WHAT NOT TO WRITE 4

Here I am again, back to bother you with more unexciting information on why YOU suck at writing fanfiction. If you can't tell, I pretty much have no life. So. ONWARD!

Idea: Have an agenda for how you write fanfiction. I know everyone does it differently, but stick to doing it one way. For example, don't think up all of these great ideas and then suddenly cram them all onto your computer in one night.

Idea: No matter what you're style, write out the plot. For me, personally, I sometimes get on the computer with the intent to write just the plot. This ensures that you've really thought out where your story is going to go. It's also great for busting writer's block- all of your ideas are on one sheet so you can use them to tie facts into the future of the story.

Idea: Don't be afraid to get some ideas from real literature. WARNING: Don't rip off Edgar Allen Poe when you write: The Pigeon, by Your Name Here. Think about the design of classic literature. Now, if you're scoffing at me right now, stop it. Why do you think the 'classics' were popular? Because they had good, fundamental ideas. Example: Me, blackorchestrafreak. I like the Dark Romanticism and Horror periods of American Literature. Huh, that's kinda weird, because a lot of my stories have those kinds of elements in them. Hmmm. Interesting. (By the way, not implying that my stories are as wildly successful as the classics, they are just an example.)

Idea: Your characters truly only exist in pixels. Whatever you write is what we think about a character. They need to FEEL, and THINK, and LEARN. I'd rather you spent a paragraph telling me about a characters' conflicting emotions than telling me precisely their height, weight and eye color. This isn't a police station, it's fanfiction. Don't get me wrong, it's good to describe the character- but not that much. BUT, don't ramble about how the character feels. This is wrong:

Pacing in my room, I anxiously bit my lip and looked out the window. He should have been here by now, where was he? My head told me that he would never come, that he had already left me here. Struggling to not accept that horrid thought, I went to the window, looking out at the dark, cold night. My sadness knew no bounds, it was like my heart had been torn open, free for anyone to hurt. I was vulnerable and everyone knew it. Oh, where was he? Surely he knew that I was lamenting his absence?

Nobody thinks like that, NOBODY. If you're that tutti-frutti, then you need to burn all your romance novels and come into reality. If it helps, do a character sketches. If you save them to your computer like you would a PLOT SHEET (hint, hint!), you'd have all of the basics of your story in one place, free to be accessed and utilized.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT- Reviewing is awesome. Reviewing makes my heart go pitter-pat. Telling the author what YOU think is like your birthday, awesome. However, a review that doesn't offer anything about YOUR ideas is pretty much worthless. For example:

GenericUsername: lol, great chapter! Update soon!

WOW. Talk about frickin' lame! If I wanted you to giggle and tell me to work faster, I would have asked you to. Now, don't get me wrong, the fact that you DID review is still awesome. But, if you're like me, you see the email in your inbox saying someone reviewed and you get all excited, and your heart goes pitter-pat. Once you actually read the review, though, you're like, "Seriously? Wow, thanks. I'm so happy that you liked it." And then you put off writing and your story goes in the crapper. So, instead of writing a review like the one above, try to think of a part of the story you really liked and tell the author about it. Don't get all touchy-feely emotional on them, but speak your mind! Or, if you're more like me (Grammar Nazi, self described bitch, enjoys telling others what to do) and like to write about what you didn't like, be nice. I know how hard that is…trust me, I know. But don't just harp on about how the author missed a comma on the last word of the 36th line. Be CONSTRUCTIVE.

–Constructive: (adjective)constructing or tending to construct; helping to improve; promoting further development or advancement (opposed to destructive): constructive criticism.

Hey, you. Yes, you. Read this.

Let me tell you something- I'm lazy. I hate going over my work and spending too much time on much of anything. What I hate even more than writing a difficult scene the first time is writing it again. I mean, for goodness sake, I just wrote the damn thing! But, if you really want to make sure your story is 100% clear and engaging, you'd mess around with writing alternate scenes. Like for movies, you know? If you write alternate scenes and endings, it can help you focus on the main points of your story AND might even combat writer's block. Doing things over isn't always a bad thing; it means you've done it right.

Another Ramble? Yup.

Hey, want yet another challenge? I bet you do. I can see you now, sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation! In expectation! In eagerness!

DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID RIGHT THERE?

That's right. I used synonyms. You know, what those Thesaurus things are full of? Did you know that those things are actually really useful? If you feel like you are repeating a word over and over in your story, the reader feels that way too. It's similar to when you can't stop counting how many times a speaker says 'like' or 'um'. It's noticeable, and it makes you look dumber than you actually are. The solution? Use a thesaurus. But remember- you can't go apeshit and start flinging adjectives and fancy words around everywhere. If you don't know what it means, you'll probably use it the wrong way and confuse readers. Start slowly. I started with a verb that you're all familiar with: said.

SAID: grumbled, yowled, screamed, cried, roared, snapped, barked, groaned, mumbled, whispered, sang, trilled, giggled, chuckled, laughed, sobbed, argued, interjected, interrupted, offered, grinned, smiled, frowned, spat, added…

You could go on for days. "Always using the same verb to indicate that someone said something is boring," Sally said. If your character was Sally, and if you'd thought out her PERSONALITY, you could choose a new way of saying it to fit the scene. Note: don't kick 'said' to the curb. He/She/It is still your most common verb for expressing a characters thought out loud. Whether we like it or not, we need 'said'.

To add to that sentiment…

If you use a verb, you can probably add an adjective. But remember, adjectives should be used in moderation. Don't start flinging them everywhere to 'sound' like a writer who writes 'deep' things. You sound like an idiot when you do that. Take an example:

I like cheese. It's yummy.

This has no personality. If I was editing this, and I wanted to express my deep love for cheese, not just my crush on it, I'd change the verb.

I adore cheese. It's yummy.

Great! Now that we sound a bit more mature, let's throw in adjectives just for the hell of it.

I adore spicy cheese. It's delicious.

Use caution, young grasshopper! This process can easily get out of hand. You could go from, 'I scratched my back' to, 'I clawed my back with a wild fervor'. At that point, I'm thinking that the main point of the sentence was lost. The meaning went from relieving and itch to gouging nails into a back like a drunkard having sex.

Last one, I swear.

Sentences have different forms. Some are ridiculously long and difficult to understand, and some make your IQ drop several points upon reading them. Don't have run-on sentences, or sentences that are so long that you lose the main idea in it.

WRONG: I took my dog to the park to walk her because she had an urgent need to urinate; while there, I discovered that she was only faking and really didn't have to pee at all, she just wanted to chase the purple butterflies and bark at passerby.

That's just ridiculous. Read it out loud. Go on, do it! If you have to take a new breath when talking at your normal pace, it's too long. I know it's hard to write what you truly have envisioned, but that sentences that long aren't helping with readers' comprehension at all. On the flipside…you have sentences that are far too short. When reading it, you feel like someone is slamming on the brakes every second.

WRONG: I think I love him. His face is beautiful. I look at it and feel happy. He loves me too. He says I'm pretty. We went on a date. It was nice. He bought flowers.

This makes you seem like you have no idea what you're doing. Those sentences only require the mental capacity of a kindergartener. So elaborate a little more, please. Hey! You could use my notes up there on verbs and adjectives!

Once again, I leave you with THE CHALLENGE. Apply careful thought to your writing and reviews. Make your day and someone else's. Go into the light…..

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