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Writing Tips and Guidance.

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Loki
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Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 26th, 2010 @ 06:14 PM Reply

Lock pl0x.

Hello! Déjà-vu thread isn't it?

Well I'm so original and decided to copypasta the hella that thread and revive it here and there, in this new Forum section.

This is a thread for you people who consider themselves "writers", or who like writing stories / scripts / scenarios in order to share them on the internet or in real life.

Some kid made some thread earlier asking about help and ideas for his story. It made me realize SO many people (on Newgrounds, but also everywhere else) ask for help when they want to write something. They need help with ideas. They ask others to give them ideas.

Writing is about creativity. It's about being creative. Writing's all about using your brain to create a masterpiece people will enjoy reading, then ask "MORE, MORE, MOAR!". Writing a successful novel isn't easy. Requires time.

Lucky me, a good friend of mine is a successful writer. French stuff, you wouldn't know him. I write in French too, but just for you, Newgrounds, I'm willing to spend a few thousand bucks and get my shit translated in a perfect English. My story happens in South Carolina anyways, so the translation wouldn't be too bad.

ANYWAYS, if you want to write, there's the stuff you need to know.

First: Dedication and discipline.
If you ain't disciplined, your book, flash project, boat in a bottle, name it, wont progress. The tip my friend told me when I started writing is this one: "When you professionally write, you gotta be disciplined. You gotta be able to write 6 hours in a row before stopping. It has to be your job, your routine. You have to be able to do it every day. Write a certain amount of pages. Write a certain amount of paragraphs, chapters, however you want to function, it can work, as long as you do it."
Well he didn't exactly said those words, but that's what I understood from him.

Second: Know your shit.
If you decided on writing a short, a story, a novel, a dictionary or the god damn Bible, you gotta know what you are writing. Stephen King said he invents his novel as he writes it. Meaning what: he doesn't even know the end of his novel until he wrote it. Oh well, clap clap, you're a fucking genius Stephen (hey it's my name too)! Us lowlifes have to work differently.
Before starting my novel (did I mention that I'm writing a novel right now? no not this post, TL;DR guy...) I already had all my story all planned in my head. From the Prologue to the Epilogue. Of course, I didn't know and I still don't know exactly what I am going to type in every sentences of every paragraphs of every chapters... that's where creativity takes place. But I know the skeleton of my book, and I can work around it.
If you ask random people on the internet for ideas for your story, you should consider quitting. It's okay to ask people you know, people you can trust, people who share the same state of spirit you have, people that understand you. But if you're down asking people on the internet, you probably are just not trying hard enough or don't have the required imagination to write something amazing by yourself.

GRAMMER (some smartass is going to quote that and say "ITS NOT SPELTED GRAMMER LULZ") (Some smartass is going to copy these exact same words, I know, I've been on NG for 10 years)
Then, comes all the syntax, the grammar, the punctuation, the RULES (they love inventing thousands of random grammatical rules in French, it's fun (not)). It's okay, you're a teen. It's okay, you're not the best in English class. No need to use that as an excuse to not do any efforts while writing your text though. No one wants to read a piece of crap full of "what the fuck is that"s. Of course, all your linguistic skills will come with time, again patience, and practise (is that even the good word for this?). See? Even myself I got a terrible English and I've been speaking / writing in English for more than 14 years. It gets better and better though. You just have to try.

Read.
Read. It's one of the best ways to get better at writing. Not saying "copy paste". Read, see the styles different writers use, don't try to copy it, but you can pick your inspiration from them. Read a book, n*gga.

Read what you just wrote.
Finish a paragraph. Read what you just wrote. Re-read it until it's how you want it to be. It's rarely perfect the first time. Sometimes I can spend a good 30 minutes working on one sentence. Yep... Fun times indeed.

Avoid overused shits.
Avoid overused themes. Try finding a revolutionary idea for a story. Good luck ;)
That's what I did, and I believe it's going to work out pretty well.

Self-Censorship
Don't censor yourself. if you censor yourself you might as well not write at all. Remember: shocking, disturbing and awkward stuff sells, as long as it's moderate and well in context! We don't want to read a cesspool of pointless violence or have a sex scene every 4 pages.
Incest, cannibalism, bestiality, rape, murder, you can pretty much write on any subject you want, on any taboo subject, AS LONG AS IT IS IN CONTEXT. No one likes random stories only the writer will understand.
Be careful with racism. If you are racist, keep it to yourself, your book might just get you a lawsuit.
Basically, don't be scared of taboo subjects: but be careful at how you introduce them.

