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Shakespeare and other stuff. The big kids club.
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lookingwest

I know, I said I was going to and then I put it off again, XD, I've been meaning to give some advice over here...

A List of Stuffs I've Learned Over The Years:

1. Backing you guys up on the show and tell thing.

2. Also doubling the "always use 'said' as much as possible, no other speaker tags--that one gets drilled in a lot through my different classes.

3. Know the different between 'lie' and 'lay'. (This seems to be misused a lot, and I even did it in my latest WCC piece :S)

4. Start in medias res. This is a big one, more so for short stories than long novels, but I still think a novel should have an interesting start. It means to start "in the middle of things". Start as late as possible in your narrative, as late as you possibly can. For instance (and this was the advice I was going to give today) NEVER start a narrative (more so for short stories) with an "Alarm-Clock Opening". I just remembered this today because I reviewed a girl's story today that started with an alarm clock sounding off at 7AM. That's a bad opening. It's not only predictable but it's also boring.

5. I've got a thing about dream sequences. But more so dream sequences that are chapters long, not one's that are in segments. Segments are cool. But chapter-long dream sequences...unless there's something Supernatural/Fantasy happening, I never believe it unless it's really dream-like. No one's dreams are extremely detailed. At least mine never are o_o. I do not remember extensive conversations with people in my dreams. In fact, it's hard to even remember dreams some times.

6. Dead narrators. And I'm not talking about vampires. I'm talking about The Lovely Bones. XD. I had a wise high school English teacher who despised that book so much she threw it on the ground and jumped on it. Which--I mean it wasn't that bad, but I see where she is coming from. Dead heavenly angel/ghost narrators can be a cop out in a lot of situations. Just because it sets the story up so easily and it becomes a little cliche.

7. Killing your main protagonist character off in the last chapter/at the end of the short story. There are exceptions to this. But eh, if you put the investment into a character and really get the reader involved, they might not be anything but pissed off at the end. You have to leave someone alive. I feel it can create an animosity towards the author. I know almost no stories actually, where the entire cast of protagonists are killed off leaving the reader with nothing to sympathize with. Again, this was suggested to me by the same high school teacher and it is very opinion-based. I feel that I disagreed with her a little.

8. Spell out your numbers. :D One. Is an easy number to spell. Two. Is as well. In fact. Even one hundred, is easy to spell O:

9. At the end of your short stories always indicate it's 'The End' if you're submitting to literary magazines. But advice on submission for lit. mags are a whole 'nother ball park! Ew. I think I just made a baseball reference. :/

...

Well that's all I have for now! Six and seven can really be debated though, I think.

Oh! And here are some short stories that are just really, really cool and I want to include these because I learned a lot from them and they were inspirational. Unfortunately most of them can't be released freely on the web.

1. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~surette/goodman.html

3. All That You Loved Will Be Carried Away by Stephen King (exception to the suicide point (not giving it away)--I know, it's King, but it's sooo good--and as a note, I dislike his novels and this was way better than any of them)

Short stories that especially influenced me concerning experimenting with narratives:

4. We Didn't by Stuart Dybek

5. Boys by Rick Moody (It's not that long, it's the first one he reads--but you don't have to listen to the whole thing, I just love it--I wish there was a "Girls")

6. How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes) by Lorrie Moore

And that's it for now! :D

4/7/2010 #31
sophiesix

wow, lots of food for thought. the only thought in my mind at present is

7: Hamlet

XD

Isn't it funny how the great authors can get away with breaking all the rules? Thats why they are great i guess. and for the rest of us gumnuts, handrails are good! ;)

4/7/2010 #32
lookingwest

Isn't it funny how the great authors can get away with breaking all the rules? Thats why they are great i guess. and for the rest of us gumnuts, handrails are good! ;)

Oh! Didn't think of that one! XD Good observation. But maybe that's why I feel so tired with it. It's been done before--I suppose what's-his-face lived at the end, at least. He seemed like a cool dude.

And Macbeth was a suck protag, if you would even call him one...

And Romeo and Juliet were just...*facepalm*, in need of a sassy gay friend.

Othello was meh. I was rooting for Iago (such a bad ass!) more than I was Othello and Desdemona...

And...and I have not really read any other tragedies by Shakespeare but that's really the whole genre actually--some protag dies. Hahaha, see. How expected of him. XD

4/7/2010 . Edited 4/7/2010 #33
xenolith

Horatio! Horatio is cool! Not as cool as Mercutio, I spose :p or Michael Cassio! Do not think sir, that I am drunk.

Anyway, excellent advice Emily! I was thinking of boring starts myself the other day, because I started a story out right smack in the middle of one. What if you introduce action by the end of the chapter? Does that make up for it? Oh, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't get The Lovely Bones. My flatmates thought I was a cold hearted bitch because I didn't cry, lol.

One last thing, I was just wondering where kitty is? She always leaves such detailed, thorough reviews, I'm sure she'd have something to add here too.

4/8/2010 #34
lookingwest

One last thing, I was just wondering where kitty is? She always leaves such detailed, thorough reviews, I'm sure she'd have something to add here too.

