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Red_Swallow's Ten Commandments of Writing 2.0


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#1
Red_Swallow

Red_Swallow

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As some of you know, I'm actually writing a novel. That's right. I'm semi-retired from AC fics. Now my fanfic writing has taught me some things that I've applied to my writing. But let me tell you, a fanfic and a novel material is just as different as night and day. And as the writer I am, I wish to see everyone improve their talent and raise the quality of material around here, AC or otherwise. So, I'm giving to you guys, the fanfic writers a little of my knowledge from both world.

1. Read stuff and don't be cocky - That's as basic as I can be. You read other stuff, you can see what's wrong with your own writing. You can also learn other things from other people's writing. Don't act like you're the best. There's always someone better.

2. Have a schedule - As much as this is fanfic writing, you have to possess a little discipline. You have to set a schedule even if it's a few sentences a day. It can still be for fun, but in order to close the deal, barring personal problems, you've got to maintain focus.

3. Come up with new similies and metaphors - This has been something I've worked hard at. If you come up with unique ways of describing things, you can be very distinctive and unique. You stand out. If you say something like: "He flew as fast as the speed of light," that can work...but it's nothing special. But, if you say, "He flew to the speed of the fast, freezing dust trailing Haley's Comet," that gives the reader a picture and it makes the line worth reading again.

4. Balance your detail - Details are what sell your story and your style. Description is everything, but you have to discover what to detail. You don't have to go into nauseating detail about everything, but you have to try to add more than the usual, "He walked into a cold room and sat down." Say something like, "He walked in nervously and found only the icy air of the poles there. His breath made him think he had ice in his lungs. He sat down among men just as frigid and unforgiving as the room where he found himself."

5. Always keep a notepad and keep writing - If you're walking down a street and you think about your story...and you have an idea, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to remember it later. Keep writing stuff. Just do it!

5a. Make sure you keep up with said notepad or other idea depository - That's sort of obvious.

6. Mix things up! - Maybe make an aliteration, write a paragraph then rewrite it backwards, make every line of a paragraph rhyme, but don't make it too out of the box. It may not fit your style. But try to mix it up a little.

7. Make conversations interesting. - This is a real difficult one. Character have mundane conversations...the challenge is making it worth reading. Make everything engaging so we know who is speaking and we can identify in a heartbeat what that person is like.

8. Stop using or seriously reduce the usage the following words: So, Very, and Suddenly - You'd be amazed at how often we use these words. I think we all need to stop using. Come up with alternatives. Here's an example.

“Okay, we’ve analyzed the possible locations where he could be. So they said they had to suddenly move a lab or something...so I guess that he’s in a very small village. The villagers suddenly fled when the enemy came, so we won't have to worry about civilian casualties."

Take out those words and you get this tighter version from my discontinued fanfic "The Island of Glass" :

“Okay, we’ve analyzed the possible locations where he could be. They said they had to move a lab or something. As such, I guess that he’s in a village. The villagers fled when the enemy came. We won't have to worry about civilian casualties."

9. Use the damn spellcheck, but be careful - You don't have to have it spelled right on your scratch or idea pages...but when you do it for real, make sure you've checked everything. The spellcheck does most of the work for you, but be careful. If something is intentionally spelled a certain way, but is incorrectly marked by the spellcheck...you could end with something you did not intend and it could change the meaning of your story.

9a. Don't post something the day you write it. - Sleep on it and come back and you'll find things wrong or have ideas you didn't before.

9b. Read your writing outloud - You may find that what you're trying to say and what it actually says can be dramatically different. You may find lines that sounded cool one minute, but when you say it outloud...it makes no sense.

10. Do it for you...and not just everyone else - Remember, your writing is your own. Own it! Have pride in it. Write the absolute best way can and your story will teach you. This is your stuff. People have to like it, but if you find it a chore...then don't do it. Writing is passion meets discipline. You have to commit, but you also have to a passion. Make the story your own.

Well, I hope I've been some help. Good luck to all of you.

Edited by Red_Swallow, 15 July 2008 - 08:58 PM.

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#2
Seraph 5

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9. Use the damn spellcheck, but be careful - You don't have to have it spelled write on your scratch or idea pages...but when you do it for real, make sure you've checked everything. The spellcheck does most of the work for you, but be careful. If something is intentionally spelled a certain way, but is incorrectly marked by the spellcheck...you could end with something you did not intend and it could change the meaning of your story.

Prime example there, Red. :)

Anyway, all of these are excellent suggestions, and I hope all aspiring writers take the time to read this.

Edited by Seraph 5, 22 June 2008 - 10:53 AM.

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#3
Red_9

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I've been doing this for a while now, which has resulted in better quality (for me anyhow).

What you also need is a list of tools on how to formulate a proper and maybe even original plot along with characters. Maybe even give tips on how to make a good twist in the plot.

Also, what's your real novel about?

Edited by Red_9, 22 June 2008 - 04:55 PM.

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#4
Red_Swallow

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Prime example there, Red. :)

Anyway, all of these are excellent suggestions, and I hope all aspiring writers take the time to read this.


Okay, Jesus Christ. We're not perfect. Sue me, it was like midnight when I posted this. :lol:
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#5
Firegal

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:lol: Dude, you SO blew it (yes I used so on purpose!) You should have said you did that to see who was paying attention! :lol:
The part about not posting the day you write it is very true. I always sit on it and think a bit. I try to write a few pages ahead before I re-read what I wrote a few days earlier. Then I have a clearer idea of where I am going with that part and can massage it a bit. Then a day or two after that, I post.

Always, always, always keep I copy with you. Do NOT write it in the post only. If something happens to this site your work could be lost forever. It has happened in the past so heed the warning!
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#6
Red_9

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Always, always, always keep I copy with you. Do NOT write it in the post only. If something happens to this site your work could be lost forever. It has happened in the past so heed the warning!


Reminds me of that day when they deleted one of my FanFics due to spam, when I had just saved the whole thing to MS Word the previous day. Man was I lucky!
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#7
Guest_ninjahedgehog_*

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Always, always, always keep I copy with you. Do NOT write it in the post only. If something happens to this site your work could be lost forever. It has happened in the past so heed the warning!


Seconded. On the other hand, I nearly lost vital parts of my writing when my hard drive broke but they were saved because they were here. ;)
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#8
Red_9

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Easy for you to say. I got my stuff purposefully deleted off of ACS.com only hours after I saved it all to a USB Drive.
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#9
OmegaEGG

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One thing I'd like to add onto section 9: If you're okay with it, ask your fellow peers for feedback. That's pretty much self-explanatory.


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