Tips for Writing Songfics

Songfics have an interesting place in the world of fanfiction. When done right, they can meld a song flawlessly with a plotline, creating a wonderful experience for the reader, who will likely seek out the song in question if they don’t already know it.

Unfortunately, most of the songfics I’ve seen consist of copy and pasted lyrics with maybe three short paragraphs of plot between each line. This is a definite waste of potential, both for the song and for the idea that can potentially come from it.

So, I’m going to give you a few tips concerning how to make a good songfic, whether you’re doing a oneshot or a chapter piece.

The first thing you need to remember is that the song in question should, first and foremost, provide inspiration and a backdrop for the fic.

Let me give you two examples of songfic concepts. First, imagine a fic that is about one half of an OTP singing the song in question to the other half of the OTP. It is just one scene of the person singing, with the paragraphs between lyrics being thoughts of the characters involved. Now, imagine a fic where an important conversation goes on while a song plays in the background on the radio. As the talk gets more and more intense, the radio seems to get louder and louder until the heartbreaking lyrics overwhelm everything and one of the people just snaps. Which scenario sounds more interesting?

Now, I’m not knocking people who want to write a simple, fluffy scenario involving one person singing to someone else. As I’ve said before, I’m a huge advocate for fluff. I’m just saying that I’ve seen it a million times, and would love to see a bit more variety.

If you’re doing a oneshot, you have a relatively easy job. Just find a way to meld the song lyrics and/or the song itself with a singular scene. This could mean a direct correlation between what’s happening in the song and what’s happening with the characters. It could involve the song leading to a revelation for the characters in question. The important thing is for the song to have a presence. Also, try to actually work the song into the story rather than simply pasting lyrics and splitting them up with only a few sentences. I can’t stress that enough.

Another important thing to remember is that you don’t have to use the whole song. You could just have a refrain or line that keeps being repeated at the appropriate times.

Just keep it so that the plot comes first. Have a plot that is inspired by a song, and then put the lyrics in as needed.

When you do a multi-chapter fic, that’s especially true. One of my favorite Generator Rex fics, a fic titled “Breakeven” by Lina Trinch, was based on a song of the same name by The Script. The song itself is used throughout the story as a motif. Doctor Holiday is listening to it at the beginning, and is seen listening to it several time throughout the fic, usually when she’s thinking about Agent Six, or when she feels herself “falling to pieces.” (From the lyrics.)

The song inspired the fic, features predominantly throughout the fic, but isn’t the basis of the entire plot. The plot itself is a combination of romance, thriller, a touch of supernatural awesomeness, humor… You know, just read the thing. It’s awesome. The point is that the song is important, but it isn’t everything.

Another good way to write a songfic is to imagine your favorite AMV. Think of how people use the songs to correspond to scenes from the series, or a collection of (sourced) fanarts. Then, do the exact same thing with your chosen song. What scenarios would fit in with the lyrics, the tune, and the overall mood? Jot them down, and you have the basis of your fic.

I think the big question to ask is this: Can you imagine someone listening to your chosen song on repeat while reading your fic, and getting an awesome experience because of it? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.

Pick a song, add it to an awesome plot, and fly with the rest! As always, keep writing and improving, no matter what.

Peace out!

What Makes a Good Cliffhanger?

Today, let’s take a look at a writing technique that is both loved and despised by fiction-lovers everywhere: the infamous cliffhanger. A cliffhanger is defined as an end to an episode of a serial drama that leaves the audience in suspense. This also applies to books, movies, and fanfiction chapters. When used correctly, it can keep the fans on their toes while drawing them back in for each update. When used badly, mass fan rage can lead to a drastic decrease in viewership and/or readership.

The question is this: How can cliffhangers be used in a way that leaves the readers in suspense, but doesn’t infuriate them enough to make them drop the story altogether?

To answer that question, I’ll present a personal, specific example of what I find to be a bad kind of cliffhanger, and what I find to be a good kind through my own experiences, and say why I think they’re good or bad. From that, we can figure out what makes or breaks any cliffhanger.

Who Will Die?

This is probably the most infuriating kind of cliffhanger and/or story hook I have seen. The premise is simple: Someone’s going to die, but we won’t know who until the next episode! Oooh, the suspense!

