-------------------A non-expert giving tips on expert writing.
Are you a writer? You’ll probably say ‘yes’. But I doubt you write with feeling. By that, I mean you may or may not be an excellent writer. That’s alright, nobody is at early stages.
By early stages, I don’t mean you’re just picking up your pen and starting your first story in your whole life. You could’ve been writing for the past five years. But experience doesn’t always equal quality. A person who has written one hundred-fifty stories over five years could be a low grade, horrible writer, compared to one who has been writing for two years and wrote twenty stories and has Stephen King quality writing. I mean, if you take writing seriously, and not to just be apart of the writing crowd, you could be an amazing writer.
Writing is an art. It truly is. A painting of words. It holds a gorgeous background; it can be whatever you want. The writer could write a happy story, but if you read deeply into it, it’ll become a story that could be dark. The same thing can be said for reverse; a sad story could turn into a ray of hope for your character. If you take it seriously, writing that is, you could be an amazing author, published or not.
Here, I’ll give you a guide to basic writing. From simple things to complex.
“Oh, I know that!” - Grammar and Sentence Structure
Don't skip this! There are several punctuation tips that can greatly increase the dramatic impact of your writing. I'm not just talking about commas or semicolons but line skips, italics, and point-of-view punctuation. Learn these tricks. They'll sharpen up your stories.
I see many people on this site who are sure they’re brilliant authors. Not to rain on your parade, but unless you’ve been told by a real critic, you’re not.
This part of the guide is for the stuff you think you may know, but you may not really comprehend it.
Word Tags. A word tag is what I call words like; said, giggled, shouted, screamed, muttered, asked, demanded, ect. The thing about these, if you’re writing one after it, you must put a comma in your sentence.
What I mean by this is that, even if your words don’t continue, you must have a comma. Example;
“No, I’m afraid not. Yes, there was something breaking, but there was no vase,” Eirin said.
Although Eirin does not continue her sentence, there is a comma, because there is ‘said’. An example of where you don’t need a comma is this, same scenario;
No, I’m afraid not. Yes, there was something breaking, but there was no vase.”
Since I did not write ‘said’ or another word tag, I can end my sentence with a period. This usually only works if you know whose talking, like two people talking back and forth, or there is a pattern; Person 1 talks, then Person 2, then Person 3, then Person 1 again, ect.
Use of Periods for dramatic pause. Many people overkill this. It’s simple; don’t over use periods for dramatic pause.
Example of what not to do;
“What? No, I’m not interested in eating frogs, but………”
That’s overkill. It makes the story choppy. Do this;
“What? No, I’m not interested in eating frogs, but…”
You know the character is trailing off, but you don’t need to have lots of periods. If you have to express that there was a very long pause, do this;
“What? No, I’m not interested in eating frogs, but…” She took far too long to continue her words; I was beginning to think she forgot her sentence all together.
Not choppy, and it actually flows nicely.
"-" Means an interruption. Use a dash to express an interrupted conversation. Again, don’t overkill.
“The days are ever so boring--”
“Sister, why don’t we have a party?”
Avoid colons and semicolons. Because the average American reader isn't an expert on punctuation, many look at colons and semicolons as a sign the writer is showing off.
If you have the irresistible urge to use either the colon or semicolon follow these rules:
Use a colon to precede a list.
He had three things, all with him; his pistol, a machete, and a Molotov.
Use a semicolon between two, complete, related sentences which you want to join into one sentence.
He shouted he was going to jump off the bridge; exclamations like that made him feel everyone was watching him.
This sentence can be legally written two other ways:
He shouted he was going to jump off the bridge because exclamations like that made him feel everyone was watching him.
He shouted he was going to jump off the bridge. Exclamations like that made him feel everyone was watching him.
Which one should be used? The one that sounds best to you.
Skip a line for dramatic emphasis. This focuses attention on the last sentence before the line skip and is especially effective if the final statement is short, pithy, and unexpected. Be careful not to use this technique more than twice or the reader will start thinking about it as a stylistic device instead of being captured by the drama of the moment. Be careful about using this technique if your format already places a line skip between every paragraph.
Vojsava had a choice right there. She could break down and cry, drop to her knees for Rayaan, and apologize for being violent. Or she could scream at the man, smack him with the gun in her hand and possibly cause him damage, and then flee.
She did neither. She brought the gun up to her head, gave a smile, and pulled the trigger.
‘Yeah, sorry about that.’
When addressing someone, use a comma. Not exactly the same as the ‘comma before a word tag’, but in general. If you’re talking about someone, you don’t need a comma after their name, but if your character is talking to someone and says their name, you must.
“Oh, Ivan, need to tell ya’ something.”
The only time this rule should be broken is if your character talks in third person.
