So... I Could post a story on here

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So... I Could post a story on here

Postby BlackFire » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:50 pm

sorry for the inconvenience of this post but it's just a few questions I want to ask... anyway, well I'm sort of not to open about myself really and I do have some ideas for some fanfiction I want to write. I would definitely need help with editing and proofreading once I'm done writing something. Anyway, I get a little nervous about posting something original on the internet because I had some stuff stolen before on another site that was my own idea. that's in the past now but I still worry and I have gotten hooked on mlp:fim back in march and I decided to write some fanfiction to help eliminate the boredom. Well, to keep from wasting one's time here are some questions I would have to ask:

What would have to be done to make a story enjoyable an not too cliche?

How would I make the characters more believable?

How would I actually start out a story?

How many pages is a chapter supposed to have?

I'm worried about messing up the tense and make a confusing story, how would I avoid that?
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Davidism » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:47 am

BlackFire wrote:What would have to be done to make a story enjoyable an not too cliche?

Enjoyment is something that is pretty subjective. Since not everyone is going to like the same things. I suggest making a theme that would appeal to you, and something that you would enjoy. Try and steer clear of trying to please others.

How would I make the characters more believable?

I'd try and focus on elaboration, and details. Unless you are going for a 100 word short-short, then flesh out a scene with dialogue and direction: what they're doing, how they do it, what they are thinking, how it makes them feel etc,.

How would I actually start out a story?

I answered this question in the thread The Process... My Thoughts.

Perhaps if you gave it a read it may help you in the development.

How many pages is a chapter supposed to have?

That is entirely up to you. It can be as many words as you want, or as few. In William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying, he has a chapter that simply consists of five words; "My mother is a fish."

EDIT: I meant to also say that, I myself write by word count. I try to shoot for around 4,500 words per chapter. This gives me anywhere between 9 and 11 pages of content, and it's a good stopping point for writers like myself that find short-stories easier to handle. The average page--given paragraph spacing--will hold around 400 words comfortably.

I'm worried about messing up the tense and make a confusing story, how would I avoid that?

Just pay special attention to how things sound. Sometimes re-reading what you've wrote out loud, will help you recognize things like, past perfect, present perfect, and will help you avoid verb confusion. Remember, that writing a novel is no different than telling someone a story, except you are do so with written words, and not from your mouth.

Pay attention to "was" and "when", "is" and "did"...

If I were going to write that RBDash went postal and started running crazy like a mad man through the forums with a chunk of rancid ham, then it would go something like this.

RBDash grabbed(past... he did it even more than a second ago) his ham and made his way through the forum threads, killing topic after topic... his destruction knew(not know) no bounds as he terrorized everyone he came(not comes) into contact with.

I underlined words will show you past tense narration. Of course, I doubt most people would really mess it up, but sometimes when you get deep into a story, you can intend something to happen previously, and still cause it to happen much sooner than anticipated just because of those pesky little things.

A good example of a Past Perfect sentence is, "John took all of the magazines he had collected." There are three words that point to something happening in the past. Took, had, collected. You wouldn't say that, "John take all the magazines he did collect."

Hope that helps.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Vanner » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:05 pm

What would have to be done to make a story enjoyable an not too cliche?


Most of what makes a story enjoyable are its characters. So long as the characters aren't too cliche, you've got the basis for a story. Now, if your story is based on an event, then what you're writing is a description, rather than a story. I can't think of any stories I have ever read that did not have characters, even if the characters weren't sentient.

How would I make the characters more believable?

I've found one of the key part of writing believable characters is to give them aspects that you can relate to. he problem with this is there are going to be characters you simply can't write for. This also requires a bit of introspection, and thinking outside your comfort zone. If you want to write for a homicidal maniac, you have to think like one. Go to the dark places in your mind, and come up with the motivations for his hideous crimes. By the same token, writing for a character that loves live requires you to fill your heart with joy and seek the best in life.

How would I actually start out a story?