Yeah, no. It’s a cheap, stupid tactic that shows that the writer has no faith in the plot itself. If the threat of a mystery death is what you need to keep people coming back, you’re doing something wrong. It sucked when Animorphs did it. It sucked when The Walking Dead did it. It will always suck.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with building tension. If there’s a situation happening where someone is going to die, but we don’t know who until it happens, that’s a wonderful way to up the suspense. You may choose to do a cliffhanger where it’s left unclear whether or not the killer found someone. That’s a good cliffhanger.

What I’m specifically talking about is a scenario when you know without a doubt that someone is about to die, or has just been killed, but you have to wait until the next installment to find out who. If you’re going to kill someone, go through with killing them. Don’t bullshit the readers. Trust me. They can see right through it.

Another sucky kind of cliffhanger, which is closely related, is showing a character being gravely wounded, then ending that installment, leaving the fans to wonder whether the person is dead or alive. First of all, these cliffhangers rarely result in the character in question actually dying, so it’s lost its effectiveness over the years. Second, it’s cheap. If you’re going to kill a character, kill them. If you’re going to injure them and have them in critical condition for a few episodes, do that. But establish which it is before cutting things off. Otherwise, fans will only talk about that, and not anything else that happened in that installment, as any other events will cease to be important in their eyes.

Basically, don’t use death as a cheap tool.

Character Revelation

On the flip side, we have an example of one of my favorite kinds of cliffhangers, provided it’s done right. A Character Revelation is any moment that reveals something shocking about a character. It could be that someone we thought was dead is actually alive, that someone has secretly been part of the mafia throughout the series, or that they’re an alien species. The possibilities are endless!

The reason why these kinds of cliffhangers work is that it leaves the fans in suspense while giving room and time for their imaginations to come up with what will happen next. They have a whole week (or month, or year, depending on the kind of installment) to come up with theories, ideas, and predictions based on this new reveal. Let’s be honest: Fan theories make up a huge part of any fandom.

Another reason why this kind of cliffhanger works is that it basically means that the next episode/book/etc. will then devote a good amount of time to explaining that reveal. This leads to character development, backstories, and other juicy bits.

What’s really good about this kind of cliffhanger is that it focuses on plot and character, rather than using cheap shock tactics to keep the fans’ attention. It puts trust in the fact that this reveal will mean something, and will shock fans while making them desperately want to find out more. It’s the tantalizing, lovely suspense that makes us shake our fists while smiling fondly at the same time.
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Looking at these examples, I think I can tell you how to differentiate a good cliffhanger from a bad one: Is it respecting the audience and the story? If the answer is yes, you have a good cliffhanger. Does it use cheap shock value in order to get an overblown reaction? If the answer is yes, you have a bad one. It’s quite simple when you get down to it.

Use tactics that are specific to the plot, and trust your audience to appreciate them. Stay away from cheap strategies that leaves the audience asking a simple “Did they, or didn’t they?” question over and over again until the next installment. Your fans are smarter than that, and you are better than that.

As always, keep writing and peace out!

AUs: Creating Your Own Universe

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I spent most of yesterday dealing with a personal crisis, and wasn’t able to write or post anything until now. I hope you enjoy today’s writing tip.

In my more recent years of reading and writing fanfiction, I have developed a deep love for AUs. It gives writers the ability to go places that even the original author might not have considered. It’s also good for writing feels-free stories involving characters who are dead in canon. I’ve been doing that a lot lately…

Anyway, a lot of work needs to go into the making of an AU. Not only are you creating a whole new setting, but you are essentially creating a whole new side to the characters in question. There are two important things to focus on when creating an AU: the world and putting the characters into the world.

The World

Obviously, you need to figure out what kind of world your AU is. Even if it’s a basic Modern Day AU, you still need to figure certain things out. Does the story take place more in a city? In a rural area? Is it a real place, or one you made up that is based on several places? Is there a coffee shop? What’s the school district like? Is there a high or low crime rate? What’s important for the focus of your fic?

For example, my RWBY fic “College Battle Games” takes place in a college setting. However, I differentiated it from other college stories by focusing on one campus organization: Dagorhir. (Dagorhir consists of people hitting each other with foam weapons while wearing garb. Seriously, look it up. It’s awesome.) Because of this, I focused on descriptions of the field, the organization, and the activities of the characters. When they were in a different location, I described it accordingly, creating a familiar, yet unique college town for them to inhabit.

