A guide for writing Sailor Moon fanfics


Amanda "Greenbeans" Anderson

in partial completition of the requirements for
WR227 -- Technicial Report Writing

Oregon Institute of Technology

Spring Term 1997
Last Revised: May 1999

..fanfiction is a soft ware..
..for which there is no hard proof..

James Helferty [1]

Layout notes: E-mail links are provided for those I that have quoted if available. If I quoted a page, I have linked the source page and italicized it. Terms that are italicized with a [g] next to them are defined in the glossary. Quotes with a [number] are links to the entry in the bibliography. I have also linked to related materials where appropriate. An addendum to this paper has been done by Helen Szeto.

Letter of Transmittal
Table of Contents
Appendix 1: Archives
Appendix 2: Online writing resources
Appendix 3: The seasons of Sailormoon
A Companion to 'Writing Sailor Moon Fanfics' by Helen Szeto


According to Welcome to Rec.Arts.Anime.Creative's Frequently Asked Questions a fanfic is:

For those who are unfamiliar with fan fiction, I describe it as being like a Star Trek novel, except those are officially endorsed. A fanfic is a creative work written for fans by fans. It is neither endorsed, nor discouraged by the original creator (in this case Naoko Takeuchi). Exactly what the creative rights of fanfic writers are is the subject of a discussion between Richard Lawson and Joseph Palmer that was submitted to RAAC in March 1998. The legal rights of fanfic writers was the topic of a paper written by Rebecca Tushnet.

When asked why someone would want to write fanfics, Pandora D. Waldron states some of the best reasons/rewards:

Lots of fan e-mail--so much you don't have time to answer it all. And you find your fans are all over the world, not just North America--such is the reach of the Net. Web site administrators beg to include your fanfic (s) on their sites. Fans write, begging you to write more--and keep bugging you regularly. People on mailing lists and newsgroups mention you as one of their favourite fanfic authors. You get known among the most active members/contributors in the Net community, and make friends more easily, because they like your work. [3]

Many people desire to have their voice heard as a form of self-expression; and one such form is through the creative outlet of writing 'fan-fiction'. For many, being recognized as a fanfic writer is a source of pride. The positive feedback of fans encourage writers to continue releasing stories.

As a writer (fanfic or otherwise) continues to write, he will develop better skills. It is with hindsight that the next section of this paper is written. I will analyze my own works and point out what I have learned from practice and experience. My hope is that it will be insightful for those who are interested in pursuing fanfic writing as a hobby. Familiarity with my prior works may be helpful but not required.

College Life

Brief Description

Haruka and Michiru go to the United States as exchange students at the post-secondary level. Haruka attends a technical school, where she meets a character by the name of Beans (self-insertion [g]). Michiru is attending a liberal arts college nearby.

The story itself is a comedy with the occasional serious theme. Each part is written as a stand-alone story that is related with the rest as Haruka and Michiru's adventures throughout the year are charted. (Much like a television show in which there is a basic underlying story, but each episode can be read individually).


What I was hoping to accomplish when I started writing College Life was a fanfic that focused around Haruka and Michiru but didn't involve fighting in it. To be honest, I'm not very good when it comes to cooking up convincing bad guys. I realized after reading fanfics such as Awakenings by Tim Nolan, Memories by Jackie Chiang, and Oh! My God!! by Brett Handy, that stories without fighting in them interested me more than ones that did. The parts I loved most out of each story were the ones involving character development. That is what I wanted to read, so it is what I wrote.

This also led up to probably my biggest mistake as a fanfic writer. At the time, I had recently finished reading Oh! My God!! and saw a very good example of how to make a self-inserted character work. I have been very lucky in that it has worked for me as well. It wasn't until around part 8 that I realized just how much I had limited myself story wise by doing that when I had ideas I wanted to write but couldn't. For example, if I wanted to do a story involving proverty, I couldn't give Haruka or Michiru an improverish background without being out of character. I could do it to Beans, but that might prompt people to write me asking if I had personal experience with the subject. That would be an undesireable distraction from the story itself. The reader doesn't know where the line is between the character you have created to be like yourself and the writer.

Tim Nolan advises: "Avoid 'author inclusion' stories at all costs UNLESS the focus of the story is going to be light-hearted and/or humorous." [4] (Oh! My God!! is a comedy). I agree with him. I have never read a self-inclusion fanfic that did work that wasn't a comedy of some type. Apologies if that upsets anyone, but stories where you insert yourself so that you can lead the Senshi [g] to victory have not worked out well for the most part.

