Writers Anonymous
Writers, come in. Talk about your stories, problems, any advice you need, critique, etc. You don't have to be good, you just need to want to write! Fanfic or original fic writers, all are welcome. Read the rules before posting or risk Rhea's displeasure.
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Chuck Downfield

Personally for me I've grown as a writer by using more detail and figuring out how to tell a story better. So what improvements have you guys seen overtime in your writing?

2/3/2012 . Edited 2/3/2012 #1

I've learned to write stories with more than one plot thread.

Away from my actual writing, I've learned to discuss a beta's comments with them without it coming over as "you're wrong, you didn't read the story properly." :)

2/4/2012 #2

I'm somewhat new to forums, and I didn't see an introduction forum or thread, so... Hello. :)

I've noticed that my pacing is a bit better. And I've started developing more detailed outlines prior to writing the story. For my first fanfic, I just started writing the first few chapters without any outline. I had a plot in mind, but I didn't even write it down until halfway through the story. Needless to say, the end result turned out nothing like I had originally planned. Now that I look back at my first fanfic, there are a lot of things I would've done differently. I doubt that I'll go back and change it, but I hope I can use the learning experience for future stories.

2/4/2012 . Edited 2/4/2012 #3

I honestly think I have improved, when I first started out on here my stories were horrible they didn't have any plot, the character's were total mary sues or gary stus so yeah. I've been working on an original story now also and I think I've gotten better, with being more detailed in my stories as well like coming up with more plots and interesting character's.

2/4/2012 #4

Since I started writing? In every way imaginable.

Since I starting writing fanfic on this site...I think my biggest improvements have come from better grammar, better characterization, and greater maturity in style and substance. It took me years to stop ending sentences with prepositions, and figure out appropriate use for commas (kind of comma-happy). I am now successful at keeping cannon characters in character, and I think my writing has generally matured considerably.

2/5/2012 #5
Dee Grainger

I believe I have become better at showing the reader each event as it unfolds. I have developed a voice that works for me. I've stirred away from fiction only to find I'm much better at it than I thought I would be. I was very happy to find a site to post my fan fiction of my favorite classic western, The Virginian. Although out of fourteen stories I have only received one review here, I do have Facebook fans of the show who love the stories and have inspired me to write more.

2/17/2012 #6
Corinne Tate

I've improved on all the technical aspects. But most important is that I've found my own voice and learned to trust it. I've grown a tougher skin when it comes to criticism or the lack of reviews (though I still have a way to go on some fronts.) I've become a better reader, and now pick up on more of the subtle nuances good writers add to their work. I've learned there are a lot of tools out there, and I"m not afraid to use them. A little research and an online thesaurus at my fingertips can make a huge difference in a story.

I've learned to accept and even enjoy con/crit. I've learned how to court my audience, but the most important reader is me. I have to be satisfied with my work, even if readers don't appreciate it. I've become a much more confident writer.

2/17/2012 #7
Lousy Poet Automaton

My two largest improvements are

1) My willingness to try different things in revising a long work

2) My work rate.

For 1, my tolerance is really so, so much higher for working on the less pleasant parts of writing. I've gotten a lot more flexible when something isn't working; I don't even flinch now at the thought of having to redo multiple chapters, or completely delete some, or do a major plot change. Those things would have terrified me once.

And regarding 2, well, lemme just say that horrendous holiday induced delays have pushed me to a writing rate I only considered theoretically possible for myself. Thank god, this 5th freaking revision is over (it could be counted the 10th revision, come to think of it, since each time I do a content revision I follow it with a beginning to end copy edit).

After this, nanowrimo is cake.

2/17/2012 #8
The Lauderdale

I actually think I've picked up a lot of bad habits. But two good things:

1) Learning the art of time compression.

Not everything has to be written in "real time," and scene breaks aren't the only segue. I can employ cogent exposition, summarize gracefully, and move things forward with a confident authorial voice.

2) Letting go.

To be honest, I don't think this has been learned with any finality. It's a continuing process. But for example, I've been posting my Tolkien-based stories over at AO3 and taking the opportunity to change certain fannish conventions that I was too lazy/stubborn to change before. (For example, changing my "humans" to "Men," trading out extraneous Sindarin for proper English, etc.) I'd been thinking about doing some of these things for years without actually making a move to do so. Change is good.

2/17/2012 . Edited 2/17/2012 #9

I think I have picked up some bad habits too along with the good. Right now I find revising and letting go very difficult. More in the sense of "do I have the energy to do all that work" than anything else, though, but still.

One reason might be because of one of the things I have improved on. I have learned to trust myself to have passable or even good plot-ideas. I've come to write stories of my own, rather than re-imagining canon events and writing vignettes. And I have learned something about writing long works.