If you’re creating your own original world, things get even harder. Before you even think about putting the characters in, you need to figure out the five W’s of the setting you’re creating. Where is it? Who inhabits it? What kind of place is it? When does the story take place? Is it a medieval-esque place? Is it a parallel to the canon-verse? Most importantly, think about why you made this setting and how you can use it in a way that is unique.

Depending on how long your fic will be, make sure to create a world that you like and can remain invested in. Currently, I have two AU RWBY fics that I update weekly. One takes place in a medieval-based universe where a lot of the characters are werewolves. Another takes place in a world that’s similar to the canon world of Remnant, but is protected by Dragon Riders rather than Huntsmen. I love werewolves, and I love dragons, so writing both fics and discovering more about the AUs is fun rather than being a chore.

For both worlds, I had to figure out various things. How do people react to werewolves? In a world of Dragon Riders, how did technology evolve as opposed to how it did in canon? The more questions you ask and answer, the more solid of a foundation you have.

Putting the Characters into the World

This part is both very fun and very challenging. Once you have your AU, you need to figure out how this universe’s version of the canon characters will fit in. What will they be? What occupations do they have? How does this setting affect their personalities and goals? Are they treated differently in this universe than they would be in the canon universe? How do the characters know each other in this universe?

To provide an example, let’s imagine putting the Lord of the Rings characters into a modern-day setting. Aragorn is a ranger and a king in canon, so a person could either decide to make him an outsider or a prominent leader in a modern setting. He could be a park ranger who lives on the outskirts of town, or a leading figure in the city council, or both. Bilbo, with his love for maps and books, could be a librarian, an accomplished cartographer, or a teacher. Perhaps he became friends with Aragorn during a field trip to the local park, and they enjoy bird-watching together on the weekends.

You can also play with relationships more in an AU setting. It’s up to you how the characters met, or if they even know each other at all. Characters who hardly interact in canon could be made into best friends. Romantic pairings that canon wouldn’t even dream of can make perfect sense in an AU setting. As long as you keep the basic personalities of the characters and keep them recognizable, you can play around as much as you want.

The key here is to keep your characters in character. Remember how they are in canon, and apply that to how you think they would act in another setting. Keep their speech patterns and mannerisms the same, or make them the AU’s equivalent. For example, a character who regularly says “Cool!” or “Sweet!” when excited may say something along the lines of “Grand!” or “Fantastic!” in a setting that isn’t quite so modern. You need to have a balance between how you know the characters act in canon, and what would change due to their presence in this alternate universe.

If a character changes significantly, there needs to be a reason why. In my Dragon Rider AU, I explore how the RWBY characters would change if they had the responsibility of taking care of their own dragons. Blake, who is known for running away from her problems in canon, can’t do that in this story due to having a baby dragon relying on her and needing her to stay in one place. Therefore, she has to overcome her impulses and act in a more rational manner.

Remember, you are making these characters your own by writing fanfictions. By making an AU, you’re going one step further. Do what feels natural, and listen to the critiques of your readers. And have fun with it!
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I hope this was helpful, and I hope that all you writers out there try writing an AU if you haven’t already. In my opinion, AUs are a good stepping stone in any writing career. If you’ve only written fanfictions until now, but would like to eventually create your own original worlds and characters, AUs are a good way to get practice in. By making your own world and learning how to fit various personalities into that world, you’re taking a step toward evolving your writing skills and improving your craft that much more.

One day, you may have an entirely new world populated by characters of your own creation, and that is probably the most rewarding experience that any writer can have.

So, keep writing and peace out!

Fluff: The Hallmark Channel of Fanfiction

Everybody loves a good, simple, feel-good story every now and then. Some people love them every single day. There’s nothing wrong with that. With how crappy the world can sometimes be, it’s nice to escape into a fictional realm where people are happy and life is all sunshine and rainbows. That’s exactly what fluff is.

Whether it’s a sweet, comforting scene in a sea of angst, or a basket of full-on lovey-dovey goodness from beginning to end, fluff is one of the cornerstones of the fanfiction world. But, how do you write fluff well? Allow an experienced fluff-master to clue you in.

Let’s start by looking at the most important things to focus on in a fluff piece.

