Hello, I am Shrouded View. :)
Not sure what brought you here, but if it was my beta work, I hope that you will read on and find out why I do things the way I do.
I am the beta of several fics, but am always on the look-out for more. If you are interested, please drop me a line!
I feel that while FF.net's policy of publishing 5 stories or having a certain amount of words is well-intentioned, it does nothing to control the quality of beta readers as it is supposed to. I could easily publish 5 "stories" worth of crap, and be labeled as eligible to get my "beta license" as it were. Unfortunately, this policy does not take into account people like me, who have no interest in writing fics of their own, but are still high-quality, beta material who honestly have a desire to help and enjoy reading for reading's sake. While I may not be "official", I do take pride in providing a high-quality, detailed, and personable experience to the authors with whom I work. You may think of me as "black market"...but I prefer the title "Underground Editor" :)
Fics for Which I am Beta:
My livejournal can be found under the name "shrouded_view"
My DA account is foreignmind.deviantart.com if you're interested. ("Celtic Nouveau" and Abstract art) My main passion is art, but I will admit to also loving the monster that is called procrastination...
I also now have a kimono blog! For those of you interested in the trials of a Westerner wearing traditional Japanese clothing: www.yieldforkimono.wordpress.com.
Personally, I am a huge manga fan. It's what originally brought me to this site. I am always on the lookout for new and awesome manga that I haven't read. So, if you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
Here are a list of what I consider to be very well-written manga:
The Bride of The Water God (Korean manhwa)
D. Gray Man
Hana to Akuma
I will also admit to being a fan of the David Bowie movie The Labyrinth...
And I was recently sucked into the vortex that is Star Trek. My excuse is that none can resist Spock.
A few "Rules of Thumb" that I feel make a successful fic: (updated sporadically)
1. If you are writing a romance fic, DO NOT have the main couple suddenly and randomly declaring their love for each other. If this is not the very definition of OOC, then I don't know what is. Same thing for love triangles. My philosophy? There's a reason for the triangle, and you should not overlook the "rival" character simply because you hate them. Character-bashing is simply immature in my opinion, because it proves that you can't understand basic plot devices.
2. Sure, a few Japanese words may be cool here and there, but when it gets to the point where you have to be bilingual in order to read your fic then there's a problem. Yes, your readers will eventually pick up on the lingo, but only after stumbling across a fic whose author was kind enough to use a glossary. You must remember that you are writing this fic for your readers enjoyment, not yourself, and one thing to factor into your writing is convenience. People won't read what they can't understand.
3. Not falling into cliches is easier said than done. But think of it this way- there are millions of fics out there, what's so special about yours? Why would anyone want to read it when it's the very same thing they just read a hundred times? They wouldn't. Right now you might be saying, "But I can't come up with anything original!"...well, I would tell you to read this quote: "There is nothing new under the sun." What this means is that you can't come up with anything that is totally, and completely original. You can't come up with an idea that someone, somewhere hasn't thought of before...but what you can do is take that idea and give it a twist, turn it around and look at it from a new perspective or different angle. This is how good fics are made, both fanfiction and regular fiction.
4. Spelling. If you are not good at this, have someone who is look over your fic. Another thing is grammar. Sure, using spell-check may be okay for just spelling, but it does not pick up grammatical errors. It amazes me how many people do not have a good grasp on the English language. Run-ons and incomplete sentences are something that we are taught about in 2nd grade, and yet I see these all the time in otherwise good fics. Readers will stop reading if they don't understand what is going on, and if your grammar is so bad that your story can't be understood...well, then I'm sorry, but you really need to go back to school. If you really can't use good grammar, then I highly suggest finding a beta who can.
5. And that brings me to the subject of betas. Having someone else read over your fic before posting it is an excellent idea. (And no, I do not say this simply because I myself am a beta) They can point out spelling, grammar, and plot holes so that your readers won't have to. I know from experience that another's opinion on your fic is an excellent thing to have, because we often get so wrapped up in our own story that we fail to see it's shortcomings. And, let's face it...sometimes we don't get it right on the first, or even the third try. Writing is a process, but it is a sometimes difficult one- having someone there to support you helps a lot. One thing to remember however- choose your Beta with care. Look at other works they have beta-ed, and determine if they have a good grasp on English vocabulary. Also, if you can't get along with your beta, there's no rule stating that you can't get another. A beta's job is to help you improve and refine your fic, and if you can't get along, then they aren't helping. (But make sure that the problem does not lie with yourself first) There are pros and cons to having a beta, but in my opinion, the extra time it takes to post will be well worth it.
6. Translation of Japanese names to English. This one applies mainly to the Manga section. One thing that apparently a lot of people are ignorant of is that English spellings of Japanese names are only approximate. Japanese names are translated into English by sound. Why? Well, because the Japanese do not use the same alphabet as we do. Romanji is the English way of writing Japanese, but this only conveys the pronunciation of the word, not it's "true" spelling or meaning. Therefore, there is no such thing as the "true Japanese spelling" in English. You'd have to learn to write in hiragana and kanji in order to "correctly" write out a character's name. For example, if a character has a name which includes the "oo" sound in English, it is written in romanji with a barred "o". However, since the English language doesn't technically have this letter, "ou" is sometimes used to approximate the correct sound. Some people consider this redundant however, or do not make a distinction between the pronounciation, and drop the "u". Technically speaking though...they're all "wrong". It's just a matter of how wrong you care that you are.
7. Quick posting times do not necessarily equal a good fic. Sure, your readers may love you for updating every week or even every month-and if you can do that and still keep up with your standard of writing then by all means, go ahead! But, if you find yourself strapped for time, (There is such a thing as the "real world" you know), or you have a bit of a writer's block, then take a break! No one will kill you for not updating for a few weeks. In fact, some of the best fics I have ever read had months or even years between updates. (Years between updates are, however, highly discouraged, for obvious reasons...) Oftentimes, when we push ourselves to write at an extremely fast pace, we drain ourselves dry in a matter of moments. The only cure for writer's block is to leave it be until you are re-inspired. Go and do something else-you'll be rejuvenated when you come back and you'll be able to actually focus on what you're writing. And don't worry so much about getting it out there so quickly- remember, "Slow and steady wins the race"!
There are many, many more that I could write here-but I'm too lazy right now to type it all up lol. ;p I will however, occasionally add more as I think of them. Hope this helped!