What Makes a Crossover Fanfic Readable?
a blog written by Mirlotta
If you don't already know, a crossover fanfiction is a fanfic where characters, places, events, or ideas from two or more DIFFERENT fandoms are merged together into one big mess of a fanfic.
It goes without saying that a lot of people hate crossovers with a passion, and you've got to admit that it's not hard to see why. There are so many things that could go wrong and make a possible reader close your story after only the first few sentences! A lot of the time, crossover fanfics are written off as unbelievable and unconvincing, but, in my opinion, crossovers shouldn't always be viewed this way.
Here's my advice on how to make your crossover readable :)
STEP ONE: CHOOSE THE FANDOMS YOU'RE GOING TO MERGE IN YOUR CROSSOVER.
I would recommend limiting the fandoms you're including to three or four at a maximum. This is because tying up too many different characters from different fictional universes is going to be tricky in the first place - don't make your life harder by including forty fandoms.
Most readable crossovers (there are obviously exceptions to this) only combine two fandoms in their fanfic.
Another thing to think about when choosing fandoms for the crossover is whether they would actually work well together. For instance, Death Note and Sherlock would be a really awesome crossover - they both have super-intelligent characters solving impossible cases, and it would be really interesting if the characters happened to meet.
However, the same can not be said for Supernatural and My Little Pony. For one thing, the themes of both shows are completely different, and for another, the characters in My Little Pony are ponies and the characters in Supernatural are human(oid). This would make interaction really, really weird.
Yet another thing you might want to think of when choosing the fandoms you want to write about is whether your audience will recognise both fandoms. If you're writing a crossover for your own enjoyment, it's not a problem if your readers know who Mario and Luigi are, but not Grell Sutcliff. On the other hand, if you ARE writing with the intent that other people will read the fanfic, it's probably best to choose two fandoms that are both similar enough that your readers will be fans of them both.
STEP TWO: MAKE SURE THERE'S A VALID REASON FOR YOUR FANDOMS TO MERGE.
This is the 'people don't think crossovers are believable' thing I was talking about before. If you want people to keep reading your fanfic, you have to make it plausible. If you want Elsa of Arendelle to go after the Iron Throne, you have to give her a valid reason WHY. She's not just going to sail to Westeros on a whim.
STEP THREE: PLAN OUT THE REST OF YOUR STORY, MAKING SURE THE PLOT DOESN'T MAKE ANY CHARACTER ACT OUT OF CHARACTER.
If your crossover involves the TARDIS landing inside 221b Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes isn't going to take one look at it and faint. Again, the crossover has to be believable or it isn't going to work. (Well. As believable as a crossover - or any fanfic in general - can be :)
STEP FOUR: IF YOU INCLUDE YOUR OWN CHARACTERS, DON'T MAKE THEM INTO MARY SUES.
Like any story, normal writing rules apply to crossovers. Use correct spelling and punctuation, or face the undying wrath of the grammar police. Similarly, don't write all your characters as Mary Sues, or you'll get a lot of sassy commenters telling you your character's too perfect. And they'll be right. A common trap fanfic writers fall into is imagining an idealistic version of themselves as the own character they've created, and then making everything go that character's way for the rest of the story.
If you're creating your own character, remember to give them faults - and no, the fact that they bite their nails is not a proper fault. Nor is being more beautiful than Lauren Cohan, or having to deal with crowds of adoring fans all day, or even being super-duper clever.
If the fact that they're super-duper clever makes them arrogant, haughty, and rude (basically Sherlock, to be honest) THAT'S when they start having faults.
(A good way to check if your character is a Mary Sue is to take this quiz... You can thank me later.)
Thank you to Mirlotta for writing this blog!