One of my leading guilty pleasures aside from what was mentioned in the About section is fanfiction writing. In particular, anime fanfiction. My latest fanfic guilty pleasure now goes back to the second anime that I got seriously addicted to when it came to fanfiction: Card Captor Sakura. Why? Because it’s a classic that somewhat “defined” my early young adult period.1 When I was finding some appropriate anime that I can introduce my non-Asian-minded nephew and niece since it was summer vacation for them and they were getting tired of watching replays of their favorite Disney or other TV shows they normally watch on Nick and Cartoon Network. CCS2 immediately came in to my mind.
In general, I started writing fanfiction with another classic anime, Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z. It wasn’t the usual type of fanfic that most fanfic writers of that anime would normally write about. It was leaning more towards comedy/adventure rather than the usual useless violence with fight scenes that last for a week (as in 4-5 episodes in the anime ). Because FFnet3 hasn’t existed yet and there was a period where I had to reformat my computer, that fanfic no longer exists. It used to be hosted at my very first website, hosted by the now non-existent Geocities, but that too was wiped out right after Geocities’ closing. Anyway, moving on.
I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to fanfics. This meant that I like to keep the original canon characters from the series as the main characters, with the original minor characters having bigger roles in the story if needed. This meant that the set of standards I listed here are my very own set of guidelines in writing fanfics and will apply to the other fanfics that I read. I’ve mentioned some of them in my FFnet profile already, but I’d like to extend it here, somewhat.
- I am NOT a fan of yaoi/yuri/incest/”forbidden love”-type of stories. I’m not homophobic or anything like that, it’s just that I’m just not a fan of that type of genre. Being a “traditionalist” that I am with CCS, it’d be completely out of character.4
- Characters written out of character, alternate universe (AU) or not. I’m sorry, but “rewriting” the characters, especially Sakura, Syaoran, Tomoyo, etc., is somewhat disrespectful to the creators of CCS, CLAMP. Sure, we’re writing our own stories and we do portray our favorite characters in different ages and such, but completely rewriting them and dismissing who they were in the original is just plain disrespectful. Why not create an original story using original characters named other than the ones from CCS and portray them with the personalities you wanted them to portray.
- Non-canon couples out of random. I don’t normally read fanfics that feature non-canon pairings, which in turn, I don’t write fanfics with non-canon pairings too. I’m fine if the pairings actually make sense or if there are any hints somewhere in the original plot, but simply pairing two characters out of random is a no-no for me.
- Fanfics with no concrete detail and atrocious grammar, spelling, and punctuation. We all make mistakes on our first drafts, most especially with the grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I can survive that. However, if the mistakes are just plain obvious (example – the differences between “your” and “you’re” and (intentionally?) misspelling “grammar” as “grammer.” Come on now! )
- Badly-written songfics. Unless if the fanfic includes characters singing, songfics in general just doesn’t work for me, especially if the lyrics were being used in the wrong situations. Some writers I’ve come across would write songfics out of their favorite songs, but the story situation that the song is used doesn’t really match, which the entire songfic completely falls apart altogether. No, just no.
- Using Japanese (foreign) words/quotes randomly with no translations. Yes, we all know that CCS takes place in Japan, but because CCS is popular around the world, it only makes sense to write a fanfic using the language you’re most comfortable with and share them with fellow fans who speak the same language as you. Unless if you’ve got some basic grip on the Japanese language (or any other foreign language as a matter of fact), I beg of you writers not to overuse the words “kawaii,” “kawaii,” and “kawaii,” because for one thing, “kawaii” isn’t the only Japanese vocabulary word existing in the Japanese language. Also, if you know your Japanese and know how to use it well in situations, please be sure to add some kind of English translation along with it because not everybody knows or understands Japanese.5
- Custom-created “original” characters6 as the main characters, pairing that character with one of the main characters who is already involved in a canon pairing7) while the rest of the original characters from the series having minor roles or no roles at all. For me, writers who do this is simply “mary suing” in disguise.8 In the real fanfic world, no one really likes “mary sues.” Sorry, but it’s not gonna happen.
- Crossovers. I’ve read a few crossover fics and in all honesty, I could never enjoy them. I just don’t find them original. It’s pretty much recycling someone else’s already written/published out idea and “plagiarizing” it by combining things together and then claiming it as “original fanfiction. “no thank you.
- Changing the original appearance of the main character in to something/someone unfamiliar. I have read countless fanfics in which the fanfic writers change the appearance of Sakura. Most of them would write Sakura having longer hair, and because in anime that majority of the main female characters have long hair that passes the shoulder blades, I find this rather stereotypical. Short-haired girls are awesome and there is an understandable reason why CLAMP had Sakura’s hair short in the first place.9 Come on now!
- Fanfics with the setting of Japan and yet all the general descriptions, customs, traditions, and the like are not “authentic Japanese.” It irritates me where they always claim that their fanfics take place in Japan and yet they don’t even research about real-life Japanese life there and still proclaim it as Japan. It doesn’t work for me like that. Let me give you a few examples to show you what I mean.
- Japanese teenagers DO NOT earn their license at age 16. They earn them when they turn 18 AND graduated from high school. This isn’t America! Japanese teenagers head to school by walking (if they live nearby)
- Japanese high schools DO NOT have junior/senior proms. They have educational field trips and Christmas parties, but that’s it.
- Japanese elementary, middle school, and high school DO NOT wear caps and gowns on graduation. Only college/university students do.
- Japanese school system goes like this: 6 years elementary school, 3 years junior high, 3 years high school. Most high school students graduate from high school at age 18.
Okay, now you know what I mean by this.
There’s probably more of my personal guidelines with fanfics, but the ones above are the major guidelines. I normally write reviews on fics once I finish what was uploaded so far in comparison to chapter by chapter. If I simply just don’t like the story altogether, along with such atrocious grammar, spelling, and punctuation, I wouldn’t even bother reviewing. If I liked it, but there are a few mistakes here and there, then I will review and point those out. I don’t do sugarcoating reviews. That’s just not me as a writer and reader.
Well then, now I got that out of the way, now I can go back to continuing my fanfics.
On the sidenote...
- My early young adult period: 1996-2000. Card Captor Sakura (CCS) was first premiered in Japanese TV in 1996. [↩]
- if you’re American and was growing up as a kid or a tween in the late 1990s, the American title for CCS was Cardcaptors. It even used to be aired on regular TV on the now non-existent Kids WB and eventually moved to Cartoon Network. [↩]
- fanfiction.net [↩]
- Unless if you’re writing about Touya and Yukito, which is obviously a shounen-ai canon pair, but then again, I’m not a huge fan of Touya and Yukito either. [↩]
- only exception to that is if you’re writing for the Japanese-speaking audience, in which you would have to write your fanfic in Kana and Kanji text. [↩]
- original characters created by the fanfic author. They’re abbreviated as “OCs”. [↩]
- example – Sakura and (some custom-made OC), Syaoran and (some custom-made OC [↩]
- “Mary Sue” is a term in which the fanfic writer self-inserts him/herself in to his fanfic, making him/herself as the main character. [↩]
- well, okay, I have short hair too. I hate having long hair IMO, just way too hard to manage. [↩]