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Title: Writing 101
Description: Tips, advice, and other helpful tools


penguita38 - July 4, 2007 06:16 PM (GMT)
Writing 101

I have had a swarm of PM’s over the past year. In every email I receive, I get an array of various questions ranging from: How do you write? to Can you help me or give me advice?

This thread is going to be a help thread to those writers who want to, but don’t know how to, construct a story with the key elements needed to make it successful. There are a handful of writers who are going to post their advice, as well.

I suppose I should disclaim this: The opinions/advice is my style, how I work, and no one else’s. I am sure everyone has their own rules to follow, but these are mine.

Here we go. I hope this helps.

1. Know your plot from start to finish
This helps eliminate most writers block. It doesn’t mean that you have to know what each paragraph in each chapter should entail. It does help to have a basic outline of where your story is going, a rough image.


2. Define your characters
If your story has an antagonist, know him/her. If your story has a protagonist, other than Sam and Dean, know him/her. Get into the minds of your characters. If Mr. Villain was offered a coffee by the protagonist, how would he respond? The most successful character is one who is well rounded and personified. Make them 3D, not one dimensional.

3. Don’t just assume, know
Don’t just make a character do something on a whim. Make sure that what they do either effects the plot or doesn’t. Don’t make up situations because you think it sounds good. Sit down, think, and go over it in your mind. If having coffee in a chapter is useful, then go for it, but make it sound like it should be there, not that you had nothing to add so you put them in a coffee shop. Really think, why a character would be there, or why they would think a certain thought.

4. Going back to rule three, know your characters quirks and traits before you put them on paper

5. Make situations believable
If your character is either being tortured by the antagonist, or is just hurt, they can’t get up and run as if they’re in perfect condition. I have seen this numerous times, where Sam or Dean has been injured drastically, yet they get up and fight with a broken leg. Doesn’t work, sorry. They need medical attention. Or, if you do decide to go the torture route, make sure your antagonist doesn’t maim them to the point of no return. They are humans, not supermen. Other points of believability that make a fic work: Dean can’t fly, Sam can’t run faster than a car, Sam can’t get stabbed, and then miraculously get up and drive himself to the hospital after writhing in pain for three paragraphs. Get it? Got it? Good.

6. Look deep within yourself and channel your English spirit

Here I am going to go over some common English slips ups.

Disclaimer: These are examples taken from my own work. Please don’t use them in any other way, except to help you. And, please, note that some sentences/paragraphs (especially certain analogies) from my work will not make sense to you because they are from a story that is almost completed. And to the reader’s of Bind, yes, these snippets are from chapters I have not posted.


1) Punctuation in dialogue

Here is the biggest misconception when writing a story—comma usage.

Example one: “Nothing compared to what they are about to do.” He replied. –Wrong. There is no period ending the dialogue.

The correct way it should be written is: “Nothing compared to what they are about to do,” he replied. –A comma is used, and the He becomes he.

Example two: Broken up dialogue. If your character starts to speak, and the said is added in the middle of a sentence, a comma is used to break the dialogue, not a period. Now, if your character finishes their sentence, and then said is added, and then another sentence, a period is used.

Wrong way: “Thank you. Now.” Zen said. “I have to go.”

Correct way: “Thank you. Now,” Zen said, “I have to go.”

Example Three: An action following dialogue.

Wrong way: “Mortal death is too kind a gift for the travesty you caused. A life with a curse, a life without memory, that is the death you should be granted,” She leaned down and brushed her lips against his parched mouth.

Correct way: “Mortal death is too kind a gift for the travesty you caused. A life with a curse, a life without memory, that is the death you should be granted.” She leaned down and brushed her lips against his parched mouth.

A period is used to close the dialogue, and then state the action that follows the speech.

2) The use of “ly” words (And yes, this is the hardest one for me. I am doing it all the time)

Too many “ly” words, such as: quietly, swiftly, nicely, sweetly, hesitantly, they can actually ruin a sentence rather than add effect to it.

Example:

Not necessarily wrong, but the flow is off:

The cold tiles cruelly chilled the side of his face, begging him to give into the icy silence Death had unmercifully licked them with. His vision was blurry, but he could see his hand as it shakily twitched against the floor. Nothing around him seemed to exist, save his bloody fingers as they trembled.

Now, if we scratch some of the “ly” words, let’s see what we get.

The cold tiles cruelly chilled the side of his face, begging him to give into the icy silence Death had unmercifully licked them with. His vision was blurry, but he could see his hand as it shakily twitched against the floor. Nothing around him seemed to exist, save his bloody fingers as they trembled.

Now, finished:

The cold tiles chilled the side of his face, begging him to give into the icy silence Death had licked them with. His vision was blurry, but he could see his hand as it twitched against the floor. Nothing around him seemed to exist, save his bloody fingers as they trembled.

3) Choppy and/or fragmented sentences

The beauty of writing a novel/fanfic, is this rule isn’t as strict, as in, say, you were writing an essay.

Now, to properly move your character, they need to have a fluid motion. How? By making them do more than just stand, sit, walk, eat, and run.

Example:

Zeniff shifted his body, trying to move his arm from under his side. He placed one hand on the tile, and then turned his form. Using what strength he had, he attempted to push his body up. Tremulous arms gave way, unable to hold his beaten figure, and he fell hard to the ground. His fingers moved in a clawed rhythm against the white tiles, his nails barely scraping the smooth surface as they passed.

That paragraph was the original. Say we take away some of the “fluid” parts out of it, and leave it bare, then Zen’s movements become choppy. Like this:

Zeniff shifted his body. He placed on hand on the tile. He attempted to push his body up. His arms gave way. His fingers moved against the tiles.

Now, see, that doesn’t have the same flow or image, which image is very important to a reader. So, when in doubt, make them do a bit more. Don’t have Dean just walk to the bathroom. But beware; don’t overdo it, as well. You can have, “Sam walked through the door.” That is fine, every once in awhile. Don’t make your characters move like they are character in a video game. “Sam walked through the door. Dean looked up, but ignored him. Sam snorted, and then went to sit down on the bed.” See, doesn’t work. And trust me; I have seen it written that way in many fics.

4) Thesauruses are our friends

Please be aware that there is more than one form of a word. There are thousands of words in the dictionary, and at least five different versions of a word you might use to describe something in a sentence.

I have often seen a lot of people write the same word twice in just two sentences. “Dean quickly ran to the Impala. Sam noticed his brother’s urgent sprint, and quickly ran to get to the car, too.”

No. Not even. The “quickly ran” twice is very distracting.

A nice tool – that I often use – is a website: www.dictionary.com Try it out.

5) Description

Description is essential for a reader. It helps them visualize what is going on, and more importantly adds to feelings, settings, and just the story itself.

When you are describing a setting, please say more than there was a white house on the corner and it looked creepy. Does that sound creepy to you? No. Instead, talk about an eerie film of fog that is surrounding the property, or the whitewashed siding that is chipping. Why is it creepy? You might know, but the reader won’t.

A basic rule: Show, don’t tell. Show them why it is creepy; don’t tell them it is creepy.

This rule also applies to characters. Instead of saying your character is nervous—which is fine to do, but not all the time—show them they are nervous.

Mary’s tiny fingers fiddled with the buttons on her coat, her eyes cast down, unable to look into Tom’s angry gaze.

Instead of saying: Tom was angry at Mary, which made her nervous.

Get it? Got it? Good.

6) Words that just don’t work

-Began. Characters don’t really “began” to do something. It is a fumbling word. A reader actually gets distracted by the word began. Simply, take it out.

Example: Sam reached into his jeans pocket and began to pull out his cell phone.

Why not change it, remove began, and see how it flows.

Example: Sam reached into his jeans pocket, his fingers inches from the metal device, when a sudden noise to his left distracted him.

7) Then and Than, Your and You’re, Their, There and They’re

-Then: pertaining to time. Ex: I won first place, and then…

-Than: used as a comparison. Ex: I had no choice other than…

-Your: a form of the possessive case of you used as an attributive adjective. Ex: I like your sweater.

-You’re: the words you and are combined. Ex: I do believe you’re the killer. (Easy way to recognize is to sound it out. I do believe YOU ARE. Then you know it is you’re)

-Their: a form of the possessive case of they. Ex: Someone put their gum on my chair.

-There: a point, place, state of condition. Ex: I was going to go there... Or: There she is!

-They’re: a contraction of they and are. Ex: They’re strange people. (Again, read it aloud. They are strange people, which contracts to they’re)

8) Tenses

If you start a story in past tense, please keep to that tense. And, if you decide to go down the present tense route, it doesn’t really work for third person POV. In third person POV, present tense can be very distracting. Now, if you are writing in first person POV, it flows better.

And again, stick to the tense you start with.

9) AIM chat isn’t how words are written

Yes, I have seen this in stories. Sad, but true. Words that are used in AIM or MSN do not belong in a story. There is no such words in writing like: Thnx, gr8, Y? r, u, and plenty of others.