I know. I haven't seen her for a really, really long time--the last time was actually when I demanded to see more of Foster's Gambit over at The Stage--since then, I haven't even see her around Gossip. :S RL must have caught up.

Kitty's got excellent writing advice though!

4/8/2010 #35
xenolith

Aww... Anise Cary seems to have dissapeared too. Darn that RL!

Who needs it!

Hm, I hear them alarm bells a-ringin' XD

4/29/2010 #36
C. Tattiana H-H

I didn't even know what everyone was talking about when I started on fictionpress, but a couple people pointed out to me the 'tell' parts and it was only then that I became conscious of what I was doing. It's the 'ly' verbs, isn't it?

I used to be so bad for that, it's not even funny. Seriously, I look back at my first version of the early chapters of Shadows and I cringe. I feel sorry for the early few who read it.

ummm you sure you want to get me started on this, I mean I do teach writing after all XD

Ha-ha, yes Anise, let us have it. ;)

Know the different between 'lie' and 'lay'. (This seems to be misused a lot, and I even did it in my latest WCC piece :S)

I think I know the difference, but I still get the whole lie, lay, lied, laying, lying thing mixed up. I just can't remember it; it's all over my head.

NEVER start a narrative (more so for short stories) with an "Alarm-Clock Opening". I just remembered this today because I reviewed a girl's story today that started with an alarm clock sounding off at 7AM. That's a bad opening. It's not only predictable but it's also boring.

Oh my god yeah. I find a lot of those scenes precede the character going to school, and that's when I really fall off my chair and smash my head against the table on the way down. I can't help it, I really hate high-school setting stories (with the exception of VATR and Reagan Save The Drama Club).

Way to go off topic guys. Ha-ha. I took Jujitsu when I was younger, as well as gymnastics. (I think both phases only lasted a year each. lol). I think I'm going to compile a list of my own and post it in a couple of days. We shall see.

Liana

6/16/2010 #37
xenolith

I think I'm going to compile a list of my own and post it in a couple of days.

Awesome! Can't wait to see it.

6/16/2010 #38
lookingwest

Awesome! Can't wait to see it.

+1

6/17/2010 #39
C. Tattiana H-H

Alright, here we go. I wrote this first thing this morning, so forgive any nonsense.

===

I apologize in advance if I end up sounding pretentious. I really don't think I'm an amazing writer, but lately I've been stumbling upon, or revisiting some stories that make my eyes bleed. Between various writers on the site that I've become familiar with, and Limyaael's fantasy rants (which I've been reading religiously for the past two weeks), I've learned a great deal. I think it's difficult to distance yourself from your own writing to look at it critically, so I always appreciate honest (although preferably not strongly-worded) reviews, that point out my flaws. I'm still guilty of quite a few of the things I've listed below, but I like to think that during my past two months on Fiction Press, I've veered away from a lot of my previous bad writing habits. If anything I've written has offended you, I urge you not to take it out on my work. I may get a little carried away in some parts, but I'm really just a tree-loving, coffee-drinking, grammatically-challenged dork who wanted to throw her two cents in (okay, so maybe it's a little more than two cents, but whatever).

A List of Things I've Learned or, A Not-So-Cleverly Disguised Rant about Writing

1) Show don't tell.

You know those lovely words you like to use so often? Those deliciously, delightfully, dangerously addictive ones? I just used three of them; they're called adverbs. Yeah, you wanna be careful around that lot. They're a fickle breed they are. They like to hang around them adjectives crew and stir up trouble in otherwise decent stories. Here's a good tip: Instead of saying "Oh my god! I can't believe she mistook the cat for a roast turkey! I knew we should have gotten her a dog instead," Lasandra cried angrily. You might want to try: "Oh my god! I can't believe she mistook the cat for a roast turkey! I knew we should have gotten her a dog instead," Lasandra cried, her fists clenched at her sides, her forehead crinkled, and her chest rising and falling as she breathed deeply. The "fists clenched at her sides... forehead crinkled... chest rising and falling..." parts show her anger. You don't even have to use that many descriptions, really. I have a terrible habit of throwing one too many descriptions like that in; but the point I'm trying to make is that "angrily" doesn't show us her anger; it tells us. It's always more effective to describe a physical reaction, than simply telling us the emotion. Personally, I still struggle with this one. I really need to keep an eye on those "ly" words, because they can really pile up like dead bodies during a plague (really bad simile, but it's 6am and I haven't had my coffee yet, so cut me some slack).

2) I'm reading to myself aloud because I'm dedicated, not crazy.