#1: Emotion

Emotion is the main focus of any fluffy work. Whether it’s someone being comforted after a nightmare or two lovers sharing a date in a sunny field, focusing on what the characters are feeling is vital. Talk about how Character A is drawing strength from Character B’s hug. Tell me exactly how happy Character C is when they see the homemade cookies Character D baked for their birthday.

Remember, emotional expression is physical as well as mental. Make a character feel their cheeks get hot when they’re flustered. Make their heart pound when they’re excited. Make us feel the emotions they’re feeling, so that their happiness becomes ours when it happens.

#2: Imagery

Cheery imagery and cheery emotions go hand in hand. Tell the reader about the contrast between the cold, loud rain outside and the crackling fire and warm couch inside. Describe the smell of freshly-mown grass and garden flowers. If it’s a romantic piece, talk about just how beautiful a character’s significant other looks in the light of the setting sun. The possibilities are endless! Feel free to use a thesaurus if you need some new words.

Also, use descriptions that fit in with the mood. For example, would you rather describe the sun as being blood-red or as scarlet as a plump rose? If you’re doing a fluffy piece, I’d definitely lean toward the latter.

#3: Happy Endings

Fluff pieces have happy endings. Don’t be one of those jerks who write sweet, wonderful scenarios before pulling the rug out from under everyone. That’s what we call bait and switch. Ever read a wonderful, romantic fic, only for one of the characters to wake up and realize that everything was a dream and remember that their significant other is dead? Yeah. Sucks, don’t it? There are times to snipe your readers with angst or tragedy. A fluff fic does not qualify. Keep it simple, and keep it happy.
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Now, there are several different kinds of fluff that one may type. While happiness is universally loved, it seems that some breeds are better loved than others. Here are the four most common categories I’ve seen.

Angst Fluff

This refers to an angsty situation followed by a fluffy ending. In a lot of ways, these fluff stories are the most satisfying, because it is very enjoyable to see characters being happy, but even more so when they were recently sad or angry. It makes you appreciate the positivity a lot more.

When making an Angst Fluff piece, there are a few things to remember. First of all, don’t make the angst too deep or depressing if you’re doing a short piece, or you risk entering tragedy territory. Once you enter the realm of tragedy, a fluffy ending will be less believable and will seem pasted on. Now, if you decide to change your work to a tragic fic, that’s fine. If you still want a fluff piece, however, see about easing back if a scene starts to get too depressing.

For example, I’ve run across a ton of fics that have fluffy scenes and endings after a character was suicidal just a few paragraphs ago. Topics like suicide, self-harm, and death are serious and should not be in a short, fluffy fic. Not only does the tragedy ruin the fluff, but the fluff often cheapens the subject matter being addressed.

Now, if you’re writing a longer piece, you can experiment with these serious scenarios a bit more. It’s possible to have happy, fluffy endings after horrible occurrences, but give the characters time to recover. Don’t make a oneshot where a character is cutting their arm in one scene, then making out with their significant other under the stars five minutes later. It doesn’t work.

Second of all, and this relates strongly to the previous tip, don’t make the shift from angst to fluff too sudden. Emotional shifts are gradual. Even if they happen quickly, there is still a process that occurs between sad and happy. Make sure to show that.

Lastly, and most importantly, make sure it ENDS fluffy. If your end-goal is to make a fluffy piece, it has to end with the fluff. You can put the angst anywhere else you want, as long as the fluff is at the end. You know how Don Bluth believes that kids can handle anything as long as there’s a happy ending? That’s the kind of mindset you should put yourself in. Keep the ending happy.

For example, my RWBY threeshot “Three Days at the Ryokan” is what I like to call an Angst Sandwich: angst sandwiched between two pieces of fluff. The first chapter was an introduction to the setting and a bit of fluff and description. The second chapter showed a tearful confession and an admittance of self-doubt followed by some comfort. The third chapter was pure fluff till the end.

Comfort Fluff

This is probably the second most common breed of fluff I’ve seen after Fluff-Fluff, which I will explain later. Comfort Fluff, as you would guess, involves one character being extensively comforted and coddled by another. This can be due to self-confidence issues, a recent injury, a loss, or a nightmare (an especially common scenario). In a lot of ways, it’s a much lighter version of Angst Fluff.

