Author has written 28 stories for Legend of Zelda, Tales of Symphonia, Harry Potter, Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Vesperia, and Avatar: Last Airbender.
Location: Idaho, USA
Status: Still learning…
Sections (Control “F” to find the section):
--Tips for proving you’re an amateur writer
--Tips for the writer who cares about the quality of their work
--Fandoms and Fandumbs
--Review: Con-Crits Vs Ego Strokers
--Statuses on Stories
My profile grew cobwebs. Did you see them? I had to clean up in here. I hate spiders.
I was inspired by another profile I read that made me scream from frustration. She had a couple good tips, but two of her worst tips are #1 and #2 on the list below. Because of this profile, I cleaned out the cobwebs on my profile and decided to give my profile readers the REAL tips for writing fanfiction:
Tips for proving you’re an amateur writer:
1. NEVER use the word said. “Said” is the most boring word in the English language. You’re not a true writer unless you can find the most off the wall descriptive way to avoid using “said”.
2. Two words: Purple Prose.
3. Use clichés instead of coming up with a creative way to show imagery.
4. Never research the character or the world they live in. You know them well enough. And the first response that flows from your fingers is always the best response no matter if the character would really say that or not.
5. Never edit your work before posting or submitting it to a beta, and never use a spelling/grammar check. You wrote it up perfectly the first round. There’s no need to make sure your work is perfect.
6. Write from the seat of your pants. Never plan or plot anything beforehand.
7. Use the character’s name a total of 10 times (maybe less but never more than that) unless the story is only 500 words long. Then use it 3 times. Once you reach that limit, use anything else to show who you’re talking about, even physical descriptions.
Tips for the writer who cares about the quality of their work:
1. Use said more often than words to replace it. You can use other words to replace said, but use them on purpose. Said is read more as a punctuation mark, not a word, and its only purpose is to show who is speaking. It’s the most invisible way to attribute the dialogue to the speaker. If your dialogue is strong enough, you don’t need a different word. You want readers to focus on the dialogue, not the word you used to replace said. To avoid using said too much, you can insert "beats" or actions, a "ping-pong" dialogue effect where two people are talking back and forth (you don't need as much attribution so long as it's clear who is speaking), and even the dialogue itself can help with who's speaking. I encourage using any technique that fits:
If you’re using a descriptive word intentionally, for it to be effective, it has to flow, change how the dialogue is read, convey the meaning the writer intends to show the reader, and let the reader know who is talking. I used “and” without “or” on purpose. If the descriptive word satisfies all those things, by all means, use it. :D
The problem with most stories on FFN is that writers use the descriptive words for the wrong reasons. They’ll use them just to replace said, just because they like the way it looks or sounds, to sound smart, show off, or just because they feel the dialogue is weak and needs a descriptive word to support it. More often than not, “said” or another technique would make the writing stronger, stand out the dialogue much more, and improve the flow of the story.
Here’s a sentence with dialogue:
Now consider this:
“Why don't you just drop dead?” She aimed the gun and fired.
Having said that, let's pull the dialogue and leave it by itself and compare it to an alternative.
"Why don't you just drop dead?"
If you were ready to shoot someone, which would you _really_ say? And did you get the feeling she was screaming without me saying so? Also, notice the impact is stronger. Try this, then:
"Die!" She aimed the gun and fired.
And then something like this:
“So that’s what he meant…” She muttered.
“Muttered” changes how the phrase was spoken. It assists the dialogue without solely supporting it. If you left “muttered” out, the reader can openly interpret the other characters in the room (if any) heard what she said. Unless that’s what you intended, you’ll want to use muttered, ne?
2. Wordiness is confusing. You don’t need to tell us the most beautiful words in your vocabulary. Use words that create an image and you’ll cut word count. Especially if the words you’re cutting were written to support the previous sentence and yet have no other purpose. Use strong words like nouns and verbs. Use weaker words like adverbs and prepositions (and by extension, prepositional phrases) sparingly and with a purpose. If you can’t back up your reasons for using it, or if you cut it and the effect is the same or better, leave it out.
So why does word count matter so much? Consider this: The number of words in a sentence can be interpreted as an inverse correlation to the comprehension of the sentence. If a sentence has three words, it has 97% comprehension rate. Likewise, fifty word sentence, 50%. What this means is that the more words a sentence has, the more complex it becomes, and that makes it harder to keep track of what the sentence means, especially if the sentence has several different ideas happening at once, such as this sentence that you are reading right now. Wouldn't it be easier to chop up longer sentences and give each idea its own sentence? That's why wordiness is confusing.
3. If you see a cliché, cut it. There are better forms of writing than that. Be creative. The best authors put thought into their work and really work at making it fresh and new. I still haven’t forgotten Moonshine’s Guide’s line: “Score-abiding citizen”. If you don't think you have many fresh ideas, study what others have done that you like. Loreena McKennitt, poets, and song writers are great people to study. Also try some exercises in coming up with new descriptions. Google some; they're everywhere.