When a character is saying Oh my God, he is saying exactly what is written, not OMG.

Was isn’t wuz. You’re/your isn’t ur. Oh my God isn’t OMG. You isn’t u.

You get my point.

That is it for the English rules for now. I might think of some later. :)



7. Research your characters, settings, devices

When in doubt, Google. It only takes one person to notice what you wrote—because you didn’t check your sources—is false. Make sure you do proper research into the backgrounds of certain areas, laws, procedures, etc… A doctor doesn’t prescribe “cancer pills” to a patient if they are terminal. It doesn’t hurt to look it up and see.

8. Formatting your chapter

When writing a successful chapter, you have to add detail into it. You can’t have—and, yes, I’ve seen this—a whole chapter full of nothing but dialogue. Items cannot appear out of nowhere.

Example: “Can I help you, Dean?” Sam asked.

“Find anything?” Dean asked.

If your chapter is a full page of that (above), then I’m sorry, it won’t be an interesting chapter.

Add more to it, give them life.

Example:
Dean drew in a long breath, held it, and then exhaled. Hours had passed and Sam was still clicking away the keys on his laptop. His head lolled over to the side, hitting the motel pillow with a soft thud. Dean sighed again, but this time he made sure it was loud enough for Sam to hear.

“Can I help you, Dean?” Sam asked, aggravation laced within his tone.

“Find anything?” Dean asked.

Comparing the first example to the second, the first one is dry, whereas the second example clearly states the characters moods. Do not make a story full of dialogue, it ruins it. Characters are humans—despite the ink that technically makes them letters—they have emotions. Setting the surroundings for your character is very important, as well. Put trees, snow, rain, or a dog, anything around them. Give the reader a scene to picture, not just a voice.

Another great formatting tip is breaking up your paragraphs correctly. I have read several stories where they are one LONG, GIANT paragraph. Find the right moment to break it up. As well, break up your dialogue from your paragraphs. Dialogue is separate.

(Raven524 was kind of enough to let me use her paragraphs in this example. I had used my own, but it was from a chapter that I had not posted yet, and didn’t want to give anything away. The other reason is that her description is perfect to parallel my creepy house analogy from sub-rule five, Description.)

Example: The house was quiet with only the sound of the storm raging outside. The house had been empty for years, which showed in the areas of neglect. The overgrown yard, the rose bushes gone wild long ago. The outside of the house had lost most of its paint over the years, leaving the grey color of the clapboards to reflect the mood of the house. The inside of the house hadn’t faired much better, old wallpaper curled from the ceiling to meet the floor. Furniture covered in white sheets, which had faded with age and neglect. Shadows of the majesty of the house from days gone by could be seen everywhere. But soon that would change…on the night of All Hallows Eve…the house would once again be the site of a celebration. Only that night’s attendees would be in for a little more trick than treat.

Okay, now, find points that can be broken up. This is too long of a paragraph.

Example Two: The house was quiet with only the sound of the storm raging outside. The house had been empty for years, which showed in the areas of neglect. The overgrown yard, the rose bushes gone wild long ago. The outside of the house had lost most of its paint over the years, leaving the grey color of the clapboards to reflect the mood of the house.

The inside of the house hadn’t faired much better, old wallpaper curled from the ceiling to meet the floor. Furniture covered in white sheets, which had faded with age and neglect. Shadows of the majesty of the house from days gone by could be seen everywhere.

But soon that would change…on the night of All Hallows Eve…the house would once again be the site of a celebration. Only that night’s attendees would be in for a little more trick than treat.


The End


--Everything that is written here are rules that I follow, so don’t take them completely to heart. It isn’t meant to offend, it is meant to help. So, if this upsets you, then go look at it again, and you will notice that I have not pointed out a single individual.

I know I am not perfect, and yes, I make mistakes, too. I am a writer who is learning, and is continuing to learn, as well.

Please, please, please every writer on this site, add your own comments and let’s try and help out the writers who want us to guide them. I can name a handful of people that have ten times the writing capacity of me, and would be great mentors. So, get down here and add some stuff.

And, to anyone that has learned or finds this useful, drop a note.

Love!

Lo

krazee4Deanie - July 4, 2007 07:03 PM (GMT)
This was definitely useful. I'll try to keep all these things in mind as I keep attempting to write.

Thanks for the tips! I'll be refering back to this from time to time. :)

lauz - July 4, 2007 11:01 PM (GMT)
Very useful & interesting to read through (good examples!)
Thanks for that =D

charmed1of2 - July 5, 2007 04:09 AM (GMT)
:D I agree with alot of what Lo has said, research is a vital part of a story. In my sequel to The Caverns I had looked up the Waco Texas shootout, I spent hours watching a Jim Jones documentary on how cult members think.

Also, the reader needs to be pulled into the story, to feel what the guys are feeling like they are there themselves

EXAMPLE

Sam sighed and wrapped his arms around himself. The memories of the cave, and seeing Ben crashed through him. He could feel it seeping into his veins, a poison, an evil entity threatening his mind, his sanity.He hugged himself tighter against the cold, pushing his thoughts away.


Rather your enemy is a man, woman, demon etc get into their head so the reader understands why they are doing whatever you have them do


EXAMPLE

Michael watched from a distance, quiet, a predator waiting for his signal. His thoughts went back to the one night that changed his destiny. His father was at the neighborhood bar when his mother started arguing about his spiritual revelations. She believed him to be a sinner, the voice of his God was evil. She came at him to dish out his punishment but to her surprise he was prepared, for his Lord had told him in advance what he needed to do. The look of utter surprise in his mother's dead eyes as she lay sprawled on the basement floor, her body twisted and broken still made him smile.He had left that night, moving from place to place gathering his followers.


A similar price had been paid at the compound. He was the holy one, the one blessed with God's words. Rather man, woman or child if they lost their way and left the outer walls of their sacred place to reside with the unholy, or talked with authorities were hunt down and brought back. They were put in a pit and stoned to death by the others. His God demanded this of him, the betrayers were to be examples, the sacrificial lambs. They failed to uphold the compounds trust, to deceive and disclose secrets were viewed as death verdicts for he was the judge and jury for all.He looked at the brothers through his scope, he was ready to do his role in his Lord's plans.


What Lo has said about detail, descriptions are very very important, I am not perfect by no means , I make errors we all do, we are human afterall.



Also, I don't mind doing a beta job for someone but please i will not write your whole chapter for you, also I have people giving out my email telling friends I will beta for them, sorry but you will get it back unless you pm me first, thanks




About the guys, many of us write with the sn disks playing in the background so we can watch the way the guys move, facial expressions, the way they walk etc. This might help you get in the right frame of mind to get your chapter done



Well thats all for now lol I'm sure I'll have more when my brain is functioning better lol


Luvs

LORRIE :evil :fire

Ged - July 5, 2007 06:32 AM (GMT)
I read this topic with interest and feel there is a lot of merit in it. As a reader of some fan fiction - good, bad and appalling - I wanted to add my personal input.

Firstly, I have not yet written any SN fan fiction. I tend to write fan fiction when I am dissatisfied with the direction of a show and, so far, that is not the case with Supernatural. However, I have written fan fiction about other series, most recently the OC, when that show was spiraling to its death. I think some of those are still up at fanfiction.net, if anyone is interested.

I have a few pet peeves when it comes to writing in general, and fan fiction in particular.

Write for yourself. You are not being paid for your passion, so do not write for your audience, whoever you perceive them to be. Your work must be a product of your enthusiasm and your own imagination. It is not a tool that can – or should – be turned on and off at the whim of others. Keep it real and keep it personal to ensure your batteries last!

Write from experience. While research is imperative, it also helps tremendously to write about what you know. In the SN universe (unless you yourself are a hunter of supernatural beings) this does not pertain to the main story arc in which Dean and/or Sam will be battling the forces of evil. Telling that story requires as much imagination as it does skill. No, what I mean is do not place your characters in a situation that you either cannot imagine (the fantasy of hunting the supernatural), or have not experienced (swigging whiskey, smoking, having sex, waking up with a god-awful hangover.) Do not rely on cliché to describe scenes that you have not seen (smoke-filled bar, dark alleyway, dilapidated house) or sensed (the weight of a handgun or rifle, the slickness and smell of blood, the feel and smell of a woman -or man - if describing a sex scene, the sound of a gunshot, the pain of loss and of regret). Your readers must feel what you feel and see what you see. If they don’t, you have failed.

Maintain your own style. Everyone writes differently and uses different methods to depict their story. For instance, if I can’t ‘see’ the scene, if it doesn’t feel right, then I abandon it. This is particularly relevant for any fan fiction writing I do because, as I am writing about characters belonging to a visual medium like TV, any scenes must be as visual as they are verbal. This, however, is my style and does not pertain to all writers. But, whatever your style, whatever methods you use to write your stories, stick to it and allow it to develop.

