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Author has written 24 stories for Fantasy, Essay, General, and Sci-Fi.
WHOLE WOMAN’S HEALTH
COMMISSIONER, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE
SCOTUS: 5/3 in favor of the constitution.
“No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party who ignores her sex.” -Susan B. Anthony
Leave replies to reviews or general comments here by starting a new topic: https://www.fictionpress.com/forum/Opinions-and-Polls/7681/
Please do not leave extraneous comments on review pages.
'I use the verb "to write" here to mean writing literary and/or commercially salable prose.
Writing in the sense of how to compose a sentence, why and how to punctuate, etc., can indeed be taught and learned
It is definitely a prerequisite to writing in the other senses; yet some people come to writing workshops without these skills.
They are mistaken.' --Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. LeGuin's comment to the Portland Oregonian on the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge:
From the Fiction Press Guidelines: Writers' Etiquette
Recognize that there is no expectation of privacy on the internet. If you really do want only your friends to read your work, do not post it. Hand deliver it to them, either as hard copy or in a data stick, or send it via DocX or Google Docs or email as an attachment. Anyone visiting FictionPress, not just members, can read what you put up. If you do not disable the anonymous reviews, anyone can review. Even if you disable anonymous reviews, any other author in the F/P writing universe can comment. If this will make you uncomfortable, use one of the above options.
Realize that all your readers are not necessarily your friends and that your friends and readers, where they are not identical, may have widely differing focuses. Your friends are your cheering section. Their task is to supply all the ego-stroking you so desperately require. Since they do not want to hurt your feelings, they may not tell you the truth about your stories. The readers don't know you and may not care about you at all. All they're interested in is the story; therefore they are able to be objective about it. What a reader says about your story, even if it hurts your amour-propre, is probably true.
Review your reviews. Read each review carefully. Is what the reviewer says true? Did you say what she says you said? Does the story look the way the reviewer says it does? (In FictionPress, it is a good idea to check the posted copy with what you intended to post. Some of F/P's protocols can change a story's formatting. You may have to compensate for their quirks.) Is the reviewer's comment/advice valid? (Does this sentence require a question mark?[Yes.] Is Liam really a Germanic name? [Yes.] You may have to do some actual research, but don't make errors of fact here. ) Inspect the reviewer's own works, if you can. Observe the reviewer's skills and weaknesses.
Resist throwing any tantrums. You will never get 100% approval for anything you write. Do you like everything you've read? Probably not. In any case, don't whine, demand apologies or impugn the reviewer's motives; you will only appear undignified and juvenile. If you don't agree with the review, ignore it. If the review contains errors of fact, correct them. If the review is correct, consider its advice.
Finally, decide which of these statements is relevant: 'And most importantly, I'm a writer' or '... a silly little story that I wrote for fun to share with friends...' and act accordingly.
Fiction Press needs a Gilderoy Lockheart Prize: a badge reading 'I am as tacky as Gilderoy Lockheart'.
-- FYI: 'tacky' = vulgar or tasteless. Gilderoy Lockhart, for example, is tacky. Someone who invites you to dinner and expects you to pay is tacky. Tupperware parties are tacky. Any form of self-aggrandizement, especially for profit, is tacky. All politicians are tacky. Wanting to throw a bar mitzvah ceremony for your christian son so he 'can rake in the presents' is unbelievably tacky(except that someone wrote to either Miss Manners or Ann Landers asking how she should go about this. I read the column, but don't remember which manner maven wrote it). On FictionPress, authors who want you to buy their books are tacky.
The author who wrote this: "No. This is neither a come on nor an ad. I will be publishing the entire novel here just as I published my last novel so even free-loaders, if they are patient, can enjoy the full thing. I assume YOU however are not a freeloader and support the authors you read by buying their books. In which case I will be checking Amazon regularly so I can compliment you when you buy both A and B (her story and its sequel)" is tacky. Also presumptuous.
You want to be a professional writer, act like one. Don't freeload on FP: take out actual ads for your vanity press books. --and while you're at it, pay for some basic editing.
Love Word on Words new Amazon's (Fictional) New Warnings. I am especially fond of 'Author Not Acquainted With Dictionary' and 'Head-hopping'.
There are two non-fiction categories/genres in F/P: Essay and Biography. Essays can be about Spring, Murder, Election Fraud or any other real issue. Biographies are about real people. Fiction belongs in any other category.
These sites are presented with no recommendations. gwextra DOT com has spammed me with this offer: $320 4 Star Pre-PublishingPackages followed by a list of services. & Apex Reviews (info AT apexreviews DOT net) offers a publicity package for $25.00. They also offer line editing at a penny a word. They offer testimonials, but no before and after samples. They claim they will fix:
"Try to mention central theme, main characters and setting. This is where you let readers know you are worthy of their time." --this is excellent advice about the blurb(what FP insists on calling a summary).
I loathe stories that are published rough drafts but are not so labeled. Use the spell check option and get your grammar up to Dick and Jane standards(or Peter and Jane or Janet and John, depending on where you are). It's not that difficult: 'See Jane. See Spot. Spot is Jane's dog. "Come, Spot," said Jane. "Come to me." ' The example includes both narrative and dialogue; complete sentences, with a subject, a verb and an object or a subject, a verb and an interjection; the imperative form of the verb; the possessive form of the noun; the proper use of the objective first person singular pronoun; the standard punctuation of dialogue and a correct way to use single and double quote marks. Now, was that hard?
Elmore Leonard's Writing Rules
1) Never open a book with weather.
Hanning Mankell, creator of Wallender, 3 February 1948-5 October 2015
The Rules of Grand Tag are established by compact for each game. The rules Njal, Úlfa et al. agreed to are both unique and representative.
1) Players select which group they shall be in: Runners or Hunters
1) Local time. Earth equivalent is approximately 1889 CE.
If you learn to correct your own mistakes, you won't be dependent on a beta. In any case, with or without a beta, the author is ultimately responsible for the post. It goes: Write, Read, Correct, Post.
My PM is turned off for everybody, so don't take it personally. The only private exchanges --when I remember to reset the 'disable' button-- are Beta requests and DocX exchanges.
I use italics to represent thoughts: Wow! the water's cold, Raoul thought. Italics are also used to denote a foreign language: "Verdammt Hexe!" Raoul said. There is a problem with thoughts in a foreign language. This is how I've decided to handle it: Raoul thought, What's she up to now? Verdammt Hexe! I can't keep up with her. I hope this is clear for readers. I'm interested in comments on the topic.
There is a similar problem with quotes within quotes: Jane said, 'Hello, Spock.' However if Mary Sue quotes Jane it goes like this: Mary Sue said "Jane said, 'Hello, Spock.'." If I get involved in who said what I say, 'Mary Sue said, "Jane said, 'Hello, Spock.' " and nothing more. ' If anyone wants to see correct punctuation carried to extremes, look for The Menelaiad, by John Barth.
Do not confuse Pretentious with Prestigious. Consult a dictionary for reasons.
Lorendiac's review for Possible Improvements for Fiction Press, contains this advice: "I still use copy-paste whenever I'm doing constructive criticism of someone's story and need to quote a line that I am explaining how to improve. (For that matter, I copy-pasted this bit from your essay!) I do this by using Internet Explorer or Opera as my browser." --I am unfamiliar with the browsers(using either Chrome or Firefox), so I cannot comment on the advice. My method of copy pasting is complex: right click on the text, select 'view page source', copy to Word and replace all the p and /p coding with a Paragraph Mark to separate the paragraphs and go from there.
Come on, you idiots from the 'Center for Medical Progress'. Nobody believes you. The fifth anti-Planned Parenthood video is too obviously edited beyond plausibility.
I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact I think in many cases your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born and not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there -- Sister Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B. --Needs editing, true, but not for sense, which is dead on. (OSB: order of Saint Benedict)
Honestly! Do any of these authors who have angel characters know that Christian angels are neuter?
14 August 2015 --Or that the demons and Satan are originally angels?
Writers here who ask: do you like the plot? what did you think of the characters? and other aspects of 'content' are missing the point. The content, the plot, the characters and all the other invented 'fluff' are up to them. What decides whether I will read the story to the end are the writer's skills.
Problems I try to avoid:
When creating a new world, especially a refuge from Earth wherein the memory of Earth and all its technology is to be forgotten, DON"T use 24 Terran hours PLUS 27 Terran minutes to make one New World Day. Completely start over, from the 'second' on up: 60 NW(New World) seconds make one NW minute; 60 NW minutes make a NW hour and 24 NW hours make a NW Day, with no remainder.
If the would-be-evil-Over Lord is trying to create a race of super humans, would said Evil Over Lord really burden the PLAN with the care and feeding of the normals? Instead of taking over the Solar League, and its huge population of, you know, simple humans, were I an Evil Over Lord, I'd take my germ banks, my slaves, my techs, my clones, and all the necessary impedimenta and move completely out of the neighborhood.
Creating a spreadsheet with characters' names and chapter where they first appear. I could list a quick description too, as well as second and further appearances. The set up doesn't like copy paste too much. On the other hand, I can keep track of what a character looks like, her favorite drink, usual hair color, where she shops and so forth. I will not individually enter all 41 Heroes, except Ethan and the Librarians, Priests and Scribes.
