is a simple lack of setup. Stories meander forward with little direction because the writer has failed to establish a set plot prior to creating the story. Thus, it is advised that you come up with a plot and characters for said plot before anything else.
Determining a theme
First and foremost, all stories need a theme. A theme is essentially what you are trying to convey through your story, what message you are trying to tell your reader. It is wise to convey this theme in multiple ways – through the characters, through the plot, and through the writing. While many stories have themes, I will outline the themes that I have presented in my stories and the techniques I used to show these themes, purely because I best understand how these story's themes were developed.
- A Front – This story's theme is that people have to put on a facade, or “a front”, in order to be a part of society. This is first shown by Krillin having to work in an office, an act which is so in contradiction of his nature that he can't even find keys on the keyboard. However, note the many ways that this is developed throughout the story – the villain, David, seeks to destroy society in order to rid people of this obligation. So we can see that the plot, the characters, and the conflict are all contingent upon the theme, making it very important to the story.
- Tien: Origins – This story's theme is about the discovery of one's self. All of Tien's actions are set about because he wants to know where he comes from and why he is on Earth. Kordar seeks to be a warrior purely to fulfill his role in society, to give himself a purpose, to give his life meaning. So, ultimately, it comes down to discovery of the inner self for all the characters, which also of course drives the plot along.
- Semi-Charmed – This story's theme is about the flawed nature of xenophobia. This is exemplified by Tarble – he is completely harmless, but the townspeople try to destroy him and demonify him simply because they think he might be dangerous. The first-person style of writing depicts how the townspeople react to him, making it clear from the beginning that the narrator is xenophobic and showing the inherent flaws in that mindset. This brings the theme to a clear conclusion and, once again, makes it integral to the plot.
Ultimately, though, the most successful themes are the ones that make themselves well-known and clear throughout the story. If they are aptly conveyed to the reader, then the reader will take something important from the story, making it worth reading in and of itself.
Types of Plots
Here, I will outline the most common types of plots that I have seen on this wiki.
- After GT – By and large, along with After Z, this is one of the most frequently used plots on the wiki. They are exactly what they are called – a fanfiction that continues the story of the Z fighters after Dragon Ball GT. Oftentimes, such stories are heavy on new villains and new characters and feature a vast plethora of fights. Such stories are not inherently bad – however, given how common they are, they may not stand out among the others on the wiki. With a story like this, it is essential to come up with a unique plot and interesting characters before you begin writing it – otherwise, the story will usually just become aimless. Some of the most popular After GT stories on the wiki include Dragon Ball ST and Dragon Ball SF – that is not to say, however, that either story is particularly good.
- After Z – Such a story is very similar to After GT, and most of the information given above is cross-applicable here. However, the primary difference is that stories like this generally disregard the events of Dragon Ball GT. Stories which bridge the gap between Z and GT are exceptionally rare and I have yet to see a good one – that is not to say, however, that such a story would be impossible to make. Stories including Dragon Ball Z: In Requiem and The Last Saiyan are both successful After Z stories and showcase the best that this story type has to offer.
- During Dragon Ball Stories – During Dragon Ball Stories are stories which take place, quite simply, during the events of Dragon Ball. Occasionally, such stories will take place during a shown scene in Dragon Ball; however, more frequently, they will take place in the unshown breaks between sagas. Common spots for such stories include the time between the Cell and Buu Sagas or in between Dragon Ball and Z; however, more often, such stories occur simultaneously with the events of Dragon Ball but are on a different planet or in a different location. A story of the first variety includes Skulk, in that it takes place from the perspective of a specific character during Z. A story which takes place in the gap between sagas is A Front, which occurs between Cell and Buu. A story that occurs simultaneously to almost all of Dragon Ball is Dragon Ball Z: The Forgotten, which starts long before Dragon Ball and extends throughout most of the series.
- Origin Stories – Origin stories are stories which tell the origin of a character with an unexplained background. These stories are, on the whole, the most successful strain of stories on the wiki. When coming up with a story of this nature, it is important to take into account what is already known about the character's background – we already know that Yajirobe trained with samurai masters, for instance, so don't contradict that by not having him train or something. Some of the best origin stories seek not only to explain a character's background, but also why a character acts the way that they do – for instance, rather than just telling why Zarbon works with Frieza so closely, you could also explain why he is so bitter and obsessed with appearance. This makes an origin story more wholesome and intriguing. Good origin stories are abundant – however, my favorites include Tien: Origins (also technically an After Z story), Spindlerun: The Tale of Yajirobe, and Sixth.
