Welcome, potential author, to the Wandererverse. The Wandererverse is a massive, multiple crossover universe based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and crossing over with a large list of action or mystery based television shows and books. Current crosses include X-Files, Highlander, The Pretender, La Femme Nikita, Bureau 13, G.I. Joe, Mike Hammer, The A-Team, anything that ever had Mack Bolan in it, Gargoyles, Casca - The Eternal Mercenary, and a whole slew of other stuff. Go look up the list. There's one on the website somewhere. The Universe formed around a character called, of course, the Wanderer. While Steve St. Wolf, a.k.a. The Wanderer, was the catalyst that started bringing the various crossovers together, at its core this universe is about the worlds of Buffy, the X-Files and Highlander coming together. The Wandererverse takes a somewhat grittier and more military approach to the Buffy universe. There are guns, soldiers, black ops methods and military training involved. It's about vampire hunting getting organized and learning to work with military and law enforcement toward a common good, rather than just a few teenagers fighting on their own. Think of it as vampire hunting in the modern world. There's a whole universe of stories there, just waiting to be told.
You will note, if you've looked around the site, that we also have sections for stories that are based on the Wandererverse but end up AU, and for stories that aren't related at all, but just good crossovers. There are some common rules for writing that should be applied no matter what universe you're writing your fanfic in. They'll help you create a story that a reader gets caught up in and truly enjoys.
1. Plagiarism: Don't. Just don't. This is one of the greatest offenses a writer can commit, and once you're caught, you will never again be taken seriously as a writer. You will be caught. The fanfiction community keeps an eye out for that sort of thing, and isn't shy about letting everyone know you did it. Plagiarism includes not only taking someone else's story, changing a few details, and sticking your name on it, but also lifting chapters, entire scenes or sections of dialog from another story and dropping them into your own without admitting where you got them. If you want to use a particular bit of imagery, or bit of dialog, get permission from the original author, and give them credit for writing it. If you can't get permission, don't use it.
2. Spelling and Grammar: Run the dratted spellchecker. I know you have one. Then check the work yourself, spellcheckers are not that bright, they miss things. Then have someone else read it over if you can. Know correct grammar and punctuation. Use them. Have someone check them. It doesn't matter how brilliant your story is, if the spelling and grammar are bad enough that people have to struggle to figure out what you're saying then they won't read it. Typos happen. No one expects perfection, but if a high school English teacher would hand it back to you with more red splattered over it than victim number three in a cheap slasher flick, no one's going to read past the first chapter.
3. Disclaimers: If you've ever read any fanfic, you have seen these. If you haven't read any fanfic, whatever are you reading this for? The purpose of a disclaimer is to avoid infringing on anyone's copyright, and ward off lawyers. It should identify the copyright owners of any characters or other copyrighted material you are using, explain that you are using them without permission, and state that you are not using them to make a profit. It's also considered good manners to identify any original characters you are borrowing from other fanfic authors, and to get their creator's permission if possible.
4. Plot: It helps if you have one. It also helps if the one you have makes sense for the characters you are using. If your story just wanders around aimlessly, your readers will wander off. If your plot doesn't remotely fit the characters you're using, readers will wonder what you've been smoking, and go read someone else's story. Remember that established characters have established styles. Jarod uses sneaky tricks and clever deceptions to defeat opponents. Don't resolve your Pretender fic with a massive gun battle.
5. Characterization: Established characters also have established personalities. Try to stick to them as closely as possible. Jarod doesn't shoot people. Scully does. Neither one of them screams and runs when a monster pops out. If a character's behaviour is not recognizable, you haven't written that character, you've just stuck their name on some stranger.