Okay, so I might be crazy, but I'm really only reading this aloud to check my comma placement and figure out if I really need that description about the various colours of the sky, trees, shrubbery, the squirrels sitting on the branches of said trees, the blades of grass, the blades of grass as the sunlight passes over them, the dirt path that has seen better days, and that lonely dandelion beside the dirt path. I think this is a really important technique to use, because not only does it force you to distance yourself from your work in order to eliminate unnecessary information or descriptions, but also it allows you to make sure your dialogue reads smoothly and sounds believable (see point 9). I've been known to sit at my dining room table reading my story aloud, giving each character in the scene different voices. This is especially helpful during those tense, fast-paced, high-energy scenes; because it really helps you focus on sentence structure. Instead of having that marathon-man line that describes three actions in breathless excitement; after reading it aloud, one can easily deduce that it would be better as two shorter sentences, or even three. It also helps you figure out the correct punctuation for each sentence. Commas for short pauses, periods for full stops, semi-colons for a pause-and-a-half (somewhere between a comma and a period). I highly recommend doing this (different voices for each character not necessary), because not only have I found it incredibly beneficial, but also kind of fun! As a side note though, I tend to overuse commas and semi-colons occasionally. Still trying to kick that one.

3) Unless you're still in middle school, you should really stop stuffing your stories with padding words as eagerly as you stuff your bra.

I'll be the first to tell you I'm guilty of this (not the stuffing my bra part, the padding words part). It's terrible really, and it's one of those things that I would never have noticed had a certain writer never pointed it out to me. What are padding words, you ask. Here are a few examples: as well, in fact, also, and perhaps a few others that I'm still oblivious too. I'm not saying that you have to banish those words altogether from your story, I'm just saying that you should keep a careful eye on them. They're pretty sneaky. What I normally do now, is after I'm finished writing something, I'll do the Ctrl+F thing, and search for those words specifically. If I come across a sentence that doesn't really need them, I'll just remove them. If the sentence wouldn't sound right without them, I leave 'em. Simple. No stress. For your reading amusement, I've bolded my main padding culprit. Ah, That. What a deceitful word you have been. I thought you cared about me That. I thought we had something real and lasting. I guess I was wrong. I can get rid of you no problem, and I wouldn't even notice your absence. I guess you weren't as special as I thought you were. Thanks Emily for pointing that one out. I would have been hauling his lazy ass around for years if you hadn't enlightened me.

4) What's that? A bear mauled your heroine's left arm off during a freak circus training accident? Well isn't that a shame.

My comments on this are dangerously close to being a rant. Thought I'd forewarn you. Just because a character has had terrible things happen to her, does not mean I'm going to sympathize with her. I can sympathize with the situation, but the same doesn't necessarily apply to the character. It drives me nuts when writers think I should feel bad for their characters, simply because everyone else does. You need to show me (see point 1) how your character handles that situation, during and after (the after part is especially important). Just because everyone else thinks the sun shines out of her ass, does not mean I'm buying that shit. Speaking of which (oh dear, here we go), what's up with that? Why does everyone fall down on their faces at your protagonist's feet? Enough already, don't these characters have their own motivations (see point 5)? I'm sorry, but you have to earn my respect and sell me a believable character before you get my sympathy. Also, if she's suffering because of her own stupidity (often disguised as 'courage'), then she should acknowledge that fact, and so should the other characters. I don't want to read another story where a character rushes head-on into a dangerous situation she could have otherwise avoided, if she simply oh, I don't know... used her brain. If your character is known for being foolhardy, then let her be foolhardy. Just don't reward her with undue praise from the other characters, and please, oh god please, don't think I should worship the ground she walks on as well (see Final Thoughts). I'm actually at this point in one of my stories. A woman has just found out she killed her surrogate mother (she had amnesia of a sort) as well as a few other people. I'm absolutely terrified I'm going to slip up and fall into this "Pity her. Pity her. Dammit, I said pity her!" mentality. You need to tread carefully with these sorts of things, and I am no exception. Show how the character deals with horrible situations during and after. Just thought I'd say that again, and now I'm moving on.

5) When your character is normally an angry man with trust issues, we shouldn't see him suddenly picking roses for the busty brunette around the corner and singing her sonnets in the streets.

It's called characterization. Just because in the beginning of the story he's disgruntled, brooding, callous, scratches his ass in public, picks his teeth with the collarbones of his last victims, and prefers the smell of horseshit to flowers, doesn't mean he has to stay that way. If you're going to change how he views the world, himself, other people, et cetera, you need to do it gradually. None of this sudden; "Well isn't that just the most beautiful woman I've ever seen? With hair so dark and eyes so green. I want to bed her, I want her to be mine. If only I could have her, everything would be fine." Stop it. Not only was that a terrible poem (written on the spot by yours truly, and yes I'm aware it's not a sonnet) but it just doesn't fit his character. Rome wasn't built in a day (oh god, now I am sounding pretentious). You can show change through hardships, candid dialogue, uncovering new knowledge, earth-shattering events, anything! But you can't get away with it happening all of a sudden. The only justifications I can think for this are: the character has or had amnesia (even then you need to be careful), the character has multiple personalities, and/or the character is simply pretending to be a certain way. If the last one is true, you had better be letting the readers know that, otherwise it'll still be a shock when he buys the mysterious woman wanderer a bouquet of flowers, and professes his love for her in syrupy sonnets of sensual seduction. I want characterization dammit! Think motivations, preferences, pet peeves, quirks, dislikes, strange habits, inside jokes, childhood influences. After you're done with that, think about the events, revelations, and people that might change your character's opinions, and then give those minor characters their own motivations, quirks, et fucking cetera. Thinking about these things can really help create a believable character, as opposed to just another cardboard cut out.

