Good, Clean Fun
We all love some good, clean fun from time to time, I want to hear YOUR take on humor and how to keep it both clean and funny! Join whenever!
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What is the best kind of poll to put in my bio?
1 A Matter-of-Openion Poll
2 A Funny Poll
3 A Poll about Polls
4 A Question Regarding my Stories
5 A Survey to Actually See Percentages of Stuff (i.e. "Do you have any pets?")
6 A Quiz-like Poll (w/ right & wrong answers)
View Poll Result. Please vote for one of the choices.
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

Well here's my take on the length of the first chapter: it should be about the plot length not the word length. As long as the writer can keep the reader interested with more plot then, well it's okay. But the first chapter is just the first chapter in a long string of chapters and outlining has never failed me. So if you outline what you want to cover in the first chapter (remembering that there will always be chapter 2 to continue your thoughts in) and then you just write what you want to cover in a manner that will interest you reader, it can't fail ... in theory.

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

6/23/2008 #31
R.E.D. the animator

What you have to realize is that the first chapter and perhaps the first paragraph are what's going to "sell" the reader and convince them to read the story. Any story should be a fun read even if the reader doesn't know who you are and has never read any of your other works before. In other words, the story needs to pull it's own weight. If the author of Harry Potter had published the first Harry Potter book as dark and depressing as the seventh book then no one would have ever bothered to read it, but since the first book was fun, she gradually formed a cult following who would read anything she ever published even if it was crap.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, so I'll try to bring it back to the topic.

Now you, the lowly fictionpress writer, probably doesn't have such a large fan group following you around, so almost no one knows who you are so you need to "sell" your story to them, or make them want to read it, and this can only be done by very VERY carefully planning the first chapter. So what it comes to is, don't make the beginning long and overly explanatory. Only distinguished authors can get away with that without boring the reader. On that same token though, don't start the plot too quickly or else the reader will think the story is really low quality.

There. Rambling done.

6/23/2008 #32
The Cat Died Nobly

Yes, it is hard to get a well-rounded character into a oneshot. You've only got a couple thousand words with them, and you want to make it good. But if you can sense that multiple-sided development in a short story, you know you've done well; I always try to aim for characters with real personality, not just a snappy comeback whenever the timing seems right. Characters is what makes the story for me, in all honesty.

As far as the first chapter goes, R.E.D. makes an excellent point. For authors of a smaller fanbase (and sometimes even those with a larger one), the first chapter is crucial in bringing in your readers. Less can be more when it comes to literature; using bold, concise writing right off the bat, alluding to the climax of the story in a foreshadowing type of way is what I've found really drags people in.

For example:

1. I looked at her, and in that moment, I knew that this wasn't a game anymore. Nobody was smiling anymore, staring at me with their beady eyes as they tried to gauge my reaction. From then on, my moves would be scrutinized carefully.

2. It wasn't a game anymore, not for any of us. I knew it was time to put down my chess pieces and get to the point of the matter; it was like the time I had played Johnny at checkers, capturing all of his pieces and learning his strategy. I spent hours trying to figure him out, and now that I was in a similar situation, the world was turning on me again. I would be watched.

Number 1 is what would drag more people in, because it gets to the point immediately, using bold sentences, etc. At least, I think so. I would be dragged in by number 1. Bleh. Get what I mean?

6/23/2008 #33
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

Yes, I do understand what you mean, and I agree with you.

But in the category of Humor (and referring to oneshots) one sided characters aren't always a drawback. They might be your pet peeve, just like curse words are mine, and I can respect you for that, but in Humor sometime you need a stupid, no brains, never had a good idea in his life character, and any more depth to that character would just weigh the story down. (Some examples would be my stories "A Batman Parody" and "Mr. Increvable".)

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

6/23/2008 #34
Trmpetplaya1

So. This topic has been on my mind for the past few days. And I've thought up some more stuff.

Another thing that came to mind is character behavior. I don't care what kind of crazy--or even in some remote cases, cliche'd--setting you put your characters in: if they don't act in a realistic way, I'm not going to buy it and I'll stop reading, right then and there. Sure, I may hang on for another chapter or so, hoping you'll bust out with the "look! they really are human/animal/plant!" but I'm usually disappointed. It sort of relates to The Cat Died Nobly's feelings toward flat characters, which brought out this thought.

And an added branch on offensive language usage: in my editing frenzy earlier today, I decided to try changing all of my "bad" words in one of my stories to see what it would be like. It was actually quite fun, inventing new ways for my characters to express their anger/surprise/hurt. So I just wanted to let those of you who are big on that stuff to know you do have me thinking!

