Gentlemen, gentlemen the time has come. Title references aside, I've taken it upon myself to write a serious guide. Yes, I know several others have already given their advice on how to write but no one of my caliber has yet decided to jump into the pool. And before you ask, no this is not intended to replace the illustrious Destructivedisk guide, nor is this meant to be a “better” version of that guide. This is simply for those who have asked me before how to write Dragon Ball fan fiction. (and no this is not a joke article)
So, you think you can write a Dragon Ball fan fiction? Well of course you could… anyone could write anything. But that doesn’t mean it will be a good fan fiction. Indeed, there's about a 99% chance it'll be horrible if you just decide to wing it. My goal here is to show anyone who wants to (as reading this is not required) how to write a decent fan fiction in the Dragon Ball universe.
First up, you need to be familiar with the Dragon Ball universe. Obvious I know, but this is really helpful. I recommend you either watch/read Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, at the very least. I also would recommend that you view all Dragon Ball Z Movies and the specials/OVAs, but none of them are required. (you can watch all db/z/gt/movies here)
Okay so now you’re familiar with the universe. Cool. But before you can start writing there are several other things that you should do. Firstly, I would recommend watching 1 episode of Dragon Ball GT. This is to show you how not to write your stories. And please don’t watch more than one episode; it’s not good for your health.
By far the most important aspect of your fanon is the story behind it all. Even the most well-written stories cannot get far without a decent plot.
Generally though, a bad plot is one that has little explanation, such as sending a new Saiyan to earth (out of nowhere) who can reach some ungodly new level of super Saiyan. Don’t do that. It’s been tried before a thousand times and it doesn’t work.
Now while I can’t really go into specifics as to what you should write, I should say that you should try to write something creative or new. Delve into an area of the universe that you find fascinating and expand it. After watching DB and DBZ (as well as the movies) you should have a firm idea of what characters are your favorites and/or what areas you want to expand upon them. Now just go and do that. Remember, don’t write anything you yourself don’t want to or find to be boring. It’s your story! You have the ultimate freedom to make it as awesome as you want.
This may be interpreted incorrectly, but most users who write stories here are young. Most probably don’t even know what story themes are. And that’s okay. DBZ wasn’t a particularly thematic anime, when compared to, say, Death Note. And let’s face it… most of us were only here for the fights anyways. But now that you are writing your own fan fiction, you can add in themes and make your story have powerful and deep meanings. You don’t have to, but it’s really a good addition that only can help your story as a whole.
As to specific themes, there are many that you can choose from. Justice, good vs evil, what is evil?, loss of innocence, all these are among what you can choose. You can also visit this page if you’re having a hard time understanding what exactly a theme is. And upon picking your theme, be sure to allude to it often, making it an underlying part of every chapter and every paragraph you write. Aside from the basic plot, this is the structure (and one of the most important) for writing your story.
But don’t ever specifically say what themes you are using within the text of your story. That will take away from the whole point of including them in the first place. It is good to have everyone interpret your story, perhaps in different ways, as this can lead to more and more people learning about (and even liking) what you’ve written.
I have some general formatting rules later on, but here I’m listing some specifically important ones needed in to help make your fanon successful.
Length is an important concept and I would suggest you get at least a general, cursory feel for how long your story will be. This can be done by making a chapter list (and therefore giving yourself a guideline for what to write) and put each of those in a saga. Write everything one chapter at a time, so as to not get overwhelmed. You also don’t have to write chapters in order (it may help you to write a later chapter if you’re stuck on one) but please don’t post them out of order. That’s way, way confusing for the readers.
Now for naming chapters, generally you want the names to have something to do with the actual plot. But any good writer (such as KidVegeta) knows that this isn’t always completely necessary. Sometimes it’s fun to make subtle references to songs/movies/tv shows/books that you enjoy in your chapter titles. But as I said before, please make sure it’s at least somehow related.
It’s up to you for how many sagas to have, but I’d recommend at least 3 for a decent sized story. Again, there is no set rule here, as the length and amount of chapters are more important. And overall, if your story is cohesive and whole, it can be as short as 1 saga. However, this is generally not done, as it is not enough time to properly develop the characters and plot.
It’s also cool to give your story a theme song. But be careful when choosing a song, especially if it’s a lyrical one. The song needs to fit with your themes that you worked on earlier above all else. If you’re having trouble deciding on a single song, it may be easier to give each saga a theme song, as well as having an overall main theme.
Finishing up your story can be perhaps the hardest part. So you’ve finished up that last big fight, wished everyone back, brought about a new level of peace. Cool, you’re done. Well… not really. Any good writer knows you can’t just end it like that. There always needs to be resolution, even after your guy’s just beat up his arch-rival Omega Shenron wannabe. I would say it’s a good thing to have at least a chapter as an “epilogue” of sorts where you can go back to showing how your character(s) will act when life is back to normal, after all they went through. During this time you can perhaps finish up some loose ends in your story, such as personal issues your character had with others. Some users take this time to have a sort of friendly tournament between their characters, and this is an excellent way to end any story, if done right. Just be sure to have at least something as an epilogue.
Another common disaster that occurs when writing a fanon is overpowering your characters. Sure, most people think it’s cool to add new and more powerful levels of Super Saiyan but rarely does that ever work out. Nor, is it a particularly fun aspect to read about. Several things to consider are
- All enemies, upon introduction were stronger than the Z fighters (until Goku/Gohan achieved some miraculous new transformation). It’s fine to do this again in your story, but to make your story unique or memorable, something to consider is to introduce villains that aren’t exactly stronger than your hero. Have them be a “bad guy” in other ways… ie with their influence/voice. Psychological aspects are very interesting, too.
