I've been writing fanfiction for more than four years now, and I feel that I've learned a lot since then, especially when it comes to the people who read my stories. I'd like to share what I've learned to all those who wish to write their own stories. Maybe this will give all of you aspiring writers some insight.

First thing you've got to remember is that fanfic writing is all about imagination. That's where the basis to fiction comes from. When it deals with a certain character, situation, plot or whatnot, whatever comes out of your mind will shape the story you write and how it will end. So when an idea pops into your head, you've got to decide whether or not it can work. Brainstorm for a bit, and try to come up with different ways for the story to go. It doesn't have to be detailed. You can always smooth out the rough edges later.

Once you've decided on an idea, the next step is to choose a writing style. Which one is easier for you, prose or script? Do you like continuations, crossovers, fusion or alternate histories? Are you for or against a character? Have you got it all planned out, or do you prefer to write by the seat of your pants? (At times, I find the latter to be easier). It's all up to you. It's your story after all.

Once you begin writing, you'll find that it can be difficult. Fanfiction is basically uncharted territory here. There are no real rules, so you DON'T have to follow the original, if you don't want to. One of the reasons why we write fanfiction, is because we are dissatisfied with the original in some way, (series too short, something not explained, characters need more screen time, justice needs to be done, unanswered questions, etc). However, just remember that you are basing your works on the original, so some reference must be made to it at the beginning. From there, you can do whatever you want.

Now we come to a topic that a lot of writers are concerned about, plagiarism, or the act of writing something that you claim to be yours, but in actuality, it belongs to someone else. Well, all I can say about the subject is that ALL fanfic writers are plagiarists. That's right, you heard me. We're ALL plagiarists. As soon as you start writing a fanfic, you become a plagiarist. However... it's okay! Why do I say that? It's because of a neat little device called the Disclaimer. As long as we disclaim the characters and plots, then we're safe. By disclaiming, we all defer the characters to their original owners, because that's what it boils down to. Not one fanfic writer can claim any of his works as his or her own original idea, because every one of his or her stories had their starts from canon. We're not making any money out writing, nor can we truly claim any credit, other than the fact that we wrote the fanfic.

Now there is a downside to not being able to take real credit for out works. Since we can't say that any of our works belongs to us, that also means that other writers can take ideas from us and use it in their own fanfics. I'm guilty myself since at times, I find a phrase or situation, which I find to be perfect for my own story, and I insert it in, with some changes. Though I normally give credit to the original author, a lot of writers don't. Now they're free to do that, since this is fanfic writing. And sometimes, seeing some of your own work in another's story can be flattering. However, at times, they do a very lousy job of it. When I see some of my own work being copied or paraphrased, I do feel flattered, but there was one story in which I found in fanfiction.net, that really ticked me off. I can't remember the title or author, but the writer went and copied my Gundam Warblade story, word for word, and only added some slight changes to make it appear different. Now I call that writer to be just plain lazy, and he can't even think up anything on his own. Since I haven't updated Gundam Warblade for a long time, I imagine that his story has also stopped. But I think that's enough of that. Let's move on, shall we?

One of the most important things about fanfic writing is that YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYBODY! It's just impossible to make everyone happy with your fics. Then again, you didn't start writing to please all the readers out there, did you? However, once you begin posting up your works, then you'll have to be prepared to receive flames, as well as compliments, and sometimes flames can burn you. There will always be people who will disagree with your views about a character or story line. For every reader who says that it's great, there will be those who will say that it sucked! Therefore, you will have to make decisions on your future writings. For me, I simply ignore the flames and go on with the majority, who seem to like what I write. Keep in mind though, that flames can be good constructive criticism, but only so far. When readers begin insulting you, then you'll be using that Delete key a LOT!

Well, I think I've covered all the basics, save for one more thing, which is time. Real life will interfere with your work and often, a fic may sit around for weeks, months or even years before it gets updated. One thing about fanfic writing is that it takes some commitment, which will depend on how much enthusiasm or interest one holds for the story. At times, a writer will drop an idea. Even I have trouble with keeping up with so many stories in my head, plus any new ideas, or suggestions from my readers. All I can say for that is try to keep focused on what you're writing now, and when you feel that you're running low on creative juices for that story, then take a breather. There's no deadline and you can always come back to a story or drop it completely later. This may disappoint the fans, but keep in mind that you, the writer, are in control of the fic's fate.

Aside from advising all writers to use the spell checker, (which I need to use more often myself), and maybe get some prereaders, I donít really have much more to say. What all fanfic writers have to remember is that there are no real rules to fanfic writing, other than the sky's is limit, so good luck!