6/23/2008 #35
Mockingbyrd's Tune

Nice advice!

1. Don’t overdo plot length in first chapter.

2. "Sell" your reader on your story in the first paragraph.

3. Use bold, concise writing and foreshadowing.

Got it. And, yeah, fanbase is really a difficult one. It’s rather a matter of chance in some ways.

I wanted to point out that there are a few classic authors that wrote very funny, entertaining stories that took well over two or three chapters to get the plot moving. Charles Dickens, for one. The intros in his novels are huge! While he was a distinguished author, I don’t think his stories would have done well on FP. FP is like fast-food for readers. It has to be appealing but not something in which the common reader will invest a lot of time or thought.

So, would anyone like to see their work published and become like the "Harry Potter" phenomenon was? Just wondering.

Trmpetplaya1, if you post the edited version of your story, changing the bad words, let me know which one. I'd love to check it out.

6/24/2008 #36
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

LOL! Yeah, I get what you mean about the "fast-food for readers" thing. I mean my most popular thing of FP are my 55-word stories, but I don't see how they could ever entertain a ... mature (?) audiencein a book format. I think that part of why FP is why it is is that most of us are teenagers and also, well, want-a-be's so most are our attention spans are rather short when it comes to reading because we really just want attention on ourselves so we (or at least I) mainly just review to get attention or when I'm looking to add stuff to my C2 (which I also use to get attention). So, yeah ... now I feel like a brat.

But I don't really know what that little rant has to do with writing outside the realms of FP which hopefully we are all thinking of doing (and not just posting random stuff on the Internet for, dare I say it, attention?). But I kinda find having any sort of fan-base hard to maintain. You can easily lose them. For instance, I had a pretty good amount of people who liked My 55word Stories, but then I got writer's block (around the time I posted the poem "Writer's Block") and I didn't post anything for a while. So now not as many people seem to be interested as before.

Also, my other mildy successful story is called Comedy of Grammatical Errors. And people seem to like that as well, but ... well, I don't. As I've said several times before, to me the jokes seem to get old, I don't know why people like the later chapters of the story. So am always paranoid that I'll post some chapter and get a whole bunch of flames from once loyal fans! ... I'm rambling again. ... And making it about me! I suck. O well, I'll quit now.

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

6/24/2008 #37
The Cat Died Nobly

The thing about FP readers and writers--you're doing it chapter by chapter, not all in one packaged piece like books are. You've got to continuously keep hold of your readers, unlike in books, where it's sometimes just knowing that the end of the book is a couple chapters away that keeps you reading. That's why I like fictionpress so much; it helps me practice, as well as teach me skills like hooking readers, that will come in handy.

And it's true, as far as fanbases. I wrote a silly little oneshot that attracted over a hundred reviewers, for reasons I don't think I'll ever figure out. It was probably my simplest short story to date, and yet people fell in love. And I'm not calling myself any Myrika, please know that, but after that, I had brought in a lot more author alerts, etc. It only takes one good thing that reviewers like to get "started" on FP.

Mockingbyrd, I think I would definitely like to be published some day. I'm not sure what exactly I want in life, but I know that I'll probably never be able to escape writing, whether in the arts or actually as a book. (I was thinking of being an editor, even though I've heard the pay is awful) My cousin is in publishing, and she said she would send something of mine to an editor, so I'm trying to work up the confidence for that. As far as it being a phenomenon of Harry Potter status, I think that's what all authors secretly crave. JK Rowling is the highest paid author in history, I believe. She's living the dream of many authors. Me, I'd be happy just selling enough books to pay my bills.

6/24/2008 . Edited 6/24/2008 #38
Trisana Tennant

my introduction to Soundtracks of a Life really grabbed readers attention but the rest of it not so much. I don't know if it got too dark for them or what. But they should have known from my genre, romance/tradegy.

I would love to be published. I had a dream that the story i'm working on now was published and turned into a movie

6/24/2008 . Edited 6/24/2008 #39
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

Yeah, I kinda see what you mean. I read the first paragraph of the "Introduction", but then I got distracted by how it says it starts with chapter two (like I said, I have a short attention span).

And I REALLY want to get published! I even got my story "The Musher", which I wrote and took to competition when I was, like, twelve, accepted by a publishing house. But because I'm unknown they wanted $4,000 until the book sold 5,000 copies! And, well, I'm broke so it's not gonna happen right now.

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

6/24/2008 #40
R.E.D. the animator

I also would love to have a story published! I would also love to make a movie! In my mind, that would be the collest thing in the world.

