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  #1  
Old Dec 17th, 2006, 10:50 PM
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The Thread of Fiction Tips and Advice

I thought it would be good to have a thread where our various resident writers (professional, professional-hopefuls and amateurs alike) could share advice and tips for any other aspiring writers on this thread. Hey, even the most talented can find good advice that helps at times. Feel free to post anything that helped you write in your experiences like ways to get inspiration, beat writer’s block, ways to come up with names or anything else you can think of that can help your fellow writers.

I will write some tips and advice from my own experiences ASAP but I am a bit busy as of now.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 01:31 AM
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Hey, that's a great idea, Zargain! Here are some important things I have learned:

1. Underline, don't use italics or boldface, when submitting to a publisher.

2. Don't staple or bind the pages of a submission. Use paperclips if you have to use something.

3. When preparing an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope), write your address on the front of the envelope and the publisher's address as the return address. If you're submitting from out of the country, get an IRC (international reply coupon) from your post office for your SASE, or do what I do -- order stamps from the other country online (for example, www.usps.com or www.canadapost.ca ).
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 11:50 PM
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Hey thanks, some very nice stuf there.

Here is some of my advice on coming up with names and with inspiration for writing in general. Remember, I’m not a professional…yet… I hope to get into a writing career after college but until that time if Medesha or one of our other “big wigs” of writing on the site disagree with me on my advice… my advice would be to do what they say instead

Names I think one thing I learned in my experiences is that a name shouldn’t just be something arbitrary (though there’s nothing wrong with it at times to add some unique flavor.) This primarily concerns the fantasy and sci-fi genres as that is the genre that tends to involve made up names. Try to put some thought into names, don’t just thrown in a random collection of letters for a name because remember, people will be referring to your (character/setting/race of creatures/starship/ect.) as such all the time. Sometimes the name of that particular noun can have an impression based on how it sounds, what it rhymes with, where it derives from and how hard or easy it is to say really makes an impression. Very easy, simply “mundane” names like Chuck, Bill, Bob, Jack, Sally ect. Have a different effect than names like Grundel, Chronar, Apolis ect. I’ll admit, sometimes just making up/finding a name you like works well enough but just remember, I doubt people are going to take your story seriously if your protagonist is “Duke Barry Bo-Jack of Cornball” or some such.

Inspiration This I suppose depends on the individual but some factors I think play a role with everyone.
First and foremost in my mind, the best way to come up with ideas is to introduce yourself to already published material. Read whenever you can. I’m not saying ready anything and everything, just read what you like and what you’re writing about (which I assume and hope are the same thing since it must be really hard writing in a genre you hate ) Reading action sequences in other books often inspires action sequences in my own book, big dramatic fallouts tend to do the same. I don’t mean copy them, I mean think about the scenes you like in that book or other writing and if not within a few hours than at least within a few days an idea will strike you. Reading the work of others is an important part of being a writer I think. Not just for inspiration but also for helping you increase your own vocabulary and mechanics.

Another part of inspiration comes from mood and atmosphere. I use to bike ride for a half hour to go to my favorite coffee shop (I’m glad I have a car now ) because something about the place gave me a location where I could just sit, relax and think of new ideas. Its good to have a place every so often to go to in order to just relax and let the mind wander until you can reel in a big juicy idea. Sometimes though you don’t get ideas from sitting there and focusing on getting ideas, instead inspiration often strikes elsewhere. Because of this, write down your ideas. This might seem like a no-brainer but if I had a nickel for every time I forgot a thought I’d… um… where was I? :biggrin:
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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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Well, I'm no "big-wig" writer, but I do enjoy writing fiction quite often... and I've found a few things to be true.

1) Read as much as you can-- As Zargain said, this is a prime way of increasing your vocabulary and writing skills.

2) Find your motivation-- If I don't have some reason to keep on writing, I don't do it nearly as often as I'd like. So, for me at least, I've found two people who love to read what I write, and they yell at me when I'm not pumping it out enough. So, whether this be a timeline or a some kind of competition (November is "National Novel Writing Month"), find something that lights a fire under your bum!

