In the years that I have been running my site, I have processed many, many fan fiction stories. Not only does this involve making each story into a webpage for you to view on the site, I also read through the story and look out for and correct any spelling, grammar and typing errors I find along the way. I do this as I believe that it makes each story more presentable to readers. I don’t want people reading the story to be distracted by errors; instead I want them to concentrate on the story itself.
There are several mistakes that I have seen appear repeatedly in stories, by many different authors. As such, I have put together this tutorial in order to point out and correct these common errors, in the hope that it will help you improve your writing. Not only will this benefit your fan fiction, if you are at school it will also benefit you in English, or when writing essays.
In this tutorial, I use examples to illustrate points. I will usually provide an incorrect example, or examples, followed by the correct example. Make sure you examine each example and note the differences between the incorrect and correct ones.
Common Fan Fiction Error #1 – Using “Netspeak” in Stories
“Netspeak” is the term I use for the type of abbreviated text common in online chats or text messages. I have been seeing it more and more in fan fiction, and have read news reports that it is creeping into younger children and teenagers’ school work. An example of this would be abbreviating the following sentence:
“Hi, how are you today? Are you free to see a movie later?”
“Hi how r u 2day? R u 3 2 c a movie l8r?”
Now, most of the time it’s not that bad in stories. However, it’s becoming more frequent to see words such as “you” shortened into “u”. This sort of abbreviation is fine in an online chat when you want to type fast, or in a text message when you want to save space, but there is really no reason why it should appear in a story. Doing so is just being lazy.
Common Fan Fiction Error #2 – Lazy Grammar
I believe that this error follows on from the “Netspeak” problem. As well as abbreviating words in online chats or text messages, it’s not uncommon to forget things such as capitalization. There are two common examples:
1. Stories written entirely in lower-case.
link and zelda lived in hyrule. one day they decided to go for a picnic. they decided to have their picnic at lake hylia.
Occasionally, the opposite is true, and a story is written entirely in upper-case. Most of the time, however, it seems as though the author is just being lazy by not bothering to capitalize names, proper nouns, and the start of sentences.
2. Stories with little or no punctuation.
Link and Zelda lived in Hyrule one day they decided to go for a picnic they decided to have their picnic at Lake Hylia.
Sometimes, stories have both of these problems all combined, as in the following example:
Link and Zelda lived in hyrule. they decided to go for a picnic they decided to have their picnic at lake hylia.
Once again, the root of these problems all boils down to laziness. It’s really not hard to hold down the SHIFT key or type a couple of full stops or commas.
Common Fan Fiction Error #3 – Speech
First of all, I will give you some examples of incorrectly written speech.
WRONG – “Hi Link.” Said Saria.
WRONG – “Hi Link” said Saria.
WRONG – “Hi Link,” Said Saria.
This is how the sentence should have been written:
“Hi Link,” said Saria.
Can you see what was different in the correct sentence, as opposed to the incorrect ones? When a person speaks, it is not the end of the sentence in the story, even if they are saying a sentence. Words such as “said Saria” are also part of the sentence in the story. That is why a comma is used at the end of speech, rather than a full stop, and the word “said” is written in lower case. The rule to follow is: comma – closing quotation marks – lower case. The comma always goes within the quotation marks, not after them. Too often I see:
WRONG – “Hi Link”, said Saria.
If the person speaking is asking a question, you use a question mark at the end of their statement, but you must still use lower case afterwards. The same goes if the speaker is making an exclamation.
WRONG – “Link, are you in danger?” Asked Zelda.
RIGHT – “Link, are you in danger?” asked Zelda.
WRONG – “Help!” Screamed Link.
RIGHT – “Help!” screamed Link.
You can also change the order of words. It is just as acceptable to say “Link said” as it is to say “said Link”. If the word after the quotation marks is a name or proper noun, you capitalize it like normal.
WRONG – “I love my green tunic,” link said.
RIGHT – “I love my green tunic,” Link said.
Now, what if a person is saying something rather long, and you want to break it up? Take a look at these examples:
WRONG – “I’ve got to defeat Ganondorf,” Link said. “and I’ve got to do it soon or Hyrule is doomed.”
WRONG – “I’ve got to defeat Ganondorf,” Link said, “And I’ve got to do it soon or Hyrule is doomed.”
