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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Corinne Tate

Maybe my age is showing, but I'm sorta glad we don't have all the cute little additions in forum posts. I've been on sites where there are smileys and colored text, and to me it's a major distraction. I'm also thinking that for every slick feature they add, there would be dozens of questions about how to use the slick feature, by newbies and old ladies like me. And then if we had it in forum posts, there would be those who would want it in their stories. I'd really hate to be reading a story, and find the writer added, say a different POV, and changed the color to red to represent it.

I personally like the old school method of actually having to write out certain facial expressions. Maybe it's because this is a writing site. Or maybe it's because I'm one of those who laments the erosion of the language, as chat speak and symbols take over. Even though it's allowed, I will never lol or ROFL -- too cliche'. I also would never use a smiley face, no matter how cute. I happen to love language. (wistful smile.)

6/11/2012 #31
Hippothestrowl

It's true it can be taken too far - and that's just what has happened in the last few years. Forums I've used without problems get upgraded and it's hard to see what has improved - but you can see what is more complicated and see new bugs. One click for a spoiler now needs three and it's not obvious where to find it. An image link which used to instantly show a full-size picture now pauses for two seconds, expands an animated rectangle with a whirly thing in the middle for three seconds - then displays a small sized image with a link to the bigger one we used to have in the first place! D'uh? What I'd like is to go back to the '90's when forums were simpler but had all the main features you'd want. Topic or message text search, all, any, or exact phrase - and displayed the results with in-context keywords.

6/11/2012 #32
Raichu

I've been on sites where there are smileys and colored text, and to me it's a major distraction.

I've been on forums and people use these features to enhance communication. Just because a feature can be misused doesn't make it bad in itself. there would be dozens of questions about how to use the slick feature, by newbies and old ladies like me.

You don't have to use them. I'm not young but I've figured things out over time ;) And then if we had it in forum posts, there would be those who would want it in their stories.

Yes, that would be going too far. I'm not advocating that :o Or maybe it's because I'm one of those who laments the erosion of the language, as chat speak and symbols take over.

As someone who has learned Japanese, I see things differently. A single character can sometimes convey a thought or feeling better than a bunch of words.

I also would never use a smiley face, no matter how cute. I'm sorry to hear that :(

6/12/2012 #33
Kanttarelli

I feel that the site would improve a lot if it was a bit more interactive: it would be more rewarding for a writer to see more feedback. Popular stories are more reviewed than others - the amount of rewievs does not say anything about the story. I like the idea of giving points or stars to a story on a scale from 0 to 10 or 1 to 5. It should be easy to rate a story.

If the rating feature is not going to be added to the site, it would be nice to at least see how many people have marked a story as a favourite of theirs. If I understand correctly, only the writer can see it. When looking for stories to read it would be nice to find stories that are favourites of other readers.

Another thing: I don't understand the forums. There are thousands of them but only a few are active. Don't they eat up resources? I'd just delete all forums that haven't been active for a year (or X months) or so and I'd make this a permanent feature.

6/13/2012 #34
Hippothestrowl

I don't know what percentage of resources are wasted on dead forums but another problem is that it's harder to find the useful forums with so much clutter.

6/13/2012 #35
cathrl

Well, they did do the "sort by relevance" forum feature which put us at the top of the list...

They also removed a load of "dead" forum material a while back (and teed off a lot of people, especially in the roleplay forums).

I confess to using smileys in the forums. I'd never use them in a story, but here I think it can help where there's no way to hear a tone of voice. And, as an Old Person, it doesn't worry me that they're the all-text version instead of little icons.

Just as long as they don't start doing what another forum I post on has, which is that certain words or phrases auto-trigger a smiley icon. So any time you type the word "cake" it's immediately followed by a little cake icon. In the middle of the sentence. I loathe it. Drives me completely spare.

6/13/2012 #36
Kanttarelli

Hippo: my thoughts precisely. The clutter in the forums makes the whole forum thing very confusing. 23,908 "General" forums - W**?