3) Write what comes to you-- Don't worry quite so much about chronological order. Write what scenes you think are interesting in the book, and simply keep notes in the "in-between" phases, so you're not completely lost when you come back to fill in what happened between Joseph Stone's imprisonment and his daring pistol duel with Shintu. You write much better when you're writing something that interests you as opposed to something that's just filler.

I'm not sure if these are true, perse, but I've found that they're at least true for me.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2006, 12:56 AM
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Very different type of advice, more on structure.

1) Pronouns, a good thing. I find that often times the thing that kills what could be an otherwise very decent piece of writing is talking about David and his dog that he took walking while he was really only wanting to use his elliptical trainer so that he could improve his legs to ready himself for the date he had recently planned.
Ok, so that doesn't really provide my bit of advice, but here it is. Basically ignore my errant sentence above and know this - pronouns are useful. However, using a person's name once, and then going into he he he, his, him, hers, she, ad infinum can be good, if used artistically and with good judgment. No one wants to read a story that is all pronouns. Find other modifiers to use which describe your characters, work to provide pictures of them that are not only their names or simple catch-all he/she's. Sometimes things as simple as "The man" or "the police officer" work wonders, calling attention to gender or profession information. These will then become other ways that readers identify with characters, depending on how you want them to identify. That is the beauty of writing, you are giving them the insights - so you have the ability to help guide the connections between the characters, words, and the story. So, spice it up. Or if you get in the rut of using a characters name and nothing else, spice it up by using his/her/him and all those wonderful things that like so many in life work wonders in moderation!

I have a question to pose of you others. What should one do when you have stories that are aged and their quality is from a time when your writing was still good, but it has only improved with age. Liking these stories so much you want to breathe fresh life into them, but the question then becomes do you want to rewrite the whole thing, likely giving it a new slant as time changes how you write, or simply try to go through editing and proofing your own writing to cringe at the apparent mistakes? I must admit proofing is something I hate doing to my own work, I am a horrible person for not proofing what I post on this site.
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Last edited by Treslo Kresha; Dec 23rd, 2006 at 12:59 AM.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2006, 01:07 AM
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Good advice; I would add that, when telling a story, tell us the main character's name as soon as it is appropriate. Nothing is more annoying than reading several pages of clunky "The man with the red hair did this..." and "The boy in the shirt did that..." only to learn that -- gasp! -- his name is David! Characters have names. You will not shock the socks off your readers by giving yours one. (I paraphrase those last lines from someone, I'll look up whom as soon as I get home from holidays).

As to your second question, if something I've written hasn't been published, I have no qualms about tinkering with it. If it has been published, I tend to leave it alone. I used to hate proofreading and editing my own work, but the more I learn about writing, the more I see its value. Now I actually enjoy rewriting. I leave my finished story alone for a week, or a month, or even several months, until I can read it with fresh eyes. My books almost always benefit from a second draft.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2006, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medesha
Good advice; I would add that, when telling a story, tell us the main character's name as soon as it is appropriate. Nothing is more annoying than reading several pages of clunky "The man with the red hair did this..." and "The boy in the shirt did that..." only to learn that -- gasp! -- his name is David! Characters have names. You will not shock the socks off your readers by giving yours one.
Oops... well... you probably won't like the prologue of my book then... its supposed to be mysterious like that... then again the focus isn't on the mystery people themselves but rather what they're watching in secret and some foreshadowing dialogue between the two.

Last edited by Zargain; Dec 23rd, 2006 at 10:04 AM.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2006, 12:45 PM
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I don't like prologues either, so it's moot. :biggrin:

Seriously, though, the most important piece of advice is "write the way you want to." It may not be the best route to getting published, but on the other hand, it might be. Only after you develop your style and explore your creativity your way can you start to think about the commercial demands of the industry. So ignore advice if it doesn't work for you!
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Old Feb 13th, 2007, 03:27 PM
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I have lots of thoughts on writing itself. My main recommendation today is, if you are fortnuate enough to be offered a contract with a publisher or agent...make sure to Google [publisher or agent's name] + "fraud." And that would be...before signing.