RIGHT - “I’ve got to defeat Ganondorf,” Link said, “and I’ve got to do it soon or Hyrule is doomed.”
As Link is still talking, you do not finish “Link said” with a full stop. Instead, you use a comma, and as Link has not finished his sentence, you are free to use lower case for the word “and”. If Link has finished his sentence, you would usually finish “Link said” with a full stop and start the next piece of speech with a capital letter:
WRONG – “I wonder where Zelda is?” Link asked himself, “did something happen to her?”
RIGHT – “I wonder where Zelda is?” Link asked himself. “Did something happen to her?”
Common Fan Fiction Error #4 – Paragraphs
Each time a new person speaks, or you are introducing a new idea, you should put it on a new line and start a new paragraph. Here are some incorrect examples:
“Hey Saria,” said Link. “How are you today?” “Not bad,” replied Saria. At that moment, Mido walked into the house. “Oh, look who’s here,” he said in a scathing voice, “the big bold hero, Link.”
“Hey Saria,” said Link.
“How are you today?”
“Not bad,” replied Saria.
Here is the correct version:
“Hey Saria,” said Link. “How are you today?”
“Not bad,” replied Saria.
At that moment, Mido walked into the house.
“Oh, look who’s here,” he said in a scathing voice, “the big bold hero, Link.”
Now if a person is talking, and you would like to break up their speech into paragraphs, you do it like this:
“It’s a long story,” said Zelda. “Many, many years ago, an evil man from the desert appeared. His name was Ganondorf, and he was the king of the Gerudo tribe. At first he appeared to be peaceful, and swore allegiance to the king, my father, however we soon learned that he had ulterior motives. He had no plan of serving my father. Instead, he planned to overthrow him.
“At the same time, in the deep forests of Hyrule, a young boy was summoned by the Great Deku Tree…”
If you take a look at the point where the paragraph break occurs, you will see that the quotation marks are not closed at the end of the first paragraph. However, at the start of the second paragraph, there are quotation marks. You must put quotation marks at the start of each paragraph, and only put them at the end of the paragraph if it is the end of the speech.
Common Fan Fiction Error #5 – Tenses
Many people tend to mix up past and present tense. First of all, here is an example of the same sentence, written in each tense:
PAST TENSE: Link entered his house, dropped the sword and shield he was carrying, and flopped down on his bed, exhausted.
PRESENT TENSE: Link enters his house, drops the sword and shield he is carrying, and flops down on his bed, exhausted.
It is important to choose the tense you are going to write in, and stick to it. (Most people write in past tense). It is wrong to keep switching between tenses, for example:
WRONG – Link enters his house, drops the sword and shield he is carrying, and flopped down on his bed, exhausted.
Here is a list of a few words used in past and present tense:
PAST PRESENT said
Common Fan Fiction Error #6 – Abbreviation
Unlike earlier, I am not talking about shortening words for the sake of “Netspeak” or being lazy. There are some abbreviations that are perfectly acceptable in the English language. The errors come in when authors forget the apostrophe:
“Did not” shortens to “didn’t”, not “didnt”.
“Will not” shortens to “won’t”, not “wont”.
“Cannot” shortens to “can’t”, not “cant”.
“Should have” shortens to “should’ve”, not “shouldve”.
One other very common mistake is the confusion of “it’s” and “its”, and "you're" and "your".
“It’s” is short for “it is”.
“Its” indicates possession, for example, “Link stabbed its weak spot.”
"You're" is short for "you are".
"Your" indicates posession, for example, "Your sword is cool."
The best way to make sure you are using the correct “its” or “it’s” is to read your sentence in full. If you read this aloud: “Link stabbed it’s weak spot” you would be saying, “Link stabbed it is weak spot,” which really doesn’t make sense, does it? However, if you were to read aloud: “It’s cold outside”, you would say, “It is cold outside”, which makes perfect sense.
Common Fan Fiction Error #8 – Possession and Plurals
A lot of people make mistakes when they are describing possession. Here are some errors:
WRONG – Zelda grabbed Links sword.
WRONG – Link borrowed the Kokiri children’s sword.
WRONG – Link borrowed there sword.
WRONG – Link borrowed they’re sword.