- The One-Shot – The one-shot is a story with only one installment. Generally, these stories are short, usually consisting of less than a few thousand words – however, there are exceptions. Stories like these are generally very emotional in content, in that they lack enough space to conjure up an expansive plot. As such, conflicts in one-shots are almost always internal, meaning that it takes a huge amount of skill to pull off a solid one-shot. Some of my favorite one-shots include Depiction in Red, Alone in the Cold and Dark, Why Bother?, and the whole of The Brady Patrick Collection. These stories are character-driven and emotional in nature, which are all essential characteristics of the one-shot.
- The AU Story - The AU Story is a story which takes place in an alternate universe. There are basically two forms of this - one is a "what-if?" story, where one thing is changed and it alters the course of the story. The other involves translocating the characters of Dragon Ball to a totally different time-frame or setting. For instance, the characters of Dragon Ball might be sent to Ancient Egypt or whatever. Now, when going into this story, it's important to utilize scope. The main reason that this type of story fails is that it simply lacks range - the entire thing is like three chapters long. Just consider the fact that you're changing an entire series - how will this type of change affect the whole universe? Also, be sure that you never end up just reiterating parts of Dragon Ball. In some stories, all the events of the Cell Saga (or any other saga) will just be reexplained. That's really boring to read about. For the first type of story, you can consult Dragon Ball DA for the most successful story of this type. For the second type, you can consult Proud Saiyan Prince Vegeta - while short, what's posted so far is pretty good.
- The Crossover - The Crossover is a story which features characters from another series, such as Bleach or Naruto, entering the Dragon Ball Universe. The stories are fairly sparse on this wiki, but they nevertheless do exist. When writing something like this, take care to give the story a full plot, rather than just "Goku fights Naruto" or whatever. Have the characters interact, talk to each other, so on and so forth. The best example I can think of for a crossover story that's been posted is Tien: Origins, which features a crossover with Star Trek, However, you can consult Category:Crossover for numerous examples of this story type.
Now that you understand the various types of stories, it is important to choose which type of story you want to write. Weigh your pros and cons as a writer – if you have trouble with long plots but love writing about characters, The One-Shot may be the way for you to go. If you're fascinated by unexplained characters and events in Dragon Ball, then you may want to go with an Origin Story. It all depends on your interests and your particular skill set as a writer.
Once you have decided on the type of plot that you wish to write about, you have to determine exactly what's going to happen from there. While this is entirely up to you, here are some basic elements of plot that you will have to consider.
Without a doubt, characters are the single-most important part of writing a story. In fact, I would argue that the plot is merely a device by which characters are developed and expanded upon. Characters need to act consistently and realistically throughout your story. When creating your characters, here are some questions to consider.
- What is my character's motivation? Simply put, your character needs a clear motivation in your story. I would advise writers to stray away from simple motivations like “to become the strongest” or “to defeat the big guy”. More complicated motivations lead to more interesting characters – does the character want to defeat the villain in order to save his family? Or is he searching for the fame and fortune associated with defeating the villain? By establishing a motivation for your character, it will give your story definition and it will give your character's actions clarity.
- What are my character's traits and where do these traits come from? This is all fairly simple - if your character is heroic, why is he heroic? If he is strong, why is he strong? If he is quiet, why is he quiet? By coming up with a unique set of traits and quirks for your character, you will create an interesting character to read about. However, all traits have a root; some simple, some complex. When you come up with explanations for your character's personality, you are not only creating an interesting one, but also a fully fleshed out and deep one. It's also important to keep these traits realistic to the universe - for instance, a Saiyan should be aggressive. This oft-overlooked piece of advice is very important and will go a long way in making your character believable.
- What are my character's skills? Again, this gives your character significance. If he is a healer, like Dende, then he holds significance to the Z Fighters because he can heal them. Many authors give their character's significance simply by making them powerful, but there are other niches which can be filled by characters too. If your character is excellent with subterfuge, for instance, he could become invaluable as an assassin.
- What does your character sound like? This should be reflective of the character's upbringing. By giving your character a distinct sound, it helps him stand out among the other characters. More intelligent characters talk more elegantly whereas less educated characters speak more simply. This is necessary for creating a character that is interesting to the reader.