Write characters in character. Do not compose a work of fiction in which Dean or Sam are behaving in ways that are contrary to their established natures. That is not to say you cannot focus on a particular trait and use that as your starting point, but don’t have Dean happily settled down with a kid on the way, or Sam indulging in a ménage a trios. Every action and every word within every scene must ring true. Remember, these characters are not yours. You are simply ‘borrowing’ them and, like all things lent, they must be returned unbroken.

Which leads me to my next point:

Alternate Universe fiction. I am not a fan of this genre, for all the reasons stated above. To my mind, if you are going to write an AU, then you may as well invent your own characters rather than steal someone else’s and place them in situations outside their authentic realm.

For example, in WIAWSNB, Kripke explored the possibility of an AU for Dean. But it was still done within the premise of the show and was a fitting insight into Dean’s hopes and dreams that we have seen develop over the last two years. It was not simply a whimsical tale of ‘what if?’ and had direct bearing on his growth and his acceptance of his life’s direction. Hence, it worked.

Don’t be lazy. Check your own work. I do not believe in beta-reading, but that is just my opinion. If you can’t be bothered to edit your own work, then stop writing. You cannot learn if you don’t make mistakes, and you cannot improve by having others correct them for you. By all means, seek people’s opinions about the direction of your story or, if you’re unsure about posting and receiving public ridicule, then ask someone to read it and give their opinion first. But do not expect others to correct your grammatical errors and suggest more appropriate settings or characterization. People have their own lives and are probably too busy penning their own fiction to give you their full attention. Either it’s your story, or it isn’t.

Take your time. Your audience is going nowhere. They are waiting to read whatever you write, but you can be sure they won’t come back for seconds if the first helping is not to their liking. Do not rush the story and do not be too hasty to post it. And, just when you think you’ve finished, you haven’t. Go back and read it. Then read it again. If you’re bored by all this reading, then you can be sure your readers will be too. Make changes. Correct your mistakes.

Do not be precious about your work. Firstly, the characters and the story do not belong to you. Only the language is yours and it is what you do with it that will determine if you are a good writer, or a great one. Do not be afraid to start again. If a story is not going in the direction you hoped, scrap it. Don’t post second-rate work just because you can’t be bothered to make it better.

Do not fear critique. It is your friend and will guide you in a better direction. By the same token, do not accept gushing praise without questioning its merit. A good critique will give credit where it is due, but should also make you question the direction of your story, your characters and your use of language. This is called feed-back. ‘WOW! THAT WAS FAB! MORE! MORE! MORE!’ does not cut it. And you have every right to ask for more detailed responses if you feel it is warranted.


Just a nitpick to add to the grammatical Do & Don’t list:
Use pronouns (including relative pronouns) correctly. For instance, it is not ‘I am a person that …’ but ‘I am a person who …’

Edited to add: Oh, and regarding the Thesaurus, I agree it is a vey useful tool. But be wary of overusing it. Do not pluck a word from the list of synonyms without first understanding its meaning and its relevance to the context in which you intend to use it. The meaning of words, and their appropriateness, can vary widely according to context. So make sure you keep a dictionary handy too.

Also, read, read, read! You cannot possibly improve your vocabulary and language skills if you do not read. Read anything. By anyone. About any subject.


penguita38 - July 5, 2007 07:05 AM (GMT)
Thank you, Ged. Everything you wrote was wonderful! There were a lot of categories I wanted to add, but for the sake of the length and hogging all of the topics, I refrained.

I know I am not the most qualified person to give advice, but it means a lot to me that you find merit within this topic. Thank you.

And, you made me catch my biggest grammar flaw, I am constantly doing that. Ha!

I opened a writing café, as well. I hope, possibly, maybe, it can become a place for what you had mentioned – critique. I find critique very useful when writing, as long as it is honest, which is my goal in the “Writing Café”.

I do disagree with you on the beta issue, but again – as you stated clearly – it was an opinion, and I respect it. But, even Anne Rice has an editor. :)

Please continue to add more to the topic when new ones come to mind. Again, thank you.

And, Lorrie, thank you so much for adding your voice to this topic, it is much appreciated.

Ged - July 5, 2007 07:17 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (penguita38 @ Jul 5 2007, 07:05 AM)
And, you made me catch my biggest grammar flaw, I am constantly doing that. Ha!

I do disagree with you on the beta issue, but again – as you stated clearly – it was an opinion, and I respect it. But, even Anne Rice has an editor. :)


Hey penguita38. As I said, great idea. There should be more of this around the traps.

I was wondering if you would pick up that hint about the pronouns. Tried to be as discreet as possible! B)

Re Anne Rice, I see your point. And agree. But an editor is getting paid to do his or her job so that the author can get paid for their efforts. While beta'ing is a voluntary version of that, it is not the same thing and often those who beta other people's work are simply not qualified to do so - certainly no more qualified than the writer. I think self-editing for fan fiction is a must because it makes you take a good long look at your work. It requires self-discipline , patience and dedication - all traits that will stand any writer in good stead.

That said, kudos to any beta readers out there who can stand to sift through all the muck and bottle something that is pure and clean! I know I couldn't do it.

Cheers,
Ged

PS - I'll check out the cafe. Sounds like another good idea.

catchme21 - July 5, 2007 07:59 AM (GMT)
Wow...awesome thread.

Lo's #5 is what I have problems with. Because my writing is so chunked out, and I don't have time to sit and write long chapters at one time, I often forget that I've harmed one of my characters and don't remember it until its too late. Like in WoC...I had Sam beat the crap out of Dean...and I have forgotten to write in those injuries as I went. Dean took care of himself...then nothing haha.

So if you write like me, it doesn't hurt to make sure you point it out on your timeline, or that you go back and reread what you've just done. It's something I really need to work on haha.

Thanks for starting this Lo!! I really think it could help with those of us that are sometimes frustrated with the way things are going, and those that are just plain frustrated.

Rock on,
Kris

Ah yes...and Ged?

QUOTE (Ged)
If you can’t be bothered to edit your own work, then stop writing. You cannot learn if you don’t make mistakes, and you cannot improve by having others correct them for you.

Sometimes it helps to have a second eye. :) While I don't use a beta myself, I often have friends quickly read it over.

Then again, everyone should check over their own work and not solely depend on the beta (hence the second eye lol). Reading over your own work three or four times really helps, and you'll be amazed with what you can catch.

Happy writing!!

penguita38 - July 5, 2007 08:00 AM (GMT)
:lol: I agree with you, some betas are definitely not qualified, but you take what you can get in the free writing world, I suppose. :)

Keep the advice coming, Ged. :D

ETA: Not a problem, Kristen. Ha! A timeline may be a good thing. But, as I stated, we are all learning and no one is perfect. I love your writing, Kris, and I appreciate the advice you've given.

qsmkitten - July 5, 2007 08:23 AM (GMT)
WOW major help there even I found some areas already that I could map out better with my writing.

All I can add right now is that when I have written in the past I felt that I was rushed and when I was rushed I forgot important things and that I could have added more description. When I started up a new story I decided to write out most of it and because I took my time I have noticed that I felt more confident with not having the pressure to finish it and acutally enjoy it.

With my first story I was rushing to finish it because I was so nerved by it and just wanted to get it over with. Writing stories is about having fun and letting others enjoy what you like to do. If you dont like it to where you just want it done then you only disapoint yourself knowing you could have done a better job.

And like LO said research is your best friend it doesnt hurt to pull up google to find out something to help make your story more indepth.

Although everything I just said was purely on my own experience so feel free to ignore me.

Steff

catchme21 - July 5, 2007 08:29 AM (GMT)
The research thing is an awesome thing to do.

Just one question...if you have a made-up creature (my Oden really isn't a demon...just a name I pulled out of my a** to make my own brand of demons) is that ok? Lol...not sure if anyone has actually Googled "Oden" or not...I know I haven't...God knows what will come up...

The Lo loves my writing...lol...love yours too girl!!

Loves,
kris

penguita38 - July 5, 2007 08:38 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (catchme21 @ Jul 5 2007, 08:29 AM)
The research thing is an awesome thing to do.

Just one question...if you have a made-up creature (my Oden really isn't a demon...just a name I pulled out of my a** to make my own brand of demons) is that ok?  Lol...not sure if anyone has actually Googled "Oden" or not...I know I haven't...God knows what will come up...

The Lo loves my writing...lol...love yours too girl!!

Loves,
kris

If you make up a character, or even a demon, make sure you portray the creature to a point of believability, where no one will question the validity of your antagonist. Really map him/her out in your head, and to me, if you do that, you would have created a well-rounded character that everyone will love.

Just make sure you know your characters weaknesses, strengths, traits, etc. If you don’t, then it is a character that’ll fail.

This is my opinion, Kristen. I’m not sure how others may view it. I believe it is okay to make up your own character, even if it is a demon, as long as you put forth the effort to make the individual come to life on paper.

And, of course I love you writing, silly.
:D

Raven524 - July 5, 2007 08:45 AM (GMT)
This is really a wonderful idea!