If you want to write a Comfort Fluff piece, you need to first focus on the problem that needs to be solved. Let the reader feel the negative emotions that the character in question is feeling. Let them feel the pain of that battle wound, the fear of that nightmare, the uncertainty of not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
Next, think about what would best comfort the character and what the other character or characters would logically do. In a romantic situation, the character’s romantic partner may cuddle and kiss them, reassuring them that they are worthwhile. Think about the relationship between the characters that you want to portray, and use that to guide their interactions.

For example, a Comfort Fluff piece involving Grif and Simmons from Red vs. Blue would probably involve a lot more swearing and not-serious insults than a piece involving Adrien and Marinette from Miraculous Ladybug, which would likely involve lots of classic, shy cuddle fluff.

Remember, the end-goal is to make the character who needed comfort feel better, along with the readers.

Now, you’re probably wondering: What is the difference between Angst Fluff and Comfort Fluff? Well, Comfort Fluff is usually fluffier than Angst Fluff. The scenario that invokes comfort is generally not as gratuitous in its negativity and usually gives way more quickly to the fluff. In an Angst Fluff piece, the angsty parts get more focus, forcing the reader to truly feel negatively and sometimes even cry before the veil is lifted. The lines are blurry, but the important thing isn’t the label. It’s getting your story across to your reader, whatever you want the end result to be.

Fluff-Fluff

This is just pure, feel-good awesomeness from beginning to end. Imagine a fic depicting a family spending the day together at the zoo, a romantic couple spending their first Christmas together, or a group of friends catching up and having fun after not seeing each other for a long time. That is the essence of Fluff-Fluff.

In this kind of fluff piece, imagery is key. Since the emotions will be mostly positive throughout, it’s a good idea to regularly emphasize the imagery. Give a strong setting or settings, and describe the characters’ reactions to things. What you do and how deep you go depends on how long the piece is. For a shorter work or drabble, you can usually just show one setting and a few images combined with the characters’ happiness, and bam! You’re done.

For longer pieces, you need to think of several different settings, activities, and scenarios. For example, in my longest pure fluff work, a behemoth of a RWBY fic titled “Merry Dustmas” (by behemoth, I mean 14,000 words!), I showed the members of Team JNPR celebrating a fictional version of Christmas with Jaune’s family. I had one main romantic plot going between Jaune and Pyrrha, which I balanced with family interactions, friend interactions, and a variety of holiday and winter-based activities. I showed them decorating cookies, having a snowball fight, going to a parade, decorating the tree, exchanging gifts, etc. In each scenario, I brought Jaune and Pyrrha closer while also showing the happiness of the other characters involved.

Basically, put the characters into a feel-good situation, and go nuts with the details.

Sexy Fluff

This breed of fluff is found in the high T and M side of things (if the writer labeled their fic correctly, anyway). In essence, Sexy Fluff combines the fluffy with the erotic. Whether it’s a long, drawn-out makeout scene, or a full-blown Lemon, this kind of fic serves to ignite the readers’ bodies as well as their hearts.

For a good Sexy Fluff piece, you need to balance the physical and the mental. In an average, non-fluffy smut piece, you’ll likely get a description of the sex, the physical sensations, and that’s it. If you want this to be fluffy, make every act as loving as possible. Have the lovers caress each other gently and kiss slowly. Have them say that they love each other while they’re doing the do. Make the experience more emotional than it is physical. A Sexy Fluff piece is about love first and lust second. That’s very important.
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So, those are the basics, whether you’re a new fluff writer or a veteran who wants some pointers.

Fluff writers are the bandage on everyone’s knee when something horrible happens in canon. We’re the comfort food of the fandom, the emotional balm that our readers desperately need. If you are a creator of this lovely breed of fiction, be proud. You are making the world a happier place.

Peace out!

Toxic People: Don’t Be One!

Toxic. Synonymous with terms such as hazardous or poisonous. My mom always used to warn me about what she called toxic people: individuals who make your life worse consistently without ever doing anything positive in your relationship. I’ve had to cut my share of toxic people out of my life over the years.

You’ve probably heard the term frequently if you have even a passing knowledge of fandoms. You hear about the toxic side of fandoms, the toxic opinions, and the toxic people behind them. They’re the ones who leave long, flaming reviews on your fanfictions. They’re the ones who harass you over what ships you have or don’t have. They’re the ones who are so quick to tell you to kill yourself because of one opinion dares to oppose theirs.