I really dislike the term "fast food for readers". Cuz it shows a serious unfairness on fictionpress. For example, someone might write a really really good 75,000 word novle and it might get 10 reviews, and then someone else might write a 100 word rant about a talking pencil sharpener and it might get 50 reviews!

6/24/2008 #41
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

I think you may missed the point, because that is exactly what we are talking about. FP is here to give us a first look at concrit and what readers are looking for. Unfortunately shorter stories tend to get more attention on here no matter how good they are. It's kind of off topic, but I think that was what we were talking about, RED.

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

PS: I finally figured out why I agree that well-rounded characters are necessary for good writing, but in Humor they can wreck a story! In parodies and satires you NEED flat, one-dimensional characters. You can't write a parody about how politicians are two-faced liars and have them have good intentions, it would wreck the story!

6/24/2008 . Edited 6/27/2008 #42
Mockingbyrd's Tune

I suppose the phrase "fast food for readers" isn't very appealing. Sorry, RED. From the POV of FP writers, I don't think that the stories are written to be "fast food." At least, many writers don't aim for that.

This brings me to my next story spoiler. It is sort of from a different angle: what spoils a story for me that I'm writing.

1. My own overactive imagination. - Plot bunnies pounding like an avalanche on my mind all at once. "Write me!" "No, write me!" Sigh. How can I deny inspiration? (smirk)

2. Lazy reviews. You know, "This is great." "Update soon." Okay, so maybe I'm picky about my reviews, but I feel like they are the magic pixie dust that helps the story fly. Yeah, it's not cool to get feedback like, "Big infodump in that chapter." But, at least it is specific and gives me a chance to make the story better! Or, "I'm confused. Why did he run away? I thought he wanted to live with the aardvarks." I'm always grateful to receive questions. If one reader is confused by something, chances are there are many more that didn't feel brave enough to admit it.

You guys responded to half of my question: "See their work published and become like the Harry Potter phenomenon was.

I don't think anyone would object to having their work published. ("No! You can't publish my story! How dare you even approach me with such an offer?!" XD) But, I would never want it to be as dreadfully popular as Harry Potter. Maybe that sounds crazy, but being my own and having the freedom to write what I want when I want is too important to me. The pressure J.K. Rowling must have felt when writing book seven... I could never enjoy writing that way. I suppose that puts me in the "not a serious writer" category. I don't want anyone telling me, "Write a sequel to this" or "You need to stay in this genre to keep your readership."

Btw, Pen.Dragon, I don't think you gave yourself enough credit when you wrote you just wanted attention. I think it is more appreciation. You have invested time and thought into your forum, your c2, and your stories. I think you want people to notice your hard work and appreciate it. Otherwise, any attention - even bad attention - would do, like the desperation of some who flame and annoy.

- M.T.

7/2/2008 #43
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

I can SO relate to your #1 thing since my cure to fighting the pressure to write faster is to finish writing everything before I start to post (and I'm not even going to start thinking about publishing the first book in my Trilogy until I finish the last!). So right now I'm working on the second book and trying to fill out the outline of the third, so I decided I'm not going to try to write any longer stories. I can only write short stories and poems for the next forty years until I'm done the last draft of the third book, and that stinks! I almost always have two or three different plots developing in my head, but now I can't even hope on writing them! So they will eventually get over developed (jump the shark) and I will have to start over with a brand new idea to fill the old one's place, not that i'll be able to write that one either.

I can understand where you are coming from on not wanting to have a huge fan base following you around sending you hate mail every time you kill somebody (in the book ... hopefully). I mean I know that Christopher Poalini (the author of The Inheritance Cycle) lost a lot of fans when he made one of the main characters evil (I won't say whom in case you people haven't read Eldest.), but that's his creative license or whatever it's called. But then again, you want feedback from readers ... so I guess, yeah, the only real solution is to have them publish your great book post-mortem.

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

7/2/2008 #44
R.E.D. the animator

First off... what's this trilogy that you're talking about?!

Second off... I can so relate to you with the whole problem about writing a long story. I really want to write sci-fi, but I'm worried that my current abilityto write wouldn't do the story justice. That's why I write humor. In fact, the whole reason that I wrote "An Experiment in Character Driven Plot" in order to develop my writing abilities. The trick I discovered in my research is that the more you write, the better you get. DUH! I'm serious! After writing "Attack of the Killer Shrimp" I went to Fan-Fiction for a while and wrote several 15,000+ word stories. After returning to Fictionpress, I wrote "An expirement in Character Driven Plot" If you read to two you can clearly see an improvement (If only a small one).