6) Where did that superpower come from?

This is a newly developed hatred, and yes I realize I've now stepped into full-fledged ranting territory (I'm sorry. This is what reading Limyaael's rants can do to an innocent mind). This can apply to any power really, whether magical, mental, physical or otherwise. So say you have a character who can shoot fireballs out of her eyes, without it causing any damage to her precious purple irises. Let's say that's her only power, and all through chapters one to thirty-five it's the only power we've seen her use. All of a sudden in chapter thirty-six, she can run really fast, shoot fireballs from her armpits, do back flips, crush a man's skull with her bare hands, dropkick seven men in a row without exhausting herself, and when she whistles the sun shines a little brighter. Wtf? Are you seriously trying to slip that one past me? Even Ray Charles would have noticed that one! You need to back the fuck up sweetheart and tell me what you were smoking when you wrote that. I don't recall your character ever receiving any training for these abilities. I'm pretty sure I would have remembered that lesson on skull crushing, because damn, I wanna know how it's done. It's one thing if she developed her fire magic so she could shoot it from other orifices (no jokes now), and the sudden power is related to her base power; but it's an entirely different ballpark when the skills she's suddenly possessing, seem to appear out of nowhere and have little to do with the original power. You know what suddenly giving your character a new power without clear reasoning is called? Cheating. Yeah that's right, I said it. What you gonna do about it? Drop kick me and whistle? Whatever, get out of here. Keep track of your character's skills, abilities, magical and mental powers, and develop them accordingly. (That one got a little ugly, I'm sorry).

7) I know this, why are you telling me it again?

This one is more of a pet peeve than actual words of wisdom, but I thought I'd throw it because it's important. I hate, hate, HATE when I'm reading a story and the narrator or character, tells me information I already know. I have terrible memory; that much I'll admit; but that doesn't mean I need writers to cater to my chronic memory loss. If your story is set on a continent called Blazerstan (that's blah-zer-sta-hn), and the people sailed there from Freadernotz seven-hundred years ago, and the skies are pink, and the grass is orange, and there's a prophecy about a man-eating sadist who's going to save the world with her super-amazing Brazier Blast, you only need to tell me this once. Unless another character is making some passing comment about the world's history and the prophecy and the cotton-candy sky and the damn orange grass, I don't want to hear about it again; or at least not in detail. Tell me once and move on. Reading your story aloud (see point 2) can really help you notice excessive information. Not everything needs a paragraph of description, and if the plot is centered around the man-eating sadist and her Brazier Blast, you don't need to keep drilling it into the reader's head. Put away your world building notes Writer. I want a story, not a history lesson. (It just keeps getting uglier).

8) Once more with feeling.

Remember that this isn't television or the movies. You need to explain, preferably clearly, what your characters are doing. Facial expressions, actions, body language, et cetera; and keep track of it! If two people are sitting down at a table having a discussion, and all of a sudden you describe one of the characters being on the other side of the room discreetly picking his nose, you should really throw in a line about him standing up from the table and walking over to the corner. More than that, though. If the companion is normally disgusted by such acts, it doesn't make sense that he brushes it off as just one of his friend's annoying little habits. Even more than that too, though. What's his facial expression like? What about his body language? How does the other character feel about his friend's sudden need to cleanse his nasal passages? Try to think of your characters as people, not just creatures born from your imagination. They're not going to be hollow husks of human life during situations that warrant an emotional reaction. If you're having trouble with this, figure out a way to get inside the character's mind, and practice 'body-centered' writing. (One thing I stumbled upon; apparently, editors are tired of the word 'gaze'. They think it's highly overused and should be employed sparingly. I'm definitely guilty of that one).

9) I'm sorry, are you reading from a script or are those your own words?

Let's talk about dialogue, shall we? We need to try harder. It's exhausting reading dialogue that sounds forced, redundant or otherwise completely trivial. If you have trouble writing dialogue, I would suggest reading it aloud (see point 2) and perhaps even acting them out (not literally, more like visualizing where everything is. Again with the 'body-centered' writing). Think about conversations you've had. If two characters know the same piece of information, don't make them have a lengthy discussion about it. That's simply not realistic. How often do you talk about things you already know, to a person who also knows the same piece of information? Be honest now. It only really makes sense if you're going over details, or quickly refreshing your memory. Also, think about, and watch out for not using contractions. Sometimes this can be the main culprit. A lot of time I find writers are killing their dialogue with formality that otherwise doesn't suit the scene, character, or even their entire story (I used to be guilty of this one. Oops). Reading it aloud will really help with this (again, see point 2). Ignore the stares from your family members and loved ones. If they truly love you, they'll understand that you have to read the scenes aloud, otherwise Liana will hunt you down and force-feed you your manuscript.