"It was a dark and story night..."

In media res is actually a good way to start a story. Drop your reader into the middle of something exciting, and build the story from there. But come back to the events leading up to that moment. Don't start your characters in the middle of a fight scene, and then never explain what it was about.

Alternatively, start with flowing descriptions of the scene and zoom in on your focus. It helps to think of the opening of a story like the opening of a movie. Action movies start out with a chase. Period pieces start with spanning shots of the country side. How you start your story depends on the plot.

How many pages is a chapter supposed to have?


A matter of preference, as suggested before. If you're writing an actual book for publishing I'd recommend 4-6k words per chapter. For internet publishing, 3-4k is probably sufficient.

I'm worried about messing up the tense and make a confusing story, how would I avoid that?

Tense is tricky, no doubt, but a good rule of thumb is keep the same tense throughout the sentence. Doing that will make your life easier. In general, keep the same tense throughout the story. Is everything happening now? Keep present tense. Are you relating a story that has already happened? Keep everything in past tense. Remember your past/present perfect tenses can help change the rhythm of your writing without falling out of tenses.

Some other tips I've found that make stories better:

Read your story aloud back to yourself. Don't read it as if you wrote it. Separate yourself from the story, and read it like an editor. I found that printing off the story and going over each word with a red pen helps me track down grammatical errors.

Don't repeat the same words in a paragraph. The, a, an, and pronouns excepted, repeatedly using the same descriptors for things is boring, and doesn't give the read an idea of the details. I try to add variety to the character references as well. Say you've got John. John is many things, and we can refer to him as such: the butcher, the madman, John, him, he. Also, don't start your paragraphs with the same word repeatedly. Starting every paragraph with "I" or "The" smacks of lazy writing.

Speaking of Paragraphs: Break them up. Walls of texts are not conducive to good reading. Limit your paragraphs to half a page. By the same token, paragraphs are longer than two sentences, unless someone is speaking. A different character talking gets a new paragraph. That's how it works in English, just freakin' do it.

Dialogue: break it up. He said, she said, blah blah blah. Use different descriptors. Characters don't talk in monotone to each other. Find a book of synonyms (Protip: Thesaurus? Your new best friend.) Characters can ask, reply, yell, holler, pant, gasp, whimper, cry, fume, lilt, sing, smile, grin, cough, gag, and a whole range of other things. Make them do those things to set the tone of their speech. "How dare you!" she said vs. "How dare you!" she gasped.

Another, typological thing, is, to please learn how, to use commas. Commas are the garbage bags of a sentence. Anything in commas can be left out. That doesn't mean it should be. Some of the best stuff is in commas. They also act as conjunctions, which means to join parts of a sentence. You can add incomplete sentences to another by adding commas. This makes them clauses. Comma are tricky. Use them to often and your sentence suddenly doesn't make sense. Use them not enough, and you're just rambling. My three basic rules for commas are as follows: They indicate a pause, they describe a thought or action, and the conjoin clauses.

Writing is technically challenging. I assume that you natively speak English, which a complete pain in the ass to get grammatically perfect. There are ten different uses for a comma alone, not even considering things like the apostrophe, or semicolons. And that's just the technical aspects.

Writing for emotion and enjoyment is even harder. A technically perfect story is still boring if nothing interesting happens. Stories tell about the happenings and their effects on characters. A well written story can make the character come to life in the reader's mind, and challenge the way people think about their lives.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Davidism » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:22 pm

In media res is actually a good way to start a story.


You don't find "in the middle of things" writing is a bit of a cop-out form of writing?

To me, it's an easy intro into an otherwise elaborate web of construction that could go in an infinite amount of directions, but that starting a story in the middle of the action all but guarantees where the story is going right away.

I've done a lot of that form of story starts, and it's usually done when I just don't feel like looking for good words to use, creatively to make a good opening scenario and scene.

I would think the best way to begin would simply be Ab Initio and let the sky be your road. But that's me.