Addendum on self-insertion characters

That is also part of the reason that I do not care for fanfics that are heavy on battling with an enemy/adversay. Often the Senshi come off as invincible or silly, but rarely are the characters portrayed realistically in fanfics that are focused on physical conflicts. I would compare it to afs-m [g]'s OW!R [g] Omnipotent Newbie [g] syndrome, but I think comparing it to Rambo is much more appropriate. He goes in, takes names, and comes out a bit scratched when he should have been dead within the first minute or so of battle. Hopefully you can see my problem with that.

Addendum on Senshi invunerability

I've made one other major mistake regarding College Life. That was to serialize the story. There has been a noticeable lag of months between parts, which should have never happened. It's hard to keep up the momentum to produce a part/chapter a week until a story is finished. I have encountered problems of block, time constraints, and boredom. I like what Jackie Chiang had to say in her My author's notes with regards to a writer's boredom in the middle of a story:

[B]eing bored doesn't mean you don't love your fic; it sometimes means that you would like to speed up and work on other things that you'd like to do too. Any author that totally loves their fic throughout the entire thing without one drop of tiredness or boredom must A) Really, really be inspired, B) Must have written one SHORT fic, or C) Have a major ego inflated there. I'm not sure if I've met one author that hasn't suffered at all in the process of writing their fics, whether from writer's block [ick, the horror], tiredness, boredom, frustration, et cetera. [5]
LeVar Bouyer suggests to "Just wait and post everything in one go, and things will go far better, unless you are writing episodically to emulate the TV series (i.e. Sailor Moon Z, et. al.)" [6] in his The Completely Unofficial and Uncanonical (though I'd like it to be) Sailor Moon Fan Fiction Review Page. While this sounds reasonable, Sailor Skuld of A Sailor Moon Romance had this to say when I asked her what authors could do to make life easier for the archive owners. "[By] not sending them [fanfics] in packs of like 12-18 at a time!!" [7] In my opinion, Ken Wolfe had the right idea when he released Secrets as 4 parts per week over a month's time. The story was already completed at that point. [8]

Addendum on Serializing fanfics

Another thing that I probably shouldn't have done, but isn't too serious, is that I did a serious story in a comedic series. (Part 11 where Michiru faced a homophobic racist professor). People did stop to think about it, and I'm glad for that, but it was a story I should have told in a different setting.

One Wish

Brief Description

The story takes place after the 5th season in an alternate time-line, which is close to the original. In the story, Usagi offers Haruka and Michiru a wish via the powers of the ginzuishou [g]. The couple wishes for the one thing that money could never buy them: a child by the two of them.

This is a story written from Haruka's point of view. It is a drama with a touch of romance. Many of the finer points of realism and adherence to the Sailor Moon story line were disregarded for the sake of the story.


This story was very close to never coming to be. It had been during a school break that I decided to sit down and write for a day. I wrote about Haruka and Michiru having a child since I didn't know if anyone else had written a fanfic about that. The idea for them making a wish to accomplish it was inspired by Jet Wolf's Mako-chan's Happy Ending. I asked myself what would they wish for since they could buy most anything and they already had love. A child was the logical answer in my mind.

I wrote most of it and decided that I didn't like it. So, I put it into a folder to let it sit there forgotten for around four or five months. I was dry for ideas one day and went to my 'half baked ideas' folder to scrounge one up. One Wish was sitting there, begging to be finished.

Once I had finished that story, I needed to decide how to conclude it because I had written the ending two ways. One version of the story is the one that was released, and the other had the child dying with Haruka and Michiru living with the disappointment. At that point, I still disliked the story and both endings. I kicked it over to the ever willing people of ##Sailormoon on the EFnet to get some reader feedback. They convinced me to release the story with the child "because Haruka and Michiru deserve a happy ending."

By now, I'm sure you're curious as to why I didn't like One Wish. I knew that people would feel uncomfortable with Haruka and Michiru doing things in bed. Even though I didn't go into detail, I have flagged comments that it was still too close for some. As I have seen, most Sailor Moon fans are accepting of the Haruka/Michiru relationship, but traces of homophobia still present themselves. When asked, Tim Nolan spoke of the fact that:

There are many people are still not comfortable with the idea of homosexuality. To those people, Haruka and Michiru's relationship is wrong. Therefore, they are not going to be comfortable with any story where those two characters do anything together, regardless of author or story. It's one thing for them to love each other in a platonic fashion, and quite another for that love to be expressed. [9]

Unfortunately, that is something I have seen. He went on to point out how someone who is biased against homosexuality may have a difficult time with a story solely on that basis. This is something to keep in mind when writing stories that use Haruka and Michiru as central characters.

To get back to One Wish, the whole problem with selecting how to end it had also gotten to me. Personally, I wanted it to be a sad story, but the happy ending would fit better and it did flow more the way it was written. I have received comments that some felt I should have outlined the child's life instead of skipping several generations. I will stand behind how I did it because going into more detail about the child would have distracted heavily from the character development of Haruka and Michiru. It was their story, not the child's.