Final Thoughts

It started off so civilized and then ended with a death threat. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, either with my nine swears or anything I've said. I really need to stop reading Limyaael's rants, because I'm becoming rather fastidious about what I read, and my tolerance level for the amount of bullshit writers try to pass off as interesting plot lines and admirable character traits, is rapidly declining. I think it's great I'm looking at things a little more critically, but I've offended two people in the last week alone. I told one writer in a PM that, "I don't care if your character has your eyes, I don't find her believable." Looking back, I think that might have been a little harsh, but she was trying to shove her character's courageous, loyal, oh-so-fucking-wonderful personality down my throat like I was some crazy person refusing to take my meds. Sorry, not happening. I'm going to stop now though, because this has already exceeded three-thousand words. Once again, I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I'm not perfect and I'm not trying to pretend that I am. I just started becoming rather passionate about these things lately. It's 6:30 now, and I've just started my morning coffee, so yeah... I'm done. Was the Ray Charles joke too much? I think it might have been too much. I was really tired when I wrote this, so please don't hate me. I'm a nice person I swear! Growing up my family was poor, and I was made fun of because of my skin colour. I was a dork who played the trumpet in the school jazz band. I liked Batman when everyone else thought Spiderman was the shit. Pity me, please! Sympathy, sympathy!

6/17/2010 #40
xenolith

Nice work there Liana! Now, if I may...

but the point I'm trying to make is that "angrily" doesn't show us her anger; it tells us.

Yes. Yes yes yes. But sometimes it's okay to use a 'ly' word because it keeps the pace up, especially in a bit of talking. Like you touched on just before that quote you can't just have blockades of show description all at once, because it slows things down and is sometimes too much. But yeah, you explained 'show not tell' really well!

As a side note though, I tend to overuse commas and semi-colons occasionally. Still trying to kick that one.

Ack... comma placement. I have to go over things a zillion times before I'm happy with it, and then I still have too many commas in some places. Still not sure how to use semi-colons, so until someone points out to me that I'm doing it wrong I'll just keep on thinking I'm right haha. Haven't had the balls to read something out loud yet, but maybe one day!

That.

Really? It's a padding word? Who knew. I'm going to get a complex now :p

What's that? A bear mauled your heroine's left arm off during a freak circus training accident? Well isn't that a shame.I was wondering if you could (discretely) chuck me a few examples of this? I don't want to fall into that trap but I still don't quite know what the trap is :/ AAAHHH, that. I smite you!

If you're going to change how he views the world, himself, other people, et cetera, you need to do it gradually.

Preach! Characterization is the holy grail of writing. Those two biblical images came out of nowhere. Then again, for some reason I have been listening to shine FM for two days. Not important.

You need to back the fuck up sweetheart and tell me what you were smoking when you wrote that.

Wow. Haha, what have you been reading? It's going to rot your brain or drive you crazy by the sounds of it!

man-eating sadist and her Brazier Blast

Sounds like a good story.

Facial expressions, actions, body language, et cetera; and keep track of it!

Yeah... guilty, guilty.

Also, think about, and watch out for not using contractions. Sometimes this can be the main culprit. A lot of time I find writers are killing their dialogue with formality that otherwise doesn't suit the scene, character, or even their entire story

Mmm, good point that one. I used to really struggle with dialouge. I actually started writing Get a Life as an experiment in talking, and it just morphed out of control from there. My advice would be to practice, a lot, and just imagine them being real people talking how real people talk. Look around, listen, that helped me a lot.

And that's it! Wonderful post. You could put that into a brochure and sell that shit. THAT!!! AAEEEYYY!!!!!

Thanks Liana :)

6/21/2010 . Edited 6/21/2010 #41
C. Tattiana H-H

But sometimes it's okay to use a 'ly' word because it keeps the pace up, especially in a bit of talking.

I'm glad you pointed that out. Yes, it's definitely not always terrible to use 'ly' words. Sometimes they are needed and one shouldn't abandon them completely. (Look, a 'ly' word that's not a baddie). ;)

Still not sure how to use semi-colons, so until someone points out to me that I'm doing it wrong I'll just keep on thinking I'm right haha. Haven't had the balls to read something out loud yet, but maybe one day!

I was actually just high-fiving myself for using commas and semi-colons properly, and then Sercus Kaynine rolled up on my story and pointed out numerous flaws. –face palm– Apparently I no longer suffer from too many commas, but lack of commas in the appropriate places. –shakes fist at ego– I thought I was doing so well, too.

Really? It's a padding word? Who knew. I'm going to get a complex now :p

Oh no! Ha-ha. I think that it could be classified more as a redundant word than a padding word, actually. Hmm, perhaps it's on the borderline edge of both? Either way, I just know that it's unnecessary some of the time. You shouldn't strike it from your writing altogether; it's only in some situations that it's unnecessary. (Throughout this entire response, I've bolded the examples that aren't needed, while underlined the ones that are, and bolded and underlined the ones I wasn't entirely sure about, or could be changed to something else).

I was wondering if you could (discretely) chuck me a few examples of this? I don't want to fall into that trap but I still don't quite know what the trap is :/ AAAHHH, that. I smite you!

