Andrew's Little (Ranma) Fanfic Guide
I don't know why I'm doing this. I just feel like it.... I admit, there's going to be some bias in here in the description of types of stories. But hey, this is my guide. ^_^
First, my words of warning:
Ranma fanfiction can be really, really addictive. Believe me, I know.... Also, it can be very confusing. Once you get into it--really get into it--you may get the constructed Ranmaverses confused with each other and with the "real " Ranmaverse. Also, there are some really, really dark stories out there, with characters dying and all that. Not too pleasant, that's for sure.... I myself hate them, in general. Oh, yeah, there are also...uh, "lemons." I don't want to think about those. If you want to know what they are, go somewhere else. Pity, some of them actually have excellent plots, too. Yes, I've read some! But I didn't know until...oh, forget it. Like I said, some have plots good enough to redeem them...it's just that they have to.... But overall, Ranma fanfiction is really cool. There are some really good stories out there...and, in fact, I'm writing a few that're hopefully some of the better ones.
Okay, enough of that...now, to the rest of this stuff. I do not claim to have invented the terms for the major types of fiction named below (except one), or for the subtypes called "darkfics" and "sadfics". Those have been around a while. But my breaking-up the major types into subtypes (where applicable) is my own original idea. :P And some of those subtypes are kinda my invention. The term that I _did_ invent is the "new generation" type.
Types of Fanfiction I'm adding a little of my own commentary to the established guidelines.
A Note on Darkfics, Sadfics, and Angst-fests
Why don't I like darkfics? Because they just about bust apart the Ranmaverse at the seams. When I read fanfiction, I read it to be entertained, usually. Dark fiction doesn't do that for me. It depresses me, it scares me, if it's bad enough, and I read it late enough in the day, it even gives me nightmares. No joke. Many darkfics have been said to be well written. Maybe, but I don't care. It just ruins my day. Part of the reason, perhaps, is also because the characters go wildly and severely OOC (out-of-character) and I rather dislike that. Sadfics, on the other hand.... They're written frequently to explore the characters further, to deepen them. They're also depressing, but...at least, they have a point. I'll read them, and sometimes even enjoy them--but I won't read them more than once or twice. Darkfics tend not to have a point, other than provide some morbid horror. I admit, there are exceptions; I'll read the Sunrise Chronicles, and maybe others. But "Lies" just--ARGH! I hate it. I really, really hate that one in particular. They say it was written well? I still feel like beating up on the author.
Angst-fests, if done well, I like. (These are the types that approach sadfics but don't make it that far, 'cos no one dies or anything like that.) One prominent type is when Ranma gets hurt badly enough to be sent to the hospital (sometimes the direct effect of Akane's abuse, sometimes not). These deal with the possibilities of Ranma not getting better and what could have been done to avoid all of this and...so on, so forth. These are also usually written as character explorations.
Suicide fics are unpleasant for me. It's just too OOC--even for Ryouga. "Sour Times"? That author (like the author of "Lies", but never mind--for now) is on the List of Infidels at the Church of Ucchan (he was very recently taken off probation for other reasons *ahemseangaffneykoff*). <dark, dark look> Ukyou committing suicide is NOT KOSHER (and I'm not even Jewish). Then again, I did write "Life and Manhood" but that's not quite the same, because although there is an attempt, it doesn't actually happen. (It was just this one sticking point that bothered me one day, and I felt like writing it. Turns out to be one of the better "feel-like-it" things that's happened to me, 'cos, well, people like it....) Okay, had enough?
Formats: Script vs. Prose
I myself will never write in script format. It's not my style. I've done so much prose writing that I need to express things that just can't be written in with a script. This is not to say that scripts just can't do the job. Script format does in fact work for original flavor very, very well. In fact, if you truly want to remain in OF, then you should write in script format.
But if you want to do some real character development, you can only do that with prose. You're not limited to showing action and speech and thoughs. You can insert observations that would be beyond the scope of a character in the series.... That's really all I have to say about this. Darn, thought this bit might be longer....
Some words on out-of-characterness (OOCness)
OOC is generally really bad, if you're trying to write a story that's to be taken seriously. What I mean by what's to be taken seriously means pretty much anything that's not a parody. Whether it's a serious or humorous story, it doesn't matter. When you write about Ranma characters, you try to capture them and write about them. That means, you try to stay in character.
There are exceptions, of course. Darkfics, by their nature, must make some characters OOC. Sadfics, too, since the characters need to deal with something tragic. Angst-fests are allowable--but only if adequate reason is given for doing so. So, too, are pieces where the intent is to make a character OOC--again, only if adequate reason is given.
What do I mean by adequate reason? Well, it seems that I'm fond of writing OOC pieces, like "Mousse, Version 2.0" and "Life and Manhood". For the first one, I was trying to create a Mousse with whom Shampoo could fall in love with, and that requires major attitude adjustment. In the second one I mentioned, I made sure that Ranma had such a bad day that s/he got drunk, and then, since Ranma's never been shown to be drunk, I was free to experiment with how a drunk and depressed Ranma might act like.
So, writing OOC isn't bad in itself. It's whether or not it's intentional, and if so, if there's adequate reason that a character is OOC in your story.