And now, the correct versions of the above sentences. Look out for what has changed. I will explain each example after.
RIGHT – Zelda grabbed Link’s sword.
RIGHT – Link borrowed the Kokiri childrens’ sword.
RIGHT – Link borrowed their sword.
RIGHT – Link borrowed their sword.
Example #1 – “Zelda grabbed Link’s sword.”
As the sword belongs to only Link, the apostrophe goes before the “s” at the end. If the sword belongs to someone whose name ends with the letter “s”, put the apostrophe after the letter “s”. You don’t need to add another “s” after it.
WRONG – Link broke a Stalfos’s shield.
RIGHT – Link broke a Stalfos’ shield.
Example #2 – “Link borrowed the Kokiri childrens’ sword.”
This time, the sword belongs to many people; the entire Kokiri tribe. In cases of multiple possession, the apostrophe goes after the letter “s” at the end. Here is another example. Say Link steals some money from a girl he sees by herself. This is correct:
Link stole the girl’s money.
However, if Link steals some money from a group of girls, the sentence changes to:
Link stole the girls’ money.
Examples #3 and 4 – “Link borrowed their sword.”
I am using this example to point out a very common mistake.
“There” refers to a place, for example, “Go and stand over there.”
“They’re” is short for “they are”.
“Their” is used to indicate possession.
The letter “s” is also used in plurals. Sometimes people make a mistake and use an apostrophe.
WRONG – Link run’s over to Saria.
WRONG – Link found many rupee’s.
RIGHT – Link runs over to Saria.
RIGHT – Link found many rupees.
Common Fan Fiction Error #9 – Multiple Punctuation Points
WRONG – “Link, help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” screamed Zelda.
WRONG – “Zelda, is something wrong???????????” asked Link.
You should generally only use one punctuation point at a time.
RIGHT – “Link, help me!” screamed Zelda.
RIGHT – “Zelda, is something wrong?” asked Link.
If you really want to emphasize something, instead of using multiple punctuation marks, put it in italics.
RIGHT – “Link, help me!” screamed Zelda.
WRONG – “Link, you have kept me waiting for hours!!!!!!!!!” exclaimed Zelda in anger.
RIGHT – “Link, you have kept me waiting for hours!” exclaimed Zelda in anger.
You could also use more descriptive text instead of many exclamation points:
RIGHT: “Link, help me!” screamed Zelda, at the top of her lungs.
RIGHT – “Link, help me!” screamed Zelda, at the top of her lungs.
If you want to indicate someone talking, but trailing off, don’t use hundreds of full stops. Use three.
WRONG – “Where was I last night?” Link repeated Zelda’s question. “Well, I……………” He had no idea what to say.
WRONG - “Where was I last night?” Link repeated Zelda’s question. “Well, I..” He had no idea what to say.
RIGHT - “Where was I last night?” Link repeated Zelda’s question. “Well, I…” He had no idea what to say.
Common Fan Fiction Error #10 – Fantasy Names
The Legend of Zelda is a fantasy game, and therefore many of the names of places and characters are made up. As these are names you do not use very often, it’s easy to spell them wrong. So until you are confident that you know how to spell a name, make sure you refer to the game or instruction manual to ensure you are spelling it correctly. Here is a list of Zelda-related names that are often incorrectly spelled:
Koume and Kotake
I also should mention place names. A lot of place names in Zelda games have a common word as part of the name, such as “forest”, “village” or “field”. As these are a part of the name, they should also be capitalized.
WRONG – Hyrule field
WRONG – Lon Lon ranch
WRONG – Kokiri forest
WRONG – Lost woods
RIGHT – Hyrule Field
RIGHT – Lon Lon Ranch
RIGHT – Kokiri Forest
RIGHT – Lost Woods
If you are talking about, say, Lon Lon Ranch, and want to refer to it just as “the ranch” you don’t capitalize the word ranch. Only do so when you are including it as a part of the name.
WRONG: Link said goodbye to Saria and left the Forest to go to Hyrule Castle.
WRONG: Link ran into the Ranch and greeted Malon.
RIGHT: Link said goodbye to Saria and left the forest to go to Hyrule Castle.
RIGHT: Link ran into the ranch and greeted Malon.
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This page was created by Juliet A. Singleton © 2005. All rights reserved.