Nox-Cruor by R. Kain includes this: "Sign up for my mailing list to get the novel on its release at a discounted price!"
Another author who has apparently targeted the FictionPress members as an income-source. R. Kain should take out FP ads and be honest about his mercenary intentions.
Shakespeare's Puppet has my permission to repost attributed parts of my bio. 11 August 2013
Replies to any of my reviews may be left here https://www.fictionpress.com/forum/Opinions-and-Polls/7681/ Just start a topic with the name of the story.
My PM is turned off for everybody, so don't take it personally. The only private exchanges --when I remember to reset the 'disable' button-- are Beta requests and DocX exchanges. Beta requests start with a new topic in Opinions and Polls.
I think soi-disant "smart quotes" are girly.
Played briefly with GoogleDocs. I'm unimpressed with it as a blank canvas for writing --there is no way to indent the first line of a paragraph, for example. As a medium for editing of limited online work it's more than adequate.
The editing on GoogleDocs is different than that on DocX, which depends on my writing program. The F/P cut out for DocX exchange is nice because of the privacy issues. I suppose establishing a blind email for GoogleDocs only would work. Something to consider for other publishing sites.
Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh: 2 May 2015. The Inspector Wexford series and other novels.
I read a long emotional argument here, on someone's bio. It was a misogynistic anti-abortion tirade spreading via copy-paste and ends: If you're against abortion, re-post this: Abortion is human sacrifice and must be abolished. If you agree, copy and paste this on your profile.
--I found this very offensive and I emphatically disagree with any attempt to enforce pregnancy. Abortion is a private matter, and outsiders who yell 'murder' are not aware of all the elements involved in the decision to abort.
Browsing through Fantasy. I've discovered certain words in a title or blurb are positively correlated with very poor writing: Raven, Steel(e), Alpha, Pack, --more to come. Abducted. Any construction of the An X of Y and W model (which usually is extremely unoriginal as well as poorly written). Academy, High School. Also to be avoided is any title of the 'Verbing the X' form
From the 'Report Abuse' window: "Note that critical or harsh reviews are not considered abuses. It is the right of the reviewer to like or dislike this story."
--Liking and disliking are not the point of a review. Reviews are NOT emotional reactions to a story. Rants, --yea or nay-- are emotional input and pretty much unhelpful to the serious writer. Reviews --technical analyses-- do not involve liking or disliking; a helpful review involves comments on grammar, clarity and consistency, for starters.
A recent exchange of posts on the importance of grammar on AbsoluteWriteWaterCooler included this:
Someone who doesn't care about that "stuff" also doesn't care about communicating as well as possible, and it shows. Jamesartichie: resident curmudgeon.
Vagueness can be your friend. Don't fence yourself in, especially when you are unsure what you're writing about. '...sprigs of rosemary or maybe thyme...' Any cook or gardener knows there is no way of confusing these two herbs. Rosemary has thick woody stems, sometimes developing into large branches, and can grow more than 6 feet tall; its leaves are needle-like. Thyme is a fragile, slender, low growing plant with tiny round leaves; under some circumstances, it may reach 12 inches. In this case, 'some green sprigs...' would be the safer way of handling this information. If you don't know, don't make it up.
FP puts hurdles in the way of referencing any thing off-site, but if punctuation help is needed, go here: http COLON DOUBLE SLASH www DOT absolutewrite DOT com SLASH forums SLASH showthread DOTphp QUESTION MARK t EQUALSIGN 133858 -and do the usual 'replace and join' trick. Or just scroll down to see examples of correct dialogue tagged punctuation.
A table of standard punctuation and capitalization for dialogue and attributions. Dialogue is what is said. A tag is the attribution, the who said it. Most often, dialogue and the tag are separated by a comma. In this table, an exclamation point would be used in the same manner as is the question mark.
Tag following dialogue:
Tag preceding dialogue:
Tag between two dialogue sentences:
Tag within a dialogue sentence:
Another definition: A narrative sentence describes what is happening. It is not dialogue or a tag and does not include said or any synonym of said. It is an independent sentence, and is separated from the dialogue by a period(or other full stop).
Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not. U. K. LeGuin
Seek Ursula K LeGuin's acceptance speech at the 65th Annual Book Awards. For any writer whose motivation isn't money or favorable reviews from the mindless mass, the Grande Dame is always worth hearing. She answers the question: is it art or is it product?
Have been reading The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes, by Jack M. Bickham. --quite helpful.
I fully agree with #5: Don't Warm up Your Engines. Start the story with the first sentence! a chapter full of excellent advice AND an explanation (multiviscosity engine oil) of why letting the car idle a few minutes before driving off is no longer necessary. Chapter 10 (Don't Have Things Happen For No Reason) and 19 (Don't Be Afraid to Say "Said") are also excellent.
New to me was Chapter 28(Don't Worry What Mother May Think), but after reading it, I agree. Chapter 31(Don't Ignore Professional Advice) and 35(Don't Stop Too Soon) are helpful. Chapter 34( Don't Waste Your Plot Ideas) might need to be taken with a grain or two of salt. I agree with Chapter 17(Don't Mangle Characters' Speech), but slightly disagree with Chapter 18(Don't Forget Sense Impressions).
All in all, it is an amusing and helpful book.
Tolstoy, about a draft of War and Peace: "..all these descriptions, sometimes dozens of pages long, tell the readers less about the characters than some casually thrown out artistic detail in the course of an action already in progress between people who have not been described at all." --in other words: Watch the info-dumps and choose every word carefully.
A less than well-thought out forum: All time has stopped on Earth, the sun never goes down and the moon never comes up, it is at a constant sate of noon(sic). Hey, guys, even with the rising of the sun and the setting of the moon, it's only noon in one time zone at once.
A reply to a review:
Actually, my review quoted 'feasting ON rabid dogs, which sounded more like self-inflicted punishment than a triumphal boast. Try: -'...feed their corpses to our rabid dogs...'. Both comments require a steady supply of rabid dogs, which seems unlikely.
Third person neuter singular/plural usage is simple: "...each child took its plate to its own seat. No sooner were they all served than a dozen or more came back, carrying their plates... ." When you're writing about an individual and either can't or don't wish to use he or she, use it; when you're discussing more than one, use they.(Quote is from Cheerfulness Breaks In; Thirkell, Angela; Caroll & Graf, New York.
My eye was caught by a book title mentioned in the mid-summer Daedalus catalogue and I just had to check it out: Yes, there really is A Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories.
"... I understand how to write and I understand basic English and typing skills. I havent gone back through and edited and I dont like to pause my writing to place in some apostrophes. Most people dont catch this anyway and that is what spell check is for when I decide to go back and edit. I dont need someone to comment and tell me to go back to the basics when I am actually fairly advanced in my writing. Again, I know there are supposed to be apostrophes there, but I like to write and then edit. Thanks.
Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon. 9 August 1927 -15 June 2014
"Less hysteria, more analysis." --Girl Genius; 18 June 2014.
The Purdue On line Writing Lab -- OWL -- remains one of the most useful grammar/writing sites. The advice covers essays and articles rather than fiction, but the skills transfer.
Where is the life I late have LED? Where is it now? Totally DEAD.
I don't know if there's a name for these, where the written form and the sung form (the example is from Kiss Me, Kate) can confuse the reader/hearer. Until I read the lyrics, I thought it was 'gone with the WINE', (I saw it when I was 9, before I saw or read GWTW) which didn't exactly rhyme or make that much sense. The led/dead bit is more visual, but still illustrates the complexities of English.
Finished re-reading Diana Wynne Jones's Deep Secret. Very skilled use of back-story. There are multiple back stories, all bearing on the conclusion. They're dribbled out as needed, in micro-info-dumps, and the action flows quickly. How she managed to keep track of who knew what when is masterly.
Coercion: The practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats. Coercion differs from simple blackmail in that the aim of the perpetrator is not to gain money but to change the victim's behavior
Blackmail: Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
So when someone here threatens to tell Xing and the Staff that one of your stories violates (in her interpretation of them) part of the Rules, what defines her as a blackmailer or bully is what she asks. If she demands money, she's a blackmailer. If she orders you to change your story to fit her idea of what the rules are, she's merely a bully.
So why does FP have a biography genre? I've looked it over a few times, but it's a very rare story that agrees with the title of the section. For one thing, true biography involves research, and most of the young writers don't know how to research or even look a subject up in Wikipedia. At best what the reader finds is historical fiction.
I think 'biography' as a genre should be scrapped.
From an editing/proofreading site:
FP betas do it for free. Be sure to thank yours.
A quote from a review(on a new TV series: The little man is asleep) in SFChron: '...but credibility has already made its escape by this point and is running for its life.'
Now that's a great review: the problem is clearly stated and the effect it has on the viewer unmistakable. I wish I said that.
I waded through the browser page of 'Historical Forums: 24 RPG groups, each one more vapid than the last and ONE (1), discussion. An RPG filter is greatly needed. The RPG nonsense makes a quick search for something interesting to read impossible. Please Xing and Staff: put a filter on it.
And why are authors here discussing their sexuality/gender in the first place? No poster that I've read here mentions how her sexuality/newly assigned gender etc affects her writing.
