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Lemons - Writing Adult Fanfiction... With a Plot!

by Caroline Seawright


A lemon is a fanfic that takes existing characters and puts them in adult situations. The standard lemon plot consists of two characters getting together and having sex. Sometimes more than two characters. But always, it's characters getting together and having sex. Nothing more.

An unusual lemon is one that actually has a story line between all the sex, making the sex seem like a natural part of the story, rather than the be all and end all of the 'fic.

Note, though, that I am just a fanfic writer. I'm not a professional writer - I just write for fun (NOT for cash!! My fanfics are all free for people to read. ^_^ ). This article has been written, though, because of the amount of people who have given me good comments about my work, adult or otherwise! (Thanks guys and gals!)

Although this article gives examples of Japanese characters, you can write about any movie, show or story that interests you... Even Gilligan's Island cross-overs (there, Rob!) ...and you can also apply this to your own, original stories, mature or otherwise!

My works tend to be anime-related. This means that I watched a lot of anime as a child, including things like 'Astroboy', 'Kimba', 'G-Force/Battle of the Planets' and Speed Racer. In my high school years, I got into watching 'The Mysterious Cities of Gold' and 'Samurai Pizza Cats'. Since then, my interest in anime grew. Soon, my favourite anime (or, in this case, manga) story was 'Ranma 1/2'.

I loved the story. I loved the characters. I wanted to see and read more, but the comics were monthly, and I can't read Japanese very well. So I turned to reading fanfiction - stories by other authors about my favourite subject.

Not only did I do that, but I joined an online MUCK (like a chat board, but with much more depth, where one can even role play the characters that you choose to play). On one of them, I was Akane (from Ranma 1/2), and RPGed with a good friend who played Ranma.

Another thing that I did was I learned the Japanese culture. If you're going to write a story set in a land other than your own, do a little research and see how that might affect things. If the characters are religious, take that into account. If they have a matriarchal society, look into that. What about lands that focus on honour about all else? Places where women are either subservient or dominant? Places (such as Japan) where guns are outlawed? Do they use the metric system? What about the currency? Who rules the country, how did they get into power, and how do the people think of the ruler? Is there a class system or racism in the country? Looking into the history of the country can help give more 'realism' to your story. (Thanks to Jan for brining up this point!)

Translation: Get to know the genre of your story, get to know the characters and get to know the cultural setting of the characters. Read other authors, and see what they do, but first and foremost, get to know your character from the source.

In high school, I loved story writing in English class. It was fun, when I could write my own stories or poems. The freedom was great. I didn't enjoy the 'write on this topic' parts, but *doing* is the best way to learn.

I also love reading. I generally read fantasy books, though I'll read sci-fi, historical/romance and other such books, too. Robert Jordon's 'Wheel of Time' books. I think he's got a great writing style - I always find that at the end of a chapter, I don't want it to stop and swap to what the other characters are doing! Other authors that I read often are Terry Pratchet, Douglas Adams, Jack L Chalker, Michael and Kathleen Gear, Anne Rice and Victoria Holt.

I find that reading other books after Jordan, Gear, Chalker or Rice tend, more often than not, to be a let down.

Translation: Read good authors, and see how they write. Try to blend their writing style with your own. Learn by writing either in class, or with your friends. Learn by reading and doing!

I started writing lemon fanfiction, really, because the lemon stories that I did see were all... crap. After a while of seeing the characters you like doing everything under the sun to each other, girl-girl scenes for no reason, the guys screwing every girl left, right and centre, no grammar and no story, you get sick of it. I knew that I could do better.

Personal fantasies are fine - great, write your own original story with them, with your own original characters!

But when you're writing someone else's characters, I think it's a sin to not even bother writing the characters 'in character'.

When, in the real story, you see Ranma running away from girls trying to hug or kiss him, it's a sign of laziness or bad writing to have Ranma bonking a girl for no reason. Either write the plot to show why he's suddenly changed, or write your own characters.

If you don't want to write Ranma as Ranma, don't use Ranma as a character.

People reading fanfics expect to read about the characters they know... not your own characters.

Very good writing will have character growth, and hence changes... and the reader will understand what's happening. If the reader doesn't understand, more often than not, your work will not be read any further.

Now I have a character in Ranma 1/2 that I don't like. Shampoo. A subject that I could rant on for hours and hours, making everyone who likes Shampoo get very, very annoyed. But I try to put my personal bias aside when writing. I don't think that I have shown too much bias against Shampoo, except in one of my satire/comedy stories. (But I'm talking mature writing here...)

The problem with writing with a bias, though, is that fans of that character will get upset. Maybe you see yourself as writing 'true to character', but try to take a step back, and see some of what the fans see. It's difficult, but it's actually worthwhile.

Translation: Write the characters as per the original... and slowly change them through the plot, so that - yes - the characters will be able to end up doing what you want them to do... AND the reader will still be interested!

My first lemon fanfiction was written backwards - I wrote it the wrong way around. This meant that the adult scene at the end didn't really blend as well as it should have. It would be very easy for me to remove that scene, and the story would still work.

What I try to aim for is a story where removal of the scene will damage the story itself. I want the scenes to be an integral part of the fic, and not an add on. But I also want to adult scenes not to be the only thing there - if they are removed, I still want a good story.

(Some readers do skip those scenes - I think it's flattering that they read my stories, even though they don't read lemon!)

When I write, the story just 'flows'. I start at the start, and write. For me, the characters take on a life of their own, and they do what they want. I find that if I try to make a few points of what I want to happen, that will be enough. It just happens naturally. Some times, I can't even fit those points in, because of my writing style. Something else happens, and I like that better. Character driven, not plot driven.

Because it's character driven, I find it easier. Why? Because the reasons are already writing themselves. This goes for any scene, not just the adult scenes. The characteristics of the character define what is to happen, and why.

If I tried writing plot driven, I'd find it very difficult to push the character into the plot. I'd have to work hard to make up reasons as to why they do X, or as to why they say Y. It wouldn't be so natural, for me. If you do write in this style, and it suits your style, it's always good to make sure you have the reasons in the story - again, you know why the character is doing something... but remember the reader wants to know, too!

I always try to get as many pre-readers as possible to read my work. The more people who read it, the more chance you have of catching any errors before you 'publish' your work. Not only character flaws or plot errors... but you'll also get spelling and grammar errors picked up.

(I need my pre-readers, otherwise my stories would be a mass of mistakes, typos, bad spelling and grammatical errors!)

Be prepared to take advice and criticism - the best way to do this is to make sure all of your pre-readers are out to give *constructive* criticism. If you find someone who isn't helpful, lose that pre-reader! Having a few helpful pre-readers is a gold mine - having a lot of bad pre-readers will only discourage you.

Translation: Write in the style that best suits you. Read your stories, be prepared to edit them, send them out to a few pre-readers, and be prepared to edit some more! Edit till you're happy with your story.

If you've noticed, despite the title, the adult scenes aren't mentioned very much here. This is because they are, in actuality, a small part of writing a good adult story. (Though others might disagree with me! I say that a good adult story is 80-90% plot!)

The most important parts in writing adult fanfiction are:

  • Knowing your characters
  • Having a good story line
  • Editing your work so you are happy with it

Good luck with your own fanfiction! I hope this little article will help, in some small way. ^_^

© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2000 - present

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