- What are your character's morals? A character's morality should drive their actions almost as much as their motivation. What does your character believe in? Does he believe in an absolute good? Some characters may be driven only by their desire to make the world a better place, based solely upon their own set of morals. By developing a concrete set of morals for your character, you can almost invariably give your character direction throughout the story, making him even more believable.
Answering these questions, along with giving your character simple, common traits (such as a name, family, background and relationships) will go a long way in creating a believable and recognizable character.
Canon characters differ greatly from fanon characters, in that you really don't have to come up with your own ideas and traits for them. However, it is still essential that you keep these characters in-character at all times and write for them realistically. It would be strange for Vegeta to act altruistically and suddenly start helping others, so that really shouldn't happen in a story. Goku should not be malevolent, Piccolo should act like a bad-ass, Krillin should be somewhat hokey, so on and so forth. Because we're writing in the Dragon Ball Universe, this is really important to adhere to.
Developing a Plot
So now, you should have a setting, a basic idea, and characters to begin creating your story. But now, you have to come up with an actual plot. This is probably the single hardest part of set-up, as you need an interesting plot that actually makes sense. Oftentimes, creating this plot requires a healthy dose of inspiration and can take quite a while to formulate completely. However, the following is a basic template for your plot:
- Exposition. During the first part of your story, you should introduce the characters and their multitude of traits. The characters should, no doubt, interact heavily during this part of the story. You will want to include conversations between the characters and have them complete tasks that showcase their personalities. However, above this, you will also want to introduce the setting of the story. Where are the characters? What time is it? What is it like where they are? By doing all of this, you give the reader a clear idea of what the characters are all about and how they interact with both the environment and each other.
- Rising action. After all of this, something significant should occur. Oftentimes, it is the appearance of a new villain or perhaps a fight between two characters. However, once it has occurred, the rising action begins. During this time, the real meat of the story comes about – the characters begin on a journey of sorts, as they have to overcome this new conflict. They may have to face this new villain's henchmen, travel to various parts of the world/galaxy, or train with new masters. However, during this time, you have to continue developing the characters and have them acquire new traits and abilities. This is absolutely essential and often overlooked, and is generally the core of a good story.
- Climax. So now, your characters have trained, developed, and prospered. It is time for the climax of the story. This is the “big event”, so to speak, the big reason that the reader has read the story. In Dragon Ball, it is oftentimes a fight. However, it is essential that the rising action leads up to this point, as otherwise it would all be a waste. This should also generally be exciting, as that's what the reader wants – something exciting. This is a really critical part of the story and it is advised that you put a substantial amount of time into planning it.
- Falling action. Now, it is time to resolve the conflict. In DBZ, this would be after Goku has defeated Frieza, but still has to flee from Planet Namek. This is equally as important as the rest of the story, because it is the part of the story that offers readers satisfaction and gives the whole story satisfaction.
- Resolution. Lastly, you must end the story. What becomes of the characters? What has changed because of the events of the story? How have the characters changed? These questions must be answered here, so that you can leave the readers fully satisfied and give the story a purpose.
Now, be sure to plan out your plot according to these five central components, before you even begin to write your story. This is needed to create a fulfilling and realistic plot that flows smoothly from beginning to end. Once you have done this, it is almost time to begin writing your story.
Now that you have a story, a theme, and characters, it is time to actually begin writing your story! This section will outline the basic tips that I have for creating something readable and enjoyable.
Spelling and Grammar
Proper Spelling and Grammar is something that many users consider beneficial to a story – however, my opinion of this differs. To me, proper spelling and grammar is absolutely necessary for a story – there has, simply put, never been a good story that suffers from consistently poor spelling and grammar. When it comes down to it, if a reader has to constantly stop to figure out what you are trying to say, they will not enjoy your story. Therefore, it is important to take time to review your story for errors in grammar and spelling after and while writing it.
- Spelling: When it comes to spelling, there is simply no excuse. Running your story through a simple spell checker should return any errors in spelling. If you are unsure how to spell a word, you can consult dictionary.com and it should provide an answer. However, furthermore, you should also check dictionary.com to see what a word means in order to insure that you are using it properly.