But I find that it is much harder to find the energy to revise 100 000 worth of words, in comparison the to 500-700 long pieces I mostly wrote. And at the point I am in the story now, I feel like I am writing a lot of scenes just to cut them later. That does not help with will to revise, of course ;)

I am grateful, though, that I have learned to trust myself when it comes to plot and the ability to 'make up' a story.

2/18/2012 #10
Corinne Tate

Now if we're talking bad habits...

I used to think in terms of the story, but now I think in terms of chapters. I find I try too much to encompass an idea in a bite sized chunk so it will work well as an update. It can make my story feel choppy. If I'm at 8,000 words and still not finished, but I wanted a 7,000 word chapter, I might cut it short rather than go way over, or stop in the midst of the scene.

I also think I've got a bad case of "why bother." I had a good critic read one of my finished works. She didn't like my epilogue, because she said it had too many potential stories jammed into the chapter. She recommended I expand it into a sequel. Well, as the story was about a very minor character and my own OC, it was one of those which fell through the cracks and had the fewest readers of mine. So "why bother" writing a sequel no one wants to read?

I've also allowed myself to be sloppy with fanfiction, when I wouldn't put up with it if it were my own original work. My current story has much of it taking place in Italy, and yet I've put absolutely zero Italian words or phrases into it. "Why bother," it's only fanfiction, right? I'd only have to turn around and translate it for the readers. And of course I know I need to have a better grasp of comma usage, but most people don't notice - why bother. (Alright that one is on my to do list, as I hate making dumb mistakes.)

2/18/2012 #11
Hope the Ghost Writer

Well, for one, my grammar has improved tremendously since I began high school.

I found that I've been thinking of, well, generally better plots. Although I don't really plan out my stories on paper, I've been getting better at taking ideas stored in my mind and finding ways to create interesting plot twists with them. My plots are becoming better thought out and more complex. I've also gotten better at writing in varying tenses and voices, though the tenses thing still needs a bit of work, considering that I've caught myself using past tense while writing a story in the present tense. (I had to edit a chapter in my Sonic fanfic because I saw so many verb tense issues. x_x)

2/22/2012 #12

I've actually grown to scale back on detail, keep things simple. Between the ages of 10-13 I would write a massive paragraph to describe a single chair (I'm exaggerating, but really it was bad.) I think I lacked confidence in my abilities and thought I really had to dress my writing up to think it was any good. I learned you could create a beautiful picture just by keeping things smooth and fluid.

2/26/2012 . Edited 2/26/2012 #13
Hope the Ghost Writer

I've actually grown to scale back on detail, keep things simple. Between the ages of 10-13 I would write a massive paragraph to describe a single chair (I'm exaggerating, but really it was bad.) I think I lacked confidence in my abilities and thought I really had to dress my writing up to think it was any good. I learned you could create a beautiful picture just by keeping things smooth and fluid.

I've gotten to be the same way as well, though I must thank school for that. My teachers tend to give us a maximum amount of pages that we can write, so it's definitely helped me learn to condense and focus on the more important facts.

2/26/2012 #14

I feel like I have learned, both from the site and various other places, about strong character development. As an example, when I wrote my first fanfiction here, I had a leading character that was phycologicly tortured and on the brink of insanity. So it was trough this character that I learned personality development and depth. :)

2/29/2012 #15
The Lauderdale

...weirdly enough, I have learned from my characters as well, particularly my Elf character. I started out thinking one way about her (or perhaps, more accurately, not thinking certain things about her) and came around to a point of surprising admiration for her, and a greater respect for the particular virtues she represents. So yes, I think it is possible to learn from one's characters. Neat observation, ArtistForever.

2/29/2012 #16

Man I can tell that I have grown a lot since my first post on the site. I will go back and I think that I can see the growth in a year and a half as I go back and reread my previous stories. I feel that "A Change of Destiny" is much more complex than "My Imaginary Sister".

3/19/2012 #17

I think I've gotten a little bit better over the year's with my writing. I look back on my older stories, even had to delete some because of how awful they were; and compare my newer stories to them. I believe there is some improvement from my newer stories but I'm not a 'excellent writer', still have a long ways to go I think before I can even call myself that ^^; But I think of myself as a good/decent writer now, from when I first joined the writing community.

When I first joined Fanfiction.Net; I would just randomly throw an OC of mine into my one-shot or whatever, no character devlopment, no mention of why they were there...just randomly thrown in. So yeah I think for OC's there's a little improvement but again, not a whole lot I just think I've gotten better at writing them; then when I first joined the site.

4/20/2012 #18
Yuli Ban

Immensely. The usual that has been said- early stories had no plot and the characters were cliche and unfleshed.