I agree with what others have said so far but thought I'd add a few items to the list as well. I also am not an expert writer and do make mistakes! So I guess I'd preface this by using the old addage: Do as I say, not as I do! :rotfl

In the Proper Usage of English Category, here are a couple of things you should consider:

1) Apostrophe Usage: An apostophy should be used anytime you want to show ownership of something.

Example: Wrong Way: I hate my brothers shoes.

Right Way: I hate my brother's shoes

In the first part of the example, you are telling the reader that there is more than one brother and you hate all of their shoes.

2) It's, Its and Let's: Once again this sort of an apostrophe use issue, but also pertains to the correct usage of the words. You need to use an apostrophe if the word is really a contraction. It's should be used when you mean it is in the sentence.

Example: It's going to rain.

If you want to show possession, then you need to use its without an apostrophe.

Example: The arrow pierced its arm just above the elbow.

Finally, the word let's is a contraction for let us and should always have an apostrophe.

Example: Let's get the gun from the car before we leave the hotel.

3) Use of Numbers and Symbols: If you are using a number under one hundred, it should be spelled out in the sentence. The exception to this rule is if the number represents an address.

Example: Wrong Way: Dean counted 10 bullets on the floor.

Right Way: Dean counted ten bullets on the floor.

Right Way: Sam stood outside room number 15 of Rock Harbor Motel.

Right Way: Dean parked the car in front of the house located at 50 Mockingbird Lane.

Also refrain from using certain symbols, it detracts from the flow of writing. Percent, cents, and dollars should be spelled out in the sentence.

Example: Wrong Way: Sam still didn't feel 100 %.

Right Way: Sam still didn't feel one hundred percent.

As a side note, some sites will translate the characters or symbols into something else due to coding, so it's better to spell them out rather than having to edit them later on.


Now leaving common mistakes in English usage, here are a few words of advice. Once again, this is from my point of view and of course is based on my style of writing. But I hope it will help some of you as you begin to or continue to develop your own style of writing.

1) Have Fun! Fan Fiction writing should be an enjoyable experience for the writer. If you are having fun, odds are your readers will benefit from the joy you feel in writing. If you feel like you are forcing yourself to write, then it will come through in your writing. Don't worry about how often other authors update or how many stories they have written. You set your own pace, the only one you have to compete against is yourself.

2) Story and Character Development: I agree whole heartedly with what has been said before regarding having well thought out plots and characters in a story. Even the villian whether it's supernatural or human should have a background or story that drives what they do. When I begin a new story, I create a physical outline that includes the following:


Location(s) for the Story: Include a name and description of the location. It's great if you can use places that you have actually seen. But if not, use google and get an idea of what the terrain is like. If you've never been to Ohio, look at a map before you decide to have Sam and Dean take a dip in the ocean or climb a mountain. The more details you can provide, the better it will be for your readers. Also, if you are creating an imaginary city within a state that's fine. But you still need to know if the state has a desert or thick forests.

Evil Character(s) Description: Include Name, type of character (ie vampire, demon, etc.), physical description and either a backstory of why the character is the way he/she is or the mythology that applies for the supernatural being you have selected. For example, if you have a vampire in your story, will they burn up in sunlight or just get sunburns? How can they be destroyed, a stake through the heart or beheading? As you are developing your version of the mythology, make sure that it is believable and if necessary provide a reason why your vampire can only be killed with a silver bullet on the fourth Sunday of each month.

Good Character(s) Description: Obviously you should not have to do much for Sam and Dean. But if you are using other characters to help them, you will need to do the same as above. Basically, if the character is not well defined or does not exist on the television show, then you should take the time to make a quick outline. It is also a good idea to review your character outline as it relates to your over all story. If a character does not make sense or does not add anything to your story, then don't use him/her.

Plot Summary: Here I normally outline the main story idea, key points that I want to include in the story and how the story will end. Yes, I know many FanFic writers begin a story and get lost because they never thought about where the story would end. Most people would not go on a trip unless they knew where they were going. The same logic should be used when writing, if you don't know where you are going, stay home.

Research Notes: Yes, I do research when writing. Here is where I put down notes relevant to the story. For example in Fire Exit, the stone I am using actually exists. I researched to find out the properties of the stone and a description of it.


If you take the extra time to fill in this type of outline, it will make writing your story easier and also help you with consistency. There are other outline formats, this is the one that I use. The bottom line, do some work before posting your first chapter. It will make it more enjoyable for both you and your readers.

3) Ask Questions! When writing, you should always be asking yourself "why". If Sam is in bed with a woman or Dean is being tortured by a demon there should be a reason. Too many times I have read Fan Fiction where the author has Sam and Dean jumping from one bed to another with various women, but it has nothing to do with the plot of the story. While most of us would love to be the lucky woman in this situation, there should still be a reason for the action.

The same is true when using torture or injuring the boys. If you have Sam being tortured, then their should be a reason for it. If Sam asks "why are you doing this to me?" You should be able to answer. Unfortunately, sometimes authors get lost in hurting the boys and lose track of the story. If each chapter in your story is just one more way of hurting the boys and in the end, there is no logic as to why it was being done, the reader is left feeling like something is missing.

Asking questions can also help if you are stuck. Lets say you have written the story to the point where Sam has been in a coma. If you're not sure where to go next, ask yourself what would happen next? Will Sam be affected by the coma? What will Dean be thinking or doing? How will this affect the main plot and/or evil character?

Sometimes by just asking yourself questions, you can get yourself back on track.


I really encourage people to contribute to this thread, it can become a valuable tool to help all of us as we continue to improve our writing skills. :wub:

Raven524 - July 5, 2007 08:57 AM (GMT)
QUOTE
The research thing is an awesome thing to do.

Just one question...if you have a made-up creature (my Oden really isn't a demon...just a name I pulled out of my a** to make my own brand of demons) is that ok? Lol...not sure if anyone has actually Googled "Oden" or not...I know I haven't...God knows what will come up...


Well of course, now that you brought it up...I just had to Google the name. It's the name of a type of Japanese winter dish. :rotfl So now that I have that out of my system.

I agree with Lo on this, as long as you develop the character...the name really shouldn't matter. But then anyone who can develop a gargoyle into a heroic figure, shouldn't have any problems in my book !;)

:wub:

catchme21 - July 5, 2007 08:59 AM (GMT)
THANK YOU ROBIN...

Lol...

QUOTE (Robin)
2) It's, Its and Let's: Once again this sort of an apostrophe use issue, but also pertains to the correct usage of the words. You need to use an apostrophe if the word is really a contraction. It's should be used when you mean it is in the sentence.

Example: It's going to rain.

If you want to show possession, then you need to use its without an apostrophe.

Example: The arrow pierced its arm just above the elbow.

I hate using "its" or "it's"...just when I think I've got it right Word shoots me down!! Lol...

Cuz you think about it, you always want to use an apostrophe when showing possession..."Dean's car"...oh I hate it!! Lol. So thanks...maybe I'll finally get it down pat.

Loves,
kris

catchme21 - July 5, 2007 09:09 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Raven524 @ Jul 5 2007, 12:57 PM)
It's the name of a type of Japanese winter dish.

:blink: Are you serious? Lmao that's just the word that popped into my head...

QUOTE (Lo & Robin)
...as long as you develop the character...the name really shouldn't matter.


Thanks guys!! Yeah, I tried...he's an alcoholic named Marcus after all lol...but I just put myself in his mind. I wondered, from his point of view, why would he go after the boys? How would he make it work? Would he enlist help? (That's where I came up with Simon.) If the boys do this, how will he react? Sitting back and thinking about it now, I didn't even realize I was doing it. Hm...but I guess it just goes to show that you guys are putting up some sound advice.

QUOTE (Robin)
But then anyone who can develop a gargoyle into a heroic figure, shouldn't have any problems in my book!


Thanks hun! That was actually not my intention...but it worked out for the best. Which also goes to show that having a timeline might be a good idea.

That's what I have the most problems with. I will have a brilliant idea, which I can't wait to start writing on. So I spend oodles of time writing the intro, leading the characters up to my original idea. Then I spend oodles of time writing the idea out.

Then....nothing.

So maybe I should start sitting down and figuring out how I'm going to end a story before I start...:blink:

Awesome advice guys. I'll have to see if I can't think of anything that hasn't already been mentioned before...

Loves,
Kris

Nicole™ - July 5, 2007 05:57 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Ged @ Jul 5 2007, 01:32 AM)
Write characters in character.  Do not compose a work of fiction in which Dean or Sam are behaving in ways that are contrary to their established natures.  That is not to say you cannot focus on a particular trait and use that as your starting point, but don’t have Dean happily settled down with a kid on the way, or Sam indulging in a ménage a trios.  Every action and every word within every scene must ring true.  Remember, these characters are not yours.  You are simply ‘borrowing’ them and, like all things lent, they must be returned unbroken.

