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I'd like to say a few things about writing that I think might help newer authors or else give you insight into my own thoughts on this whole fanon/fan fiction thing. Of course, I'm just a guy who wrote fan fiction on a little corner of the internet, so this is mostly bloviating on my part. Yet I'd feel remiss if I couldn't say a few encouraging words after writing some 900,000 words of pulpy prose about Star Wars.

Five things I'd do differently if I deleted the entire series (don't tempt me) and started over:

  • Narrow the scope. Although I flatter myself thinking I created a nice cast of characters, by the final battle, some plotlines are superfluous. Characters that should have said their goodbyes in Hands of Evening linger in the background, taking up valuable page space. Although it doesn't quite reach the madness of something like Xenogears or A Song of Ice and Fire (thank goodness), the overall story could have been told in a main plot and two or three major subplots per novel. The short stories are okay.
  • Trim the timeline. Though the timeskip from KotOR to TSL is fine, I think the last jump from 3951 to 3932 BBY is particularly jarring. It was mainly done to allow a few "third-generation" characters, children of the main characters, to contribute to the plot, but in the final product these new folks do very little. The story could have been resolved with a few minor changes in 3946 BBY just as well.
  • Keep the series limited to 3 novels. With the previous ideas in mind, I think it would be possible to combine Convict's Dawn and Knight of Alderaan into one novel (indeed, this is how it was in the very first draft), merge Absolution and Hands of Evening into a second, and finish with Jedi Mourning, all within a reasonable page count. I will admit that feat is currently beyond my ken, but a man can dream.
  • Introspect. Focus more on characters' motivations, thoughts, and goals than their actions. In earlier novels this was easier, but with so many characters to juggle and so much to do plot-wise it definitely became more of a tell-not-show situation.
  • Do more with battles. This one is hit-and-miss. At the beginning of the series, I wrote lightsaber duels and other combat scenes with pizazz and spectacle to show off how well I knew about the various lightsaber styles and whatnot. My philosophy changed near the end of the series. Combat, I would say, should really focus on what each party is thinking and feeling, not the fight itself. It's more of a psychological thing.

Five things I'd advise other writers, particularly fanfic stuff:

  • Keep it simple. See above. The Bard had it right. Very powerful stories can be told in a few hundred words.
  • Write what you know. This touches on two issues. If you must write Star Wars fan fiction (and with the EU gone, why would you want to?), then you better have a working knowledge of the universe. The same goes for Star Trek, Marvel, alt-history, Speed Racer or whatever other fanfic you're into. This is another way of saying don't write what you don't know. Don't know how to write believable romance? Not into mysteries? Can't write an engaging fight scene? Read more, practice, and write them when you do know how.
  • Create memorable characters. From the outside looking in, I find it impossible to keep up with A Song of Ice and Fire and its countless characters. Even The Silmarillion with its many Maiar and Elves and proto-Men is a struggle for my poor brain. However, you certainly remember certain characters. Think why these men and women stick out in your mind. Think back to the classics. How many characters were in works like the Odyssey, Aeneid, The Canterbury Tales, or Shakespeare's plays? Who do you remember? Why do you remember them?
  • Have a point. If your story is just an amalgamation of lightsaber duels and dogfights, it might not be as interesting as you think. Consider Star Wars. Sure, it's a story about space wizards with laser swords and funny aliens. But what exactly makes the story so appealing? What themes and ideas made it so iconic? What makes the better works in its (former) expanded universe worth reading over the rest?
  • Make it believable. That is, keep it consistent and realistic based on the universe you're writing in. Of course, more general rules apply as well. No Mary Sues, avoid deus ex machina situations, try to keep insufferable characters to a minimum, avoid wish fulfillment, and so on.

Thanks to Atarumaster88, C3PO the Dragon Slayer, MPK, Solus|Cheese, and others for giving me lots to think about in these matters. These authors (and many others!) have expressed similar sentiments to my own, in pithier terms and with more poignant insights. plz no DMCA notices.

Have fun and stop while you're ahead!

-- JM76

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