Why would anyone assume that readers, who come here for stories, give a tinker's damn about the personal life of the author? Can the author, of whatever gender, write? If so, I will read the story. If the author can't, and again I don't care what gender identity the author has long ago or just recently, embraced, I won't bother reading it.
The work matters; gender identity, new or old, doesn't.
I'm writing a fairy tale, and parts of it are very repetitive. The main characters have long names: The Ugly Little Horse; Princess Dalida the Wise, etc. and when I'm writing sometimes I outpace the fine tuning. I tried writing 'the ulh' and 'PD' then doing a global replace with the full name. This works well. My inspired flow does not falter and the full names are inserted as necessary. I realized I could also use this for names like "Loïs" where the dieresis over the I is correct, but a pain in the ass to insert every time Loïs is mentioned.
Sent to Xing and Staff 26 Mar 014:
In addition to culling RPG from a forum search, a 'without' SYOC in the fiction searches would be greatly appreciated. It would fit neatly into the 'without' option already present.
TooManySecrets --https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3189635/1/The-Writer-s-Corner-- taught me something new: there are on-line list of writing prompts. My take on writing prompts was the George Booth cartoon: Man at typewriter, not typing, staring blankly at nothing; woman in doorway, and too many dogs. Woman says: "Write about dogs." Some of the on-line lists are more helpful than others and some seem to be lists of books I've already read.
Edited Chapters 1-4: Ann in San Francisco; The Orca in the Lake; Arrivals and Julia. Goofs, typos and strange little non-printing characters that louse up spacing. Looks neater and I hope they will be easier to navigate. Jumped over to Keepsakes. Should go after Consequences next.
Temple Grandin, PhD: "I call this kind of thinking label-locked because people get so invested in what the word for the thing is that they no longer see the thing itself." Very well phrased comment by the autistic activist. Try to keep your eye on reality and not on labels.
16 March 2014: Honestly! What in heaven's name makes the topic of gender exploration so strongly linked to poor writing? If you will insist on maundering at length about the 'new, exciting me', proofread before posting.
A letter to Xing and the Staff:
I approve whole-heartedly of the new profile and forums options. Thank you.
Three rules from AbsoluteWrite's Some Advice to Newbies:
11: If you really want to be a writer, you need to grow a thick skin
12: Act like a professional writer, not like a student in grade school
18: Critiques can hurt, but they aren't directed at you as a person; they are a critique of your writing.
More good advice at DOT com SLASH forums SLASH showthread DOT php?t=66193
For all you wanna-be historical novelists: It took 2.5 minutes from the time I sat down to reading about the inheritance of British titles. How's that for research? Re: courtesy titles: Even Wikipedia has an article on them. Getting it right isn't that difficult, no matter how lazy the author is.
So someone calling herself 'InexperiencedNewbie' has a survey on 'The Anything Forum'. The survey is produced by Qualtrics, an expensive service to hire. No explanation of why Newbie is targeting FictionPress authors/readers or what she intends to do with the data. Either lie to them or don't take the survey.
29 December 2013: Sent to Xing and Support Staff: In the Forum Section, we need a search filter that would remove all RPG, leaving only discussion forums. Wading through so very many vapid and pointless RPG listings takes time. Please let us remove them from our searches.
Spoiled Tart; Siren Queen; Black Swan; Hindenburg; Memphis Belle; Enterprise --names of ships (sailing ships, airships and spaceships) are ITALICIZED.
A recently discovered website: http DOT //web DOT cn DOT edu SLASH kwheeler SLASH lit_terms.html. College level discussions/lessons/advice on grammar, history of English literature, etc. VERY worth looking at. I find 'One little, two little, three little Vikings...' charming.
'...the error of writing it’s for its is on everybody’s list of top ten errors that damage a writer’s credibility'. -- Maeve Maddox
Courtesy/curtsy: Curtsy--two syllables-- is the little bob women offer to a sovereign. A courtesy -- three syllables-- title is a custom or politeness given to non-heirs, ie: daughters and younger sons, of dukes, marquises, and earls. Think of 'Lord Peter Whimsey' for the proper form: Lord/Lady FIRSTNAME FamilyName. However, also remember Harriet Vane, a commoner, became Lady PETER Whimsey, just as Sally Smith becomes Mrs John Jones, upon marriage. A simple rule. It becomes complex only with the marriage of a noble's daughter to a commoner or a knight: Sir FIRSTNAME and Lady FIRSTNAME Knightly. Captain Peter and Lady Margaret Townsend. (When two commoners marry, it's Sir FIRSTNAME and Lady Knightly or Captain and Mrs Peter Townsend.)
Peter O'Toole, 1932-2013. His portrayal of the dotty Earl of Emsworth makes it impossible to imagine any other actor in the role. --Yes, Timothy Spall is OK, but O'Toole's incredible dottiness remains unsurpassed.
All you NaNoWriMo-ers out there: It's DECEMBER. You have absolutely no excuse for offering unedited drafts this month. It goes: Write, EDIT, then Publish. Get your acts together!
After the last set of improvements, the Staff offered us thirteen separate reportable abuses (including three different 'rating' violations which should be lumped together as one), and these four:
Two new fantasy series: Temeraire, by Naomi Novik and Libriomancer, by Jim C Hines. Despite a weak/slightly illogical backstory, Temeraire is a interesting take on human-dragon relations. Libriomancer offers a coherent explanation of why we have so very many types of monsters and how to acquire the means of dealing with them. The level of writing is high in both series and the characters, from the tiny fire-spider to the Celestial Dragon, and all their attendant humans, are well drawn.
AGGGG! Even in a prologue-info-dump, keep the characters before the reader. The history of the universe can wait until it comes up in the story. If it never comes up, don't bother with it.
For those who don't seem to grasp the difference between names and reality, a quote from Charles Dodgson:
"The name of the song is called Haddocks' Eyes!”
Acronyms are words, usually names, made up of the first letters of a phrase: LASER= Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, or by first syllables: NaNoWriMo=National Novel Writing Month. They have nothing to do with synonyms or antonyms. They are aliases or ekenames or nicknames only when Thomas Allen Dwight is called TAD or similar cases. Know what you're talking about, people.
I'm thoroughly enjoying a recent purchase: Fowler's Modern English Usage, Third Edition.
A distance to horizon calculator: h t t p : // w w w.ringbell.co.uk/info/hdist.htm . In feet or meters.
If your characters are trudging thorough a trackless waste, how far is the horizon? This will tell you.
I do not see the fascination of the zombie or the werewolf. I realize 'The Other', whether a Montague or a Capulet or a different color or a Jet or a Shark or a vampire, is always more interesting than the boy next door, but zombies and werewolves can't 1) talk or 2) make love. That pretty much makes them on the dull side.
Frederick Pohl, 1919-2013. The Space Merchants, Gladiator at Law, Heechee Saga, Drunkard's Walk... . Satire, humor, social commentary and always a solid story.
Ann Carol Crispin (April 5, 1950 – September 6, 2013) She wrote for Star Trek & Star Wars(The Han Solo Trilogy).
A handy and fairly complete list of words that may trip you up: Alan Cooper's Homonym List: h t t p : // www DOT cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html
"I wrote that piece when I was twelve, and decided to use it as a prologue." --How old you were when you wrote anything is immaterial. It's also immaterial how old you are when you post. What does matter is that you do not post an unedited draft. It goes: Write. Edit. Post.
Elmore Leonard 11 October 1925--20 August 2013. A great storyteller, creator of fully realized characters.
Does anyone else appreciate the irony that on fanfic.net, where the same Guide Lines and Rules apply, multiple stories based on the Original Canon is the norm? In a random sample of fanfic writers, ten out of twelve wrote multiple stories and NOT a multi-chaptered single story about Buffy or Sherlock or Charmed or Bleach or Supernatural or whatever. Question: are they stories or are they chapters? Does the word change the reality?
Does anyone else appreciate the irony that the most rabid anti-plagiarists are writers on fanfic.net?
Now it's Percy Jackson inspired stories. Alas. As with Twilight, Gods Behaving Badly and Game of Thrones, I tried it, but got only partway into the first chapter or so. In this particular case, Night Life of the Gods was far more amusing and had a certain depth, but that's to be expected. It's by Thorne Smith.
Speak truth to stupidity --Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin is one of the best writers of dialogue on television. West Wing, The Newsroom. The dialogue sparkles.
I will consider beta requests for stories from F/P, Elfwood and Booksie. I will not consider any beta request from any commercial author/publishing house.
25 September 2013: Commercial editors, offering extended proofreading and line-by-line copy editing, such as I do when asked to beta, charge $3.95-$4.25 a page/250 words.
Under the name Weird Vision, Ioana Visan made a beta request to me here on FictionPress. In good faith, I betaed four of the five sections sent me. I noticed she was not publishing the sections on F/P. I then searched the characters' names and discovered The Impaler's Revenge (The Impaler Legacy #1) is being offered by a commercial ebook publisher. I considered her behavior dishonest and I immediately quit. 18 July 2013. I have accepted Weird Vision/Ioana Visan's apology and explanation of her omissions regarding her future plans for her book. However, I have severed my beta connection to her because of irreconcilable philosophical differences.