Which leads me to my next point:

Alternate Universe fiction.  I am not a fan of this genre, for all the reasons stated above.  To my mind, if you are going to write an AU, then you may as well invent your own characters rather than steal someone else’s and place them in situations outside their authentic realm.


Okay, just a few comments about this (no offense to the writer is intended in ANY way, its all opinion after all). :)

I primarily post all my fiction under the AU category simply because a lot of what I write is an alternate ending of how an episode could've gone and also because sometimes I like to add things in that we don't know for certain happened in the past (as with my current story) or that may land you in the AU verse after an episode airs. People, there is nothing wrong with writing AU fics, so please, have at it. If I took this advice, I'd have to stop writing. Period. All AU means is that your fic strays from canon in some way and there's nothing wrong with that. Fic writers do not have to be episode writers...otherwise, I wouldn't bother reading fic at all because I don't particularly care for episodic fics.

Also, characterization can be a matter of view points. I may see Dean/Sam one way and you another. You may think Dean could never settle down and have kids, for instance, but I can totally see it happening under the right circumstances in the future. Why not? Anyone can see how much he likes kids and how important family is to the guy. Anything is possible and as people age, their craving for family grows. I know plenty of people who said they'd "never" marry and "never" have kids become great parents/spouses when the right person and circumstances fell into place. So, don't let this scare you if you've been dying to write a future fic where Dean has a family (of course, you'll have to give us a good reason WHY this is believable). And, all of that is MY opinion...so it's a matter of view point. Some people think Dean was out of character this season even though it was the show's writers who wrote it, lol.

However, I do agree that you should keep your characters as close as possible to the real deal. You do that by watching the show and noticing how Dean/Sam talk, how they react to certain situations, etc. You should try to include as many of their quirks and canon behaviors as is reasonable to make it feel like Dean and Sam. But, always remember that characters can evolve and we all have our own personal takes on who Sam and Dean really are and how they would behave under unknown circumstances.

Part of writing a good story is having your character learn something new or grow in some way as a reaction to the conflict they are facing. They go in one way, face the conflict and come out a better/worse person than before. That is the whole point of the conflict in many good novels, after all. You push the character to grow, to learn and to reveal things about themselves they or others may not have known prior to the conflict.

QUOTE
If you can’t be bothered to edit your own work, then stop writing. You cannot learn if you don’t make mistakes, and you cannot improve by having others correct them for you.


Also, I do disagree with this. A GOOD beta reader can be your BEST friend. Let's face it, a fresh pair of eyes and a difference of opinion can be a good thing for a fic. I do go over my own fic (SEVERAL times, in fact), but a lot of authors have a tendency to read what they've written as they know it SHOULD be rather than how it actually IS. My beta always manages to catch simple mistakes I've made that I've read over and over and just couldn't find because my mind was filling in what it knew should be there. I'm constantly surprised by what I've missed.

Plus, a good beta can catch things like out of character dialogue and plot kinks that you may not be able to see. Yes, go over your own work, but if you can find a good beta, she/he can save your fic in many ways. No way would I want to write mine without Mady and Tidia giving it a fresh go through. If nothing else, their prior approval encourages me to post where otherwise I'd be scanning for mistakes for weeks until my eyes have literally withered from their sockets. I tend to be a little OCD.

Plus, I have learned a lot by having them SHOW me my mistakes. Like overuse/incorrect use of the word "that." Tidia is forever having to red my thats because I overuse/incorrectly use it.

Which brings me to some other advice. Watch for your usage of "that" and "of" because sometimes it just isn't needed.

Example:

Sam didn't realize that Dean had been hurt by his flippant comments.

BETTER:

Sam didn't realize Dean had been hurt by his flippant comments.

Also:

Dean wiped the mud off of his clothes.

BETTER:

Dean wiped the mud off his clothes.

Okay, I've got some more tips, but I don't want to overwhelm. I'll come back in a new post later.

Nicole™ - July 5, 2007 08:00 PM (GMT)
Okay, some tips I have picked up along the way from either other writers or my betas (who also write). Take it all with a grain of salt because I am in no way an expert and I'm learning new things everyday.

1. Make sure to vary your sentence length and/or the way you start your sentences. As Laura suggested, play with your sentences and the order of your words.

2. Try to avoid using epithets such as "the taller man", "the younger brother", "the older Winchester", etc. Most everyone who is reading your fic knows which is older and what they look like. In most cases, pronouns (he, his) or their proper names will work. Now, I'm not saying you can't use them, just avoid it. I recently found out myself that a lot of people are annoyed by this...so I've stopped altogether.

3. Learn the rules of good writing so you'll know how to break them. There are many sites that will teach you the basics of writing fiction. Good writers know the rules well so they'll know how and when to break those same rules. Most published authors do indeed break the "rules" at some point in time...or maybe many times. Like using epithets, knowing when a run-on sentence can be a good thing and how to effectively use fragments.

And, don't worry, I'm in no way an expert on this and I'm still learning myself.

4. Sometimes you can take an 'ing' verb and change it to an 'ed' verb for a sense of immediacy. Learned that from JD Sampson. And, sometimes it just makes the order of events more clear. Here is her suggestion to me using an example from my writing:

EXAMPLE:

Reaching up two fingers to feel for a pulse, Dean cried, "She's still alive, Sam."

Using the knife his brother quickly passed to him. . .

BETTER:

Dean reached up two fingers to feel for a pulse. Eyes widening, he cried, "She's still alive. Sam!"

Using the knife his brother quickly passed to him, Sam cut away the rope as Dean removed the needle from her neck. As she fell into Dean's arms, he heard him murmuring softly to her.

5. I think Laura already outlined this thought, but it can't be stated enough, so I'm backing her up on this. Try to always show what you mean rather than a flat statement. Like she said.

Instead of:

He grew angry at the words and wanted to punch something.

Say:

Dean clenched his fist and a muscle jumped in his jaw. It was all he could do to keep from stemming the flow of words with a knuckle sandwich.

6. In most cases, less is more. Read over everything you've written and take out everything that isn't necessary to the description or the story. There's always some way to shorten a sentence or re-word a paragraph to get your point across more succinctly. Try to get rid of the clutter, so to speak. It'll tighten your paragraphs and give your writing a better flow of action. I have to practice this EVERY time I write. In a chapter, there's always sentences or paragraphs that can be reworked, made short and more clear by rearranging words or using one word to replace a group of words. And, especially get rid of as many prepositional phrases as you can (remember prepositions are anywhere a squirrel can go: on, up, over, beyond, under, etc.).

Prepositional phrases: above the water, of his watch, in his car, on time.

Yes, we do need these, but sometimes, you really, really don't. I couldn't think of a really great example, but here is something I could've done differently. Actually, this shows several good changes beside dropping the prepositional phrase (orange), like replacing passive verbs (in yellow) with action verbs. All other changes are in bold.

EXAMPLE:

Sam’s grunts were growing weaker with each passing second. Dean could feel the pleasure surging through the demon. His brother was going to die at his own hands. Abject fear replaced guilt, flooded in and washed it all away. Falling…he was falling.

BETTER:

Sam's grunts grew weaker. Dean could feel pleasure surge through the demon - his brother was going to die by his own hands. Abject fear replaced guilt...etc.

7. This one I have learned the hard way (and am still learning). The really, really hard way. Remember to have fun with it. Don't let other's rules/opinions make you stop writing. We can all stand to improve, but this is for fun and you should have fun. Just because I or someone else doesn't agree with something you are doing, does not make us 100% right. Don't be afraid to use your imagination.

I have almost quit writing because of someone else's opinion of my writing. Don't do that. Work on what you think needs improvement and remember it is your story. If you want Sam to get a hair cut, do it. If you like Dean a little emo, have at it. Maybe not all of us will want to read your fic, but it is yours and yours alone. Do what makes YOU happy and if we don't like it, we don't have to read it. :P

Ged - July 6, 2007 02:41 PM (GMT)
Nicole - great post and some really good advice. Agree with nearly everything you had to say ... except, of course, those points on which we differ in opinion! ;)

Nicole™ - July 6, 2007 07:52 PM (GMT)
Thanks :).

Steffs - July 7, 2007 05:55 AM (GMT)
Wow so much good advice.

I am thinking that i am guilty of several of those points especailly the punctuation of speech and my spelling sucks i know (Thank god for spell checkers).

Everyone has covered the main points but a few comments on what has gone before.

Beta

I agree with the use of a Beta mine has been invaluable as a source of inspiration and keeping me on track with what has gone before. I think Yvette knows the story better than i do. Plus being English i need someone to point out my Englishisms ie. Torch instead of Flashlight. Trousers instead of pants. etc

She also helps with plotting I find that talking to someone else helps my flow of ideas and it helps to have someone asking questions and to discuss points and ideas.

I do go over my scenes several times and Yvette sometimes comments on the writing but i think on the whole your Beta is what you want or need. Each relationship is different and if you find the person that suits you it can be invaluable.

ALSO BIGGIE POINT FOR ME

Know WHY

This is most important if you have no motivation then the whole thing is pointless. Know why your villain wants Sam or Dean. Know why your characters act in that way. Know why in an overall arch and in a line by line way.