4. Research everything! Well, maybe not everything, but if you know the basics of the world you’re writing about, it’s easier to avoid inserting an item that shouldn’t be there. I’ve seen double strollers in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I've also seen blenders in a Tales of Vesperia fanfic. (Yes, I remembered where I saw it.) Actually, the author and I had a debate about that. They have blastia in Vesperia, but what they don't have is electricity. Electricity gave birth to corded objects that get plugged into the wall. There are no outlets in Vesperia. Ergo, no blenders. But they do have lampposts. Lampposts have blastia cores that glow at night. Basically, it all boils down to the origins of the item in the story. If it was born through specific means that may or may not replicated in other situations (compare our world to steam punk and you'll understand what I mean) then you can determine whether or not it would be in their world. Do some research. Think about what they would and would not have in their world and write accordingly.
Likewise, know your characters. If you ever write "'There are pink elephants on the ceiling!' Yuri giggled", I surely hope you're implying that he's had waaaaay too much to drink. Of course, there are far less subtle dialogue issues that come up so pay attention to that. Would this character really say that? Really? Be honest.
5. Always edit to the best of your ability. Set your story aside for a while and pay attention to pieces that sound odd. Read it aloud. Read it a month after you write it. Think about what you wrote, the words you used. Print it out and read it on paper. Mark it up until it’s one giant gob of red. Your betas will thank you for putting so much work into it. While I’m on that subject, choose a good beta. Don’t ask your best friend who knows nothing about writing to beta your work. Choose someone who will be honest yet friendly, and thorough. Just because someone agrees to look over your work doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. If it comes back with a few minor changes, consider switching to a new beta. A huge red flag is “Oh, this awesome! Keep up the great work!” A real beta will have constructive criticism.
6. You don’t have to plot every single detail, but if you don’t know the basic beginning, middle, and ending to your story, you will end up with a mess of a story. Write up the ten most important scenes and build from there. Don’t forget the law of cause and effect. If someone says or does something, there are consequences. The difference between plot and story: Story is “The king died and then the queen died.” Plot is the why: “The king died and then the queen died of grief.” Suddenly, we care about the queen dying. Make us care about the characters and we’ll be entertained. The best way to do that is to plot your story.
7. Use the character’s name! If Kratos is the character you speak of, it’s not auburn-haired- * insert noun , purple-clad-, Angelic-, nor is it * insert physical description * -angel, -mercenary, -seraph, -human, -Lloyd’s father, -member of Cruxis, -swordsman, or any other creative way to avoid using the name “Kratos.” Even if you’re using it 1,000,000 times, it’s Kratos! You can use pronouns, please do, but if you’re using anything else, PLEASE use them sparingly. You may feel like you’re writing the name until you’re flat out sick of it, but when you’re reading a story, you want to be clear who the character is without mucking up your writing with multi-word descriptions just to avoid using the name. By not using the character’s name, you are branding yourself an amateur.
Along those same lines, pay attention to the Point of View you're writing from. If Lloyd just barely met someone and he doesn't know their name, that's a very good reason to use descriptions instead of names. Keep it in character to what he can glean from the newcomer until he learns the person's name. Then you should start using it. For example, we called her "the assassin" until we learned her name was Sheena.
As with all rules, you can break them, but do so with a purpose. In fact, everything you do, do it with a purpose. Your word choice, your sentences, your paragraphs, your plot, your characters, your dialogue, your setting, your scene, everything should be done intentionally to get the effect you want. That way, if someone calls you out on something, (if anyone cares enough to anyway), you can back up your decision to do it. If you can’t back it up with a good solid reason for its existence, change it. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?
Well, writing is a lot of work. :)
I do have a few resources that have helped me a lot. I’d like to share them with you. The number one most useful book I have ever read is called, “The Writer’s Little Helper” by James V. Smith, Jr. If you’re serious about writing better, get your hands on this book and take every page to heart.
Another book I highly recommend is “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King.
From there, just about any grammar book that you’ll actually dive into and learn from would be awesome. Also, keep in mind that many grammar "rules" are simply style choices. A great way to find out which ones are is to check out "Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies" by June Casagrande. Even knowing the "rules" and which ones are style choices, you can still artistically break them so long as you, that's right, break the rules on purpose.
The most important thing to remember is that the more you read and critique what you read, the more you will learn. Even if you’re reading a magazine, newspaper, books on writing, everything, you will pick up something interesting. Pay attention to audio and visual media too. It’s amazing what you glean from the world around you.
