Merlin Missy has been active in online fandom since 1994. She likes fanfics with plots and happy endings.
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(Note: This essay was originally published in 1996.)
Hi there. So you want to write fan fiction. Maybe you've already written a story or two, posted them to the appropriate newsgroups, and have received feedback, mostly positive. If so, you're probably feeling pretty good, and thinking to yourself, "I shouldn't be reading this. I already know how to write this stuff, and it's easy." Who knows? Maybe you honestly don't need it.
Maybe you're the next Alice Walker, or John Irving (or Kibo, for that matter). If so, you don't need to be reading this. However, if one or two of the responses you received were less than favorable, if someone was confused, or even if you got a lot less fanmail than you anticipated, maybe you should take the time to read now. Heck, it's only advice, and it's relatively free, depending on what service you're using to access (my own service is school-related, so I only have to pay $2500/year plus fees). Besides, it's either this or check out the spam in the alt.startrek.* hierarchy.