If you know why then the rest seems to drop into place.

Chapters/Scenes

I don't write in chapters, that is my choice. It is mainly because before writing Bad Sam I wrote plays and I see things in scenes and i find it easier to work scene by scene rather than in chapters.

My meaning here is that each chapter/scene should have a point. It should tell you about a character or the story or some comment that you want to make. If you have that in mind, have what you want to say in the scene/chapter at your finger tips, it often helps when your writing because you can write to that premise. It helps you through from the starting point. Also when you go back and read, it helps with the rewrite if you know what you are trying to say.

I hope thats clear LOL




and

I think i will come back and write a bit about description and how I tackle it in different ways depending on what I want to convey but that needs thinking about first. LOL


Steffs





jinxed45 - July 7, 2007 08:52 PM (GMT)
wow i think everyone who writes should be reading, theres a lot of good points in here. theres so many great fics out there, they just need to be spruced up a bit i think and they'd probably havea ton more views. great advice ladies, thank you. :)

Shelly - July 8, 2007 03:44 AM (GMT)
Woo. That kind of took me a long time to read, yet, I'm still not finished! But I just wanted to quickly say that these are some really great tips for writing. I'll try to use them the best I could. And, of course, thanks for sharing! :D

Steffs - July 8, 2007 07:54 AM (GMT)
Okay….I find it hard to analyse what I do but I am going to try but I don’t think it will be as thorough as Lo but she asked me and I obey LOL. One thing I do know is that I hate lots of description, I get bored with it, so I try very hard not to do it too often or for too long but it is a necessary thing in writing. It is needed to convey atmosphere, set place, show action, create pictures and convey feeling.

I know I use three definite different descriptive methods, I may use more but it will be an unconscious use and I am not aware I do it, so forgive me if this is not a comprehensive study of my use of description. I know that in the main I use description and descriptive words to create impressions rather than complete pictures.

I have used examples from my work to illustrate my meaning, they are for demonstration purposes only.

1. This is a fairly straight-forward use, a description of the setting, where the characters are, what they are doing, what they are feeling.

For example:

The words used below are fairly usual adjectives, tall, splayed, green, brown, wooden, corrugated, yellow patterned etc. all helping to develop a picture of the scene.

The trees were tall and straight, reaching up high, row upon row of trees, with their branches splayed out touching each other, the needles on the branches dark green against the brown of the trunks of the trees. Occasionally you could see the grey sky between the trees. The house, was sat in the middle of a clearing in the trees and could be described as a shack, with wooden walls and a corrugated tin roof. It was well looked after with a green painted front door, small windows on each side through which Sam could see yellow patterned curtains it was altogether a neat and well-maintained abode. Beyond the house was a lake, trees down to the shoreline, which then disappeared into a white mist.

However, even with a standard descriptive piece I pare it down to give an impression rather than a complete description and I will change around where I place certain words to try and give feeling as well as a visual impression. Below I have altered the above straight description, picking out certain points to emphasise so that rather than detailing the scene I give short impressions, which hopefully hang together with the reader filling in the missing sections. I also try to not use the same words in the same paragraph. The repetition can be boring and in my mind stands out distracting from what the passage is actually saying. Below is the actual passage as I posted it. In it I have added in Sam’s impressions, his thoughts. This is important as we can then see the scene not only in our imagination but through the characters eyes. His opinion is also important for creating the atmosphere.

They were in a clearing in a forest of pine, trees tall and straight, reaching up to the sky in random spiking fingers. The house, a shack really, was large, neat and well maintained. Sways of curtains showed through the small windows and Sam couldn’t help feeling that they looked out of place in this wild environment. Beyond, the shack was, Sam noticed, what looked like a lake, its shore densely tree lined, the water reflecting the skies, deep, rippling grey, but he couldn’t see far because the water and shore, stretched off into a white mist.

2. Sometimes when trying to convey the character’s inner thoughts I will use the usual method of telling the reader what he/she is thinking in a straight-forward manner but occasionally a more abstract method is required to tell the reader what is going on. Using words in a way that conveys the feel rather than the concrete. Below Dean is anxious, the repetition of his action ‘back and forth’ builds up through the passage to increase the anxiety concept. Interspersed are Dean’s feelings of being trapped, as he paces in the small area. He is like an animal in a cage with no escape. Gradually through the description and repetition, the reader begins to feel the tension mounting.

Pacing, Dean felt trapped, he wanted to go back to the lake where he felt …felt safe. It was too difficult here, too much was being demanded of him, to much. He fought back the tears. Back and forth, back and forth. He couldn’t go back past Sam, that would be too painful. Why hadn’t he spoken to Sam? Back and forth. Why had he stood there like an idiot? He banged his fist on the table as he went past, frustration building.

He had heard the front door slam and his Dad shouting at Sonny in the other room. Back and forth, back and forth. His escape route was cut off, he certainly didn’t want to get tangled up with his Dad. Anxiety mounted. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. He wanted to get out, needed to leave, to breath. Back and forth, back and forth. He began to sweat, his heart banging in his chest. Back and forth. Why were they all out to snare him, pin him down? Back and forth. He had to get out, please let him out, back and forth, there was nowhere to go, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, nowhere.


I also shortened the phrases towards the end to increase the urgency. Sometimes, I have to play around with the syntax and the flow of words to get the right feel. Unfortunately I have no answer as to when to stop I do it until it feels right. That is all I can say. Sorry.


3. This last section is a totally abstract way of using description. This is the hardest thing to do. It involves an intimate knowledge of what words mean and also their implied impression to most people. I will string together adjectives in order to create the impression of what is going on. This description below shows how Dean is killing a man with his empathy, I have used what actually happens to the man’s body from the inside. However, within the strings of adjectives you have to add in phrases or two word descriptions to indicated in a more realistic manner what is happening. In this kind of description each word is chosen very carefully not only for its meaning but for the flow of the passage. I read most of my stuff out loud to myself and this can be a very good indicator of the writing as a whole entity.


Screaming.

Heart rate banging, blood coursing faster, faster, ripping through veins, arteries, vessels expanding tearing. Smooth chest skin rent, lesions, widening, broadening, blood pouring, soaking, cascading. Abdomen, Stomach bursting spewing, intestines snaking, spilling, spurting and slithering, bile, excrement, urine mixing, polluting. Face tearing, pealing, eyes panic, rupturing, leaking, bone gleaming white in amongst the red, the shiny, liquid, scarlet, pouring, flowing, flooding red. Ribs cracking, stabbing, breath bubbling, gargling, drowning, frothing. Throat restricting, swelling, choking, closing. Colours, red, blue, white, purple, convoluting grey, splashing, spraying, splattering,

Heart constricted, squeezed, squashed, crushed, shrivelled, dry……

DEAD.


On the whole it is very difficult to pin down description, everyone has their own style and use. All I have tried to do here is give a ‘description’ (LOL) of how I use words to create impressions, to describe the settings, actions, people and their feelings.

I am sure each writer has their own way of approaching descriptions and their own way of using language. I have just given you a taster of how i approach the subject and maybe it will suggest a way for you.

Steffs

catchme21 - July 11, 2007 03:15 PM (GMT)
Ok, first of all, props to mah peeps who came before me to lay down some awesome ideas. I have taken a few of these already and stashed them for later use.

But, oo oo it's my turn!! :D

Let’s see if I can post a few pointers that haven’t already been used, though I may repeat (I haven't had a chance to read through everyone's suggestions yet). A lot of this is going to be writing about Dean and Sam oriented, cuz I don’t do too good at grammer stuff and Microsoft Word tells me so. Plus everyone has already done fantastico with the points about commas and verb use. :lmao

For a lot of this I’m going to use my own work…can’t point at others unless you’re willing to point at yourself. :) I’ll also point out some things I’ve notice in other’s fics that can lose a reader.

1. Naming Characters to Death

“What the…” was all Sam could say as he pulled the Impala off of Interstate 90. Sam smiled as he looked over at his sleeping brother. Dean was not going to like this. Smiling even wider, Sam flipped up the radio, and Brian Johnson's voice filled the silent car. Out of all the tapes in his box, Sam was glad Dean had last been listening to AC/DC.

Let’s see…Sam was said about four times, Dean was said twice…but they’re the only two in the car. That math doesn’t seem to add up lol. This could be reworded to only mention both brothers’ name once. The short choppy sentences also might make it difficult for readers to follow along, especially for this being the opening paragraph to a story.

Try using different ways to describe the characters. What can help is taking your character and writing down everything he is:

Dean – brother, eldest Winchester (*sniff sniff* RIP Pappa Winchester), hunter, etc.

Those can be used to describe your characters.

“Sam looked at his older brother,” or “The beast dove for the taller hunter”. Your readers will still know who you are referring to without being Samed and Deaned to death. Even though we could never have that…

2. Picking at Character’s Habits and Using Them to Death

I am uber-guilty of this. We all know Dean loves peanut M&Ms, Sam has his laptop, and Dean chooses the music in the car while Sam shuts his cakehole. When your story repeatedly uses these references, it may cause boredom for a reader.