Reaching Equilibrium

Brief Description

The twins of Neptune arrive on the Moon to begin their Senshi training. The rowdy twins of Uranus take an interest in the shyer, reserved twins of Neptune. Queen Serenity sets in motion a plan to put these pairs together in hopes of them reaching an equilibrium.

This story is based off of the Prelude to Senshi Kurai by Jackie Chiang. It is primarily told third person from the point of view of the Uranus twins, Uranus and Sunaru. Technique wise, I was trying to keep a 'childlike' tone to the story since it was from a child's point of view.


This story was a gift to Jackie. I'm surprised that she wanted to post it, since it was meant for her alone. Jackie has inspired me in countless ways. She's encouraged me, especially when I was working on One Wish. Admittedly, she has nipped me, but her nips have gone to making me a better writer. Her Senshi Kurai series had captured my imagination and the Prologue to it left me with a 'warm and fuzzy' feeling that I had enjoyed.

I had been on a long weekend visiting the Oregon coast when I wrote Reaching Equilibrium. (I do think I did an admirable job of avoiding sea/ocean and Neptune references while writing). I hand wrote the story that weekend while trying to recall the mood of the Prologue (since I didn't have a copy of it with me to refer to).

I don't think I made any major mistakes with this story except that its target audience was a single person and so there is less general appeal. It was a cute story and that was what I was aiming for.


Brief Description

This is a telling of Haruka's early childhood and life pre-S season. In it she has recently moved to the Delta District, but the daemons of her past continue to haunt her as flashbacks tell her story. The fanfic is a look at what makes the character of Ten'ou Haruka tick.

Distant is told primarily from the third person limited point of view. The time line is from roughly age 8 to 16. It is the single longest story I have written to date and the one that I have put the most effort into.


I should say now that of the fanfics I have written, this one has been a pleasant surprise all around. Distant was the hardest one for me to write for several reasons. What I was aiming for was a story that demonstrated the Ten'ou Haruka that I saw in my mind's eye. To do this involved going back and analyzing what all has influenced my personal views of the character. I reread fanfics (Awakening 2 primarily), watched episodes from the S season over and over again, and reread the synopsis at Hitoshi Doi's, etc. I tried to find everything that had a part in molding what I thought of her and synthesizing it into a coherent work.

Sexylyon suggested this in regards to researching:

Write about things you understand. If you don't understand something, your character won't understand it either. That's why professional writers do research. Can't write about sword fighting if you don't even know which way to hold the hilt. [10]

I couldn't agree with her more. The effort spent doing solid research will show in the story. This isn't limited to just knowing important things like how to hold a sword either. I find that little details are what often stand out in my mind. For example, while it is technically correct to say Haruka is dressed in a racing suit, the name of that article of clothing is a fire suit. To carry this idea a bit further, how often is it stated in a story that Haruka pulls on her gloves before a race? Writers remember the fire suit, and the helmet, but rarely the gloves. Heaven forbid that her car ever catch on fire because she would be alright minus her hands.

Did I want Distant to be a canonical fanfic? My ego says 'yes', but realistically 'no'. There is too much opinion in it, conclusions I've drawn, and the plain borrowing of ideas from Tim Nolan for it to be canonical. Now, if Distant helps to introduce a person to the character of Ten'ou Haruka, I will have felt my efforts well rewarded. That is really the core of what fanfics are. I'm a fan of Haruka, so I wrote a story about her. I feel that the fandom within me has been sated until the next urge to write about her in-depth hits.

Mistakes in Distant, a few minor ones more along the lines of 'things I wish I had done better'. Firstly, I would have taken out some of the harsher language. I think I have an acceptable level in there, but I shouldn't have put as much as I had.

Story wise, there are two elements that I would have changed, both involving Michiru. First is that I wouldn't have her going to Mugen Gakuen yet. It wouldn't have occurred during the story. The second thing I would have changed was how Michiru approached Haruka at her home. It was a bit forward, and I would still have it happening like that, I would have just toned it down a little bit.

Things I learned from writing this story:

The saying 'if you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?' goes along with the last point. Only, when it comes to fanfics, a writer doesn't really have a chance to 'do it over'. Once a story has been released, there will always be original copies of it out there being distributed. So I encourage people to take their time and make sure that the version of their story that is released the first time is the one they want people reading.


Brief Description

A short sketch based off of Tim Nolan's The End of the Beginning. The main character is Makoto, who discovers that she has a family in her friends.