I just PM'd you about this, but just in case anyone else was a little hazy about "the trap," here was how I explained part of it: The "trap" is falling in love with your characters. Favouring one (or a few) more than the others and forgetting to characterize them properly. It's when you assume readers are going to think the sun shines out of your character's ass just because you think it does. It's not having your character's act according to their personalities, and simply pulling their strings in directions that don't really suit them. It's cheating and giving them powers or having people forgive them when they really don't deserve any forgiveness. It's never letting your character make mistakes (real mistakes with real consequences), and never giving your characters flaws (real flaws, not flaws that work to their advantage). Basically it's not making your characters seem believable. There are a lot of factors for this one, but hopefully I elaborated on my opinion clearly enough by now.

Need an example? Here:

Sapphire Silmaner was the most beautiful maiden in all the land. She had eyes the colour of dawn and hair the colour of dusk. When she was just a child of ten, she had seen her parents die in a horrible fire. Since then she had terrible nightmares every night. She could still smell her parents' burning flesh, and hear their cries of agony. Ten years after their deaths, the memory still plagued her. She didn't trust fire mages – which were abundant in the village of Firemaeon – because just to see a fire sent her into a cold sweat. She also didn't like small spaces, because it reminded her too much of the tiny home that her mother and father had been trapped inside of when they died. She had built a new home on the outskirts of town, refusing any assistance from any of the local villagers. She wanted to do it by herself. She needed to do it by herself.

So basically this is a poorly constructed example of what I'm talking about. First of all, if you introduce your character as the most beautiful maiden in all the land, I'm going to roll my eyes. Next, the narrator is explaining that at the age of ten she had witnessed her parents dying in a fire. She's twenty years old now and she's still having nightmares? What about healing? What about trying to get over the horrible memory and her fire phobia and trying to rebuild (emotionally, mentally, spiritually, et cetera) her life? This is a prime example of a character I would not sympathize with. There is also a good chance that no matter her future actions, I would never learn to sympathize with her. If her village is full of fire mages, I'm sure someone would have eventually sat her down and explained how ridiculous it is to be so terrified of fire. Also, if she's so terrified of fire, how does she cook? Or heat water? There are so many other areas of her life that would be affected by her fear of fire that aren't being addressed. This is just a general example, of course, with several "bad" things about it, but hopefully I explained that a little bit more clearly.

It's when the writer assumes I'm going to sympathize with the character just because she does, that pisses me off. If the character put forth a daily effort to work past her problems with fire, and wrestled with her memories until they no longer caused her to have nightmares, I would sympathize with her. Of course, from this short example it's not clear whether or not Sapphire Silmaner did try any of those things, but we're just going to assume she didn't. A good Limyaael rant to check out is her one on healing and recovery, which can be found here: http://limyaael.livejournal.com/478551.html(points 4 and 6 are especially relevant). Although she targets fantasy, the points she makes can be applied across a wide range of genres.

Wow. Haha, what have you been reading? It's going to rot your brain or drive you crazy by the sounds of it!

I really wish I could pinpoint the exact article or story I read that turned me into such a bitter reader, but unfortunately even I'm at a loss for what caused the sudden turn. Actually no, there are a couple of stories on here I can think of that really just... ugh. Ha-ha.

Yeah... guilty, guilty.

I think we're all a little guilty of that one from time to time. We just need to throw ourselves into the story and pretend that we're actually sitting/standing/running/[insert appropriate action here] alongside the characters we're writing about. A good link for body-centered writing is (of course) one of Limyaael's rants. It can be found here: http://limyaael.livejournal.com/516129.html

Look around, listen, that helped me a lot.

I think that's wonderful advice. I sometimes find myself tuning in on other people's conversations because of their facial expressions, body language or tone. It's a great way to get ideas for your scenes and characters; although I do tend to look like a major creeper when I do that. Most people don't take lightly to random people suddenly becoming totally engrossed in a conversation that they weren't invited into. Ha-ha. I'm still trying to figure out a way to incorporate little behavioural quirks for my characters, and studying other people's interactions can really help with that. Thanks for bringing that up. :)

And that's it! Wonderful post. You could put that into a brochure and sell that shit. THAT!!! AAEEEYYY!!!!!

Ha-ha, thanks. I think I might be faced with lawsuits if I tried that, though. The format I followed (i.e. See Point whatever) was shamelessly stolen from Limyaael. It's a great format to use, but if you read all of her rants you'll see the similarities between my rant and the culmination of hers. This is all in my own words*, of course, but I do have to credit her rants for a lot of my enlightenment.

*In my own words: Every time I read or write that expression, I think back to George Carlin's Back In Town - Common Phrases (or some name like that) rant about the English language. It's a stupid phrase because unless you're going to explain something in a new, self-created language, nothing is technically "in your own words." I always get a good laugh about that one actually. George Carlin was brilliant.

Couple of self-edits

7) I know this, why are you telling me it again?

I probably should have clarified a bit more. I think I may have spent more time figuring out how to explain the pronunciation of Blazerstan than analyzing this portion of the list/rant. This point applies more to sequels than anything else, although repeating information can plague any story. Garth Nix is terrible for this sometimes. Granted The Keys to the Kingdom Series is targeted towards a younger than teen audience, I still smashed my head against the dining room table when in every novel following the first one (seven books total), he did a page-long (or longer) recap of everything that had happened. I find it incredibly insulting (yes, even though I have terrible memory) as well as frustrating to read. Writers need to place more faith in their readers, I believe. Of course, a prime example of a writer placing too much faith in their readers might be my story Shadows. I tend to forget that nine plot lines is a lot for a person to remember who isn't behind the curtain pulling the strings. Some people seem to have no trouble following it all, but I do understand that one needs to tread carefully here.