I highly recommend reading books on writing. Absorb them and then throw them into your toolbox, but take every book with a grain of salt. Remember that these books are opinions of successful authors and most of them will give you the same advice. The more you read, the more you’ll find your own style and you’ll form your own rules. You’ll learn what it takes to be the best you can be. Never discount any technique you come across. Keep them in the back of your mind and use them when you see the best place for them. (At the same time, though, ones that are not recommended by most successful authors, you will want to use sparingly and on purpose.)
http://forum.fanfiction.net/topic/54468/11812620/1/ This site is a forum I set up. You can ignore the rest of the forum, but this one page has tons of advice from books listed above. They go into more detail about some of the tips for improving your writing. If you can spare the time, I hope you can find something useful.
Dictionary dot com paired with thesaurus dot com. Never use the thesaurus without consulting the dictionary.
Nanowrimo dot org has a forum where you can get some awesome help. You do have to sign up, but signing up is free. And why not participate in the November 50,000 word challenge while you’re there?
Stumbleupon is an interesting way to find different writing sites. Just stumble “writing” and you’ll come across all kinds of tips for writing various different genres and writing types. If you end up stumbling a script or a poem page, read it anyway! Every resource you can thumb through will help you.
Fandoms and Fandumbs
You are a fan! Awesome! You love your fandoms, whatever they may be, and you feel so strongly for them that they are interwoven into your lives as if the characters were family. You cry when they cry, you laugh when they do something stupid, and you cheer with every triumph. Even so, show some respect for other fandoms and don’t backlash against someone just because they don’t love your fandom.
I love this quote:
If someone says they hate your fandom, be the adult and say, “more for me.” Of course, many will see this and call me out on my own opinions I have placed here about fandoms I don’t care for. How hypocritical of me to say other fandoms need respect after I’ve shown none for certain fandoms. Oh well. We all have to grow up sometime. :)
But the fact is, you can love your fandom all you want to, please do. I have the same freedom to not like it. My issue, therefore, lies in the backlash that is received when someone says they don’t like it. People can be civil and discuss their opinions without getting nasty about it. Or at least, that’s the faith I give humankind. Don’t let me down, ne?
Reviews: Con-Crits Vs Ego Strokers
The most awesome people in the world are Constructive Criticism Reviewers! If you happen to find one, cling to them! Ego Strokers are awesome too for the adrenaline rush they give you, but they’re just like energy drinks. They feel good, but they’re very bad for you because 95% of the time, they’re not being honest with you. The Constructive Criticism Reviewers, however, are the broccoli that kids don’t like. They’re healthy and make great betas, but they taste bitter because hearing that your most precious story isn’t the best is hard. Those who can suck it up and swallow the feedback anyway, no matter how bitter, are the ones who will become the best authors. At this point, I’d like to welcome any Constructive Criticism Reviewers to rip my stuff apart so that I may know what I’m doing wrong and that I may become the best I can be too. If you can’t, that’s okay. :)
Anyway, Statuses on Stories:
Flight of the Jellyfish—A huge plot hole left me licking my wounds so I tore the story down to make myself work on it. This story isn’t dead. It’ll come back eventually, but I did read some of it and get a new kindling of a fire stoked on it. Problem is, I have so many projects going now that it’s still going to be on the back burner for a while. It will be finished someday though.
To Beat the Dress—My current project. I am so thrilled with this story I can’t work on anything else. It’s a Tales of Vesperia fiction following Lady Estellise. It’ll be a while before this one is posted though because, following my own advice, I’m working to make it the best it can possibly be before I pass it off to a beta. Update: Plowing forward! :D
Battle-axes and Lemon Gels—Another project I have started on but this one is suffering more than Flight of the Jellyfish. I just can’t get a good plot going. XD It’s an adult Rita and Karol story that I think will thrill if I can ever get it on the right track.
And lastly: A story that has no title. It’s a Tales of the Abyss Gailardia story but I won’t say much about it because really, there’s not much to tell. Mostly, he is my crutch for getting over my fear of driving and semis and pretty much anything else that causes me to have a panic attack over the dumbest things. I understand Guy. Because of that and Natalia’s heartless comment, “If you hadn’t helped Anise, I never would’ve forgiven you”, I feel a certain attachment to him. Natalia on the other hand can go to hell. She doesn’t understand how hard it is to control panic attacks. Because of this connection, I decided to write about him working through his fears and hopefully both of us will come out ahead. But this story won’t be out for a very long time. Update: Thanks to Nanowrimo, I now has a basic manuscript to work from! 8D It is just over 50,000 words long and has an ending. Now to go back and edit it. Unfortunately for the story, To Beat the Dress comes first now. :)
I’m done with making promises, too. I just plain can’t keep them. XD So rather than promise I’ll get stuff fixed up or posted, I will leave it open to interpretation and hope someday everything I am working on will become the most beautiful work I can make it and share it for the world to see. Without promising so. After all, as some author so wisely put it: “Hope never promised anything.” I want to say that was from Tales of the House of the Moon, an InuYasha fanfiction by Resmiranda? I think that sounds right… But I could also be wrong.
If you want recommendations, read my faves. :)
Unsafe External Link