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(Originally posted on my blog, posted here because it's pertinent to our interests)

Being a teenager is hard. You don’t fit in with kids anymore, but you’re not quite an adult. When I turned 13, I felt like I was too old to play with toys anymore. That was when I started writing–because I could have any toy I wanted, in my head.

What I wrote was Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction.

Collage - Sonic Adventure 3 by NetRaptor

Sonic fanfic. It’s seriously epic.

I wrote it madly for the rest of my teen years and into my 20s. I built a website around it, and hosted other kids’ stories and art. We had a fantastic community, all because I was trying to find my niche.

While writing epic adventure after epic adventure, and reading copious amounts of fanfiction, I learned quite a lot about writing a story. I also ingested anything on writing I could find–curriculum, The Elements of Style, Stephen King’s On Writing.

I learned:

1. It gets the cliches out of your system

We love cliches. That’s why we have archetypes (a fancy word for “stuff we tell stories about over and over”) and Hero’s Journey (farm boy goes on a quest and becomes a hero). But they’re called cliches for a reason–they’ve been done before.

As a new writer, you may not realize that what you’re writing is the same thing every new writer writes. All you know is that it rings your bell, and you write it like mad–nobody has ever seen this plot before!

Except that they have, over and over.

Angsty char checklist by NetRaptor

It’s common when you’re starting out to retell your favorite stories in your own voice. No matter how well you tell it, it’s still the same story everybody tells (ex: epic fantasy, ragtag group of adventurers save the world). It’s hard to get published with these stories, because agents and readers go, “Ho hum, seen it.”

But with fanfiction, you can write the cliche, revel in it, get it out of your system, and move on. Once you’ve done that, you uncover the real golden ideas–the publishable ones.

2. It lets you experiment with self inserts

Self-inserts are a joke in the fanfiction community. They’re when the author write themselves into the story, usually as a perfect, wise, beautiful person whom all the characters love. They’re known as Mary Sues (or Gary Stu), because they usually have a humdrum name.

proslash1
I’ll bet you can’t guess what my self-insert was.

Self-inserts (“serts”) are another type of cliche that an author does well to get out of their system early. For one thing, perfect characters are boring. For another, savvy readers will sniff out a sert and call you on it. They’re the mark of a new writer.

3. You learn to finish

Finishing a book is a big deal. The Internet is littered with half-finished stories. Reading them is frustrating, because nobody knows the ending–not even the author. I’ve read some totally awesome stories, fanfic and original, that the author abandoned at the sticky midpoint.

You don’t get a fans if you never finish anything. Besides, endings are fun–they’re the payoff, the big confrontation, the place to have the big chase or the huge explosions.

You can’t get published if you never finish.

4. You learn to handle feedback

The lure of fanfic is the speedy feedback. You can have comments on a chapter a few hours after you post it–whereas on a published book, it takes weeks or months.

Quick feedback is fun–but it comes with a price. My dad always says, “Everyone is entitled to their own stupid opinion”, and boy, is that evident when writing stories. You’ll get good comments, and you get nasty ones, too. You get the guy who corrects your tiny mistakes, the fan girl who rages because she doesn’t ship your pairing, and people who just go, “Didn’t like it” without explaining why.

It can make you go bury your face in chocolate cake. But it toughens you up. The next time somebody leaves you a nasty review, you can paraphrase Tolkein and remark that you don’t like the kinds of book that they favor, so there.

5. You learn to write within the constraints of a world

Fanfiction and historical fiction have one thing in common: you have to write inside that world. You have to research the setting, learn the principal characters and their personalities and goals–then you have to write it well. A huge crime in fanfic is getting someone OOC–out of character. (There’s also PWP–plot what plot, but that’s a different problem.) This is something that people will gleefully tell you in reviews–you’re doing it wrong, lawl.

Silver and the Iblis Trigger by NetRaptor

You wouldn’t believe how gleefully people correct the “flaws” in this picture.

Writing within world constraints is a useful skill, even if the world is your own. The details have to ring true, whether you’re writing Regency romance or urban fantasy.

Does your Regency heroine carry a handgun? Muff pistols were a thing. They even had a sort of safety on them, so they almost wouldn’t blow your fingers off. How do I know this? Research.

Is your hero a private detective or a bounty hunter? Sometimes they do quite similar jobs. Again–research!

How is it possible that Sonic can run hundreds of miles per hour without burning off his own feet, or tearing a hole in his face when he hits leaves, bugs, dust, etc? The fans have some excellent quasi-scientific theories available to draw upon. All it takes is research.

In conclusion, fanfiction is an excellent place to exercise your writing muscles. A lot of what you learn there carry over into the big leagues of writing for publication. Some people convert fanfics straight to publication.

The Mortal Instruments? Harry Potter fanfic.