Well, this is interesting: I was leafing through my PM, and discovered I rejected a beta request from Weird Vision/Ioana Visan back in 2012 April 15. Apparently my recent experience wasn't her first revisit to Fiction Press. Again, the story for which she was soliciting a beta isn't published here. Is this a habit or a tactic, I wonder. Has anyone else received/accepted a beta request from her? For any stories?
Yes, commas matter: "Why are you jealous?" is not the same as "Why, are you jealous?" Yes, the difference is only one comma, but the presence of the comma changes everything. 'Why are you jealous?' asks for the causes of an already manifest jealousy. Why(COMMA), changes 'why' from an interrogative to an interjection, and the question becomes 'Are you jealous?' --which one did you mean? Once you figure that out, punctuate accordingly.
Given the one character/one paragraph rule, navigating dialogue should not be confusing(See below, 'John said' for two voices and 'This point has come up only twice' for exceptions to the rule). If you have dialogue between three characters, Adam, Barbara, and Charles and one asks a question --what color is the sky? and Adam says, 'I don't know' and Charles says, 'It's blue', is anyone confused about who asked the question? (Hint: it's not Charles and it's not Adam. Who's left?) You don't need to keep repeating the characters' names if the dialogue itself identifies the speaker. Again, this does assume an attentive reader.
I really dislike the growing habit of posting part of a published novel, and giving the URL where you can buy the whole text.
Richard Burton Matheson 20 February 20, 1926/ 24 June 2013. Among other works he wrote: I am Legend, Star Trek: The Enemy Within, and fourteen episodes of The Twilight Zone.
Apparently the entire concept of story arcs is difficult for some to understand. Briefly, there is the title of the entire work; within the work, there may be numbered books(The Iliad, for one), named books(The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatory, Paradiso), named chapters(Alice in Wonderland) or numbered chapters(which can use Arabic numerals: Single & Single; written numbers: A Presumption of Death; or Roman numerals: Knight of Shadows). There are also The Millennium Series, The Story of Crime, Jalna, LOTR, Buffy and The Dresden Files.--all of which have stand alone books, episodes or short stories. I will probably remember others later, but you get the idea: the story arc and the books/chapters/short stories/TV episodes that make up the story arc can be found everywhere. It is an established literary custom and is not original with me. If you haven't noticed it before, you need to read more. --and not just here on FP. Another example: À la recherche du temps perdu, in seven volumes.
"What is cyber bullying? As the internet and online social networks continue to grow, so does the phenomenon known a cyber bullying. This type of bullying describes when a child or teenager is harassed, humiliated or tormented uisng digital technology. Emotionally, cyber bullying can be scarring it involved threats and humiliation." --Sound familiar? The self-styled vigilantes will deny they are bullies, but look at what they do, NOT at what they say they do.
Iain Banks February 1954 - June 2013. Author of The Crow Road, The Wasp Factory. As Ian M. Banks, author of The Culture Series, nominated for Hugo - The Algebraist
--2 June 2013 very true. Every Author creates her own genesis and characteristics of vampires. HEY: they're fictional.
Jack Vance, John Holbrook Vance, 1916-2013. Mysteries, fantasy --his fictional settings and complex societies, his wonderful names-- he was one of the best. I have most of his fantasy and some of his mysteries. He displayed masterly work in everything he wrote.
Sort of terse, but OK.
Passive voice (classically: the verb 'be', the past tense of another verb and 'by') used correctly, is fine: 'Bernardo was surrounded by empty tables' reports a fact. It gives Bernardo's situation. Active voice: 'The empty tables surrounded Bernardo' puts the tables as the subject, the actor, and makes me wonder what else they might be planning to do. If I don't give a damn about the tables except in relation to Bernardo, passive voice is better.
The verb 'be' is also simply a linking or copulative verb. 'Raoul was silent' or 'A human receptionist was behind...' Here, a form of 'be', 'is' and 'was' links the state/position with the subject.
'John said, "Let's go to the movies."
John said "Let's go to the movies."
The first example needs tweaking in its capitalization:
With only two people in the conversation, 'said' is not necessary for every dialogue tag sentence:
When the author is more in control of her dialogue than either example, the conversation and narrative could also go like this:
. This is stretching the definition of 'suggested', which does not, by itself, mean 'said', but because of the content of the dialogue(John is suggesting an activity) it is stretched in an allowable direction. Some purists will not agree with this usage.
she defended; she grinned; he questioned; he stated; he huffed; she mentioned; she wondered; he demanded; he declared. --these are sometimes used as synonyms of 'said'. None of them are simple synonyms(some of them, like sighed and grinned, are not synonyms at all); they all say something more than 'said'. This is the lazy way of getting emotion or emphasis into the story and it may not be what you want to emphasize. If you use 'she mentioned', you should be aware that 'mentioned' is defined as: 'to state briefly, to bring up in conversation.' Is that what you wanted? If not, don't use 'mentioned'. --and so forth. 'Said' is neutral. It's also fairly invisible, despite the silly first example.
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England, from 1811-1901; Huges, Kristine. For any writer of Regency or Period Romance.
One of the many goofs a dictionary can keep you from committing: '...and an anteroom with a huge, deep bathtub... '. Now this was in an Ace Book, paperback, so why didn't someone catch it?
So single spacing within paragraphs, double spacing between paragraphs and even with all my talky-characters' space consuming dialogue, I'm still putting 400-450 words/page. Which is somewhere between standard MS and hardcopy book counts.
Check this: http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3072686/1/On-Revising It's a discussion of general principles of revising.
There is a National Novel EDITING Month. --there is no excuse left for NaNoWrMo-ers to foist unedited drafts on innocent readers. Join NaNoEdMo, and edit that rough draft. --It's March
Another review that should not have been written: "Your work is riddled with run along sentences... ." --If you're trying to flame an author, you need to get the jargon right. Otherwise, you just look silly.
This point has come up only twice, so it probably isn't a general topic, but the readers who get confused by this grammatical practice get really confused. The question involves quotation marks. Sometimes a character will speak on two subjects. A new subject involves a new paragraph, making two paragraphs spoken by one character. There is a conventional protocol for this situation. This example is pretty simple, as I have included attribution:
"Inns are flexible and both reflect and are independent of their environment to some degree. It depends. The Inn at Shasta has always been a lodge, even before Americans began skiing. The one at Piraeus is still a dockside tavern.
--where the phrase 'Ann continued' should clue any attentive reader to what's going on*. However, I sometimes do not wish to use that construction and will write something like this:
"I don't know; they don't shave, or at least, they don't shave here, so their non-appearance doesn't matter and they haven't said anything about them. The humans don't like the mirrors because they're too small. The humans want at least one full length mirror somewhere in the locker room, but that may worry the vamps.
"I think about mirrors, I ask a yunü. I need to keep everybody happy, not scare the humans when the vamps don't show up in a mirror and not offend the vamps by playing favorites with the humans." -- The rule is: when a character speaks over two paragraphs, the first paragraph is kept open. That means the first paragraph does NOT have closing quotation marks. It seems logical to me, and
it's the rule, but apparently not all readers here know that.
-* There is really nothing you can do for an inattentive reader. Don't waste your time, just shake your head in pity, and move on.
Seriously! If you will insist on publishing first drafts, for god's sake SAY SO IN THE BLURB. I don't want to bother reading mistakes you plan to edit out but are too lazy or too anxious to publish or don't care enough about the reader to do now.
Check out the Onion: Jan 7, 2013. '4 Copy Editors Killed in Ongoing AP Style/Chicago Manual Gang Violence.'
Why do authors have people introduce themselves as "My name is Captain X Y"? If the Captain has a birth certificate it would not read Captain X Y; it would read X Y. Using a title when introduced to someone else is impolite, according to Emily Post, Miss Manners, and the Vogue Book of Etiquette. In any case, 'My name is Captain X Y' is inaccurate.
"If I have grammar issues Please Send them to me in pm. Other viewers don't need to see them. I appreciate that your helping my grammar, but please... the review section is a place for REVIEWS about the story, not grammar issues on the story."
18 Mar 2013: I often leave replies to reviews on my review page. Other people use only PM or add replies to the bottom of the chapter.
I just checked: My average word count per review: 172 words.
"yeah and you have the audacity to say my story is poorly edited at least I know when to use 'were' and 'was' and apparently you think your some multimillionaire professional writer who's shit doesn't stink...get over your self." A review by Kay SnapeAngel of my Chapter 9, this is an example of the necessity of getting your facts and grammar straight. WERE is correctly used to refer to more than one person, even when those two or more people are closely associated in a group.(Yes, it's almost a sort of metonymy, but different) The cited usage is mostly British --Her Majesty's Government ARE(but in the USA we have the Stanford Cardinal, who ARE always plural)( 27 May 2013: Over All Things Considered this morning: The Miami Heat ARE). Still, when I wrote: 'The gang were seated', I was confident most readers could grasp the usage. While apparently not in Kay SnapeAngel's experience before now, it is correct. (I enjoy reading British editions whenever possible. The use of lift/elevator, cell/mobile and so forth are often amusing and always interesting. Read widely. It's good for your writing.)