Family was a tag on story to Tim Nolan's End of the Beginning. He had been kind enough to let me read drafts of his story and, personally, the scene with Mako-chan at her parent's gravesite struck me in the gut. I had been encouraged when I read the scene between Haruka and Makoto. I wanted to see that idea carried a bit further, but wasn't. (Of course, it's his story, and he can do as he wants).

Thus, I wrote a story to sate my own desires to see this possible thread tied up. I put it out because I thought that perhaps others would have felt the same way I had. (If you have ever seen the fan art that was done, then you'll know that I wasn't the only one touched by that scene).

My mistake was not being Tim Nolan. It is hard to do a fanfic of a fanfic. While a good number of people may have read End of the Beginning, a lot haven't. The possible audience for Family is limited by this. That and if I recall correctly, in Tim's story there was only one headstone for both parents while I wrote it as a headstone for each. Oops.

The Trouble with Kittens and Memoirs of a Daimon

Brief Description

The Trouble with Kittens is written from Artemis' point of view. He spends a few days in Haruka and Michiru's care while Minako is on vacation. While he is with them, Michiru is asked to cat-sit a relative's kitten. The goal for this story was to write a 'cute comedy' focusing around Artemis, who doesn't get nearly the fanfic coverage that Luna does.

Memoirs of a Daimon is a parody fanfic from the point of view of a nameless daimon named Whiplash. Using a narrative style, Whiplash describes her time with the Death Busters, being vanquished by Sailor Moon, Villain Heaven, reincarnation, and her life and goals afterwards. This story contains many in-jokes about the S season and is targeted for the more veteran Sailor Moon fan.


Both of these stories are much the same element wise. They are both short involving little used characters in fanfics, and was intended to be cute. I like seeing character development. and Daimons have been underdeveloped characters, thus leaving room for me to work with.

I've found for myself that stories like this are the result when I'm blocked or just get a funny idea that insists on being written. "Keep writing, even if blocked. It doesn't matter what - e-mail, Usenet posts, outlines for future parts of the current story, outlines for other stories," suggests Scott Delahunt. [11] His advice is something that I practice. The results of my idle writings are kept in a 'junk' folder, which I will discuss later on in this paper.

These types of stories aren't as popular as other ones like College Life and Distant, but they weren't meant to be. They aren't the same caliber of story as the other two in that they are to give a warm fuzzy feeling and then usually forgotten. A real life comparison of this would be having to read something like Huckleberry Finn for class, while most people would rather read The Dragonriders of Pern if it were recreational. Huckleberry Finn enriches us, but it's not as much fun as some other stories are. Not every fanfic is an epic [g], nor should it be that way. There is a place for both types of writing.


Brief Description

This vignette (it is not long enough to justify calling it a story at three pages) tries to explain one of the events at the end of the S season that had left me puzzled. Why did Uranus and Neptune attack Sailor Moon after the defeat of the Death Busters?


I am fortunate to have all of the S season on videotape un-subtitled (thanks Tim). Admittedly, the first tape I watched was the one with the last 4 episodes of the season on it. I did the appropriate cheering and jeering as I watched them until I hit the scene where Uranus and Neptune attacked Sailor Moon. "Why would they do such a thing?" I kept asking myself. Doi's page doesn't have synopsis for the end of S and I didn't know the location of the supplement page at the time.

That was roughly a year ago and it wasn't until recently that I came to a conclusion. While listening to the song "Real Good Thing" by the Newsboys it struck me. I wrote up the scene from the point of view of Uranus and Neptune, trying to use their logic to explain their actions. There are two things to be learned from the writing of this story:

  1. Motivation for stories can come from anywhere at anytime
  2. A story to explain an idea can often be more effective then just writing out the idea

The most extreme I have ever experienced with the first point was when I was writing a story for my senior project in high school. I wasn't quite sure how to end it. The answer came to me while I was at home in the bathroom.

With the second point, if I were to go to afs-m and try to explain what I thought, I know I wouldn't do it as well as using the reader/writer relationship and putting the reader into the situation. When a person reads a story, a part of them becomes involved with it. Use that to your advantage. Invoking emotions on a subject to express a point makes it more memorable and a more convincing argument.

Addendum on emotional reality

My writing history

This is a bit about how I got into fanfic writing. I will make it clear that I did not just wake up one morning and decide "Oh, I'm going to write fanfics today". I first began creative writing when I was a freshman in high school. After years of frustration (mostly due to the fact that my efforts were judged by way of grammar and spelling and not by content), an English teacher finally gave me the slight confidence boost I needed to become interested in it as a hobby.

During high school I continued to practice writing, for I firmly believe that it is a skill you need to practice just like a basketball player would. The results of my efforts were a few notebooks full of writings containing two novellas (sci-fi based), several short stories, and a better understanding of how to put words together. Though, being practiced isn't the whole of putting a story together, not for me at least.