Fifty Shades? Twilight fanfic.

The Temeraire books? Master and Commander fanfic.

Sherlock? Well, that one is easy to guess.

Have you ever written fanfiction? Do you think it helped you learn to write?

Heth Hunting by NetRaptor
Heth Hunting
A concept art pic from Bethany Jennings's upcoming book, The Trusted, where sci fi aliens on another planet hunt lizard-aliens while riding on huge furry dinosaur-like creatures called heths.

Made in Photoshop.
Loading...
Sorry, Squall by NetRaptor
Sorry, Squall
My brother played most of FF8 like this.

This was a challenge from a friend to see if I could sketch/ink/color/letter a whole comic in a few hours. It's kind of crappy, but I'm hoping to improve my speed and quality with practice.

So, anybody got any game jokes I should illustrate?
Loading...
Three rare dragons by NetRaptor
Three rare dragons
These are three more dragons from the book The Nurse Dragon by H. L. Burke. I've finally done them all, except for the Nurse Dragon, because he's on the book cover and looks so good already. In this book, dragon eggs are like trading cards that kids buy lots of, hoping to hatch a rare. I wanted to do artwork that was like trading cards for each dragon.

Previous picture of the more common types of dragons.

netraptor.deviantart.com/art/F…
Loading...

(Originally posted on my blog, posted here because it's pertinent to our interests)

Being a teenager is hard. You don’t fit in with kids anymore, but you’re not quite an adult. When I turned 13, I felt like I was too old to play with toys anymore. That was when I started writing–because I could have any toy I wanted, in my head.

What I wrote was Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction.

Collage - Sonic Adventure 3 by NetRaptor

Sonic fanfic. It’s seriously epic.

I wrote it madly for the rest of my teen years and into my 20s. I built a website around it, and hosted other kids’ stories and art. We had a fantastic community, all because I was trying to find my niche.

While writing epic adventure after epic adventure, and reading copious amounts of fanfiction, I learned quite a lot about writing a story. I also ingested anything on writing I could find–curriculum, The Elements of Style, Stephen King’s On Writing.

I learned:

1. It gets the cliches out of your system

We love cliches. That’s why we have archetypes (a fancy word for “stuff we tell stories about over and over”) and Hero’s Journey (farm boy goes on a quest and becomes a hero). But they’re called cliches for a reason–they’ve been done before.

As a new writer, you may not realize that what you’re writing is the same thing every new writer writes. All you know is that it rings your bell, and you write it like mad–nobody has ever seen this plot before!

Except that they have, over and over.

Angsty char checklist by NetRaptor

It’s common when you’re starting out to retell your favorite stories in your own voice. No matter how well you tell it, it’s still the same story everybody tells (ex: epic fantasy, ragtag group of adventurers save the world). It’s hard to get published with these stories, because agents and readers go, “Ho hum, seen it.”

But with fanfiction, you can write the cliche, revel in it, get it out of your system, and move on. Once you’ve done that, you uncover the real golden ideas–the publishable ones.

2. It lets you experiment with self inserts

Self-inserts are a joke in the fanfiction community. They’re when the author write themselves into the story, usually as a perfect, wise, beautiful person whom all the characters love. They’re known as Mary Sues (or Gary Stu), because they usually have a humdrum name.

proslash1
I’ll bet you can’t guess what my self-insert was.

Self-inserts (“serts”) are another type of cliche that an author does well to get out of their system early. For one thing, perfect characters are boring. For another, savvy readers will sniff out a sert and call you on it. They’re the mark of a new writer.

3. You learn to finish

Finishing a book is a big deal. The Internet is littered with half-finished stories. Reading them is frustrating, because nobody knows the ending–not even the author. I’ve read some totally awesome stories, fanfic and original, that the author abandoned at the sticky midpoint.

You don’t get a fans if you never finish anything. Besides, endings are fun–they’re the payoff, the big confrontation, the place to have the big chase or the huge explosions.

You can’t get published if you never finish.

4. You learn to handle feedback

The lure of fanfic is the speedy feedback. You can have comments on a chapter a few hours after you post it–whereas on a published book, it takes weeks or months.

Quick feedback is fun–but it comes with a price. My dad always says, “Everyone is entitled to their own stupid opinion”, and boy, is that evident when writing stories. You’ll get good comments, and you get nasty ones, too. You get the guy who corrects your tiny mistakes, the fan girl who rages because she doesn’t ship your pairing, and people who just go, “Didn’t like it” without explaining why.

It can make you go bury your face in chocolate cake. But it toughens you up. The next time somebody leaves you a nasty review, you can paraphrase Tolkein and remark that you don’t like the kinds of book that they favor, so there.