6. Perspective, also known as Point Of View: All my attempts to explain this one were pretty much dreck, so I'm going to cheat and copy the explanation from the writer's guide for the Avalonverse. So here it is, used with permission: Please choose how you’re going to tell your story from the very start of the process. Is it a first-person narrative (The narrator is the point-of-view character and refers to himself as “I” in the text—i.e., I said, “Hello there.”)? If so, who is telling the story (or, if you will, which person has the “camera” in his/her head that allows us to see and hear what’s going on) – the protagonist (the hero, let’s say Buffy for example) or someone else (let’s say Xander). In the Sherlock Holmes stories, Watson, the doctor friend of Holmes, was the narrator of the story. However, Holmes was clearly the mover and shaker, the guy who made things happen. Holmes was the protagonist. The danger of having your protagonist talk about his own great feats is that he may come off to the reader as a braggart. Thus the device of using the “normal” guy as the narrator was created so the audience that is filled with normal guys and gals can identify with the narrator and marvel at the slightly or greatly above normal protagonist’s feats of daring and courage. The same applies if you write in the third person (the narrator is not a character in the story, knows the thoughts and feelings of the point-of-view character, and writes from that perspective—i.e., John felt fear when he saw the ominous statue. “George,” he said to his companion, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this place!”). Be careful, though, not to switch viewpoints from one character to another in mid-scene. Stick with that point-of-view (POV) during a scene and avoid shifts to another person. It’ll keep the reader from becoming confused.
7. Style: Don't try to copy someone else's or force your writing into the style you think it should have. You already have a natural style. It came with your personality. Just let it run loose, and it will take care of itself.
8. Mary Sue: The male version is known as Gary Stu. Mary Sue is an original character. She is beautiful, brilliant, talented at everything, she saves the day when no one else can, and is universally loved by all the other characters in a fic. By the middle of the story, all the readers of a fic want to see her strangled, shot, chopped into itty gory pieces and the pieces fed to rats. Well, possibly the rat part's just me. Seriously though, avoid Mary Sues. They annoy readers who are expecting a story about well known and much beloved characters, only to find everyone relegated to supporting cast for some character nobody's ever heard of. If you use an original character, don't make them the focus of the story. They can help, but let the canon characters save the day. And don't make them perfect. Perfect characters are just plain boring. They should have flaws. Real flaws, not superficial stuff you put in just so you can claim they have flaws. Making the character able to do everything but play the piano doesn't count. Mary Sue characters are generally seen as nothing more than the author writing themselves into their favorite universe as the hero. If that's not what you intended, go back and make the orignal character less important to the story. If it is what you intended, go bug your friends with it, and leave total strangers alone. Oh, and before you go pointing them out to snarky writer's guide authors, yes, I know there are several Mary Sues in the Wandererverse. We have plenty. We don't need any more.
This brings us to the actual Wandererverse part of the program. This is a shared universe. We'll let anyone write in it, provided you follow some basic rules.
1. No anime: None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not even that one character, that you're certain will fit really well into the Wandererverse and be a really cool story. No. No anime. Also, no Power Rangers. None of the versions. No comic book characters that run around with their underwear on the outside with superpowers or who wear super armor of any kind. More realistic characters might be negotiable. Nick Fury has been allowed, and a version of Logan, but no spandex. And just in case I forgot to mention it, no anime.
2. Immortals: Enough with the Immortals already! Every major character in creation is not going to turn out to be an Immortal. You can make up your own as supporting characters, or use characters that were in one episode of Highlander, but no more making characters from whatever series Immortals. Deal with them as mortals. We have the same problem with Immortals that we have with Mary Sues. We have plenty. We don't need any more. Also on the subject of Immortals, every Immortal in the world is not going to wander through Sunnydale. Sunnydale is the back end of nowhere. There's no logical reason for it to be an Immortal magnet. They are not attracted to Hellmouths. Unless you have a very good reason for a particular Immortal to have come to Sunnydale, have them be somewhere else when they become involved in the story.
3. Weapons: There is an armory section on the site. You can use any weapon listed there. If there's something similar to the weapons listed there that you want to use that we simply didn't think of, ask. Don't go inventing super weapons that give the heroes a ridiculous advantage. Anything way beyond what's currently in the armory will not be allowed.