“Well, Peter isn’t interested in what Arthur has to do!” The young boy snapped, glaring up at said man.
Place modifiers close to the modify itself.
Cirno sent the whole room into a blizzard, covering the cold room with snow.
This sounds like the room was already cold before Cirno made the blizzard. Moving ‘cold’ closer to blizzard makes it easier to understand.
Cirno sent the whole room into a cold blizzard, covering the room with snow.
Even dropping modifiers can work.
Cirno sent the whole room into a blizzard, snow covering everything.
“They’re the best character ever!” Character Making
Stories aren’t stories without characters. It’s the truth. But what can be a problem are the characters themselves. Best plot in the world? Maybe. But you can have some of the worst characters ever.
I highly suggest taking a Mary Sue Litmus Test before using a character. Even if you have no doubts over him/her. I would try to explain a Sue, but there’s an article all on it here; [x] . One of my most used Litmus tests are right here; [x] It helps see if your character is too perfect. This can be applied for Role Playing characters too.
Present characters slowly. In the real world we get to know people slowly, bit by bit. Introduce characters the same way. Let the reader discover the character as your story unfolds. One effective way to disclose something about a character is have people talk about him before he makes his first appearance. This creates anticipation. This is a good ‘Don’t tell, show” example. Don’t tell us your heroine is kind and nice. Show us, through ought the story, that she is kind and nice.
Don‘t use stereotypes, even in a high school drama story. Stereotypes (the prostitute with a heart of gold, the popular chick whose mean) Maybe make the popular girl nice, respectable. Maybe the villain isn’t doing their job to be evil, but because they’re mentally unwell.
Names. Give each character a name that starts with a different letter of the alphabet. This helps the reader keep them separate. A useful technique for this is to write the alphabet vertically down a sheet of paper and create a last name starting with each letter. Repeat this process for first names. If you run out of letters you've got too many characters.
Varying name lengths also helps the reader differentiate between characters.
Use a variety of ethnicities but remember that ethnicity plays a big part in determining how a reader expects a character to act. Sticking too close to an ethnic stereotype can make a character dull. On the other hand, using a stereotypical type for a minor character can eliminate a lot of dull description.
Telephone books are an excellent source of names. Mix first and last names to avoid getting sued because you used someone's name for an axe murderer. All of the above also applies to the names of things and places.
Give your characters voice. An innocent child would talk in simple, small sentences, rather than a doctor talking to his peers. A man who was born and raised in Russia will have more trouble with English than a man who was born and raised in America. A man who is recovering from being punched in the face will slur his words. A foreigner will have a different accent than the people who live in the country.
A problem with accents is that they can get difficult to understand. Keep them simple, but still noticeable.
“Neh. Not like I give a rat’s a** ‘bout ‘im, y’know? Just… ugh, stupid brat is hard ta forget ‘bout…”
“Vhen I grew up, back in ze Motherland, it vhas… always so cold, da? I wanted to visit place that vhasn’t alvays cold…”
“You mean de Academy? Ja, it iz okay.”
Could you understand those accent examples? When using an accent, use what you think is right.
“I’m the best and there’s nothing you can say about it!” Accepting criticism.
BEWARE! Author is about to rant! BEWARE!
Many of writers on here are close minded. They assume criticism is the same thing as praise.
I’m sorry, but telling you that your story is amazing is not helping. Not even if you say that’s there’s one or two things about it.
You can praise work in criticism, yes. But the main point of being a critic is commenting on the mistakes and errors and the problems of the work. But, please be aware, this is not bashing. Commenting on a piece of writing’s problems isn’t telling you how much it sucks. It’s trying to show you mistakes you should take into consideration.
Telling you your work is horrible is bashing.
Telling you about your mistakes is not.
It becomes tedious when I, and my fellow critics, try commenting on stories, and all we get are “Stop being mean!” comments. If not that, “I was tired, it’ll get better later!”
Don’t write if you are tried.
Don’t make up excuses.
I’m sorry, but we don’t care.
Cruel? Maybe. But addressing problems =/= being rude.
If we are rude about it, and downright telling you your work sucks, you are allowed to take our reviews with a grain of salt.
But if we are being polite, we’re not trying to be rude. We’re not pointing out your mistakes to be rude, we’re trying to help.
Stop being so full of yourself, get off your high horse and accept our help or you‘re just going to get the same response from a publisher.
“And is that it?” “Yes.”
So how was this? Did you find it helpful? Using this for help in writing could help. I am no professional, but if some writers on here took this as help, it could be beneficial for you all.
I thank you…
[x] This site, for help with this guide. I leaned on it a lot; it helped me with this guide. Please, read this man’s tips on writing. They can help you a lot.
Edited by Goggle-Face, 08 August 2010 - 02:52 PM.