Admittedly, being able to write well helps, but presenting an idea in an interesting way makes it that much better. Style is what I'm talking about. Practicing to write helps to develop a style that can draw a reader in. A writer may have the language mastered, but if he can't present it with some style his stories will come off as textbooks and probably not do well.

As for being recognized in any way before fanfics, I wasn't. The most I can lay claim to is writing a book review for the local newspaper and essays good enough to get me into college. My 'rewards' were, and still are, personal fulfillment at writing a story that is entertaining when I go back to read it later.

My senior project for high school was to write a book length story. I had set myself up for having to output a book in seven months along with a paper on how to get a book published. Needless to say, I passed all the requirements (or else I wouldn't have graduated). I'm a better writer for it today. Indeed, doing a senior project was useful. I learned a lot about my hobby that I didn't know before by doing a project on writing.

As I've stated before, when I write, it is for myself first and some close friends second. While writing, I constantly ask myself "Will I enjoy reading this later on?" The fact that others enjoy my writings is a minor point for me. This may seem like an egotistical way to look at things, but in reality, it is just the opposite. With the goal of meeting my own standards first, I don't have my ego pushing me to get it out faster and soak in the praise. My own standards are high enough that it works as a guide for quality writings.

Fanfics were the next step in the progression of my hobby. Are there any more steps after this? Who knows? I see fanfics as another form of practice for whatever the next step may be. Right now, I am content in writing stories that I can be proud of later on.

Writing advice

The advice in this section comes mostly from seeing my own mistakes and the mistakes of others. No one is perfect, no one has written the perfect fanfic (though some have come close). Everyone makes mistakes, so don't feel bad if you do and don't let this discourage you from continuing to try new things.

  • Practice writing

    Fanfics are a practice in writing, you may need some more practice before you get the results you desire. So that is my first piece of advice. Make a folder, file, something in which you can sit down and just write out ideas. They don't have to be Sailor Moon related. Describe what a tree out the window looks like, or how you are feeling today, anything that gets you thinking on how to write it out.

    After you have made this file, don't get rid of it! This is for two reasons. The first is that it can be used as an 'ideas' file. I have a folder on my computer where I'll type out some rough ideas in Notepad and then stick it in the folder to ferment until I go searching for an idea. It also can be used to show that you are making progress. I still have many of my early notebooks and the level of writing has improved considerably since I started. It's encouraging to look back and see that I am correcting my mistakes as I get better.

    Addendum on keeping a writing folder

  • Write what you know

    The next piece of advice is pretty obvious once you look at it: write what you know. I'm a college student, I'm writing a series about being in college, coincidence? I think not. So what if you want to write about something you don't know well? Research! Most locations do have public, school, or private libraries that you can go to. Most librarians do not bite and are rather helpful if you are polite when asking questions of them. If you are writing a story and you don't know what you're talking about, it is often obvious and that will distract the reader from the story. For example, if you're having Ami as a doctor in your story, take the time to learn a little about the medical profession. What does a doctor do all day? How many patients does s/he see in a day? What type of medicine are they practicing? What are the names of some common tools and how are they used? Details like that can really add to your story and place the reader within the world you are creating.

    Do I practice what I preach? Yes. Distant is the story that I have put the most research into thus far. Figuring out the little details helps to make a story all the more convincing. I will admit that I am biased towards the use of libraries since I did volunteer work for them in the past. I think they are wonderful places and should be visited on a regular basis. This leads to my next point. To be a good writer, you should also be a good reader. Reading helps you learn how to better use the language. If you take a bit of time to notice things like the placement of commas and how quotes are used it can be very educational. I wouldn't recommend fanfics for this purpose since a good number of the writers are still learning how to write. Reading published books would work better in my opinion if you aren't fond of reading school texts.

    And the most important advice I could give them [budding authors] is know their source material! This means watching the show and/or reading the manga [g]. There's no point in writing about Hotaru if they've never seen her before in their lives. Andrea Doolan [12]

    This may come off as harsh, but if you have never seen a Sailor Moon episode with the Outer Senshi [g] in it, why would you write a fanfic about them? I realize pages like Doi's and can help you learn all about them, but seeing them in action makes a world of difference. To me, at least, it is much like trying to write fanfics for Ah! My Goddess! if you have never seen it before. I realize a lot of people only have access to DiC done Sailor Moon. I'd emphasize a point Helen Szeto made in her An Analysis and Discussion of Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon about how the English version of Sailor Moon is an adaptation of it, not a translation. [13] They are virtually two different things, each with their own take on the characters and story. Just look at the differences in Zoicite and the end of the first season if you need examples.