There should be a guideline saying: "If you create a forum, please keep in mind that if there are no posts in X months, it is automatically deleted".

6/13/2012 . Edited 6/14/2012 #37
spout

I wouldn't change a thing, because then people would flip out and start making petitions.

Petitions scare me.

6/14/2012 #38
Lord Kelvin

There should be a guideline saying: "If you create a forum, please keep in mind that if there are no posts in X months, it is automatically deleted".

That is the regular business practice...and they used to have a nine-month timer in forums, but they stopped using that after their engine axed two thirds of all forum posts. The reason some of these forums are empty is because the threads were deleted, but the emptiness doesn't take as much server space.

6/14/2012 #39
Raichu

Hold on, don't mix up two different things. Creating a forum in which there are no posts is one thing. Deleting old posts from a thread inside an otherwise successful forum is quite another.

I'm quite happy with deleting unsuccessful forums.

However, old threads in an otherwise successful forum still have archival value. At least they would if you could search them.

6/15/2012 #40
Corinne Tate

I know this is just me, but I'd like it, if when you clicked on the review option, it pulled the window up within the story, so you could see both the story and the review you're writing. I often review as I read, and it's difficult to get both windows visible on the screen.

6/15/2012 #41
thelastpen

That doesn't happen for you? Whenever I hit the review button in Firefox, it opens a popup window. Maybe you have popups blocked or set to open in a new tab or something like that?

6/15/2012 #42
Silver-hair Angel

I know this is just me, but I'd like it, if when you clicked on the review option, it pulled the window up within the story, so you could see both the story and the review you're writing. I often review as I read, and it's difficult to get both windows visible on the screen.

That doesn't happen for you? Whenever I hit the review button in Firefox, it opens a popup window. Maybe you have popups blocked or set to open in a new tab or something like that?

Same; it also does it in Chrome or IE. Check your settings.

In the meanwhile, right click the review button and open it in a new tab or window.

6/15/2012 #43
Raichu

For me, I use firefox and it opens the review in a new window. I adjust both windows to be half the screen so they're side by side. That way, I can go over the story and even copy quotes if I need them into the review window. Thankfully they fixed the fixed width issue they had for a short while, otherwise that would be impossible.

The problem with opening a textbox at the bottom of the same window is that you would need to scroll up and down and you would be losing your place every time you wrote something into the textbox.

6/15/2012 #44
Lord Kelvin

FFN decided to improve itself a few hours ago and included multi log-ins. If for some reason you log into another person's account, do not worry, it was set up for testing purposes.

6/16/2012 #45
cathrl

Oops!

(has occasionally managed to implement similarly useful "upgrades" in her software)

6/16/2012 #46
Corinne Tate

(sheepish grin) Old lady here forgot you can change the size of those screens -- doh!

6/16/2012 #47
JadedPhoenixBurning

I think that I have something to suggest to improve the site. Change the requirements to become a Beta. Right now nearly ANYONE can claim to be a Beta. Just post enough and BOOM you can sign up. How about a basic language and grammar test that you must be able to pass before being listed as a Beta. That way those that could really use one themselves on a major scale are not listed for unsuspecting first time users of the Beta program to fall victim to. I mean, it seems that a good number of the profiles that I've read lately will flat out say that they don't help with spelling, grammar or punctuation. OKAY! And they think that they can be helpful because...?

6/17/2012 #48
Hippothestrowl

Change the requirements to become a Beta. Right now nearly ANYONE can claim to be a Beta. Just post enough and BOOM you can sign up. How about a basic language and grammar test

It probably would not work to implement quite that way but I agree some improvement is needed to grade and filter beta testers. Perhaps one thing might be a rating system (would anyone bother cheating?) and a 'recent activity' indicator. On many websites, profiles and even beneath the avatar in the post it says 'number of posts =' If beta profiles indicated how 'hot' they were in terms of being active recently, reliability, etc. it should help. Needs a lot of thought how to do that. It would also help if somehow they could indicate how 'ready' and enthusiastic they are. Seems to me that the 'active' indicator we have here is nowhere near enough.