Why do such people exist? Fandoms are supposed to be safe havens for those who want to obsess over characters, plots, theories, and ships. Why do some people feel that it’s their ultimate goal to ruin a fellow fan’s day?

The first answer is simple: Cowardice. It’s the same thing that fuels all internet trolls. They have the freedom to hide behind a veil of usernames and avatars, and use that freedom to get into fights and harass people in a way they know they can get away with.

The second answer is a little more complicated: Ignorance. Yes, it’s possible for a person to be toxic without realizing it. With the anonymity granted by the internet, one can forget that it is all too easy to hurt someone or start an argument just by typing the wrong thing.

Here are a few of the common toxic people you’ll find in a fandom, and how to avoid becoming one.

-The Harasser: This is probably the most common toxic person you will run into. This is the person who will target anyone and anything that they don’t agree with. This is the person who will send multiple messages to someone with the sole purpose of making them feel bad. In other words, a Harasser is a basic bully who will put special effort into putting an individual or idea down.

I remember an incident not too long ago when a member of the Steven Universe fandom attempted suicide due to people on Tumblr ganging up on her for simply drawing a few plus-sized characters in a skinnier style. They sent her angry messages and told her to kill herself and said how horrible of a person she was. You get the idea. Thankfully, her attempt was not successful.

Not becoming a Harasser is easy. Okay, let’s imagine that you see a post by someone that says something you disagree with. Here’s what you do: Read the post and, if you feel the need, leave a reply that calmly and concisely states your opinion and why you feel that way. Respectfully disagree. If the person responds in a similarly-cordial manner, congrats! You are now engaged in a conversation with someone of a differing opinion. One or both of you may learn something! If the person doesn’t respond, that’s the end of your encounter with the post in question. Don’t keep coming back and leaving more comments. Don’t send angry messages.

To put it simply: Don’t be a dick!

-The Idiot: This is a stupider version of the Harasser. You know those people who leave angry, nonsensical comments that have little to no correct grammar or spelling? You know those comments that make you feel as if your brain is melting as you read them? Hell, some of them seem to have been written in a strange, foreign tongue that no sane person on the planet has ever heard of.

A good example I can give is a personal experience I had with some anti-furries. For those who don’t know, furries are people who like anthropomorphic animals. We get frequently bashed by other fandoms, largely because of a false belief that the furry fandom is overrun by perverts. Anyway, I left a positive comment on a furry music video and mentioned that I’m a dragon furry. Within a day, I was flooded with comments calling for me to get shot and telling me to kill myself. None of them had proper spelling or grammar. Youtube moderators deleted these comments since then, which is encouraging.

Another case involved an Animal AU RWBY fic I wrote. I mentioned being a furry in the Authors Notes, and the first review I got read: “Another fandom sullied by furry filth. UGH I hate your kind more than ISIS. Put warning to description so we could avoid your perversity. Seriously I’ve never been this disgusted in years.”

Okay, first of all, the fact that this was called an Animal AU in the description should have been enough “warning to description” for this moron. Also, we see another key sign of an Idiot: comparing people to terrorist groups or Hitler. Did you feel your brain melt a little reading that review? I know I did when I first got it.

Not being an Idiot is also incredibly easy. Follow the rules that apply for not becoming a Harasser. Also, CHECK YOUR FREAKING GRAMMAR AND SPELLING! Seriously, it takes a minute at most to make your post at least somewhat resemble a coherent thought written in an actual language.

-The Ship War General: Ugh… Ship wars… These are the bane of any fandom. There is no escape. One group of people thinks Character A should be romantically involved with Character B. Another group thinks that Character A should be with Character C. Cue the anarchy! There will be bodies!

A Ship War General is someone who instigates such battles. This is the person who makes forum posts that are meant to draw in angry people to yell at them, which draws in more angry people on the opposing side. Before long, the web page is rapidly filling with neatly-typed carnage in the form of one-sided interpretations of canon events, declarations that Character B is a whore and Character C is the devil incarnate, and personal attacks on anyone who dares wield an alternate viewpoint.