    Write about what you know. Don't try to go into someone who lost their family without knowing anything about a loss like that and expect it to be realistic. Stu Still [14]

    I see writing as an extension of the author. It may only be a very little bit, but the writer's experiences are undoubtedly going to influence how the story is told. While this can give your story the strength of experience, it can also be your greatest weakness. This goes back to doing research and expanding your knowledge and experience. If you only know basketball and this is all you want to write, you probably aren't going to get a lot of stories written. Variety will keep you on your toes and have the reader wondering what you are going to come up with next.

  • The risks of writing

    Don't be too sensitive about your writing. The Internet is a cruel place at times. If your stories are good, you'll get mail. Not all of it will be good. Suck it up. Take the constructive and try to use it to better your work, take the flames [g] and wallpaper your bedroom with them. ^_^ Sean Gaffney [15]

    I do want to make it perfectly clear that writing is an extension of yourself. Your fanfic is an extension of yourself. When you post it, you put that part of yourself out for criticism or praise, whichever may come. I could only wish that everyone was praised for their efforts, but that is not so. The chance of being flamed is very real and it is something every fanfic writer experiences at some time. Do realize that when you post you could be hurt if you are sensitive to criticism.

    There is the chance that you won't receive any response to your fanfic at all. This is especially true if it is your first fanfic. Don't assume that it is because people aren't reading it. Think of it like a web page's guest book. My homepage right now has around 10000 hits and not even 80 people have signed the guest book. If that's any example of feed back, you can see what's happening. People may be seeing your fanfic, and just not responding. (Wouldn't it be nice if fanfics had counters on them?)

    Make no mistake, fanfic writers have egos and feeding them is fuel for their author's engines. FDB [16]

    Of course, the grand thing of getting positive reader feedback could happen. I'll say now that it's a wonderful feeling to know that a story you have written is going over well. I would like to pull another old lesson out of the closet for re-examination at this point: Pride. Tim, Jackie, and I have an agreement that if our ego's become inflated, the other two get to 'pop' them. That may seem silly, but I have encountered writers who have had a good story or two under their belts and think they are the greatest writers since Mark Twain. Frankly, that's not how it is. Response is a great booster of confidence, but don't let it go to your head!

    Addendum to response from fanfics

  • Get to know your peers

    This applies to fanfics and it can also be in general, but I'd suggest getting to know some of your fellow writers or perhaps forming an informal group to bounce ideas. That is the basis behind #Moonscribe, which meets on the EFnet from 4pm to 7pm (PST) on Sundays. For me, having Tim and Jackie there to bounce ideas off of has helped me tremendously. Admittedly, not all of my half-baked ideas are good ones and having a friend there to shove me away from them is great. Also getting a feel for how a person reacts to a story idea can point out better how to execute it.

  • Proofreaders

    A good proofreader is worth their weight in gold. They are the ones that can make sure you don't come out looking like a fool because you spelled a character's name four different ways on a single page. The ideal proofreader should be knowledgeable in the ways of Sailor Moon so that they can help you see plot holes in your story. The most important duty of a proofreader, in my opinion, is to tell a writer honestly when something they have written isn't up to par. "This sucks!" Isn't a good enough response to a fanfic that is in need of some revising. A proofreader should be able to help the writer see the problems with their works and suggest solutions.

    What if you can't find a proofreader? Try a teacher, parent, friend, or net-friend. If that doesn't work for you, try Helen Szeto. She has offered to the net at large to review fanfics and offer suggestions at her discretion.

  • Respect your readers

    This point may seem like an absurd one, but it is vitally important. Most writers post things on the net with hopes of receiving feedback and praise for their efforts, but if you offend your readers, praise will be the last thing you receive.

    I'm reminded of a discussion I had with a budding writer several months' back about this very point. He's sent me his fanfic requesting that I do some C&C [g] on it. I had agreed and read through the story. I hadn't read but the first few parts of it when I couldn't bear to read it any further. I found the story to be totally off by way of character with the characters themselves committing acts that I found to be offensive to begin with. I sent an email to the writer stating where I had problems with his fanfic and what I thought he could do to improve. I did also point out that I had stopped reading it after said part because I found the content to be unpalatable.

    He then replied to my email by stating that I had no right to speak because I had not finished reading the story the entire way through. He used my failure to completely read his fanfic as an excuse for disregarding my comments. This leads into what I mean by respecting your reader. Because, at that point, I was not a fellow writer, I was his audience. Telling your audience that they are wrong usually doesn't get you very far unless you can defend your position with logical conclusions drawn off of canonical material.

