Wanderers, sometimes it is better to give than to receive. This is one of the driving forces behind the constant production of fanworks – fic, art, vids, the lot. But there are times when you don’t want to write something, or draw something. You want to read it or see it.
Maybe that’s because you’ve got too many ideas swimming around to work on already; maybe it’s because you’re a fanfic writer who’s had an idea for a picture you don’t feel you can draw; maybe you’re dying to see someone else’s take on it. What you need to do now is make a request. Here are our tips on how to do that nicely.
- Set your idea free. Before you even talk to anyone about your request, you need to accept that it’s not going to come out exactly as you would have done it unless there is a minor miracle of coincidence. So be prepared to accept and embrace variations, little details that don’t quite mesh with what you initially thought. This is part of the beauty of someone else realising your idea.
- Don’t demand. A ‘please’, a ‘thank you’, and perhaps even an ‘if you have time’ will go a long way. There’s a huge difference between ‘please would you write a Sherlock/John fic some time?’ and ‘do some Johnlock’. One makes the recipient feel very different to the other, and one is much more likely to be fulfilled promptly, too.
- Don’t dictate. If you find yourself sending someone a message detailing every plot point of a story, or each individual clip in a fanvid, or exactly what needs to be in the background of a picture… that could be a sign that you should actually add it to your own to-do list. It can be difficult, for example, as a fanfic writer, when someone effectively sends you a story and asks you to write it – it feels like taking credit for their work and more often than not the only response that feels right is to reply ‘thanks for the idea, but it looks like you’ve almost written it. I’d love to read it when it’s finished’!
- Don’t request changes to an existing WIP (Work In Progress). Unless someone is specifically asking ‘what would people like to see in the next chapter/panel/when this is finished?’ or ‘I’m not sure what the main character should be wearing in this picture, what do you think?‘ chances are they already have a clear direction in mind. When people comment with ‘This is great but could you change it to Elizabeth/Bingley’ or ‘I hope in the next chapter Frodo turns evil’ it can shake someone’s confidence in their own plan, and that either leads to really wobbly evil-Frodo or an apologetic continuation of the original idea. Try ‘I’d love to see a Lizzie/Bingley take on a similar theme in the future’ instead.
- Be polite and keep it relevant. Most sites you’d want to request things on have a private messaging feature of some sort. If you don’t have anything to say about the thing you are actually viewing, don’t click ‘review’ or ‘comment’. Try sending them a personal message instead – ‘hi, I love your art, could you please draw Marv and Joe playing football if you get time? Thanks’. Don’t click ‘review’ and just leave a request – if you’re going to leave a review it needs to actually contain a review. Consider ‘great chapter. I love the way you write Robin/Vlad and I’d love to see how you’d write Ryan/Ingrid’ rather than just ‘can you write some het like Ryan/Ingrid’. It can be quite upsetting for a fan creator who thinks they’re getting feedback on something they’re proud of to find that actually, there’s no comment on that at all.
- Don’t be shy! Some people won’t be open to requests, and they may tell you that in advance or not until you’ve already asked them for something. That’s fine! Don’t feel bad for asking, and don’t think it’s the end of the road. If your favourite person says no, you could try it yourself, or put out a general message inviting anyone to have a go. But even if someone’s really well-known and popular, if they accept requests, don’t be afraid to send one!
Eleanor Musgrove (has a few requests to get to later)
Incidentally, FW Tips takes requests! If there’s something you want us to give you some tips on, let us know and we’ll do our very best to get to it in an upcoming issue. You can leave a comment below, tweet us @FandomWanderers or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.