Dr. Merlin's Guide to Fan Fiction

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Title: Dr. Merlin's Guide to Fan Fiction
Creator: Merlin Missy (Melissa Wilson)
Date(s): 1996, it was reposted by the author in 2007
Medium: online essay
Fandom: Meta, fan fiction
External Links: Dr. Merlin's Guide to Fan Fiction; Archive; also here
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Dr. Merlin's Guide to Fan Fiction is an essay written by Merlin Missy and posted online in 1996 that offered new fan fiction writers tips on writing fan fiction. At the time the essay was written, Merlin Missy had been in fandom for two years.

This fan is also the creator of the Mary Sue Litmus Test.


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.


  • What Is Fan Fiction and Why Do We Write It?
  • It's the Plot, Stupid
  • Spelling Counts
  • The Life, Death, and Rebirth of Perry White, Subtitled: Get Thee to an Editor.
  • Who Is Mary Sue and Why Does She Have to Die?
  • It's a Style Thing
  • You Know What You Know, You Know?
  • Nothing Is Sacred
  • La La La, Subtitled: Songfic and You
  • And in the End