    It is my experience that most bad fanfics are simply deleted from the hard drive without a second thought being given to trying to help the writer who produced the story. He had an opportunity that few writers of bad fanfics get, to have a dialogue with an audience and receive feedback. Value whatever comments, good or bad, that come your way.

    Addendum on receiving feedback

    He also abused his audience by assuming that they were there to read his stuff and lavish praise upon him. I'll make it clear that the readers owes the writers nothing. If anything, the writers owe the readers thanks for taking the time to read through their stories and offered comments if any are given.

    Readers are, in many ways, like a consumer. They go out and find the fanfics they like and then tell their friends about them. Their friends go out and pick up the fanfic and the cycle is continued. If your fanfic contains material that the readers find offensive, in whatever manner, they will probably delete it before more than a few sentences are read.

    Though there are exceptions to every rule, here is a list of some things I have seen not go over well with readers:

    I will discuss some of these points in greater detail in the Sailor Moon Community section of this report.

  • Make an outline

    I know that outlines are annoying to some, and it is less restricting to just sit down and write, but outlines really do help. Outlines frame an idea. They help you to define what is going to be in the story and what isn't. On the flip side of this, never let an outline restrict you. I see an outline as a guideline. It is not set in stone, but instead helps a writer along.

  • Writing sequentially vs. 'skipping around'

    There are two ways to approach the actual writing of a story. Some writers, such as Tim Nolan, write fanfics one page at a time going from the first scene to the last [17]. Others, like myself, will skip around from scene to scene and then string it together to form a coherent story. Which way is better? It depends on what your style is.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The advantage of straight through is having a coherent story with measurable progress. Unlike the skipping around method where ideas are often incomplete until the story is finished. The advantage skipping around has to straight through is that if you become blocked on a scene, you simply move along to another scene, then go back later to fill in the blank.

    This method does have one more disadvantage to it. If a scene doesn't 'fit' then it has to be dropped or rewritten. A writer can try to make the scene fit within the story, but this can easily back fire. If you use this method and find that you can't use a scene, I would recommend setting the scene aside. I have discovered that these scenes can often be used in a different story.


    There are several archives [g] on the Internet that provide the service of posting fanfics for the writers. Archives do not charge the writers to post their works, but there are some expectations to be met. Most archives ask that the fanfic be formatted between 60 and 79 columns. That is the standard text display on computers.

    Text posts must be in ASCII text format. No proprietary formats, such as M$-Word, WordPerfect, PostScript, etc., will be accepted. ASCII text is the only format all standard systems will be able to read... ASCII is universal... Fan-Fic submission rules for A Sailor Moon Romance [18]

    If you want to your stories to be read, .TXT format is the most reliable way to assure your reader's machine is capable of opening the file. Many people also make their fanfics into .HTML files. Personally, I am against this because I do not like reading fanfics using my Internet browser. .HTML files are generally larger and it can be difficult to figure out fanfic length page wise. Besides, it is a lot of extra work to add in HTML tags to a file.

    It is not the archive owner's responsibility to make sure a file looks good before they post it. That is much like expecting a writing teacher to clean up the appearance of a paper for you before putting a grade on it. All archive owners do is host the files and distribution. It is up to you to make sure you put your best foot forward in your story. "If someone sends something that looks really screwed up, I just put it up the way it is," Jay Dee Archer (Jupiter Knight) [19] That is the attitude of most of the fanfic archive owners. So, do your own formatting and make it look good the first time.

    "We decide which stories we want to put up in the archive." [18] Also, remember that while the archive owners have opened their sites for hosting fanfics, what goes up in the end is their decision. This most often affects hentai [g] fanfics. There have been a couple of incidents recently where the archive owners have become stricter in turning away undesirable fanfics.

    In one such incident, a writer submitted his fanfic to several archives without notifying the archive owners that it was a hentai fanfic. Many archives will post hentai fanfics in a separate section of the archive if they are made aware of them. The gentleman in question slipped a hentai fanfic into the regular archives where material is rated for all ages. When the archive owners were made aware of this, they moved the fanfic into the appropriate section of the archive.

    The writer then wrote the archive owners long emails accusing them of repressing his right to free speech. In my view of it, this was a clear cut case, the owners can (and will) post whatever they please. If a writer has a problem with that, they can take their stories elsewhere. By slipping a hentai fanfic into the regular archive, he was putting the reputation of the archive owners on the line and possibly exposing younger readers to material they shouldn't be reading. Certainly a writer can protest the classification of their fanfic. But again, it is the final decision of the archive owners and that decision should be respected.

    This writer has also had his name spread out to all the major archives and many of the smaller ones so that they can be on the look out for his fanfics. In a way, the fanfic archives are policing themselves and keeping an eye out for offenders. I do know that this gentleman has been going to smaller archives to get posted and has been turned away by some simply because of his mistreatment of the major archive owners.