Prologues and Summaries are not necessary parts of a story. You can do without them. They are space-wasters. Check anything by C J Cherryh, Rex Stout; check, for heaven's sake, the Iliad or Micky Spillane or Gone With the Wind. Actions and characters make a story, prologues and summaries don't.
Here on F/P, you do need a backcover blurb. It goes in the story's entry on the browse page. It's to catch the readers' attention. It's an advertisement, not a summary or synopsis.
My, plagiarism is a hot topic, and really rouses some extreme emotions. The problem is that extreme emotions almost always screw up one's ability to think. I agree that plagiarism is bad, but it's entirely too easy to scream "Theft!!" at the slightest coincidence. I think anyone who is willing to label another author a plagiarist should remember that posts here are subject to the libel* civil codes and not just simple F/P or LJ sanctions, annoying as those may be.
Furthermore, most plagiarism is really difficult to establish. Speaking mainly of younger beginning writers, two authors may read the same books, watch the same shows/movies and have the same 'youth speak' limited vocabulary. This means they have a limited inspirational universe to draw upon. Unintentional overlap of plot, characters, names and even dialogue is not surprising under those circumstances.
As for intentional overlap and deliberate theft, the main question is why? Why on Earth would an author here steal from another author here? What would the plagiarist gain? Not money, certainly, and that's the only reasonable motive for stealing in a non-academic publication, where a grade or tenure may be the goal. Authors don't gain anything by plagiarizing here on F/P.
Seriously, get some facts before you go about yelling 'plagiarism!!' and think about what you may lose by tossing around accusations that would be considered outlandish among the most rabid conspiracy theorists.
--14Jan2013: I have read two first hand accounts of entire/wholesale plagiarized work. In one case there was no apparent evil motive(the story was reposted on a site the reader found easier to read, so it's not plagiarism as the theft of ideas, but is still a copyright violation), and in the other there was a monetary incentive(the original story was published by the thief in a purchasable form). In neither case was the copy posted here. In the first case, the author complained to the other site, and in the second, apparently, a third party complained to Amazon. Those are direct and sensible actions. If you, or one of your readers, notice you have been plagiarized in this way, report to the trespassing site. If your work is out there, it's vulnerable and appropriate retaliation is called for. Just remember you need to get your facts straight, truth always being a defense against a charge of libel.
15Jan2013: 'But who would sue over an FP story?' Anyone who took her writing seriously. An accusation of plagiarism damages a writer's reputation and has an adverse impact on her chances of selling to a real publisher, not to mention the emotional damage the public bullying gang-rape of charges and counter-charges can cause. If you're not sure of your facts, investigate, and until you are sure, keep quiet.
(Not exactly to the point, but tragic and interesting: the debate/charges/counter-charges/idealism surrounding Aaron Swartz.)
"I must say, I'm enchanted by 'egotesticular', but I'm afraid it's not a word. Pity."
I just checked -- or tried to check -- something out on WattPad. A most inconvenient presentation. You have to switch page to page within chapters. Ugh.
Check out Project Fiction here on FP. It's listed as 'author' but it's a subset of FP, with a longish list of published works. It claims to offer 'good fiction' and while there are still problems with what I've glanced at, it does offer well proofed/punctuated/spelled stories.
There is a real problem with voice recognition writing software: It can't judge between homophones. It can't tell the difference between they're/there/their or between its/it's or hear/here. Those are simple and common, and may not actually screw up your intended meaning into incomprehension. When you get to compliment/complement or peak/peek/pique or carrot/caret/carat, the sense of the sentence is seriously compromised. If you use VRS, take extra care in the editing before posting. Having the machine read the story back to you won't really help matters: all you will hear is the homophone. Eyeball the text, and if you have any questions, check a dictionary.
All you NaNoWriMo-ers out there: It's DECEMBER. You have absolutely no excuse for offering unedited drafts this month. It goes: Write, EDIT, then Publish. Get your acts together!
Also check out: http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3055032/1/Pet-Peeves-of-a-Critic An in-house guide, with lively asides.
It's the dreaded date: 1 November. NaNoWriMo-ers are loose in the land. Please, PLEASE, no unedited drafts. 4 November
--and they're already cluttering up the browse page. NaNoWriMoers: Kindly keep the crap private until you can edit it!
15 October 2012: Check out today's Miss Manners by Judith Martin column; the bit that begins: 'It is with considerable sadness that I have observed a distressing proliferation of representation of purported ladies drinking champagne while wearing gloves...' The reply notes that some historical dramas '...research the costumes but not how people wore them, and the settings, but not how people behaved in them.'
28 September 2012: Does plagiarism exist? Of course it does. But when a cover letter to a publisher includes the words 'think Twilight meets Hunger Games' is that plagiarism? No, that's marketing. If two stories on Fiction/Press have heroines named Jennifer (or worse: Genifer) in a fantasy world is that plagiarism? No. At any one time, only one name is the most popular. (Check the Official Website of the U. S. Social Security Administration and go to Popular Baby Names. You can search by year, state and sex. I find it a most helpful site for my particular blend of Urban Fantasy.) Are even the same dialogue plagiarism? Probably not. I recently used 'I see you' as a greeting between two non-humans. At the time, I had a vague idea that phrase was an English translation of an American Indian greeting. Later, I also remembered Robert A. Heinlein used it as a translation of a Martian greeting. Still later, I learned it was used as a translation of the artificial language in Avatar. Does this make me a plagiarist? And if you say yes, the next question is "Of whom?" A tribe or confederation of Amerinds? Robert A Heinlein? Bear in mind, I did not see Avatar. I thought both Clifford Simack and Poul Anderson handled the human/avatar concept/story better than the movie did. (check out 'City' and 'Call Me Joe') but I don't think Avatar was plagiarized from either source. It's an interesting concept, with a lot of depth and many facets, and I can understand it fascinating current authors/producers. (Also look at the Safehold series by David Weber.) 31 December 2012: "I See you." Found in Ghost Ship, by Lee/Miller.
19 October 2012: "School for Adventurers" Game of Thrones goes to high school -- An ad on 'Girl Genius'. A little blatant, but still just marketing.
Off hand, I would say that passive voice is nothing to avoid or to be afraid of. Using it/not using it depends on which side of an interaction the author wants to emphasize: The dog bit Marcie/Marcie was bitten by the dog are two ways of discussing the same event, but in the first example we're watching the DOG: The dog bit Marcie and ran off. In the second, we're concerned about MARCIE: Marcie was bitten by the dog and taken to hospital. Depending on context, one may be more useful than the other, but both are correct.
Harry Harrison died 15 August 2012. Author of the Stainless Steel Rat, Death World, The Technicolor Time Machine, and more.
Don't make it more difficult for the reader to become involved in the story. It's a rare prologue that can intrigue a reader into continuing; if the reader is also faced with another necessary action, ie, going off to a separate page, to find the opening chapter, you may lose her. If you must have a prologue, put it first, yes, since that's where a prologue goes, but put it in the same chapter as the opening of the story. Make it EASY for the reader to get hooked, not awkward. In other words, put space wasters, like a COPYRIGHT PAGE or a TABLE OF CONTENTS or a SUMMARY, somewhere that is NOT THE FIRST PAGE THE READER SEES.
So now there's CampNaNOWriMo. The same strictures apply: Quality is better than quantity. A 50K rough draft is just the first step in publishing. After writing comes EDITING and REWRITING. Remember, you're going to write a lot of crap as one handout from NaNoWriMO very correctly states. Where the staff of NaNoWriMo fails miserably is not mentioning REWRITES and REVISIONS. Please, PLEASE, do not foist unedited and hastily written drafts on the innocent reader.
And thanks to the staff, who are now to be known as: THEY WHO CAN STRAIGHTEN EVERYTHING OUT.
http://forum.fictionpress.com/topic/3782/1695230/1/ is an interesting forum. It may have answers.
http://www.fictionpress.com/s/1722620/1/Ruathas_Grammar_Review good article within F/P. By RuathaWehrling.
Part of my comments on a story: "The point is that you are writing in English and the words you use have real definitions. Making up your own words just makes communication with the reader more difficult." The author's response: I never failed to grasp your point, I just failed to care. I fail to see why, since she seems to hold readers in such contempt, she bothered to post at all.
Ardayth Mayhar -- _How the Gods Wove in Kyrannon_ and many others -- died 1 February 2012. She had a delicate touch combined with an adult voice that I appreciated from her first book.
I/me explanations and more: grammarDOTcccDOTcommnetDOTedu/grammar/cases.htm Some technical talk and helpful chart.
Quotes from two stories I reviewed recently that demonstrate the problems generated by misplaced modifiers: 'Patiently waiting until the King was finished, her father eventually waved the man away to turn to face her' and 'Laughing loudly, several soldiers shot me perplexed looks, before going back to their previous tasks'. So who is doing the waiting and the laughing here? In the first example, the father is described as waiting until the King finishes his talk with an adviser. However, the King is the father, and the King's daughter, the her mentioned in the final word of the sentence, is the intended subject of the modifying 'waiting patiently', which are the first words. In the second example, the narrator fails to mention that she is the one laughing loudly, and as written the soldiers laugh, stare and return to their tasks. The subject of 'laughing loudly' does not appear in the sentence at all. In general, keep the modifier close to what it is intended to modify.