- DON’T, don’t have your hero win every battle. It’s super clichéd. But at the same time, don’t try to have him lose every battle, either. Extremes, in this case are bad for the story.
- Do not give canon character (Gohan/Vegeta/Goten/Trunks) levels of Super Saiyan that they did not have in the actual manga or anime without properly explaining it before hand. Simply saying they trained for a while is not acceptable.
- Do not give any character a new level of Super Saiyan without giving it definite proper introduction. Honestly, Super Saiyan 4 should be the highest level of Super Saiyan any fanon should have and if you want to go beyond that, there needs to be a really great explanation (not just they trained for a while or got angry at Pan dying) for it to work.
To a lesser extent, underpowering can be present too. Generally this can be solved by… well making characters stronger. It’s also a good idea to be familiar with which characters are stronger than others. For example, Android 18 is not more powerful than Majin Buu and having her beat him up would just be nonsensical. This is easily rectified by simply allocating each canon character their deserved power. If you have trouble doing this, you can always visit the Dragon Ball Encyclopedia or the Kanzenshuu for more advanced bios on each character and their power(s).
Now, most stories introduce fanon characters; that’s just the nature of things. Indeed a lot of protagonists are fanon characters. So on this issue I’m going to tackle it in a variety of ways. Please note that this is not solely for fanon characters, and can also be a guide for how to write for pre-existing characters too.
- First up, you need to define your character. Give him a backstory. Give him friends/family. Now, give him emotions, find things that make him tic; things that he loves and things that he hates. Now make those parts of his central emotion part of your story. Introduce these things gradually, not all at once so the reader can take them in without getting confused.
- Believability is key here. You have to write your character, in character. A Saiyan, no matter what (unless having amnesia or sommat), will love to fight. A human saiyan hybrid may not be so keen to. If your character is just plain “human” they may become more jaded upon learning that their power is nothing compared to the Z fighters.
- If you are writing for a particular character within established universe (I’ll get more into this below) it’s good to know as much as you can about them. Learn about their past lives before they were introduced into DB (if possible) and see if there’s any room for expanding upon. Doing so could also be grounds for making that character less rational or reasonable if confronting those things; and this would be acceptable to do without making him/her go out of character.
- I recommend using this Mary Sue test to see how overpowered your character is. Generally, if your character comes out on a stu on this test, then they are, and you should change them (usually by depowering them in some aspect). However, this test is not an end-all, and there are plenty of Stus who score very low on this test.
Writing For Canon Characters
Something very few people seem to get right, even great writers, is how to correctly write for each character. Sure it seems simple enough; Vegeta’s arrogant, Goku’s innocent… Piccolo’s a pissy little bitch. Regardless most users, even distinguished ones, seem to fail to grasp this concept. One thing you should always try to do when writing for character in DB is read their dialogue aloud, and honestly consider if they would say those words. If not, you will need to reformat it. Don’t use words for characters that wouldn’t know them.
For example, Goku speaks in simple terminology; Frieza and Cooler speak extremely elegantly. Learn how each character speaks, and this will help you a lot, for how to write for them.
As I mentioned before, most users cannot write decent dialogue (in addition to anything else). Mostly this is because it is either awkwardly worded or just plain lame. First and foremost, READ ALL DIALOGUE ALOUD. Do it, it really helps. Other than that, just try not to make the dialogue exchanges sound like a Chinese soap opera and you should be okay.
Presentation is another key part to making your story appealing to an audience. To lessen confusion, or even add convenience, I advise that you link to your character/technique/other pages right on the fan fiction page (you can easily link to your pages by putting [[pagename|whatevernameyouwanttoshow]]).
In addition, the way you format your story is very important. I’ll touch upon spelling and grammar, specifically, below but for now I simply mean how you present your story. I humb’ly suggest you differentiate the parts of your stories into chapters. Try not to make sections (except perhaps season/saga finales) longer than, as you would see it, a thirty minute episode. And divide them into chapters by posting ===Chapter Name===. It really does help readers. In addition, almost how this paragraph is becoming itself, I’d recommend not making each chapter/saga/whatever just one big long paragraph. Nobody wants to read that. Seriously.
And its always nice to have pictures in your story, to help the reader’s mind, but I don’t think they are necessary (just nice).
Spelling things correctly is essential in presenting your story to fellow users. As a recent Dragon Ball fanon poll indicates, a vast majority of users find poor spelling and grammar to be the worst aspects of reading a fanon. If you have problems spelling, I suggest several things.
- Write your stories in Microsoft Word and use spell check.
- Always have a tab open for dictionary.com so that you can easily search for definitions, spellings, and synonyms of any word(s) you are having trouble with.
- Go to school and take (at the very least) a 5th grade level English class. Pass that class.
There’s not much on this front that I can, or want to teach you. Generally, if your grammar is not up to par, its not something that can be fixed within a mere paragraph’s ramblings. If you’re in school, you should be learning how to fix this all, already. If you’re not, well then writing a story isn’t your biggest problem right now.
- For an idea of what a poorly written fan fiction is, please visit: Dragonball KC
- For an idea of what an exceptionally well written fan fiction is, please visit: Dragon Ball Z: In Requiem
Finally, I thought I’d include a little ol’ section that has really been bugging me lately in stories. Besides (perhaps) my own stories, I’ve yet to read a fanon that successfully incorporates the idea of gradual build up in it. I’m not going to go too much into this as it’s kind of a matter of opinion, but I’d rather stories introduce concepts and emotions that expand gradually and not forcefully/quickly. That’s all!
So that’s the guide. This is the first guide I've ever written for anything ever, so I dunno how good it is. Hopefully, it's at least readable. Any questions, leave in the comment area below. Thanks to those who have read this and perhaps gained something from it.