5. You learn to write within the constraints of a world

Fanfiction and historical fiction have one thing in common: you have to write inside that world. You have to research the setting, learn the principal characters and their personalities and goals–then you have to write it well. A huge crime in fanfic is getting someone OOC–out of character. (There’s also PWP–plot what plot, but that’s a different problem.) This is something that people will gleefully tell you in reviews–you’re doing it wrong, lawl.

Silver and the Iblis Trigger by NetRaptor

You wouldn’t believe how gleefully people correct the “flaws” in this picture.

Writing within world constraints is a useful skill, even if the world is your own. The details have to ring true, whether you’re writing Regency romance or urban fantasy.

Does your Regency heroine carry a handgun? Muff pistols were a thing. They even had a sort of safety on them, so they almost wouldn’t blow your fingers off. How do I know this? Research.

Is your hero a private detective or a bounty hunter? Sometimes they do quite similar jobs. Again–research!

How is it possible that Sonic can run hundreds of miles per hour without burning off his own feet, or tearing a hole in his face when he hits leaves, bugs, dust, etc? The fans have some excellent quasi-scientific theories available to draw upon. All it takes is research.

In conclusion, fanfiction is an excellent place to exercise your writing muscles. A lot of what you learn there carry over into the big leagues of writing for publication. Some people convert fanfics straight to publication.

The Mortal Instruments? Harry Potter fanfic.

Fifty Shades? Twilight fanfic.

The Temeraire books? Master and Commander fanfic.

Sherlock? Well, that one is easy to guess.

Have you ever written fanfiction? Do you think it helped you learn to write?

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NetRaptor
K.M. Carroll
Artist | Student | Digital Art
United States
A long-time art student, still avidly studying art in between raising a growing family. Art production is slower and less polished than it used to be, but that will change.
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:iconsonicdrawingfan1412:
SonicDrawingFan1412 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello, NetRaptor I had a quick question for you. You see, I write stories on Wattpad and I saw your Sunset Shadow image which is amazing and was wondering if I may use the image for a chapter photo? Oh course I would credit you but if you don't allow it it's cool. Thanks! ^^
Reply
:iconraelogan:
RaeLogan Featured By Owner May 26, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, here I am again, with yet more questions... I hope I'm not bugging you with these... ^^;

Hopefully this is a much simpler set for me to ask. Again, about Mecha.

So, does he actually have a preference in terms of food? I know that he doesn't care much for sweet stuff, aside from prefering to mix honey and coffee for energy reasons, but is there a specific flavor or food he actually enjoys, enough so to probably classify as a favorite?

For that matter, what is his least favorite?

Because while thinking of this, I wondered if he ever just thought of bringing peanut butter along on those trips of his, because 1) it's neutral enough in taste to not be overpowering, 2) it's protein and therefore energy fuel and 3) if not for his benefit, perhaps Aleda's.

And on a small tangent, I wondered his opinion on sour things, like lemons. For some strange reason, all I could think of beyond that was someone, not sure who exactly, saying: "Mecha tried a lemon once. Once." and leaving it at that, and that's really funny to me for some reason.

And after your Winter's Day story, I can't help but wonder if, since the Chao can have little winter clothes and stuff, does that mean there's a shop that sells Chao clothes, or that shops can carry Chao clothes, or if Chao owners just make them themselves? Because if it's the latter, that's adorable and probably means Mecha made Aleda's, which is probably really easy for him, like can you imagine him knitting (what am I saying, you made him up, you can imagine whatever you please), just every stitch is perfect and the rows are so even or something, and ahhhh...

I ask these mainly because I got around to porting your stories in the whole NetRaptor Sonic-verse to an eBook format to a chip on my phone to better bookmark and read where I left off without the browser crashing, and that meant some refreshing on things to check how the conversion process went down (quite well, actually).

I probably don't have to say again how much I love your stories, so I'll just leave now with a wave and an awkward smile.
Reply
:iconraelogan:
RaeLogan Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I'm back again with another question...

I've been curious for a while, but... Gee, how do I word this coherently..?

Um... Mecha and music. What's his opinion of it? Is there a possibility that certain tunes resonate well with him, or does he not really care much for it?

What would be his preferred genre, if any? I honestly keep entertaining the idea of the Mobius equivalent to 80s music (specifically those of the Journey, Genesis, and Pat Benatar variety), but I kinda always default to 80s music as a catch-all answer to anything anyway... ^^;

On the other hand, I also imagine, if one specific genre or track resonates emotionally with him (whether positive or not), he'd either avoid it altogether to avoid further confusing his constantly evolving... emotion thingies (I do not word well compared to my thoughts)...