And, yes, it should have been breeches. Again, apologies.
The story's first words need to be good. When the reader gets to the bottom of the first screen, to the last words she can read without taking action, she has a choice: Will she page down, and finish the first chapter, or will she hit the 'go back one page' arrow? The writer must make her want to know more, make her hit the page down. Action, having the characters DO something, is more interesting than a long A/N about the origin of the story's universe, or who inspired which character or 'other work product' which will probably turn the reader off, and cause her to hit the arrow or the bookmark icon as she looks for something interesting to read. Fix the reader's interest; DO NOT bore her.
And yes, it is statutory, not statuary. My apologies.
Check out: a lively discussion of British Titles and Forms of Address. Complete with charts and references. The author has a most enjoyable style. Sorry, the URL/link still doesn't work. This: isn't as lively, but is still good.
Watch out for misplaced modifiers:
1December 2011 As November is finished, unleash your INNER EDITOR! Edit that MS, chop out all the grammar/spelling/punctuation goofs. EMBRACE LITERACY!!!
29Nov2011: Prologues and character studies are NOT stories. Start the story! for heaven's sake! Put what we might call 'other work product' in the back of the book. I don't care if you roll your characters into existence or if you base them on your fifty dearest friends That's NOT very interesting at all. Start the story.
24Nov2011 a hard year for fantasy readers: Ann McCaffrey died Monday 21Nov2011.
22Nov2011 The site is lousy with lousy NaNoWriMo entries. NaNoWriMo-ers Remember 'You're going to write an awful lot of crap' which is from some publicity handout or other from NaNoWriMo. Please, PLEASE, edit the crap before publishing. My thanks to the NaNoWriMo-ers who remember to warn the reader.
19Nov2011 Yes, Liam is used in Ireland and by people of Irish descent or by people who just like the name. The original name, however, is Germanic: Willahelm; the Latin form, used by the Kings of England on their coins, is Gulielmus. The modern French form is Guillaume and the Irish form is, as noted, Liam. Given time, names shift around: the Hebrew Yacob eventually becomes Jimbo. [Yacob(Hebrew) > Jacobus (Latin) > Jacomus(Late Latin) > James, Gemmes (Old French) > James (English) > Jem(my), Jim(my). Informal pet name: Jimbo.] 24Nov2011: Yes, that's why Jake is also a nickname for James. 25Nov2011: No, Jack is a nickname for John. [The trail is from Latin formal name to English nickname: Johannes > Jehan > Jean> Jan > Jankin > Jack.] A quick view of a Spanish Bible shows Jacob in the New Testament where English versions have James. James of England, Scotland and Wales issued coins with IR, for Iacobus Rex.
Garden Path Sentence, paraprosdokian sentence Not exactly the same; but interesting toys nonetheless. Change the meaning of a word in each part of a sentence; challenge the listener/reader's expectations: 'Flies' is used as a verb and a noun. 'Like' is used as a preposition and a verb: Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. Yesterday I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in my pajamas I'll never know. [To lead someone down the garden path: to set someone up for an ambush; to make a fool of someone.]
Listen, over-optimistic NaNoWriMo-ers, if I want to read unedited rough drafts, I'll sign up with NaNoWriMo. Write your rough draft, EDIT, then publish.
If you're going to write Category Historical, do some research. Don't just watch TV.
'It was I to whom he was so cruel who had reason to kill him.' a sentence written by Georgette Heyer. It is perfectly correct. So is: 'He was mean to me and I wanted to kill him' and 'She was mean to him and he wanted to kill her'. Notice the object pronouns, whom, me and him, are non-actors. People are cruel to them . Notice the subject pronouns,who, he, I, and she, do act. They do something to the object pronouns: whom, her, me and him. Don't confuse the two sorts of pronouns. Subject pronouns act: they throw the ball. Object pronouns are given the ball: I gave him the ball, and so forth.
"And I would like to give a warning to any young litterateur who is planning on going into this Saga racket, and that is to be very careful in the early stages how he commits himself to dates and what is known as locale." P. G. Wodehouse, in the Preface to a reprint of Something Fresh, the first Blandings Castle novel. He then discusses the problems generated by clearly establishing the age of one major character as about 50 in the first of a series of stories that began in 1914 and continued to the 1960s. He mentions the difficulties in dealing with two major scenes of action, the Castle and London, which are separated by a four hour train journey. It does verge on the hubristic to consider the next story while you are writing the first, but it does make revisions easier. Take care what you nail firmly to your narrative. You may find you've written yourself into a corner.
"...surely the grammar in a silly little story by a teenager doesn't matter?" It matters. 1) The skills you practice are the skills that you perfect and that you become accustomed to using. 2) The first glimpse the reader has of your writing should not convince her you're just another semi-literate, lazy, or incompetent writer wannabe.
10 August 2011 Words not to use 'this is based off of...' Off of? Nothing is based off of! This story is based ON a daydream. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is based ON the Harry Potter novels of J. K. Rowling. Or 'taken from'. Except for the heroine, these characters ARE TAKEN FROM The West Wing. 'OFF OF' is semi-literate at best. Don't use it.
Lay/Lie confusion alleviated on Absolutewrite: Grammar: The ultimate lay lie thread.
A truism: 'Poor grammar would most likely mark the poster as a writer who's careless with language, which in turn might make potential readers less interested in what the writer might have to say.' The AmsterdamAssassin/Absolute Write Water Cooler.
13 June 2011: Read (or re-read) the first chapter of Dune. Notice how Herbert set the wide scene of the whole series and established some major characters in the quote at the beginning. Yes, it's an info-dump, but it is also short and is followed immediately by an intriguing action: 'In the week before their departure...an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.' Herbert caught the reader's interest in less than ten sentences. He did not weight the reader down with the histories of the previous Padishah emperors or the development of space travel. If you must have a prologue, Chapter One of Dune is the benchmark you should try to emulate.
10 June 2011: If you will publish unedited rough drafts PLEASE SAY SO in the blurb. It's only courteous and it takes three words or fewer: unedited rough draft, rough draft, or unedited. Some readers, and I'm one of them, don't like to read ARC --Advanced Reader Copies.
7 June 2011 Try OWL. Go to the site map, and pick a topic. The focus is on academic writing, but the advice is widely applicable. The OWL exercises offer good examples of correct usage.
A valid use of prologues is providing a summary of previous volumes. This type of prologue occurs, obviously, in second or further volumes of a story arc, but even authors who produce epics may not bother. Dorothy Dunnett's The House of Niccolo multivolume epic offers such prologues, while David Weber, in his even longer Honor Harrington series, does not. A prologue offering backstory/history in a FIRST volume reveals a lazy author. My advice to authors here at FP is to avoid prologues. Apparently, interesting prologues are difficult to write; certainly the ones I've read here are boring as hell. If the backstory is not mentioned in the main story, it is more likely to bore the reader than interest her. Integrate the necessary history into the story or don't bother showing it to the reader.
11May 2011: I'm reading Michael Korda's 2010 biography of T. E. Lawrence. Lawrence's own family history illustrates the point I've made to some Category Regency/Romance authors regarding the legal nature of titles. Korda writes: "...a person who inherited a peerage was obliged to accept it. Ned(Lawrence)'s father was a baronet ... whether he wanted to be or not. He could and did change his name, refuse to use his title, give up his properties, and so on, but as far as the crown and the law of Great Britain were concerned, he remained Sir Thomas Chapman, the seventh baronet. Indeed, his wife(sic)...would very correctly write to the Home Office to confirm her husband's death in 1919 to the Registrar of the Baronetage.." I would rewrite Korda's last sentence. More to the point, a patent of nobility (not a patent of arms, which is quite different or an entail, which concerns property) is an act of Parliament. Most patents of nobility were boilerplate--a standard form; variations were rare. Additional acts of Parliament were required to alter the original grant, and these were uncommon until the mid-Twentieth Century. 22 May 2011 I have tracked down the current forms of English/British letters patent.
Ann McCaffrey died Monday 21 November 2011.
'And your manuscript has to pass through a number of hands before it ever reaches an editor. Every lap it lands in has hundreds of others just like it to read - which do you think is more likely to get forwarded, the one with random capitalization and an overabundance of ellipses, or the one that person can actually read without interruption?' --scribophile
Do not confuse grammar with dramatic presentation.
"If I didn't know you better, I'd think you weren't happy to see me Louis." A young author who says that dialogue, instead of being correctly punctuated as are the examples above, should reflect the fact that speakers don't always pause before using the name of the person to whom they are speaking.
Apparently she believes:
The comma indicates that the names are interjections, not that the reader needs to pause before reading them. Someone reading the stories aloud might give a dramatic space or need to take a breath; someone reading silently needs to see the correct punctuation to understand what the author means. In print, it is easy to see the difference between: 'Let's eat Fido' and 'Let's eat, Fido'. Put in the commas necessary to convey your meaning.
How do you get your characters to act? Is what they do reasonable? Can your readers believe that your characters are really doing what they are doing? Why are they doing whatever-it-is they are doing? How do they get into the problems your writing gets them out of? Do all the actions of all the characters flow naturally out of past actions?