Characters can ask, reply, yell, holler, pant, gasp, whimper, cry, fume, lilt, sing, smile, grin, cough, gag, and a whole range of other things. Make them do those things to set the tone of their speech. "How dare you!" she said vs. "How dare you!" she gasped.

I'm a little confused on this one. Are you suggesting that loading down sentences with adverbs is good or bad?

I hope you meant "bad", because adverbs are a reader's/writer's sugar-high and can only lead to story ruin.

Kill your adjectives by going through the story and erasing every "ly" you can find, and live in shame of all of one's adverbs.

"To write adverbs is human; to write he said she said is divine." ~ Stephen King, On Writing.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Vanner » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:52 pm

Davidism wrote:
Characters can ask, reply, yell, holler, pant, gasp, whimper, cry, fume, lilt, sing, smile, grin, cough, gag, and a whole range of other things. Make them do those things to set the tone of their speech. "How dare you!" she said vs. "How dare you!" she gasped.

I'm a little confused on this one. Are you suggesting that loading down sentences with adverbs is good or bad?

I hope you meant "bad", because adverbs are a reader's/writer's sugar-high and can only lead to story ruin.

Kill your adjectives by going through the story and erasing every "ly" you can find, and live in shame of all of one's adverbs.

"To write adverbs is human; to write he said she said is divine." ~ Stephen King, On Writing.


Adding -ly to your adjectives makes adverbs, and smacks of lazy writing.

What I'm suggesting is that when characters say things, using "said" repeatedly fails to describe how the characters are reacting. Modifying your verbs adds intonation to the speech.

For example:
"How dare you!" she said.
"How dare you!" she gasped.
"How dare you!" she hissed.
"How dare you!" she wept.

All those sentences suggest a different thing. That's the way I write, but I actively avoid reusing the same words on a single page.

Also too many adjectives bog down your story. Keep your definition precise, but short. Look at a coke can, and describe it in one sentence.
A red can.
A red aluminum can with writing
A crimson aluminum can, with silver script reading "Coca-Cola."
A vermilion can, graced with the glittering stylistic script of "Coca Cola" tracing vertically along the sides.

Wandering into purple prose territory is rarely helpful.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Davidism » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:41 am

Adding -ly to your adjectives makes adverbs, and smacks of lazy writing.

What I'm suggesting is that when characters say things, using "said" repeatedly fails to describe how the characters are reacting. Modifying your verbs adds intonation to the speech.

But isn't that just falling into "Creative Dialogue Tag Syndrome?"

____________

I can understand what you mean, by not wanting to bog down the pages with "Said" after ever piece of dialogue. But... there are other ways to get around that while still showing the reader that so-and-so gasped, gagged, raged, cried, or snarled.

"How dare you!" she said. ~ Perfect.

"How dare you!" she gasped. ~ How can she speak while gasping?
"How dare you!" she said, stifling the urge to choke. ~ she is still struggling for air here, and no-one has to god-mod their story to convey that.

"How dare you!" she hissed. ~ So, she's a Parselmouth now?
Clenching her teeth and breathing in short ragged bursts, "How dare you!" ~ notice the absence of "she said", and again, it's pretty obvious that she's speaking hissy and with a venomous tone.

"How dare you!" she wept. ~ This would work better if it were two complete sentences, such as "How Dare you!" She Wept.
"How dare you!" A flood of tears streaming down her cheeks. ~ Two complete sentences can work here, and would be acceptable.
or
With tears in her eyes, "How dare you!" she said, as her chest began to heave involuntarily, and the tears flowed down her cheeks. ~ Though with a little more elaboration and description it goes from melodrama to true heart-breaking sadness that the reader will sympathize with, and the "Aesthetic Distance" has been nicely shortened.

All those sentences suggest a different thing. That's the way I write, but I actively avoid reusing the same words on a single page.