A couple of good links to hit up that elaborate on the thoughts I was trying to get across but so horribly failed at doing, are on the TvTropes website. The ones below talk about redundant/not-so-cleverly revealed information. Out of all my "points," this one somehow was the least coherent and somewhat strayed from what I was trying to get across. Early morning ranting is exhausting, and my mind tends to drift, so I apologize for lack of clarity. I wanted to talk about not giving the readers new information in a clever way, having two people talk about something they already know (i.e. "As you know, your father, the king..." or "So tell me profession [about this marvellous invention we use every day and have no reason to talk about aside from informing the reader]"), repeating information unnecessarily, and recapping stuff that doesn't need recapping. Of course, looking back this is WAY too much to tackle with just one point, so in the end I guess it worked out better this way.

Mr. Exposition --http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ptitleaddc1oe7?from=Main.MrExposition

As You Know --http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AsYouKnow

It's 6:30 now, and I've just started my morning coffee, so yeah... I'm done.

It was more like 7:30/7:45am when I finished. I don't know why time moves an hour slower in my mind than in real time. :/

6/23/2010 #42
sophiesix

gaze... yeah... that'd be me. My characters do tend to gaze a lot. sometimes i force them to look or stare, but i think its just a common cenral character flaw to a lot of my characters that they react by gazing more often than they should. me me me, I I I... thanks for that Liana that was awesome!

*and i just bought a dress i so don't need*

*but it was fun*

6/24/2010 #43
C. Tattiana H-H

I like that. "It's a common character flaw, I swear. I try to get them to ogle, observe, stare, gape or look, but they just won't do it! Everything they see, they mustn't see, they must gaze at." Ha-ha, just playing. I definitely know what you mean. =P

Yay! Buying things one doesn't need is always fun!

6/25/2010 #44
sophiesix

hm, my characters never ogle (bunch of puritans). alright so only the bad guys do

and they never gape either. interesting. gape is so , kinda, overblown. but surely one of them would gape at some stage...?

lol, it sure is. i got a black lace tutu dress and a white lace bodicey thing. completly unnecessary and will maybe be worn once in a lifetime, but oh so pretty...

6/25/2010 #45
C. Tattiana H-H

Gape does sound rather dramatic. Ha-ha.

Oh, that sounds so pretty! Definitely worth it, even if it's only worn once. ;)

6/26/2010 #46
lookingwest

I'm really sorry that I have not been a part of this conversation.

I am going to be a small late to the party part of it now :D

*goes to read*

6/29/2010 #47
lookingwest

Thanks Emily for pointing that one out. I would have been hauling his lazy ass around for years if you hadn't enlightened me.

XD, your welcome, it gets hard to catch that kind of thing in writing anyway. Another one that I find a lot is "again", "in fact" and "at all"--I used to use "in fact" like a madwoman when I did my third person narrations!

As I'm reading your points Liana, the headings are hilarious, XD, constantly...hahaha

Point 6 and 7, lols--I think I'm going to start linking to this for people!

Gape does sound rather dramatic. Ha-ha.

I have used, gazed, stared, and gaped. I feel like there was a lot of gaping going on in INSIWB some times, XD

TV Tropes remind me of this one thing that Mister Black was saying when I complained to him about his woman character being saved by a male character and then whisked off to the hospital ect. And he told me "Well you'll be happy to know that my story passes the Bedarc Test" or something like that. And ugh, it's this test that if two women are ever together, they're always talking about a man.

I don't CARE if your story passes that test. That doesn't change the entire chapter you just wrote about the chic getting saved -_- It doesn't change anything. Just because two chics in your story aren't talking about a guy doesn't mean you're void of all cliches or feminist crit.

Though then I got all nervous that Eddy and Charlotte were doing nothing but talking about Jude and Kit. But come on. COME ON. How am I supposed to avoid that? And they're not fighting over them romantically or anything. Geez. XD

Sorry erm...that was sort of off subject and a mini rant. :)

6/29/2010 #48
lookingwest

Also, about commas and semicolons. I am the Run On Queen here. No one shall take my place! :D

6/29/2010 #49
C. Tattiana H-H

Point 6 and 7, lols--I think I'm going to start linking to this for people!

Nice. Need a direct link? The only reason I have it is because I had linked it on my profile. I'm not self-obsessed, I swear. (I always make myself look so bad on forums. Oh dear). =/ Nah, what everyone's written is valuable information, you should just tell them to get their asses over here. ;)

And ugh, it's this test that if two women are ever together, they're always talking about a man.

Seriously? I have like... five scenes I can think of off the top of my head that I've been planning to write between women, and none of them include discussions about men. Perhaps a brief mention of a man, but not the main topic. I don't know how I feel about that. Actually, no, I know how I feel. I'm offended and pissed off. That's, ugh. I'm too tired to even begin on a rant. Moving on.