Since you have chosen to borrow Dean and Sam for a bit, get a little creative. While staying true to them, try to think of new habits they may use, or new flaws they may have. I’m sure Dean calls Sam more names then “bitch” and I’m sure Sam has better comebacks then “jerk”. :) While these might be loveable traits and you should still use them, try not to overuse them.

And please try to make your characters sound as educated as they are on the show (ex Sam and Dean). I like to use phrases like "are you freakin' kidding me?" a lot, and dropping a nice little ' behind an 'n' to cut off the word (freakin', gettin', etc). Sometimes, when writers form the words to match a certain speech pattern, it can seem as though Dean has the education of a high school dropout from the backwoods of Montana while Sam is a college professor.

3. Losing Readers by Forgetting the Names

“How the hell should I know Sam?"

"Well, what'd you see?"

"I…don’t really remember.”

“That’s bull. We’ve played this game before, I know how this works, remember? Now what’d you see?”

“I don’t even know if it was a vision! I mean, hell, that’s your job.”

“Well, it sure sounds like a vision.”

“Damnit, drop it!”

“Let’s just go get some breakfast.”


The first line is obviously said by Dean. And while you might be able to follow this, it can still be difficult for a reader to follow dialect alone if it goes on like this for some time. When I come across oodles of this, I catch myself having to go back to remember who started saying what. While you don’t want to make the mistake of doing a #1 by having the brothers say each other’s name every other line, you may want to add simple things like “Dean said, pacing while he studied his brother.” Give the dialog a little action for a spicier, meatier dish. :D

4. Loooooooooooooong Paragraphs

Dean and Sam swept through the forest, their eyes peering through the darkness and their guns following their gazes. It was midnight; they had been hunting the Naga for days and had grown tired of it all. Everything had gone wrong since they arrived in this small town in Nevada, and they were eager to put this one to rest. The town had been of no help, they had not been able to get any information out of anybody while surfing the internet had revealed nothing. With their normal research methods at a loss, Dean had finally gone charging into the forest, Sam at his heels, protesting. Dean was no longer caring, missing Sam's comment about Nagas being immortal. Besides, Suzanne, the only cute librarian that he's ever met, had gone missing the night before. She had given the boys a clue that the town had invoked and enslaved the Naga to protect them. Neither Sam or Dean had been able to figure out why they would need the snake creature to protect them, Lord only knew, but now someone had sent the monster after Suzanne. People are just crazy, Dean thought.

But I’m guessing you all have come across one close to that size. I know when I’m reading a fic, the longer paragraphs tend to almost intimidate me and I get lost, causing me to skim through them. Especially when there are several long paragraphs in a row. However, some readers really love the meat, so finding a perfect balance between paragraphs too long and too short takes experience and practice, as I myself am learning. :)

It is also helpful to italicize a character’s thoughts. It’s better to read:

People are just crazy, Dean thought.

Then:

People are just crazy, Dean thought.

It can make thoughts stand out when you have dialog mixed in with it. However, make sure you preview your posts before submitting them. I see this too often:

People are just crazy,[/i Dean thought.

Oh and look at that…I did a #2. I took something from the show, and Dean repeated it. Bad Kris. :D

5. Loooooooooooooooong Sentences

These little buggers are basically the same as long paragraphs. Often, these are affectionately referred to as “run-on sentences”.

He struggled to keep a hold of the rifle, but when he tried to bring it up so he could use it, his fingers slipped and the gun fell uselessly to the ground and with no other option, he grabbed the arm that was holding him and began to claw, shuddering as flakes of skin began to shed off under his nails.

That, a paragraph in and of itself, should be broken into two, possibly three more sentences. Ones like this are unnatural to read, and can throw a reader off balance. This is an awesomely easy mistake to catch if your proof read your work. If a sentence feels very run-onish to you, chances are it is. Try rewording it a bit, or adding a few periods.

6. Locations and Time Frames

Another one of my biggest problems. Since my writing is very sporadic, and I do it only when I have time, it is tough for me to keep times straight. Sam will start doing something in the early morning, while Dean’s out getting dinner.

Ok, that’s a bit extreme for an example but you get the point hahaha. If you write like me, try to go back and read your most current piece of work. Or, draw up a timeline in a blank Word document. It will help with keeping your story straight, and will hopefully keep them in the same time zones at least.

7. Breaking Up a Story

I was very guilty of this my first story. I posted it like this:

"Sammy?" Dean blinked away the sleep. Sitting straight up, he was staring into his brother's eyes.
"Man, you look worse than I do," Sam joked, his voice raspy. Dean didn't laugh.
"Sam..." Dean gasped as he stood up, and did something that shocked the both of them; he hugged Sam, mindful of his chest.
"Dean, what's the matter? What's wrong?" Sam said after his older brother had released him.
"How much do you remember?" Dean sat back down.
"Um, I remember you charging ahead into the clearing like some white knight..." Sam grinned, but once again got no reaction from Dean. Dean was acting very unusual. First the hug, now no witty comments.


Adding spaces between paragraphs and spoken lines can create an easier atmosphere for the reader. It’s easier to read open lines, such as:

"Sammy?" Dean blinked away the sleep. Sitting straight up, he was staring into his brother's eyes.

"Man, you look worse than I do," Sam joked, his voice raspy. Dean didn't laugh.

"Sam..." Dean gasped as he stood up, and did something that shocked the both of them, he hugged Sam, mindful of his chest.


And yes, I did the hug thing in there. That’s a bit out of character for Dean, but what can I say? First fic and I was in it for the reviewers. :D Which brings me to my next and final point…(and it’s a long’un)

8. Writing For You

Most of the time, a writer will pull up a blank Word doc for the pure anticipation and joy of putting together a piece of art. I wrote my first fanfic because I was inspired, and hadn’t written anything since high school. I really enjoy writing, and really love Supernatural, so why not? I have to admit getting my first few reviews was exhilarating. I was so pleased to know that people were out enjoying my work. I even altered my story because of a few reviews.

Bad.

If you have something you’ve written, and you love it the way it is, do not change it because of a bad review. Or even when someone says “Oh I think this should happen.” I am guilty of this more than once, and I am working on changing that. And please don’t stop writing because someone disagrees or dislikes your work. It was their choice to read your story. If they don’t like your style, they don’t have to read what you write next. I’ll bet for every reader that doesn’t like your stuff, ten do. So please, keep writing.

Then let me know who almost made you quit. We’ll have words… :D

And I hate, hate, HATE seeing, “I think this story is crap but please review!!”. Often times, that can be the first line to a new story. I will immediately click out of it, obviously not wanting to waste my time if the writer thinks its crap. Put out something you’re proud of, even if you only receive zero reviews and just ten profile views. It really shows when a writer is having too much fun just writing, and they don’t care what others think. At the same time, writers can put that out there for the sympathy vote: "Oh you're a wonderful writer!" or "You don't suck!"

That can be the toughest thing for any writer to do. We are all so critical of our own work, it can be tough to let go. Many of the girls can attest to me doing this exact thing, saying something to the effect of “I don’t like the way this is playing out, I might scrap it (or edit it) later.” I am no longer doing this, as it can already affect the way a reader takes on my update. Plus, I will only put it out if I'm at least 95% happy with it (can never be 100%) instead of just wanting to update.

We must think positive of ourselves. :)

If you really doubt your own work, have a friend read it over. They have a different view, and can help you see something with a fresh stance. I myself don’t have a beta reader, but I encourage it if you can find one that will try to correct more then just the grammar and the spelling errors. :)

Oh, and there’s this awesome thread Lo started for just that purpose!! Post a piece, and get honest, positive reviews. It’s an awesome feeling when you get a no-bs reply about a piece you have from some of the forum's top writers.

Take positive constructive criticism for what it is. Please don’t be insulted if someone points something out in a positive way. If you agree with them, correct it and store the advice for later use. We grow as writers that way, and it builds your confidence when you start seeing your own work improve.

~*~

I hope these help you. They are just things that I’ve learned over time, either while I’ve been writing on my own or reading someone else’s piece of art. They are simply ideas, or personal preferences. In no way should this dictate how your next writing session should go, but hopefully maybe you’ve picked up some pointers and now have some ammo to take on your next chapter.

Have fun guys, and happy writing!!

Loves,
Kris

Nicole™ - July 11, 2007 09:03 PM (GMT)
Some good points, Kris! I have been guilty of changing my story to suit reviewers the first time out. I have learned to resist and actually posted my last chapter knowing I was going to get a strong reaction, lol. But, I think that's the thing...as long as you GET a reaction instead of hearing crickets...which I have in other chapters. Not. Good.

catchme21 - July 12, 2007 11:24 AM (GMT)
Yeah, reactions are fun. :) I've never exactly gotten a negative review, but I think as long as they were halfway decent about it and made valid points, I'd be ok.