7/2/2008 #45
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

Yeah, so go read Of Wizards and Butterflies everybody!

Now as far as the trilogy, uh ... I actually got this account so that I could post it, but ... well, it's nowhere near ready. It's actually what I consider my strong suit: Romance/Fantasy. Just when I got the account I'd just had to write a few 55-word stories for school so I thought I'd post them and then I realised it was fun having a fan base (well kind of a fan base), and writing humor can really lift your spirit, you know?

Now I think we can all pull out old stories that stink (if we haven't deleted them) and say that we have improved since then. I know I learned the hard way that outlining can really help (I wrote most of a novel and then noticed that I didn't know how to pull it all together in the last chapter, heck I didn't even know what was gonna happen to the antagonist other than "They beat him.".). I even noticed that the first chapters of the first book on my trilogy is written REALLY bad, I even had to re-write the prologue cause it sounded like a 5th grader wrote it in his sleep.

But something else that I've noticed since I've taken one humor writing is that it's hard to NOT make things funny. Seriously. I tried writing a suspense story, but I kept on cracking jokes. I think it was hardest for my not to be sarcastic for some reason. Though thankfully that hasn't caried through to my trilogy.

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

7/2/2008 #46
The Cat Died Nobly

Oh, jeez. Plot bunnies (where did this term come from, anyway? Because rabbits reproduce like no other? xD) will be the death of me. It's true, aside from oneshots and short stories, that throughout my entire writing career--about three, four years ish--I have never completed one full length story. I don't know if I have commitment issues, easily bored, or it's attack of the plot bunnies. But I'm very ashamed to admit this, although it's my New Year's Resolution this year.

I agree, Pen.Dragon, that it's very hard to not write humor. Humor is a skill that comes naturally to me, especially characters that are endearingly corny--as I certainly am very corny; it runs in my family. All the times I've tried to write non-humor haven't ended very well. Or ended at all, frankly.

Although I am trying to write a more serious, Sarah Dessen-like story (you know, tons of sadness in the tone but quirky enough characters so you don't want to shoot yourself?) and I think it's going decently. I haven't given up. :P

What Mockingbyrd said about reviewers who leave lazy reviews strikes a similar note for me, too. Every once in a while, I feel lazy and send a really concise review, but I always say "sorry for not saying much" or some lame excuse, and the next time I review, I make sure it's extra long. I know I like long reviews, so I try to leave as many as I can. Reviews that just go, "UPDATE SOON!!" are definitely very appreciated, don't get me wrong, they're just a bit pointless sometimes.

7/2/2008 #47
Eiffel Rose

I depise when the characters are whinny, and self-aborsbed, it makes me want to shake my fist at them. I also despise stories where a person is milking their pain, yes it should be considered, however when a reasonable time has passed get over it and think of someone else for a change.

Eiffel Rose

7/9/2008 #48
R.E.D. the animator

I disagree somewhat. A character's opinion isn't necessarily bad to the story and it does a good job a showing good character dynamics. Now that being said, I think a whinny character should ONLY be used in a story when there's a more responsible character to in place to say what all the readers are thinking: "SHUT UP!" Because if there aren't other characters to roll their eyes at the whinny character, then this clearly shows that the author might be whiny one as well.

Did that make sense?

7/10/2008 #49
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

I think I can understand both of you. You see, as I've said many times before I'm a huge Stargate: Atlantis fan and on the show there is this reoccurring character named Mr. Woolsey. But all he ever does is whine! I hate him and so do all the characters. But the thing is, that one of the other characters is notorious for whining, but next Woolsey, he is nothing, so I guess the writing bring Woolsey in every now and then to make the other guy seem less annoying.

But I think also that whinny characters can be funny, I might post this in the other thread, but the other guy (Dr. McKay) has ended up being hilarious because he's so annoying. And because the audience doesn't care about him as much as the other character, the writer's torture him a lot. ... Like once there was this mind control thing that made one of the guy go crazy and shoot a whole bunch of people right before the thing could get fixed and he could realize that he didn't have to shoot anyone, but ... well, McKay got shot and throughout the entire time that the guy was trying to explain the situation over the radio to his superiors McKay was in the background shouting, "You shot me!" every third line or so, it was hilarious! So I guess whiny characters can be a bad thing unless you treat them the right way and then they can be a joke if you want them to be. Cool!

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

PS: Yeah, I'm not quite sure that I made sense, please tell me if I didn't and I'll try to explain it better! THANX!

7/11/2008 #50
Trisana Tennant

Robert Picardo, one of my actors ever. His character of Star Trek: Voyager was pretty whiny sometimes. Dr. McKay did become rather funny, but I stopped watching the show when they killed off the doctor, I forgot his name now.

