Guidelines to Sane Shipping
1. Always leave the actors out of it. Shipping fictional characters for your own amusement and vicarious pleasure is one thing. Having creepy fantasies about the personal lives of real people is quite another. Leave the real people alone.
2. Do not obey the Rules of Rabid Shipping. The Rules of Rabid Shipping are: (1) If two characters like each other, ship them. (2) If two characters hate each other, ship them. (3) If two characters have never even met, ship them. Never obey the last two rules. This goes for people with their OT3’s as well.
3. Try to adhere to canon. Canon is canon for a reason. Don’t trash it. Respect it, even in the midst of the most insanely or gloriously AU fic of all time. Remember, if it were not for the canon, you would not even be a fan.
4. Look for canonical basis for your ship. Unless you are going for a completely crack pairing, only ship characters who should be shipped. Ask yourself: (1) Do they like each other? (2) Do they get along, more or less? (3) Do they work well together as a pair? Will their pairing cause no major havoc to the story and other characters? (4) Am I shipping them because I genuinely think they are a cute and/or awesome pair, or because I am a creepy fan who thinks I can play God and arrange everyone how I like regardless of their own preferences? Am I doing this to suit my own whims and to get vicarious satisfaction out of the ship? If you answer no to any of the first three and yes to the last, you should probably reconsider your shipping. You should probably also go home and rethink your life.
5. Don’t derail a character to get the ship or drama you want. This is one of the more unforgiveable crimes in a fandom. Even crack pairings can be made to work (more or less) when those involved are kept in character and everything works out realistically. However, even the most established and canonical pairing can be turned into a parody of itself by fans who want the characters to act or react in a certain way that is not in character for them. Remember, OOC Is Serious Business. Avoid it.
6. Don’t hate on another ship or character just because you think it or they interfere with your OTP. Character bashing is another of the more unforgiveable crimes in a fandom. Just because you think Tom is better off with Susie than Stacy does not give you the right to change Stacy into a horrible, self-serving whiny person and Susie into a paragon of virtue and awesomeness. Now, if they already have those personalities in canon and you honestly believe the author should not have paired them up, write a respectful AU fix-fic to work out your feels.
7. Remove the Shipping Goggles. Not every character is out to find his or her true love. Do not see romance where there is none. Not every sign of respect, trust, affection, or friendship is an invitation for the characters to be shipped! Only ship when you know there are good grounds for a romantic relationship. Nothing is worse for a sane fan than to find that other fans have taken a good friendship between two characters and turned it into a groundless, off-putting romance. Ship only when necessary!
8. Leave families alone. Please. A shocking characteristic of rabid shipping is its callous disregard for family bonds. Siblings, parents and children, uncles and nieces or nephews – all are rabidly and groundlessly shipped. Do bear in mind that such pairings are sins and crimes in real life. The family is meant by nature to be a wholesome unit; do not pervert its sanctity with cruel and unnatural ships. If you realize that you are guilty of this, please go home and rethink your life.
9. Enough with the pointless OC’s. It is perfectly fine to bring in OC’s in your fic to do some minor job when no canon characters are available. However, make them normal people with personalities and limits. Leave the saving-the-day heroics to the canon people. Also, while it is perfectly permissible to explore unnamed or unmentioned characters, do not introduce random OC’s just so the canon character of your choice can find his or her one true love. Do not justify such a shoddy ship by saying the canon character deserves to find happiness. Pointless, stupid romances remain pointless, stupid romances. They also generally derail the canon character until he or she is unrecognizable and are thus to be avoided.
10. Ship sanity above everything else. Do think about what you are shipping sometimes. Thoughtful and reasonable fans, not the blindly and rabidly adoring fans, are the best fans. Keep your head, bear yourself with respect, and go out and prove that your fandom still has some sanity left. Good luck!
Let's see sane shipping take the world's fandoms by storm! Spread the word!
In Pace Christi,