Just my $0.02.
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Old Jul 19th, 2007, 11:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Admin ridin
I have lots of thoughts on writing itself. My main recommendation today is, if you are fortnuate enough to be offered a contract with a publisher or agent...make sure to Google [publisher or agent's name] + "fraud." And that would be...before signing.

Just my $0.02.
It's a bit late, I know, but this site may help someone in the position of checking out their agent or publisher before signing any contracts.
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Old Jul 20th, 2007, 12:15 AM
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A hint on names: I use an excellent name generator found here for all my naming needs. I usually refresh a few times until I find one that sparks my interest, and then I take the name and tinker with it to produce the final result. So while it's not the same as the generator listed, it was inspired by that listed name. The fact that it's different makes you look better (because someone else might have otherwise seen/used the anme form the generator), it also protects against any future lawsuits from the people running said name generator (though I doubt they woudl get anywhere with one, it still doesn't hurt).

Just thought someone might wanna see that. I personally use it for anything I'm writing, be it an RP, a story, a novel, a duel, whatever. Works quite well.

There's some other interesting tools on that site; click the Tools button on the header if you want to see them.

Edit: Hmm, that should probably go in the Helpful Links section and not here; feel free to add it there and delete this.
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Old Jul 21st, 2007, 03:01 AM
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Some new advice that I have recently learned by myself.

Don't get too far ahead of yourself.

I attempted to write out my entire book just to get a skeletal idea of the story... not a bad idea... then I got the idea of writing the skeletal of the second one (Typical "trilogy" though recently I'm wondering it it wouldn't hurt to condense it as three parts of a single story.)... not such a hot idea.

I've realized that I should have worked out all the kinks and refined what I had written before completely moving on. Now what I plan on doing for my second draft is editing per chapter and not move on until I've scanned over the whole thing with a fine toothed comb.
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Old Aug 13th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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If I need to make a character's name, I generally use Behind the Name and Behind the Surname. Typically, I'll look around for a name that sounds good and has some appropriate connection to the character. For example, Eth'erranara “F” Maluath, the Elf Officer raised by Dwarves, translates roughly to "eternally-bound boar woman carrying a war lance".

Languages are harder, it's one thing to use published material like fantasy books or existing languages, it's quite another to make your own. I've made "arcane dialect" by taking a possible name for a spell and then randomly anagramming it. "Gimaj Emroa", for instance, might be "Major Image". There aren't any texts for Ignan, so I translated what I wanted the character to say into Russian and then transposed the Russian characters into a visually equivalent Latin letter. This made something suitably alien but gave it a distinct harsh tongue that suited Ignan very much. You can do this with Russian, I'm not sure you can do it with all languages...
Alternatively, some will auto-translate it ("<>" is popular) or have others refer to it as sounding like total gibberish.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 05:16 PM
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While I'm thinking about it (I have a tendency to be a bit scatterbrained on the subject of writing), I think that this site has some of the best advice around when it comes to the writing of a fantasy novel.

It is Jim Butcher's Live Journal, where he basically lays out novel writing 101. It is an excellent source and I can't recommend it enough for anyone who is attempting to fill up their writerly toolbox.

Hope that helps.
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Old Jan 10th, 2009, 10:28 AM
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Seeing that some very creative and dedicated writers are here i wish to ask for some help in my storytelling,mainly for this site.Im from South africa and my primary language is afrikaans

 


Anyhoe,when writing my players have suggested that I should not use their characters to play out the actions or progress a scene,although I think slight nudging is allowed.Would it be best to write in first or third person and to what extent do you think should a DM be allowed to "use" their players?

I believe this to be the best thread to post my questions as I really want to become a great story teller for my players
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