Unique? The first two months I held an account here, my stories were in script format. I made a huge improvement moving to prose, but progress pretty much stalled for three years. I even set myself back in the summer of 2010 when, instead of writing out specific stories like I had been planning to, I spent a good month trolling. Ihavebegun learning detail and figuring out how to tell a story better, but I still feel like a newly-made rookie, like what I've done so far isn't even scratching the surface. But I do question myself when I put a story like SBDR over Planet K.

4/20/2012 . Edited 4/20/2012 #19
Corinne Tate

My first story I posted on here was only two years ago. Since i'm way into my forties, I've had a lot of experience before I wrote that one. I have learned a lot on here, but what I started with is fairly solid as far as the writing goes.

But I remember way back when I was about sixteen, and I had an idea to write a romance novel. I started with this description of a girl going to an important job interview, when everything went wrong. She was late, she broke the heel on her shoe, she was splashed by a car driving by, and her pen leaked onto her shirt. She was going to skip the interview, and try to set up another appointment, and then she ran smack dab into the guy. Cliche', cliche', cliche'. Even then I knew it was terrible, which is why it didn't make it past chapter one.

It was a struggle for me to get what was in my head, onto paper in some way others could understand. It took a while to realize that it was all in the mechanics, and that's where I needed to improve. Learning the right word choices, pacing, tense agreement, dialogue, and editing, was a major part of the process. They don't teach enough of this in school, and I had to learn it on my own. Reading helps, but not reading to get to the end of the story. I learned to read with an eye to how the writer got his point across, and studied the mechanics.

In school they teach you how to write papers, reviews, and small writing assignments designed to convey information in a succinct manner. They don't tell you how to make it interesting or how to draw in a reader, it's more like organized spew. Writing is more about giving a reader a tour of what's inside your mind. If you see it, you have to be able to show them too. These are things that are still evolving for me, and when it clicks, it's magic!

4/20/2012 #20
jason taylor

I have grown more versatile. For instance I can write a reasonably authentic sounding fairy tale, and I can write passable romance. I have also become a bit less embarrassed about my writing.

What I would like is to be able to have the stamina to write a long production. But so far I haven't developed that.

5/13/2012 #21
Isi Writer
What I believe I have improved the most on is getting the ideas from my head to the paper. I have such a hard time with making all the ideas flow together to make a story. Before I even write my stories, I have the whole plot set up in my head and try to reach that end point. However, I feel as if that is a bad thing as I have to edit the story a lot an it usually doesn't flow as nice. I've also developed with dialogue; it is one of my worst forms of writing
5/13/2012 #22
Kanarah J

Oh my gravy...where do I begin?

I think for the most part, I've had a fairly good grasp of grammar and the idea of character development, but I've fleshed these things out so much since I began here that it's difficult for me to even read my old work anymore. Each time I write a new story, I picture how much I've grown from one story to the next, and it's both difficult and joyful for me to see this change. I think to myself "how could you have overlooked this?" or "this is awful? You actually published this rubbish?" Haha, it keeps be humble about my work, I suppose.

I've also learned a lot more about the culture of the website. I used to lurk here a few years before I made an account, so I at least learned the basics of how to communicate through reviews (before they had forums) through my exploration. I've had the opportunity to interact with a lot of people through beta reading, being on forums, reviewing, and receiving review replies that I think I have a better idea of what kind of interaction style this site supports. There's always a lot more to learn though, and I have to say, I look forward to it!

5/14/2012 #23

I was fourteen when I posted my first fanfiction, and I'm twenty-one now, so I have definitely seen a lot of changes in my writing. I used to go in with no real plot in mind, just a vague idea, and wing it from there. There may or may not have been a self insert at one point (I like to pretend it doesn't exist). I found that I often bended the personalities of various characters to fit the story I wanted to tell, and I also had the tendency to have all my characters curse like sailors.

Slowly, over time, I began to outline, and I began to let the characters tell the story instead of forcing them to behave in unnatural ways to push my idea forward. I really toned down the cursing as well-- it's just distracting when it's constant, at least in my opinion.

I had a phase a while back where I overdid things a bit-- a common complaint I received when I was younger was that I rushed things too much. I ended up going a bit too far in the other direction, and only started to scale back when I found a recommendation for one of my older fics online with the disclaimer that it was really, really slow paced.

I can only hope in the future my writing will improve, but I do cringe at the idea of looking back on my writing now and thinking it's terrible.

5/28/2012 #24
April Dawn Irene

Well, I definitely have gotten to the point where I write much longer chapters. Back when I first began writing fanfiction, a chapter might have been only three relatively short paragraphs long that moved far too quickly. Now, my chapters are at least three pages long if not much longer, and I use much more descriptive language than I did back then.

However, due to the extremely irritating changes that fanfiction.net has made to the formatting of my stories, I now tend to ignore certain rules when typing out my stories such as indenting a new paragraph because over the years, I would format my stories a certain way only for that formatting to be completely ruined when I uploaded and then if I tried to fix it, the site still wouldn't allow it. I totally forgot that I was breaking that rule when a friend recently pointed it out. Had to think for a minute about the exact reason why before I explained that formatting on this site is a pain in the rear end. I am now starting to use proper formatting again, though.