In any discussion of plot, causality and plausibility, the first question to ask is: Why is Antonio the gardener in the Countess's bedroom at the end of Act Two of the Marriage of Figaro?
Antonio is there to complain that Cherubino the page destroyed a flower bed. Cherubino landed in the flower bed, destroying it, because he leapt from the bedroom balcony to avoid the Count. The Count entered the bedroom because he suspects his wife has a lover. He suspects the Countess has a lover because Figaro wrote him a note telling him she does. Figaro wrote the note because the Count is attempting to foil Figaro's marriage to Susanna, the Countess's maid, because the Count wants to sleep with the girl himself, and Figaro wants to divert the Count's mind. Figaro is in the bedroom to tell Susanna their wedding is about to begin. Marcellina, Don Basilio and Dr Bartolo arrive looking for Figaro and the Count to claim Figaro is betrothed to Marcellina and to stop the wedding. The Countess is there because, after all, it is her bedroom and Susanna is there because she is the Countess's maid. and so forth.
Take care with causality and plausibility so the reader doesn't have to wonder why whatever this is may be happening. Ground the actions of your characters in plausible reasons. It may take a little more work than just writing "Jack was horrified to discover his random victim was in reality his long lost sister" (which I have read on FP), but the readers' willing suspensions of disbelief will not fail catastrophically, leaving them wondering why they had tried to read the story in the first place.
Dear Authors: Stop insulting your readers by underestimating their intelligence, knowledge and powers of observation. You need to assume they are savvy and attentive readers just as they assume you are all careful and inventive writers. When you attempt to foist third-rate writing on them, they are going to notice. If you have Evelyn Jenson in Chapter One, and she suddenly becomes Evelyn James in Chapter 17, someone will notice. If you have a fictional occurrence or practice, like the inheritance of a title, that is contrary to historic usage, someone will notice. If you try to pass off sub-standard grammar or punctuation, someone will notice. If you invent your own words, someone will notice. Treat your readers with more respect.
Remember, you can't fool all the people all the time. When you are caught, don't blame the readers: they didn't cause your screw-ups. You did it yourself. When an error is pointed out to you, fix it. Look through the story, locate and fix all similar errors. In your next story, check for errors before posting.
It's been a bad week for idioms. Idioms are 'a speech form or expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or that cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements.' To use an idiom effectively, you need to know what you want to say and what the idiom means. 'the apple of his eye' does not mean that there is a fruit tree growing out of someone's iris; it means that someone has a favorite thing or person. You cannot change any part of an idiom without losing the idiomatic meaning: 'the pear of his eye' or 'the apple of his ear' do not convey any meaning and will only confuse the reader. Dropping like flies is not the same as dropping like a rock. Beating around the bush is not the same as barking up the wrong tree. and so forth.
'Category Regency' or 'Category Historical' There is ABSOLUTELY no reason for getting anything wrong in these stories. EVERYTHING you need to know about generating an accurate story is already WRITTEN down. Having Elizabeth I fight the French Armada or calling men who are not knights or baronets Sir John --or whatever the name is-- is APPALLINGLY IGNORANT. If you can't go to a library, obviously you have access to a computer and the web. Look things up before you display your uninformed state to the innocent readers, who may be shocked.
28JAN11: After reading first chapters of some fantasies set in medieval/dark ages simple technology/feudal society worlds, I want to offer some generic advice to the authors: READ! Read NON-FICTION! Read history, biographies and how-to-books, to be exact. In a society without supermarkets, how does pork move from being a live pig to being chops? Read the United States Government Publication Pork Processing on the Home Farm. In a world that lacks civic water systems, how do your characters bathe or wash their clothes? Read Never Done, a History of American Housework. If your characters are going to marry, read A History of Their Own or Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages or A History of Private Life. Building History -- Roman Roads and Aqueducts and A History of the English House are good background books. Cooking in Ancient Rome is just what it says. How many people travelled with Henry VIII? Approximately 800. Who were they? Read Life in a Tudor Palace. These, except Pork Processing, are in my library. There are others. Read some of them. You cannot create a believable world from ignorance. After writing this, I started to re-read A History of Private Life. I was forced to acknowledge that some recent members might find it heavy going. However, there are some history series designed for younger readers: The Way People Live, Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Realms, the Sutton Life Series, and anything by Kathryn Hinds. For the how to books, apparently young adults are assumed to be completely concerned with their appearance and emotional upheavals. If your interests are even slightly wider, check the adult catalogue at your local library for everything from soap making to meat processing to the care of the horse. Try The Self-Sufficiency Series, various authors. The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages: The Disgusting Details about Life During Medieval Times; Author: Kathy Allen. Apparently Pork Processing is out of print; search 'home slaughtering'. The Time Traveler's Guide To Medieval England; author: Ian Mortimer.
25JAN11: Be aware of what you write and take care not to write too much. This is part of a review I recently wrote. It starts with excerpts from the story and continues with my comments: '...pack weaponry, armor, food and water, clothes...' & '...to tie onto my horse's saddle...' How big is the horse, and where are ITS food and water? I know this is fantasy, but you're treating it as if it were a sun-powered Volvo stationwagon. Or are you planning on it keeling over and dying of thirst on the second day?' -- This author was caught in his own writing. If you mention food and water and a horse, the question immediately arises(at least it should, if you're paying attention to what you're reading) 'what's the horse going to eat and drink?' Horses are not bicycles, and even bicycles need replacement tubes. In this case, I would have either 1) slid gracefully over the whole food and water issue by not mentioning it at all, or 2) had lackeys and a baggage train, and left the problem of provisions for everyone, including the horses, to the chief lackey. Watch what you write. Make sure it's logical and realistic in the limits of your fantasy. And, of course, don't forget what you wrote in Chapter one when you bring up the same topic in Chapter five. 17March2011: 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Eric Flint: '... meant supply wagons drawn by horses and oxen—who needed even more in the way of food and water than soldiers did...'
16Jan11: Came across a new opening page. It was boring, to put it mildly. 'These characters are based on me and my friends.' There follows a long list of names... And that was all. Who cares? Who cares where the author gets her knowledge/inspiration? Not me. I don't care why she writes. I care about how well she writes. I don't care where she gets the names of her characters; I care about how well she depicts those characters.
I've seen this around in a couple of places here: Ciao seems to be confused with Chaos. Ciao, from the Italian and in English pronounced 'chow', is used for Hi, Hello, So Long and Good-bye. Chaos means disorder, complete and primordial disorder. THEY ARE NOT SYNONYMS. One is not an alternate spelling of the other. Dictionaries exist to explain goofs like this.
There are several comments/data in a blurb that will make me skip a story: 'Rough Draft', 'in a hurry,' 'haven't edited' and 'full summary inside'.
This is a decent blurb: You know something has gone terribly wrong when your best friend claims he's an exiled fairy prince.
This is not so good: X, a young half-human, lives a peaceful life with his older brother, Y. Until one day, the Council decides to step in, and destroy this peacful life. Years later, after Y is killed and X is captured, X escapes the Council. Full summary inside.
The first has one very interesting point. The second rambles around, trying to tell the whole story and boring the reader stiff.
POVs are generally first or third person. The author can assume a character's POV My name is X and this is my story. This form uses I, I went, I am, and so forth, and is the first person narrative. The author can take the POV of an observer: X left her house and walked to BART. Characters are referred to in the third person, she, he or it, and this is the third person narrative.
3 December 2010 Tried to read a new hard-back novel. Its author seems to have thoroughly embraced the 'sound bite' chapter philosophy. The average chapter was two pages or less. It was the most unsatisfactory book I've tried to read this year. There was no time to become familiar with the characters, let alone become interested or invested in them, before the chapter ended. Keeping track of the plot was impossible.
7October10 I found my Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, which was shelved with the mysteries for some reason. Anyone here who's starting a 'high fantasy' novel or series should find a copy and read it. It will help aspiring authors avoid the more obvious cliches and some of the many pitfalls. Her comments on Ecology and Economy are very much to the point. Alas. Diana Wynne Jones died March 2011.
12August10 The perils of using a thesaurus and not a dictionary: Yes, tow and drag have one similar meaning(to pull). That does NOT mean all their meanings are identical. If one writes that 'they towed the canal' when one means 'they searched the canal', one is as inept as one who writes of a blonde and terms her a 'drag head'. It's 'dragged the canal' and it's 'tow head', and the dictionary will tell you why.
9July10 Apparently it is necessary for me to point out yet again that 1) the Cosmic Egg, now divided into its forty-one parts(the Heavenly Elements; in Chinese: tianyuan) is, in fact, fantasy fiction created by me. The Quest of the Egg is an original invention. 2) Cambells Bloody Mary Mix is also fantasy fiction, created by me in 2000. It is vat cultured blood; vampires drink it. 3) As a category, Yunu, jade maidens, are NOT created by me, but are creatures of Chinese/Taoist mythology. (The named individual yunu in my stories, however, ARE created and named by me.)