6/17/2012 #49
JadedPhoenixBurning

Perhaps it would help in choosing a Beta if a random piece written by the beta would appear on the profile page it would make it easier to choose a Beta. If you saw that the Beta needed a beta worse than you do then you would by pass them real quick.

6/17/2012 #50
Raichu

a good number of the profiles that I've read lately will flat out say that they don't help with spelling, grammar or punctuation. OKAY! And they think that they can be helpful because...?

You don't know what their reasons are for not helping with basics. It could be because they can't do it themselves, or because they're not interested, or because they think that you shouldn't be attempting to write unless you know the basics yourself.

There's more to being a helpful beta than just correcting grammar. You can critique the plot, suggest stylistic improvements, point out out-of-character-ness, and so on. I have few problems with grammar, but I'm still getting a beta reader for my latest story because there are other issues I need help with.

6/18/2012 #51
JadedPhoenixBurning

True there are other things to being a Beta than just the basics but it just seems that the more and more I check out betas in some of the fandoms that I'm interested in branching out into just seem to not want to even bother with checking this with their own stories either. It's almost as if some of these people only want to be the first ones to read new stories. I've tried to give the benefit of the doubt to a couple and sent a chapter thinking that perhaps they could give some basic concrit but all I got in return was a "LOVE IT!!!". While it's nice to know that the story might would be well received I'd like to know what did you like, not like, would enjoy seeing more of and such. When I prodded for more of a response it was pretty much pointless. So not only do some of these people offering to be a beta not want to be bothered with the basics apparently they couldn't be bothered with giving more than a two to three word reply after they had read through the chapter.

6/18/2012 #52
Corinne Tate

I think the point is, that if the "beta" says they don't help with grammar and punctuation, it's likely because they can't do it themselves. If they can't do it themselves, then they've got no business calling themselves a beta.

When I was a beta, I discovered that any beta worth their salt, isn't going to allow bad grammar to pass them by, just because they believe the writer should know better. I found that if I was checking the accuracy of her work, I felt responsible for all of it. I noted plot holes, grammar mistakes, punctuation, spelling, and tense agreement. I also checked up on any suspicious facts, and I was online checking to find out if they had automatic speeding tickets in our country (to see if she should explain what it was.) I looked up the age when someone can legally enter a casino, and noted that her characters wouldn't have been allowed inside. I told her she was veering into purple prose when the characters were all warm and fuzzy over each other.

A beta is more than just a pre-reader who tells you you're fantastic. They should be the ones who critique you the hardest, and point out every flaw they can find. In some ways it's harder to beta than it is to write the story. A beta should be like an editor, who tells you what you need to know, not what you want to hear.

Now I have read some beta profiles who say they don't want to beta for a writer who doesn't have a grasp of grammar themselves. I can at least respect that, as I have read some stories that would be complete rewrites if I were the beta -- they were just so bad. But if a beta can't grasp basic grammar and punctuation, I have to wonder what else they won't know. I've read beta profiles with horrible grammar, spelling mistakes, incomplete or run-on sentences, and their preferences on the type of story they wanted to work with even within their fandom. It sounded more like they were just glorified pre-readers who wanted to get their greasy little mitts on someone else's story, because they didn't have the ability to write their own.

6/18/2012 #53
JadedPhoenixBurning

EXACTLY, Corinne. Which is why I am sorely disappointed with the fact that it is so easy to be called a beta. Post enough on the site, regardless of quality, then you can have that little badge on your profile that says that you are a beta. Having an over-abundance of these "pre-readers" listed makes it difficult for those that want a TRUE beta to sort through the masses. It's like going dumpster diving and hoping that you can find a perfectly good cheeseburger to eat when you are hungry amongst the rotten veggies.