Sorry you've heard crickets. I've experienced that joy, and it isn't fun. Though I write for fun, posting it in a place such as this or over at ff.net is where I try to get reactions.

No matter what though, I guess I would post a story the way I wanted it to be and get crickets, rather than posting a story not really the way I wanted it and getting rave reviews. :)

We should so start a support group.

*stands up at podium in front of several writers*

"Uh, hi guys. My name is Kris."

*monotone* "Hi Kris."

"I...uh...haven't CACBoaR'd* in three updates now!"

*applause*

Heh heh heh... :)

Congrats on posting your last chapter the way you wanted it!! :)

Loves,
Kris

*Change A Chapter Because of a Review

Steffs - July 12, 2007 12:19 PM (GMT)
*Stands up*

"Umm Hi.....My names Steffs......and I am a ......writer....."

*Sits down blushing*


catchme21 - July 12, 2007 12:57 PM (GMT)
"Hi Steffs. Welcome. Alright guys, don't forget, there's refreshments in the back. I made cookies."

:lol:

Nicole™ - July 12, 2007 05:31 PM (GMT)
*steps up to podium and taps the the mic* Hi. My name's Nicole and, um, I'm...*sniffs, lowers voice to whisper*...a review whore.

*blushes furiously and takes seat, but looks longingly at the cookies*.

charmed1of2 - July 13, 2007 11:52 AM (GMT)
:D LMAO SIS....HI MY NAME IS LORRIE AND I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE WHAT I AM....BUT HAND OVER THOSE COOKIES LOL



LUVS

LORRIE :evil :fire

Raven524 - July 15, 2007 10:02 PM (GMT)
Hi

Uhm...my name is Raven and well I...



:unsure:


I actually just came for the cookies :blink:


ooooo...am I bad! :rotfl

charmed1of2 - July 16, 2007 12:11 AM (GMT)
:rotfl U R SOOOOOO BAD SIS LOL HERE GRAB SOME COOKIES, NICE AND FRESH FROM THE OVEN


LUV YA AND THANXS FOR TALKING W ME YEST

LORRIE :evil :fire

rayuk666 - July 16, 2007 01:50 AM (GMT)
Okay... got a few tips of my own that I don't know wether similar things have been posted but I thought I'd have ago 'cause I've been reading through and there are some great things that really are useful.


Too much description can be boring

Kinda mentioned earlier. Some people love description and some people love reading descriptions but it can distract from the flow of the story and if vital information is mixed in among the description, it can be missed if a reader decides to skip ahead a few paragraphs. I'm very very guilty of that. But then again... it really depends who you're aiming your story at.

- If you want to keep all that description in and long windy paragraphs, try breaking it up a little so it's easier for the short attention spanners like me.

If at first you don't suceed...

...try and try again. If you're just starting out as a writer, you can't expect to be brilliant straight away or to write an award winning novel your first try. Be patient because you will make mistakes and it's not always easy to admit to those mistakes but believe me, you will learn from them. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and considering I'm 19 years old let's say that's about 13 years... and I'm still learning and I can still seriously mess up.

The more you write and the more you read, the more experience you gain. So don't give up if you get bad reviews or anything like that, ask the person who is reviewing what they think is wrong and what you can do to change it and that brings us to our next point...

Not all advice applies to your style

Every writer has their own style and their own preferences - just like some people like the colour red and some people like the colour black. Just because someone who is experienced makes a comment, like this part doesn't sound right and this part is too short, you shouldn't take it to heart. Consider what they are saying and look over your work. If you don't understand what they don't like then DON'T CHANGE IT. Remember, you are writing this story for you and if you are satisfied that's what matters.

Have confidence in your own work

Don't drag yourself down by comparing yourself to other writers. Okay... let's look at a few reason why you might feel a little down-hearted:

--You haven't been getting many reviews - First of all, check how many hits your story has. It could be that not many people know about it. And if you are getting plenty of hits but not many reviews, remember, there are people like me out there who read stories but sometimes I'm just too damn lazy to leave a review, no matter how brilliant the story is.

--You haven't been getting many hits - Check your summary and title, make them catchy. Draw the readers attention is. If your story is directed at Dean girls, let them know. If it's directed at Sam girls, let them know. Sam goes for if it's romance, or Wee!chester, or pre-series, or anything really, let the reader know what your story is about.

For example, I am a shameless Dean centric author because I love the guy. My summaries include:

"During a hunt concerning missing people who actually reappear, Dean ends up being kidnapped and awakens tied to what looks like a medical table, when Sam tracks him down will that be the end of it, or is the dark force in play determined to finish what it started?"

And

"Somewhere in Colorado, children from 3 families have gone missing, can the boys find out what’s going on before forgotten memories come back to haunt them, more specifically – Dean. Mixture of both the past and present - So partly wee!chester."

Okay! And I can't think of anything else and I dunno if any of that was remotely helpful but thought I'd have a go!

EDIT: If you're stuck with a new story - try writing the summary and title first and go from there and keep referring back. Don't say I'm writing a story about this and then zoom off in a completely different direction. Stories do evolve but be careful.

catchme21 - July 23, 2007 09:01 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (rayuk)
Don't drag yourself down by comparing yourself to other writers.

Great peace of advice!! I have a lot of trouble with that, and am really trying to stop that. I read brilliant after brilliant piece, and often return to my own going "pffft". There is nothing more destructive, and it doesn't really help. :)

And shame on you for being too lazy....:P

Kris

Nicole™ - July 23, 2007 06:59 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (catchme21 @ Jul 23 2007, 04:01 AM)
QUOTE (rayuk)
Don't drag yourself down by comparing yourself to other writers.

Great peace of advice!! I have a lot of trouble with that, and am really trying to stop that. I read brilliant after brilliant piece, and often return to my own going "pffft". There is nothing more destructive, and it doesn't really help. :)

And shame on you for being too lazy....:P

Kris

Oh, yeah. I'm SO guilty of doing that. Sometimes after I've read something really great, I wonder why I bother. It's really hard on my confidence. That's one habit I really wish I could ditch, but its not going to happen. Reviews help keep me going during those times.

Great point, Rae!

Episodic Love - August 25, 2007 09:12 PM (GMT)
all of you that has writtemn- thank you! you have all tought me alot and made me realize much. thanks:)

Supernaturally2Wicked - September 7, 2007 01:38 AM (GMT)
I guess 'confidence' is what I seem to lack in writing at the moment. :S I know, it sounds stupid, which is probably why my sis is co-writing with me. She's more confident than I am. I'm afraid of reviews xD But all of you are right: reading this information was very helpful and one should have confidence in their work.

I guess the only advice I can give is: Don't Give Up - No Matter What Others Say

The Supernatural - September 8, 2007 11:38 PM (GMT)
I'm actually thankful that there is a thread like this here on Supernatural T.V. It is very helpful (As my sister has said) and all the advice is great!

I think the only problem my sister and I are having right now is with a story that we are writing at the moment. It's a Supernatural one, I'm not sure if anyone from this site has read it but it is called 'Lullaby'.

We'll admit that we didn't exactly plan the story, it was one that we just came up with and suddenly began writing it then just placed it on Fanfiction.

The thing is we thought that we 'did' have an idea where we were going with this but eventually we got stuck... And we're still stuck. *sighs*.

So, the question I want to ask is... What is the best way to go about this?

Those who have reviewed the story have been very helpful and we'll also admit that this is our first supernatural story, so as what others have said, mistakes are to be expected.

We know now that the only character that we need to work on is Dean. So that is what we're trying to do.

But story wise... We just need some fresh ideas and a good way to go.

Because we have a major writers block at the moment!

Raven524 - September 12, 2007 03:56 AM (GMT)
QUOTE
But story wise... We just need some fresh ideas and a good way to go.

Because we have a major writers block at the moment!


Don't worry---many of us experience the dreaded 'writers block' on this board. Believe me it is not a terminal illness <_< well unless you don't update for a year and leave your readers with a terrible cliffy...but I digress!

There really is no cure for writers block...but here are a few suggestions to get you back on track.

1. Talk to others...I can't tell you how many times I've pm'ed or chatted with others from this site to get feedback on a story line. Sometimes, it takes a quick chat with someone else to get the juices flowing again.

2. Ask yourself questions. This may sound silly, but ask your self...what would Sam or Dean do in this situation? What are they doing and why are they doing it? You said you had a general idea of where you wanted this to go. If you don't then take a few moments to figure out how the story will end. You'd be surprised once you know where you are going, how quickly you can fill in the blanks

3. Don't agonize over it! Seriously, sometimes you just aren't in the right frame of mind to write. Remember this is supposed to be fun...not work! Walk away from the story for a few days and then try it again.

4. Ask someone to beta the story for you...a good beta can help guide you and give you hints on where to go with your story. But don't expect the beta to write it for you!

I hope this helps! If not, as a last resort...I bribe my muse with cookies ;)




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