    The archive owners get nothing out of posting fanfics. When I asked Luna of A Sailor Moon Romance why they hosted/maintained the archive she answered "[F]or the heck of it." [7] When Jupiter Knight was asked the same question, he answered "Originally, it was merely because I liked fanfics." [19] Both estimated that it takes them between 3 to 6 hours to update their archives for the week. This is no small amount of work. As a writer, I try to make sure that I always thank the archive owners for posting my fanfic when I submit them to the archives.

    Additional information regarding specific archives is in Appendix 1.

    The Sailor Moon Community

    Up to this point, I have only alluded to the Sailor Moon community. Who are they? They are a diverse group of people who all have one thing in common, their fandom to the series Sailor Moon. Keeping the diversity of your audience in mind is a good idea when writing fanfics. If you are writing material that may be seen as offensive, the fanfic could bomb.

    There are several gathering places for this community. Alt.Fan.Sailor-Moon is a newsgroup where Sailor Moon related topics are discussed. There are also mailing lists, IRC channels, and fan clubs. When distributing a fanfic, I suggest sending it to the major archives first, and possibly posting it to Alt.Fan.Sailor-Moon. I am on none of the Sailor Moon mailing lists, so I cannot offer an opinion regarding them.

    Like any other community, there are set expectations in regards to how a fanfic should be presented and what is acceptable. Many of the guidelines that I suggested under the Archives section of this paper hold true for the standards of this community. There are some additional things that a budding author should keep in mind about their audience. In a poll I ran on Alt.Fan.Sailor-Moon, several things became apparent regarding the expectations of the community.

  • Grammar and spell checking are a must

    In nearly every response I received, this was mentioned. The community wants well-written fanfics. Poor spelling and grammar will distract from even the best of stories. While computer spell checkers are getting progressively better, nothing can replace a reliable proofreader.

  • Know the characters

    Unless it is a parody fanfic or taking place in an alternate universe, the characters should be acting as expected. To have Ami suddenly becomes a flirt or Haruka being timid without a good reason will turn people off from the story. It's much like giving your own characters the names of the Sailor Moon characters when you don't have them performing in expected ways.

  • Originality

    Sailor Moon has been around for over five years now. In that time many of fanfics have been written. It may seem like coming up with something new or original is impossible, but it isn't. I would suggest taking a new spin on an old idea. Read a lot of fanfics to see what has been done and then take an idea into a different direction.

  • Make use of secondary characters

    So many stories have been written, that the use of secondary characters can help to add some much-needed flavor to a fanfic. Secondary character can also help a writer to tie in more tightly to the Sailor Moon universe. That type of tie in is a necessary element in the setting of a story. Readers also like to find little details that an author may have written into a story. I know of several people who enjoyed spotting the cameos of characters from other anime in Tim Nolan's stories. These weren't obvious cameos, but more like a reward for a careful reader.

  • Intolerance of plagiarism

    Recently there has been a heightened awareness within the community in regards to plagiarism. While technically there are no laws to protect a fanfic writer's works, the community does police itself. It is hard to define where the line for plagiarism is in regards to fanfics. Some writer's materials have become so popular that they have more or less became part of the Sailor Moon mythos. Having a good understanding of what is and isn't canonical material will keep you out of trouble.

    Addendum on recognizion for original ideas

    Have a good understanding of what fanfics and story ideas have already been explored. This goes back to the originality point, but also, it helps as a sort of research. See what types of stories have been written and what the community seemed to enjoy.

    What if you plagiarize? I can promise no exact 'punishments', but it will not go unnoticed. Those who have been deemed plagiarizers have had their names dragged through the mud and been publicly humiliated. If the community sees you in a poor light, everything you write from then on will be scrutinized and then criticized for even the slightest of errors. In short, you have done the worst thing possible to offend you audience.


    Fanfics are a way to express your fandom for a series. They are also an excellent way to practice writing skill while entertaining a community of peoples looking for new adventures featuring their favorite characters. Following some basic suggestions to improve writing skills will form a foundation for more specialized skills that are expected in Sailor Moon fanfics.

    A writer cannot wake up one day and write the 'perfect' fanfic. It is something that is practiced much like a athlete would practice their given sport. Once basic writing skills are down, things such as research of life applications and canonical story material will give a writer details that make a story stand out from the average fair.

    Knowing the expectations of the audience you are writing for can facilitate better accommodating them. Being familiar with what has already been written will divulge ideas that have yet to be explored.

    No writer is perfect. I am not perfect. It is with humility and a hope of better honing my skills, and the skills of others, that I lay my works out to be examined and criticized. This paper is the result of what I have learned. May others learn from it as well.