Though then I got all nervous that Eddy and Charlotte were doing nothing but talking about Jude and Kit. But come on. COME ON. How am I supposed to avoid that?

I think you're fine with Eddy and Charlotte. Plus, Eddy is a force to be reckoned with. I really can't see you falling prey to ugly clichés or what have you.

Sorry erm...that was sort of off subject and a mini rant. :)

I do that a lot. Rather obnoxiously too, I might add. At least you realize when you're doing it. Ha-ha.

Also, about commas and semicolons. I am the Run On Queen here. No one shall take my place! :D

I just reread my list and realized how horrible the comment placement is. It's rather embarrassing, actually. Sir's reviews are really doing a number on me. Ha-ha. Yeah, I just ran into one of your run on sentences today. It was quite funny actually. When I read it I was like: "Seriously? This is one sentence? My goodness, I think I might need an inhaler." ;)

6/30/2010 #50
lookingwest

When I read it I was like: "Seriously? This is one sentence? My goodness, I think I might need an inhaler." ;)

The worst part for me too, is that I usually do a reading aloud right? But I STILL don't notice run on sentences, XD. Such a nasty habit.

Today I got a really critical review too, more so about characters -_- I'm needing some cheering up after that one, but I know that everything the reviewer said was exactly right. Those kind of reviews always get to me, haha. It's like I want to prove them wrong but I can't because I'm like, "Yeah. You caught me."

And thanks for the direct link actually, because I was just thinking of that when I linked it to someone at the RG OT, haha

6/30/2010 #51
sophiesix

It's like I want to prove them wrong but I can't because I'm like, "Yeah. You caught me." ha ha, thats so me, too :)

6/30/2010 #52
C. Tattiana H-H

I don't CARE if your story passes that test. That doesn't change the entire chapter you just wrote about the chic getting saved -_- It doesn't change anything. Just because two chics in your story aren't talking about a guy doesn't mean you're void of all cliches or feminist crit.

Yeah, his argument sounds pretty weak. I hate it when people try to justify one thing with another thing that has little relevance to the topic at hand.

The worst part for me too, is that I usually do a reading aloud right? But I STILL don't notice run on sentences, XD. Such a nasty habit.

I do that too. I actually just read over my latest chapter of Shadows, and there were a few sentences that I couldn't read the entire way through without having to stop to catch my breath. I tried to fix them, but... yeah... I kinda just left 'em. Hopefully someone will have suggestions or just not even notice. Ha-ha.

Those kind of reviews always get to me, haha. It's like I want to prove them wrong but I can't because I'm like, "Yeah. You caught me."

ha ha, thats so me, too :)

Those reviews always sting, don't they? It's a terrible inner conflict between pride and sense. The worst is when I write a sentence that I think is really good, and then someone rolls up and is like, "Uh, yeah... this isn't working." Ha-ha.

Yay, new page! We made it! =P

7/1/2010 #53
xenolith

The worst is when I write a sentence that I think is really good, and then someone rolls up and is like, "Uh, yeah... this isn't working." Ha-ha.

Oh yeah that sucks! Happens to me a bit, actually :/

7/1/2010 #54
sophiesix

Totally. "The sentence is my own, the price is to watch it fail." (not that that sentence is my own. cheers, Crowded House.)

Or you spend a bit of time researching something and then someone reckons you're wrong. actually thats kinda fun sometimes :).

7/1/2010 #55
C. Tattiana H-H

Or you spend a bit of time researching something and then someone reckons you're wrong. actually thats kinda fun sometimes :).

I actually find great amusement and frustration in that. Sometimes I just wanna be like, "Really? Have you done the research, or are you just basing your opinion on what you've learned from television?" XD It kills me. It really does. Sometimes people are right, but sometimes I just wanna drop kick 'em to get those brain cells moving again.

7/1/2010 #56
lookingwest

Or you spend a bit of time researching something and then someone reckons you're wrong. actually thats kinda fun sometimes :).

True, true!

7/1/2010 #57
xenolith

I never research, mwuahahahaha! Will one day though, then I can be a part of that misery/fun.

7/2/2010 #58
lookingwest

I never research, mwuahahahaha! Will one day though, then I can be a part of that misery/fun.

I did not do ENOUGH research with the bow and arrow crap.

Or the AK47 -_-

I know all the names, but apparently, says Boyfriend, a dainty girl could not wield an AK47, because it would break her dainty shoulder if she shot it.

:/

Also...yeah...the motorcycle thing...that's coming up...and was the winner of that poll...so...argh. XD, now I seriously have to ask one of my guy friends to take me on his motorcycle so I can remember what that's like, to accurately describe it in my story...and then I have to actually pick a motorcycle. And that's going to be REALLY difficult.

7/2/2010 #59
xenolith

Motorcyles... well I've never actually driven one but I've rode passenger often enough. It gets a bit boring, you have to sway scarily close to the ground around tight corners, and eventually your bum starts to really hurt.

Picking a motorcycle would be fun! Maybe you could start another poll up :p I'd go for something really fast, Ducati, they're the fast ones right?

7/2/2010 #60
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