Well, style is different for each of us. Far be it from me to suggest otherwise. I purposely drive a nail in the rules of grammar when-ever possible, and mostly for the lolz.

But the problem with overuse of dialogue tags, is that they bear with them four things:
• The reader must interpret the tag and evaluate if the dialogue agrees with the tag. At best, it disrupts the flow. At worst, the reader decides the two are contradictory and the writer loses credibility.
• It is telling the reader how the words are said instead of showing.
• If the dialogue is well-written and the accompanying action is well-chosen, it is redundant.
• It is hasty writing.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Syd » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:44 am

This thread is complete gold, I'm going to keep notes of the things being said. I'm a horribly amateur writer, and all my work is shit. This will be quite helpful.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby RBDash47 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:59 am

Davidism wrote:With tears in her eyes, "How dare you!" she said, as her chest began to heave involuntarily, and the tears flowed down her cheeks.

This structure bugs the crap out of me. "With tears in her eyes" has no business being separated from the subject it's describing by the line of dialog. At least this is still... technically... a complete sentence.

What's worse is With tears in her eyes, "How dare you!". I've seen a couple fanfic authors do that, and it's juuust wrong. "With tears in her eyes" is an adjectival phrase (i.e. a group of words, none of which is an adjective, but that together act as an adjective would), and has to be modifying a noun.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Davidism » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:08 pm

Thank Christ... someone caught that deliberate screw up.

I was making it as amateur as possible. The very best way to write that would have been to choke on the "she said" and simply write it as "How dare you!" she said, as tears flowed down her face. Or, Between sobs, or any number of things.

Good eye there. And I thought you just did manuals. HAHAHA!!!

Also... I love fucking with the rules. Wrong is too much fun... I've never liked sentence structure, and find it evil on all levels.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby RBDash47 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:00 pm

Davidism wrote:Thank Christ... someone caught that deliberate screw up.

Spoiler: show
Image
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Davidism » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:13 pm

I'm still dreaming of the day I can write a novel without any quotation marks like Andersonville. Or I will simply amuse myself to death over constantly putting the periods on the outside of quotes for you.

*** waits for his super-special car-ride into the desert from RBDash***

        "Hey RB," Davidism said looking confused. "Why are we going miles out into the desert again?"

        "I already told you. It's a super-special place that only the bestest of people get to go."

        "Oh. So, why do you have a a paper sack filled with scotch tape and rubber bands?" he said with a hint of apprehension in his voice. "Are we going to build something?"

        "Yes, yes we are," RBDash dastardously exclaimed quietly and provocatively... and so forth. "Do you like music?" he queried.

        "Sure, it's great." Davidism gushed excitedly.

        Turning on the radio, RBDash pressed a preset, and Cannibal Corpse began an assault of the sedan's speakers.

        Taking this opportunity to look around again, Davidism again noticed more things again in the car, and once again asked RBDash a question.

        "Hey Dash", why do you have a pipe-saw in the backseat"? he wondered out loud.

        "It's because you are super-special... like I'd told you before," he guffawed and chuckled and laughed.

I fear the horrendous nature of that crappy writing will guarantee me a swift death in my sleep, as promised.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby RBDash47 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:15 pm

Davidism wrote:Image

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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby Syd » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:30 pm

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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby FillyInTheBlanks43 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:03 pm

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"You tell me what you saw, and I'll tell you what you missed when the ocean met the sky.
You missed when Time and Life shook hands and said good bye.
You missed when the Earth folded in on itself and said 'good luck'."
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby USMC Brony » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:09 pm

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As I walk through he valley of death, I have no fear. Why? Because I am the baddest motherfucker in that valley, ready to tear anything that comes at me limb from limb.I am a Marine, let's get motivated. Stay frosty.
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Re: So... I Could post a story on here

Postby RoseArcher » Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:46 am

I like your stories, thanks for posting them to us! if you have some problems with grammar, http://getessayeditor.com/blog/english-grammar-how-to-use-adverbs is ready to help you to cope with them!
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