- Grammar: Grammar is significantly trickier than spelling. In fact, there is not very much that I can tell you about grammar in the span of only a few paragraphs. This is something you should have learned in school, frankly, so a middle school English education should get you pretty far in the field of grammar. If you need more information on this, you can consult  and the resources that the page provides for more information on grammar. In order to strengthen your grammar, simply reading over the fanfiction should reveal most grammar errors.
All of the story types, excluding the one-shot, should be separated into chapters. This is done by creating a heading (i.e. ==Chapter 1: The Return of Nappa== ). A standard story will have anywhere between six and twelve chapters per saga. This is the basis for all later formatting.
However, more important than that is the need for paragraph separation. This is integral to the reader, because otherwise the ideas in a story will all blend together into a single paragraph, making it highly confusing. In general, one can usually start a new paragraph wherever it feels right – however, I would state that the best time to start a new paragraph is when a new idea or plot development arises. This gives each concept a distinct place in the story and makes them all important to the reader.
Another important, and oft-overlooked, piece of formatting is the necessity to separate dialogue into its own paragraph. When writing each dialogue, every new line of dialogue should be its own paragraph. No exceptions. The following is an example of how this should look:
"Ghost Nappa charged up on the runway, ready for action.
“This is the greatest day of my life,” he shouted, taking control once again.
“Not so fast,” responded Sonic, running up behind him.
Note how each line of dialogue has its own separate paragraph, making it much easier for the reader to register and consume. While simple, this is nevertheless essential for a good story.
Lastly, you may want to create auxillary pages for many of your characters, techniques, races, and planets. This is completely optional, but a number of successful fanons have done this and it goes a long way in creating a detailed universe. If you do make these pages, though, be sure to link to them in your story. For instance, if your character is named Yolo, the first time he is mentioned in the story you will want to link to him using [[Yolo]] so that the readers can go check that out and get a better idea. It can also save you some time in explaining it in the story - however, I would always advise you to give an explanation of the character/race/planet/technique when using it in your story, because, frankly, nobody wants to run off and all 50 of your auxillary pages.
Follow these tips and you should have a pretty well-written, well-formatted story.
Actually Writing Your Story
When it comes to developing your own style, the best advice I can give is to write within your level. If you try to be really eloquent when writing, believe me when I say that nobody's going to believe it. I would much rather see a story that's written simply but correctly than a story with complex writing that makes no sense. A number of authors try to sound really intellectual when writing and it always shows through.
With that established, I'm going to explain how to write a scene to the best of my ability.
Setting up a Scene
So first and foremost, you're going to need to describe the setting of the scene. What does it look like there and what time is it? Very simple. However, from there, you need to go deeper. Who's there? Why are they there? If this is the middle of a story, that should be no problem. If this is the first scene of a story, then you have to put more detail into that. However, from there, you're going to want to have more than just a fight scene. Your characters need to interact, which will be outlined in the next section.
Dialogue has always been, for me, the most difficult part of writing. When writing your scene, you are of course going to need to include dialogue. This is the only way to create a believable scene that also involves some level of character development.
Here are some tips to strengthen your story's dialogue:
- Read your dialogue aloud. This sounds simple, but can do wonders for your story. When you're reading it, really think about whether it's something your character would say. Oftentimes, this alone will allow you to find awkward dialogue and eliminate it from your story. Imagine your character saying it to you – does it sound authentic?
- Consider your character's speaking patterns. This goes back to character development. If your character was raised in the deep south, he should probably not speak English very well. If he's a space pirate, he may say “aye” instead of “yes” and “me” instead of “my”. This goes a long way in giving your characters colorful dialogue.
- Consider the purpose of the dialogue. Oftentimes, dialogue serves only to explain the events of the story. This is very rarely needed. The way I see it, dialogue should serve a dual purpose – it should develop the characters and progress the plot. Allow the dialogue to bring your character's traits to the forefront and to move the story along. A conversation between two characters can ignite a conflict and can create tension between the two. Always be sure that your dialogue is meaningful and important when writing it.
- Keep it in character. This applies not only to canon characters but also to fanon characters. They should speak in a way that is appropriate for their character and makes sense for them to say – for instance, Goku should not speak in complicated sentences or explain something complex like Ki. He should always keep it simple.
When used correctly, dialogue can do wonders for making your story wholesome and meaningful.