Although, maybe he'd end up being a sort of music collector, like with vinyls or something, maybe CDs... Say that it's for Aleda's benefit, I dunno. Actually, that'd be really cute if, when they're totally alone, they just sing along together or something. Mecha's Alone-With-Aleda-Activities are always pretty cute. :3

Then again, I can only speculate; he's yours, after all, so nothing can really be confirmed unless you say so. XD
Reply
:iconnetraptor:
NetRaptor Featured By Owner May 6, 2016  Student Digital Artist
That's a very interesting question, and one I hadn't considered. There's not a lot of music in Mecha's environment ... although with his increased association with other people, that may change. Something to explore in future stories! I could see him reacting, at first, the way a person does who has been deaf and has had the surgery to restore hearing--a lot of discordant beats and sounds. But he'd slowly get used to it, and maybe come to enjoy various kinds. What do you think would be best for someone who has no experience with music? Classical?
Reply
:iconraelogan:
RaeLogan Featured By Owner May 7, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah, I suppose that would make sense. *nods*

Probably classical... that's generally seen as gentle enough for babies and their little ears, so that'd be a good start, I guess, then some branching out could occur at a decided pace. :)
Reply
:iconwhozawhatcha:
Whozawhatcha Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Hello! :) It's been several years since I've read your fanfictions, but I wanted to have another go at them, because I remember how much I liked the ones I read. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of the beginning of your stories? And I also wanted to know if you had ever done anything with Shade, Ix, and the Nocturnus Clan? Thanks!
Reply
:iconnetraptor:
NetRaptor Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2016  Student Digital Artist
All my fanfics are easily accessible here: www.fanfiction.net/~netraptor

If you sort by Date Uploaded, you even get them in order. :-)

Nope, I don't have anything about Shade and the Nocturnus ... which is a shame, because the storyline of that game scratches all kinds of fandom itches. I felt she was so similar to Zephyer's storyline that I never had the heart to adapt it. I've been messing with Sonic Boom, though. I have the first story of a trilogy up (in which Dumb Knuckles gets Smart), and people keep asking about a sequel. :-)
Reply
:icontazi-san:
Tazi-san Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
SQ update! Happy New Year!
Reply
:iconraelogan:
RaeLogan Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Okay, so I've been rereading the stories, and have been wondering lately something about Mecha that's really got me curious: Does he actually age, or no?

I mean, on one hand, it would be a part of being organic and all that (though your version of Shadow can regenerate cells with a Chaos Emerald, so as long as he has that, he stays young...), but on the other hand, I don't imagine Mecha would be keen on the idea of setting an expiration date on himself.

So, if he does age:

1. How would that be indicated over time? Would he start getting a duller shade of blue, or gray streaks start appearing or something? I'm being briefly amused by him trying to figure out how to die himself back to that shade of blue, or even having to look into getting those kinds of prescription glasses seniors get (to be honest, he'd probably look great in specs).

2. How would he react to himself aging? Denial? Dread? Start having a midlife crisis? Be totally fine with it? Be totally worried about how Aleda is going to handle it?

3. What age does he identify as right now in the storyline, if at all? Has he actually been concerned with the concept?

If he doesn't actually age, then:

1. How is he going to react to Sonic getting old sometime in the future? I know that he's not generally on friendly terms with Sonic (though the interactions have been more civil as time goes on), but still... Is he going to be like?: "Wow, just think, enough passes, and I don't have to see you at all anymore!", or is he going to be more like?: "... You stop doing that."

2. That in mind, how is he going to react to pretty much everyone sans him, Shadow, Aleda and Nox (I'm assuming that Chao in your universe get the same life cycles as the game proper, as you had Nox reincarnate before), is going to be gone after some time? As the later stories seem to indicate, he's certainly friends with Tails, and he's been interacting well with everyone, now that he's had that spiritual journey and all that. I'd have to imagine that is going to bug him on some level...

3. (Edging a bit off topic now) How is that going to affect him in the long run? Is he ever going to actually be friends with Sonic (as Sonic has kinda made the offer well enough), like actually just decide that he doesn't actually totally hate him anymore? Like, is Mecha going to finally going to actually audibly say Sonic's name without having a fit?

And finally... I've been curious about this since it was brought up in one of the stories: Has Mecha ever played video games, and what sort of games would he fancy? I imagine him to be the sort to be entranced by Tetris, not just because it seems his sort of thing (high speed stacking puzzle), but also because it's been discovered in recent years that playing Tetris is actually calming and therapeutic. For some reason, I imagine him playing the old GameBoy version...

... I swear, I think too much about this sorts of things... ^^;
Reply
:iconnetraptor:
NetRaptor Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Nope, Mecha doesn't age the same way a true organism does, because his cells aren't the same, and he's constantly repairing/upgrading himself anyway. Same with Shadow. It's the question posed of Wolverine--how old is he, if his healing power keeps him young-looking?

As for your other questions, oddly enough, you might get a new bearing on them from that little Christmas fic I just posted in my journal. :-)
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