Narc's Laws of Fictionpress
Disclaimer: This is entirely my opinion. Of course I think it's all completely true--I wrote it. However, I am not a professional writer and do not pretend to be. This is just based off of my experience and observations. I'm guilty of several of these (probably most of them, if I look back at everything I ever wrote). And please read my last 'law'.
You are not a published author.
- Okay. I've said it and I know there's going to be those one or two exceptions out there, but 99 percent of the time that someone on fictionpress claims to be 'published', they're deluded. Vanity presses, PublishAmerica, and dozens of other scams and ripoffs do not count as a publishing credit in the professional world. They 'publish' your stuff to get money from you and your buddies buying the result for outrageous prices (and if you don't believe me about PublishAmerica check out a little book called 'Atlanta Nights').
Your tenth grade English teacher does not necessarily know anything about writing fiction.
- For some reason, high school English teachers seem to think that looking in a thesaurus for alternatives to 'said' is a good idea.
Fictionpress reviewers are not the best place to get honest advice.
- If you are serious about improving your stories, don't rely on fictionpress. There are real critique groups out there with people who know what they're talking about.
You are not Miss Snark.
- Honesty is great, honestly. But most authors on fictionpress are still in the early stages as a developing writer, and are nowhere near the point where they would be querying stories. Go ahead and tell the author you really didn't like their story. That's okay. I've done it too. But why in the world would you make fun of and swear at some poor person in a review on fictionpress just because they made a rookie mistake or had a plothole? Do you really think that's going to make them take your comments more seriously? I don't think so.
- I know why you act like that. You probably think it will give you an image as some badass critiquer. It doesn't. It makes you sound like an over-emotional brat.
- Go ahead. You can give your super-honest review. Tell the author you were annoyed out of your skull by their Mary-Sue character or their inability to keep with a consistent POV. But don't yell at them for not being any good.
There is not one way to write fantasy
- Tolkien is not the end-all be all for anything that involves elves or other magical creatures. Just because someone wrote something one way, doesn't mean you can't make it work completely different in your world.
Anime really doesn't translate into good fiction.
- Anime is episodic. It has a lot of cool action sequences. It looks pretty. The characters are pretty. The men are pretty. The villains are pretty. Explosions are cool to watch. Big robots are cool to watch. Girls in short skirts beating up bad guys are cool to watch if you're a hormonally charged teenage boy. None of this translates well into written fiction. In fact, it will probably make your readers want to gag.
Five characters having random adventures is not a plot.
- Kind of goes along the same lines as the anime rule. When you're writing a story, there should be a beginning, middle, and an end. There should be a point. Not just randomness. I almost never click on a story where the summary reads 'and randomness ensues' or 'and crazy stuff starts to happen'.
'This is the first book in a trilogy/series' is never a good sign.
- I can't count the number of stories out there that only ever had one or two chapters posted, yet are advertised as the beginning of a trilogy. If you can't finish one book, folks, don't worry about sequels and trilogies yet.
I really don't care about your character's exact height, eye color, or nail-polish.
- I know you do. That's okay. But does it really add anything to the story to mention that your character is 5'6"? No.
Just because it's been done before doesn't make it bad
- Sometimes I think we all try too hard to avoid cliches or anything that's similar to popular stories. Every time I read a story about a kid who goes to a magic school, I see that all of the reviews make a comment on how it's copying off of Harry Potter. Trust me, there are many stories that were out there about kids going to schools for magic long before Harry Potter.
- On that note, sometimes I see stories that try so hard to be un-cliche that they're downright boring. There are reason why certain things are popular, and there's nothing wrong with including some of them.
Mary-Sues are evil.
- There are plenty of essays on Mary-Sues out there so I won't get into it. The short version of the story is that a Mary-Sue is a perfect character who embodies everything the author would like to be.
Mary-Sues are not always evil.
- Some stories are good just because they're enjoyable to read, not necessarily because they're a great story. If a Mary-Sue character works for the kind of story you're writing, then it does.
Just because a published author did it, doesn't mean it's good writing.
- One of the most common arguments I get back from critiques is that 'So and so did it and they're a famous author!' Sometimes there are stories that are just so good or ring so well with their target audience that the writing can get away with having some minor (or even major) flaws. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to improve your writing as much as possible. A well-written great story still has a much better chance of getting read and published than an okay-written great story.
Obscure words do not make for good writing, nor do they make you sound smart.
- Your reader isn't going to enjoy looking up words in the dictionary. Ever.
The only way to get better at writing is to write and receive feedback.
- Take criticism as a good thing because it can help you improve. Don't drop a story or stop writing because people picked at it.
Having a ton of reviews does not necessarily mean a good story.
- Granted, a story with thousands of reviews is probably doing something right. Even if the writing isn't that good, there's probably something about the story that draws people in. However, anyone who includes 'will return reviews' in their profile is bound to have twice as many reviews. People who hunt down return-reviewers just to get the return reviews are going to have a crazy amount of reviews. Also, fictionpress attracts a lot of teenage girls. Therefore, stories with romance, high-school girls, and fantasy are bound to have more readers. If it's slash? Congratulations, you automatically wrote a fictionpress bestseller. That's just the way the ball rolls.
Having few reviews does not necessarily mean a bad story.
- Again. Fictionpress attracts teenage girls. Some types of fiction are undoubtedly going to get much less attention. Trust me, if you write a great story about a sixty-year-old man and post it on fictionpress, you will get almost no reviews.
Your hit count means very little.
- A hit doesn't mean that someone read your story. It means that someone, for some reason, clicked on it. Every time someone reads a new chapter, that's one hit. Every time someone comes back to your story, that's a new hit.
- Your first chapter is usually going to encompass about half of your hits. This does not mean that half of your readers are stopping after the first chapter (although some will). Every time someone comes back to read a later chapter of your story they have to go to the first chapter first.
There are no absolute rules.
- For every 'rule' about writing fiction you can find in the writing community, there are hundreds of cases in which that rule might not apply. That includes anything I've said. So, please, don't take it all that seriously. If it works, it works.