5/31/2012 #25

There are different rules in different countries about formatting like indenting new paragraphs, though. When using a computer, a bigger space between paragraphs-- like FFnet use automatically-- is both common and acceptable instead of indenting for separating new paragraphs. The main point is showing that you begin a new paragraph.

5/31/2012 #26
April Dawn Irene

I agree, But I think I will be formatting my stories correctly and changing things when I upload from now on.

6/1/2012 #27
Miss Shad

How have I grown? Well, I've learned that angst doesn't necessarily make a story "cooler," and having actually traveled to Japan (and soaking up all the info I could about Japan prior to going) has helped me to write about it in a less weaboo-y fashion.

6/1/2012 #28
That Way

Well I'll speak about how I've grown (don't like that word. Let's make it "What I've learned" or "What I do differently") since coming into fanfiction about a year ago (started writing original material about 5 years ago).

I've learned the importance of making things "exciting." Before, people paid attention to my writing because they had to (discussing it in classes for assignment) or because a critic/editor thought the writing was good and included it in a publication. With fanfiction, there's this sense of a readership I now have where I no longer feel like I'm completely writing for myself. I had to accept that if I wanted more than a few dozen readers, I couldn't just write stories where there is no plot, nothing every happens and the character doesn't change (these things are all do-able. It's just ff dot net doesn't seem to be the place for them). I learned a lot about "chapters" vs plots or general storylines, and I've learned a lot about story-structure. Things like cliffhangers, foreshadowing, red herrings, lots of literary conventions I'd never tried or even wanted to use before as my original work rarely amounted to more than 20 pages for any one story. I think a lot of it was actually things I leaned from television, and the episodic nature of tv, where each episode (chapter) needs to be able to stand on its own to some extent and be 'entertaining' while still fitting into the show (story) as a whole, and move the plot and characters along toward the finale (conclusion).

I've learned a lot about what to expect from readers and reviewers. Not everyone is an English Major or a Creative Writing major or even a very thorough reader like I am and like the teachers and fellow students I've dealt with in the past. Most people here are reading for the sake of pure enjoyment and entertainment. Only maybe one reader in two-hundred even cares enough to review, and out of those who do, maybe only one in ten seems to care for the amount of detail and subtle nuances I try to include to give the story more depth. I had to learn to accept this, that I had a choice to continue writing the way I wanted to, knowing a lot of my efforts would go unrecognized, or I could change my writing to better fit the desires of my readership.

I've learned a lot about character development. Writing a 200,000 word story has made me realize that character development is rarely all one-way. It's an up and down process, characters taking two steps forward onto to immediately take one step back. And I've learned a lot about using someone else's characters/world. I've always considered one of my biggest 'strengths' as a writer is my ability to mimic another author's writing style. BUT I am NOT very adept at portraying characters the same way the author would. Things like word choice, verbal tics, physical mannerisms are very important to how characters are defined and often I find it difficult to keep them consistent with the way the original author portrayed them.

I've learned how to manage more characters. I'm still not very good at it, but in my original stories I rarely have more than 5 or 6 'named' characters to develop. But with my long fic, I have dozens of important characters (both canon and original) to try and keep track of and give screen (page) time to. I think I'm still really bad at it, but I'm definitely better than when I started.

As for bad habits, I'll admit that I am far more lax about my revision of my fic material. "It's just fanfiction" I tell myself (plus I have a wonderful beta whom I know will catch most if not all my mistakes, which furthers the laziness). I haven't really seen it affect my original fiction as I still tend to revise that like crazy and labor over every single word so that it's perfect, so I suppose it's not the worst habit I could've picked up. And really, my writing time is limited and I don't see anything wrong with spending it working on new material than wasting it on revising 'good' material in the hopes of making it into 'great' material when reviews have proven that 99% of my readers wouldn't care about the extra effort anyway.

6/3/2012 #29
Maddyson Ruby

I've (obviously) not been on FF.Net long but I have been writing a while and looking back at my older stories... Gah! I can't help but shudder. They are so awful... Most if not all of them were like this happened, then that happened etc. To top that off, only about 2 of 30-40 fanfics were even finished. They all also seem to have no plotlines whatsoever. I've grown in that aspect. My stories now have plots! And are (in my opinion) interesting to read. They also have a much, much higher chance of being finished instead of sitting oin my computer or all eternity.

My character's are another improvement. They personalities and histories instead of being random perfect Mary-Sues. I admit to going on a Mary-Sue stint in my early fanfic days. Ao, yeah, have I improved? Definitely.

6/5/2012 #30
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