4. Power levels: We have a chart for character power levels. Go read it. It's a guideline, not a law, but do try to stay reasonably close to it. Don't have your mage taking out a deity or some guy who did really well in gym class beating up a Slayer. If you're working with characters that have totally different power levels, come up with a good reason why the less powerful character can win, or a really good plan for the battle. Don't suddenly raise characters three power levels just because you need to for your story. Find another way to handle the problem.
5. New crossovers: We are not currently adding any new shows or books to our universe. Again, we have plenty and don't need more. Try to explore more deeply the worlds we're already using. We have a lot of characters and their worlds standing around in need of something more to do. It's up to you to write their further adventures in the Wandererverse.
6. Adult content: Yes, it's allowed. Just make a note at the begining of the story so those who don't want to read it can avoid it. Consider that if you put the sex scenes in their own chapter and mark that chapter, people who would rather not read them can still read the rest of the story and just skip that chapter. All stories should carry appropriate ratings and warnings, not just for sex but for the level of violence and even the amount of swearing in the story. Readers should know what they're getting before they start reading. Some of them are young, or even letting their children read fic on the computer. Don't suprise them with that one scene that far exceeds the rating. It's like walking in on your parents in the shower. It is not a pleasant suprise.
7. Story submissions: The
Wandererverse has an editorial panel, which must OK all stories that are part of
the Wandererverse. This is primarily to make sure stories fit into the existing
timeline and the rules for the universe. We're trying to have something
resembling continuity, unlike many TV shows. We strongly recommend that before
writing your Wandererverse story, you submit a story treatment to the panel.
This treatment should list which crossovers you will be using, which characters
will be the main focus of your story, and an outline of the story. This way if
you have a crossover, character or major plot development that's going to be a
problem, we can tell you before you spend many hours writing. Some stories just
won't fit in the Wandererverse, and some will, with a little adjustment. It's
much easier to change the story before you do all that typing. Story treatments
should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Be aware that everyone on the panel
has a life and a job and occasionally sleeps, and we need a majority to look at
all submissions before making a decision on them. It may take a week or so
before you hear anything back.
8. Things that have been used, that perhaps should not be used again: There are some crossovers that have been done, that really went a little too far away from the tone we'd like to keep for the Wandererverse. Most notably, Immortal Kombat and the Mystic Knights of Tir na Nog. They were a bit overpowered for the Wanderereverse. Iron Man popped up briefly, and we realized he just won't work. Some of the other flavors of vampires that have been used are also not a great fit. The Forever Knight guys, really cool, but a litte too powerful. Their flight and speed are tough to counter. Oberon's children, and Oberon himself, are also too high up the power scale to have much direct involvement in a story. We've had some problems with that with using Robin Goodfellow. You get stuck having to explain why he doesn't just snap his fingers and magically fix everything. Future use of these things is not banned, but we'd prefer you use them sparingly, and have a really good reason. There's probably a few other things that didn't work out well, that I'm repressing right now. If in doubt, ask. Again, if we're going to decide to axe a story, better you find that out before you spend a month working on it.
So there you have our writer's guide. Hopefully it will be useful to you. Some of it applies to any writing you do, fanfic or otherwise, you should check the spelling on anything you ever intend anyone else to read, and never, ever plagiarise. Some of it is only for Wandererverse stories, watch those power levels. All of it is intended to help you improve your writing. You know what will improve your writing the most? Writing. Write stories. Write poems. Write scenes and skits and vignettes. Write epic novels. Write whatever strikes your fancy. If it sucks, write some more. Writing is like any other skill, it improves the more you practice. Writing fanfic gives you a basic structure to build on and is a good place to get that practice. We have a whole universe available to play in, so many characters, so few stories written. We welcome anyone who wants to come and play in the Wandererverse, and we'll help you out as much as we can. We'll even help you feed the plot bunnies. All you readers out there who have an idea for a story of your own bouncing around in your head, let it out. Come and write with us.