7/12/2008 #51
R.E.D. the animator

They never killed off the Doctor in Voyager. Well... they did in the first episode and then after that they used the holographic doctor for the rest of the series.

7/12/2008 #52
Trisana Tennant

I was talking anout Atlantis. I saw all off Voyager. Robert Picardo was the holographic doctor

7/12/2008 #53
The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon

BECKETT! I LOVED Beckett! He was easily me favorite character, but you should watch the rest of the show ... uh ... I hate to give anything away, but McKay might have been right when he said that thing about the universe being big, so maybe he'd meet him again. ... Sorry if you didn't want to hear that, but the show is great! I like it WAY better than SG1!

Write on!

Pen.Dragon

7/12/2008 #54
XxXthehappyemoXxX

Cussing doesn't ruin a story for me if it's in the dialouge, it helps add personality to a character. A deliquent teen most likely isn't going to use the same vocabulary as his very religious great aunt. I would have to say what does ruin a story for me is to many dirty jokes that make me want to throw up.................

1/19/2009 #55
Dark Meister

What spoils a story for me, huh...

1) Bad spelling and grammar: Who wants to read that? They confuse me a lot!

2) Horrible story plot: Hmm, I don't think I need to explain...

3) Too much of grammar? "I am very sorry, but I am unable to meet you due to my busy schedules. I am planning to have dinner with my daughter tonight," "Sorry, I can't meet you -- I'm really busy. Gonna have dinner with my daughter tonight," Don't you think the first line sounds snobby? I like the not-so grammar-ish dialogue better.

4) Unattractive title: At first glance, I don't think I'll read the story if it's got a boring title... I'll read it later, but that's when I really have nothing to read. :S

4/28/2009 #56
Tantalized

Hey guys! As a new kid to Fiction Press, I haven't done to much poking around yet, but I have noticed a thing or two that irk me.

Way too much detail, is the main one. Don't get me wrong, detail is good. It's lovely, in fact, but when you get into things like...

"The girl carefully selected a blue top with brown dots and flowers along the top. The blue was a teal blue, not a dark blue or a light but, but a medium teal. The brown flowers were gentle, not to darkly drawn, but in a lightly presented across the top of the v-neck shirt. The girl unzipped the back of the shirt and slipped into it, struggling to pull up the zipper getting into it. Next the girl looked for a pair of jeans..."

Anyway, you get the basic idea. A little detail is fine, but when the story is bogged down by masses amounts of detail that doesn't matter to the story , things just get boring.

7/16/2009 #57
tiger002

Detail is good, and something I struggle with a lot, but if I start just skimming though the details, then I don't care about it anymore.

Language normally doesn't bother me when I read, since for the most part it is either in the thoughts or actions of the characters, and that fits their personality. Writing however, is different since I hold myself to standers of not using any cursing. This is a challenge when a curse just seams to fit perfectly, but finding another way to say it conveys a stronger meaning. An example for one of my fanfics, instead of using "b***" I used "heartless creatures" You learn more about the feelings from the second.

[Note: this post has been edited for content by the forum administrator. Please note that even in the proper context (i.e. saying it is wrong) cursing is not allowed in this forum due to the forum administrator's rules. Please respect this rule and report any breakage of this rule to me, The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon, via PM, thank you.]

7/25/2009 . Edited by The.Wizard.Pen.Dragon, 8/1/2009 #58
Double AA

Something that ruins a story for me is when I can't sympathise with the main character, or when I just plain don't like the main character. A example of this is Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series. I know there's lots of people who love the books, and I agree that Cabot is a very good writer, but I just don't like Mia. She's whiny, and constantly insecure about something ridiculous. She also has a tendency to focus on stuff that to me is just not that important. (I've only read the first four books though so I don't know if she gets better) So I guess what I'm trying to say is, you have to make your characters likeable. Like Bella Swan, she's insecure about her relationship with Edward(and after NM can you blame her?) but at least she has proper goals in mind and she's not self centered.

Do you get what I'm trying to say?

9/1/2009 #59
Matt P

"I totally lose respect for people who think that the only window into the writing world they have involves dirty joke after dirty joke!"

I read a collection of stories here (I won't say the name) that was just dirty descriptions for something innocent: "Look how long it is!" "Can I touch it?" (It was a sunflower) The exact same joke every time. It was tedious. That's something that people need to know: repetition is not comedy. You can't just make the exact same joke over and over again and expect every one of them to be hilarious. Running jokes are fine, but they need to be building.

2/12/2010 #60
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