If you don’t want to become a Ship War General (and you’d better have no wish to become one, unless you want to be a black stain on whatever fandom you claim to be a part of), all you need to do is take a chill pill.

Remember, you’re a fan of a work of fiction written by someone who likely doesn’t give a damn what your OTP is. Canon events are going to unfold in the way the author wants them to, whether or not you waste hours of your life verbally lynching a poor, innocent Zutarra fan.

The solution? Make works featuring your favorite ships. Write fanfics. That’s what they’re for. Draw fanarts. If you’re not good at writing or drawing, come up with headcanons and commission someone to write or draw them. Or practice becoming a better writer/artist. No one starts out perfect, after all.

Most importantly, respect that other people have different opinions. Respect those opinions. Enjoy your ships while letting other people enjoy theirs. And don’t ship-bash. Ship-bashing is for jerks.

-The Ship-Basher: Coming off of that point, let’s talk about a lesser version of the Ship War General. A Ship-Basher is anyone who feels the need to make it known at every possible opportunity that they don’t like a certain ship. They comment on fan works, complaining because the ships featured were not their ships.

Here’s a fun fact: It’s possible to be a Ship-Basher without realizing it. One of my favorite RWBY artists, who temporarily had to leave the fandom due to Ship-Bashers, is constantly dealing with people saying things along the lines of “Your art is so good, but why aren’t you drawing Bumblebee?” or “Too bad you don’t draw this and that pairing.”

Yes, that counts as bashing! If you see a piece of work you like that is of a ship you don’t normally like, don’t make a big deal out of it! Tell the person how much you enjoy their piece. Instead of talking about how you don’t ship the pairing shown in their work, tell them how their piece made you like the ship in question in a way you normally wouldn’t. There are positive ways to word things.

Instead of saying “I love your art. I wish you drew this and that pairing,” say “I love your work! You drew this pairing so well. Are you planning on drawing anything for that pairing?” See the difference?

-The Flamer: If you’ve read my glossary, you know that a flame is an overly-negative review that doesn’t offer any constructive criticism, and is just there to insult the creator of a work. A Flamer is someone who relishes in leaving such comments, whether they are insults toward a person’s ship, overblown complaints about a few minor grammar errors, or an overall statement that a person’s AU is stupid.

To keep from being a Flamer, be kind when you comment on people’s works. Tell them what you like. If you have a criticism, state it in a concise way and offer suggestions on ways for them to improve. Don’t just leave a page-long review talking about how a certain plot-point ruined the entire story. I’ve gotten a few of those on my stories in the past. It sucks.

-The Bigot: This is what would happen if the Harasser and the Idiot had a lovechild who was then subjected to a Westboro Baptist Church upbringing. These toxic people love commenting on works featuring characters of different races, different sexualities, different gender identities… You get the idea.

A good example of a bigoted review came to me recently. In honor of Pride Month, I decided to put out an LGBT-related RWBY fanfic a week. The first one I wrote was a fic featuring one of the characters, Jaune, as a transman. Besides a page-long review preaching about Jesus, I got this little beauty that I have since deleted: “Wow you’re brainwashed by liberals. I honestly pity you. Trans faggots have done nothing for the world other than lawsuits and ruin lives. Besides Canada has the c-16 Bill passed, which basically confirms that gender is a social construct and you retards and it’s supporters just love genital mutilation. You disgust me because of your naive mind.”

As you can see, this carries hints of both the Harasser, through the pointless attack on me personally, and the Idiot, through the horrible grammar and nonsensical statements.

Now, let me tell you something very important: Bigots aren’t limited to cisgender, hetero, white people. Being active on Tumblr has taught me that bigotry can go in any direction. People are hated for being white, straight, cis, skinny, or male, and that is every bit as wrong as people being hated for being black, gay, trans, plus-sized, or female. Think about that before you rant about someone’s hetero ship, okay?
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In conclusion, everyone should remember that, at the end of the day, it is just a fandom. No matter how all-encompassing your love for a work of fiction can seem, a work of fiction is all it is. It was made by a writer or group of writers who wanted their stories to be heard by others. It was made to inspire creativity and emotions in the minds of those who enjoy it. Try to keep that in mind, and don’t ruin it for people who simply want to have fun. On the other hand, avoid toxic people when possible, report them if you can, and don’t let them mess with your good time.

Peace out!