6/18/2012 #54
Corinne Tate

The thing is, grammar and punctuation were taught right along with sentence structure, tense agreement, spelling, continuity, POV, and clarity. If someone doesn't know the difference between their, there, and they're, or your, you're and yore, or to, too, and two, then they're not going to catch if I slip into present tense, and I'll be on my own if I misuse a comma.

I"m not sure how the site could weed out bad beta's. I believe there are some writers who would use a barely literate beta, because that's at least one person reading and reviewing their story. And if that beta tells their friends to read the story, then it's a networking thing.

I recommended a test for writers to insure minimum standards, and it met with so much resistance, as some seem to think basic skills are subjective. So, the idea of testing betas probably won't fly either. Maybe if you could review the betas?

As much as I've recommended "emerging" writers to get a beta, it's surprisingly difficult to find a good one. I'm still looking for the grammar nazi who can tolerate smut (for a story I'm writing on fiction press,) but I haven't found anyone who's got a better grasp of comma use than I do, and will read that genre.

6/18/2012 #55
Ragnelle

I've put my beta-profile on 'inactive' because I have no time to beta, but I am among those that would say that my strong points are not grammar or spelling. Because I am not a native speaker, and I am dyslectic. So while I can pick up on glaring mistakes, I can't promise to catch them all, and I would not want a potential writer think I can help them with something I don't trust myself to be good enough at.

I still think I could be of help, but on different things. I can give quite in-depth critique on things like descriptions, plot, I know quite a lot on the canon of my fandom, narrator voice, POV, use of language, rhythm etc etc. I would just say: find an additional beta to help with spelling and grammar because I will not catch all. Don't mean I would ignore mistakes I saw, but I need a spell-check beta myself. (Found one, too, who works wonderfully for me: the last chapters she has betaed none of my readers - so far- have found any nitpicks to comment on.)

But I have a writers-group that gives that first-draf critique. They usually don't bother with typos in a first draft, though they know I want to hear about them. Often that is because it is a waste to correct typos in a sentence that is going to be rewritten anyway: the miss-spelled word might not make it past the first draft.

Of course, the basics are in place in that group, and then it is a difference.

My main point (if I had any), is that I know I am not the right person to teach spelling and grammar. If that is what the writer need, then they need another beta than me. As simple as that. Besides, I have no interest in being an English teacher

6/18/2012 #56
Raichu

That's right. People have different skills to offer, and just because they would have trouble explaining how to use commas properly doesn't mean they can't judge other aspects of a story, such as plausibility, suspense, atmosphere, etc. Someone like me has no trouble knowing where to put commas, but I'm a dumbo at suspense. So I need a different beta reader to someone else who is a natural at story-telling but whose education failed to teach them the basics of grammar.

So I have no trouble with different beta readers offering different skills, so long of course as they advertise accurately.

6/18/2012 #57
Corinne Tate

Ragnelle, I think you're more the exception than the rule. From reading all your un-beta'd posts, it's clear to see you've got a decent grasp of grammar and spelling, even if you do slip up sometimes. I see many writers and betas who have difficulty with even the basics. I also see so many who flat out say they do not care about such things. I don't think they realize how ignorant it makes them sound. "I refuse to learn or to better myself!"

But since there are so few good betas, I think I'm going to change my recommendations to "get a good grammar book, and use it -- and not to prop your computer!"

6/18/2012 #58
cathrl

I think the difference is that Ragnelle knows it matters. There's a difference between saying "I am not the right person to help you with spelling and grammar" and saying "I don't think you need to have someone check your spelling and grammar."

Similarly, my own beta profile says that I'm not going to be able to check your American cultural references and dialogue. I think it matters that you get them checked. I'm just not the right person to do it.

6/18/2012 #59
Corinne Tate

Exactly! It matters, and there are so many who think it does not.

Maybe all the good betas are busy? I know I could be a decent beta, but I don't have time (as it appears lately all I do is spam the forum.) It really does take time and effort to be a proper beta. In some ways it starts to feel like you're a co-writer.

6/18/2012 #60
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