3July10 Recently I've been seeing very short first chapters of half a page or less. One was even only 8 lines, offering two definitions. Very pretty, and possibly very important to the writer, but they all seemed uninteresting and unengaging.((That's what I would say in a review. Here, I'll just call ditchwater ditchwater, and say chapters like this are boring as hell and a complete turnoff)). The opening, the first chapter, the first sentence should capture the reader's interest. Don't clutter it up with Author's Notes, explanations, vocabularies, moods, or stories giving the origin of the universe((All those go at the end or in an appendix)). Get your characters out there in front of the reader. Have them do something:
1) She scowled at her glass of orange juice.
'It is annoying to have the chapters of a story all over the place like this...' This is from a recent reviewer. I know nothing more about her, I have never read or reviewed anything of hers. Yesterday, suddenly --within four minutes-- she left four reviews, on, of course, four separate stories. Obviously, she did not read any of the stories she reviewed(As noted below, I tend to write dense. Most of my stories run more that 20K words, far too many to read in less than a minute). This comment was the most coherent, and I will address her complaint here. Let me explain about Story Arcs and how they work. Stars Wars is a story arc, as are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lord of the Rings, and The World in Play. Within a Story Arc, there are subdivisions. BtVS has numbered seasons and named episodes. LOTR has named volumes, numbered books and named chapters. Star Wars has named and numbered chapters. The World in Play has named and numbered chapters. None of these works is in one volume. LOTR begins with The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One: "A Long Expected Party." George Lucas starts out with Star Wars: Chapter IV: A New Hope
Apparently, these authors, and Joss Whedon, find nothing strange, immoral or disorganized in having numbered and named stand alone chapters called stories or stand alone stories called chapters. Neither do I. I do feel the new reader should be aware that Let the Thief Beware is part of The World in Play and is, in fact, the fifth installment of an over-all story arc. For that reason, I chose a title format for all my stories which gives the name of the story arc, the chapter number, and the chapter/story's individual title: The World in Play: Chapter 5: Let the Thief Beware.
A recent exchange of emails: 29APR10 2330 I like grammar. But it's just a little bit scary to be so TOTALLY obsessed. Some people are dyslexic or just not naturally good at grammar - does that mean their stories don't deserve to be read? Some stories can be good just with the metaphors and writing without needing to have impeccable punctuation. Is that really a cause for aggression? I think you need to calm down and relax a bit. a FictionPress author I once critiqued.
9Mar10: I came across a truly appalling review --this is the whole review: 'please...stop writing'. This is the worst sort of review. Unkind and uninformative, it seems to have been written only to hurt the author of the story. Yes, the story had problems with editing, diction, grammar and punctuation but how is the author to know what needs improvement if no one tells her? A review should help the author write better, not just amuse the reviewer. ((This reviewer does not write, just critiques. ))
27FEB10 I've been exploring 'Absolute Write Water Cooler'. It's an interesting collection of forums on writing, not a real place to publish. It does have '50 Rules' --or bits of advice-- Of which I especially like: 19. Every item posted for critique should be as good as you can make it. Look for spelling errors, typos, punctuation errors, POV changes, verb tense changes, pronouns with unclear antecedents, clichés, etc. before you post. 20. Don't post a first draft or something you just dashed off last night. Clean it up before you post it. 21. Use spellcheck and even grammar check, but don't absolutely rely on them. I couldn't say it any better myself.
14FEB10 There are two aspects of writing: Plot and Skill. Plot is story, and is a matter of taste. Different people say there are only three plots, or seven, or twenty or thirty-six. I don't care for the Hidden Baby plot. It's very old: innocent girl, powerful man/god, secret offspring. Horus/Jesus/Theseus/Perseus and so forth. Some people like it. The most recent variant I've seen is Kill Bill, where instead of the man not knowing he was a father, the woman didn't know she was a mother. In Irish and Persian myth, the Hidden Baby can lead into the Slaying an Unknown Kinsman plot. (Cuchulain/Conla and Rustrum/Sohrab.)
12FEB10 And if you wonder why you should care about being helpful or kind or clear or interesting, just remember, the readers here at F/P have easy access to over 67K (now 71K)stories. If yours is hard to read, ugly to look at, or difficult to figure out, they'll just go elsewhere.
10FEB10 Either an introduction or a prologue. Not both. Preferably not either. I know backstory is hard to include, especially in short fiction, but look for a way to handle it without all the clutter. I admit I'm lucky: Since I write urban fantasy based in a real place((which has its own innate craziness)) the most I need do is put 'San Francisco ((or Oakland or Coopertino or Lake Baryessa))' and the date, August, 2002 ((or whatever it is)) at the beginning of the story or section, which cues the reader what to expect. Depending on the story, help the reader by putting Earth VII or New Earth, Sirius XI or Hy-Brasil. These suggest 1) an alternate Earth History, 2) Science Fiction, 3) European Myth/Somewhere in Fairie)) at the top of the text. After that, add the date: Year 10 of the reign of Caesar XXIII; 120 AD(After Diaspora); (and I admit that I'm uncertain how to date the mythic example, so I'll skip that part for the moment). The attentive reader will be able to decipher the unspoken references/hints in these short scene directions and arrive at a rough approximation of the setting that is good enough for the first chapter or until she can read the author's notes(I've tried putting an asterisk here, but F/P keeps removing it. Assume there is an asterisk here, and go down the the footnote at end of this paragraph.) In two lines, you've set the immediate scene and can begin the action of the story proper. Footnote: Author's notes go at the end of the story/chapter/entry. This practice keeps the clutter away from the beginning of the story, where you want to hook the reader, not bog her down in addenda. Author's replies to reviews go on the review page.
I was recently asked to adjust one of my reviews to suit the author's idea of what a review should be. More exactly, I should in the future submit two reviews, one public and one private, via PM. I declined, and will no longer read that author. My preference would be that all communication about the stories published here be in open sites: The author's response to a review would be next to or within the review. I would also have the limitation on one open review/chapter removed. However, that's not what we have. I will continue giving open reviews. The reviewed author will decide to read the review or not. She or he cannot send it back for alterations.
It's astonishing how ignorance will persist. This is a quote from the 1924 Vogue's Book of Etiquette, in the chapter 'Speech': 'They are deadly particular to say "I" when they should say "me". "He gave it to William and I," for instance. A good way to save oneself this mistake is to try the sentence without 'William' and see how it sounds.' --Sound advice in any year. It is repeated in 'The Transitive Vampire': " 'This summons is from Sir Gallimauf and I.' (You know better than to say 'from I', so just knock Sir Gallimauf out of the way for a moment and try on those pronouns without him.) Well? This summons is from ME. So it's: This summons is from Sir Gallimauf and ME." More sound advice: "But isn’t one person’s mistake another’s standard usage? Often enough, but if your standard usage causes other people to consider you stupid or ignorant, you may want to consider changing it. You have the right to express yourself in any manner you please, but if you wish to communicate effectively, you should use nonstandard English only when you intend to, rather than fall into it because you don’t know any better." --Brians' Errors(sic)(Paul Brians, Emeritus Professor of English, WSU, Pullman). Another site has this to say about pronoun case: The problem is that the use of pronouns must be very clear when we write. Many times the writing will be misunderstood; at best, the writer will appear uneducated. Another interesting, and very much to the point, blog can be found at Scribophile: Lets-talk-grammar
Two recent deplorable trends: First: Calling a member/members of a royal family "the royal/the royals". Knock it off! It's not even original! It belongs in the British Gutter Press. Leave it there. Second: Blurbs and Intros that attempt to excuse the writer from doing her job. --I was in a rush and didn't have time to edit this. I don't have a beta reader yet. etc. ((Since there are no deadlines here, there is no reason to rush to publish. Get it right, or do it over until it is right.)) And just as annoying: This occurred to me in dream. Remember, this follows story Y. I wondered what would happen if Duncan McLeod met Madonna. I was daydreaming. Etc. 18 December 09 a very frank author, of a story I didn't bother reading: 'too lazy to edit.' 23FEB10 Another author was up-front with this comment: 'I've chosen not to edit a thing for FictionPress'. I've chosen not to read another thing of hers. I don't care what your mindset was when you thought of the story, I don't care how long you've been working on the story, I don't care how 'important' the story is to you, and I don't care why there are errors in your text. If you can't tell a story in standard grammar, spelling, diction and punctuation, and insist on publishing, take the consequences --and here I mean a review that points out those errors and how to correct them-- and stop whining. Do it right. Even if it means you can't publish RIGHT NOW!
Favorite authors include but are not limited to: David Weber, Cole and Bunch, Lois McMaster Bujold, Margaret Maron, Michael Gilbert, and the other Michael Gilbert, B. J. Oliphant(aka Sheri Tepper), Rex Stout, Georgette Heyer(the regencies and a few of the mysteries), Jane Austen, Ursula K. LeGuin and P. G. Wodehouse. Charlaine Harris. CJ Cherryh. John Ringo. Eric Flint. Laurie King. Diana Wynne Jones. Diane Duane. Of course, John leCarre. Sara Woods, Ngaio Marsh. Jim Butcher.
Most of the stories below are part of my major story arc, The World in Play. The format is: Name of the Story Arc: Number: Title. Continuity/understanding will be enhanced by reading the stories in the proper numerical order.