This is Dragon Ball Fanon. We obviously all want a lot of fight scenes, because that's what Dragon Ball is about. However, if Dragon Ball was all fight scenes, do you think anybody would enjoy it? No, of course not, because that's boring. Therefore, your fight scenes need to be well-placed throughout the story to make them meaningful and interesting to read about. Here are some basic tips for writing fight scenes:
- Use your fights to advance the story. Carefully place them throughout so that they can aptly develop the characters, resolve conflicts, and progress the plots. A string of fights does not constitute a story - an actual plotline with fight scenes within does.
- Be realistic. Never have someone like Raditz take on Kid Buu. I know this seems obvious, but if your characters have huge discrepancies in power there shouldn't really be a fair fight between the two. The best fights are generally between two characters who are just about equal in power.
- Be specific. Rather than saying, "he punched and kicked him for several minutes", talk about each punch that the character throws and how the opponent responds. It helps the viewer to visualize the fight, making it more interesting to read. When using ki blasts, describe the ki blasts and the opponent's reaction vividly.
- Include important outcomes to your fights. Kill minor characters, defeat the villain, have the heroes lose control of a Dragon Ball, anything. I don't want to read about a fight just because one person wins or one person loses - I want the fight to be significant and important.
Things to Avoid
Last but not least, it is important to go over some of the most common problems that plague stories.
- Overpowering – Without a doubt, this is one of the most common problems in stories. Characters are just too powerful. They have unfathomable levels of transformations, incredible power levels, and have it all without ever training. Why is this so bad, you might ask? Well, it comes down to the fact that it creates a cycle. Every time your character trains to overcome a new villain, someone new comes along who is even stronger. It gets very boring very quickly when each new villain is more powerful and the only way to defeat this new villain is by transforming and fusing and training. It's repetitive and unnecessary. It's also highly uninteresting to read about and leaves the reader wholly unsatisfied.
- Mary Stus – This goes right along with overpowering. Simply put, it's when a character has no flaws and is universally admired by others. Characters like this are extremely boring and uninteresting to read about. To avoid Mary Stus, you should stray away from basing characters off of yourself or giving them huge amounts of power. In order to test for this, I would suggest using this test. If your character comes out as a sue, well, then, change him.
- Underdeveloped Transformations – Such a problem as this one applies to both canon transformations and fanon transformations. With canon transformations, there needs to be an apt explanation for the character to achieve this transformation. Simply having Trunks train for a few years is not a proper explanation for him to achieve Super Saiyan 2. For a transformation like this, there needs to be a strong emotional trigger behind the character's transformation in order to make it seem realistic. When it comes to fanon transformations, that is significantly trickier. I have seen very few good fanon transformations in my time on the wiki – the few that were good were generally based off of previously established transformations. When creating a new fanon transformation, the best advice is to keep it reasonable. The transformation shouldn't given the user a 1,000,000x power increase – that's simply unrealistic. Furthermore, there needs to be a really strong and realistic explanation for the transformation to occur. Most of the time, with a fanon transformation, something as simple as training will not suffice – there needs to be something deeper, more powerful. Transformations are tricky to use, so all writers must be careful when introducing them. Additionally, keep in mind that an emotional trigger is a really boring way for a new fanon transformation to occur. This is already used as the trigger for Super Saiyan 1 and 2, so really just using it for a new transformation is both lazy writing and uninteresting.
- Random OC Saiyans – One of my personal least favorite things in fan fiction are the numerous random Saiyans that users like to include in their stories. Most of the Saiyans were already destroyed by Frieza – if there were more, Vegeta would know about them. It's simply not interesting, acceptable, or unique for a random Saiyan to come to Earth. There are hundreds of different races in Dragon Ball – use one of them except for Saiyans instead. It's boring otherwise.
- Rushing – As I see it, you have two choices. You can take your time when writing a story or you can rush through the whole thing. Rushing, however, leads to a huge number of different problems. The story will lack detail, it will lack character development, and it will lack a well-conveyed theme. Simply put, slow down when you're writing. It make take longer to release, but more people will want to read your story if you've put a proper amount of time into it. It's all important to making a good, admirable story.
Those are my five biggest problems with stories on the site. If they are avoided, you will almost certainly create a story that is above par. That alone creates something unique, original, and meaningful to the reader.
Now, you've read my guide. Feel prepared to write a story yet? Yes? Good! Now, go write it! I can't wait to read it!