Character developments
Nobody likes foreseeable stories and characters. Your character wont be interesting unless he has a nice background, maybe a hidden story behind him, or whatever. Don't spoil everything about your character too early either. Keep some secrets for the readers or whatever. If your protagonist is boring, your book might. If your protagonist is boring, your book will be most likely boring. Put your protagonist in situations where he wont know how to react, making him unpredictable! Give him hidden superpowers, anything! Fantastic stuff that happens in a totally rational and realistic world is always an interesting subject. The same thing goes for your overall plot and story: if the reader finds out how the novel ends before reading half of the text, consider you have failed. Add mysterious and unpredictable characters and events, be impulsive. Surprise yourself.

AND PLEASE, FOR FUCKS SAKE: DO SOME GOOD RESEARCH IF YOU'RE GOING TO WRITE ANYTHING REALISTIC THAT HAPPENS IN A REAL LOCATION! DO SOME HISTORY RESEARCH AT THE LIBRARY, AND DON'T COUNT ON WIKIPEDIA!

SHORTEN YOUR SENTENCES!
If your story is full of uselessly long sentences, you might lose your reader.
Example: The women sitting behind the wheel was driving back to her home town after a hard day of work.
Could be changed into: The driver was heading back home from work.
A text that could count 300 pages can easily be shortened to 200 and yet be just as good, and more interesting for the average reader.
If your first book is 1,000 pages long, chances are there wont be as many people reading it than if it was a 500 pages book.

Here I will (try to) answer your questions, help you, guide you, teach you engrish (jk don't ask me that).

I strongly welcome other good writers of Newgrounds (I know you guys, don't worry), to come post in here and give your 10 cents... Again.

P.S.: You are in no way asked to follow these tips. These are just tips I took from actual writers, from myself and from my experience. These aren't universal laws, just some good sense. Hope this is helpful to at least one person.

homor
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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 26th, 2010 @ 06:25 PM Reply

oh how i can't wait to stop being a hack!

thanks Fbipolox.


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Loki
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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 26th, 2010 @ 06:30 PM Reply

At 1/26/10 06:25 PM, homor wrote: oh how i can't wait to stop being a hack!

thanks Fbipolox.

What's a hack...

God I hate being French sometimes. It makes it hard to detect sarcasm on the internet :(

Tri-Nitro-Toluene
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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 26th, 2010 @ 06:30 PM Reply

At 1/26/10 06:30 PM, FBIpolux wrote:
At 1/26/10 06:25 PM, homor wrote: oh how i can't wait to stop being a hack!

thanks Fbipolox.
What's a hack...

God I hate being French sometimes. It makes it hard to detect sarcasm on the internet :(

Someone that's bad at writing :P

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 26th, 2010 @ 06:35 PM Reply

Alright, well I pmed gumonshoe about making a thread like this to no reply, but alas it's already been made now.

The best advice I can give would be to craft your own work ethic and style. Having a definite ultimatum such as "Write one chapter every week," or "Finish this book by the end of the year" will work for people who don't mind such scheduling, but if you're going to be sporadic about it or do it in your free time then I'd suggestt you have a loose goal in mind, such as 'finish this by the end of the year' or 'finish this chapter today' rather than one that would be time consuming like 'write 1,000 words a day everyday'. After all, writing should be a hobby and not a job at this point.

Some more advice would be to have a general idea of what you're going to write, obviously, freewriting is decent for coming up with sporadic ideas but if you're going to have a fairly long story or even a novel it's obviously best to have a decent idea of where you're going to go with it.

Last idea, work in the most comfortable setting possible. It's understandable that you might not be able to achieve this if you're using a family computer or working in an office or something along those lines, but if you have a laptop and it's possible then try and work in a place that's comfortable to you and where you can work with as limited interruptions as possible.

But as I said in the other thread, your mileage varies alot with writing advice, and even the best advice could not help at all if it clashes with your personal style.


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Loki
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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 27th, 2010 @ 11:16 AM Reply

At 1/26/10 06:30 PM, Tri-Nitro-Toluene wrote: Someone that's bad at writing :P

See, fun fact: I learned more about English on the Internet browsing Newgrounds or playing Video Games than in English Class...

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 27th, 2010 @ 11:21 AM Reply

I just saw someone bump one of their own threads after no-one had posted in it.

I get the feeling this is going to be a frequent problem.

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 27th, 2010 @ 12:01 PM Reply

How exactly can you add some background story to your characters in the middle of a story? If not then, then when should we?


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the best AAA Indie game in the making, help the game by spreading the word! ;D

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 27th, 2010 @ 12:07 PM Reply

At 1/27/10 12:01 PM, weirdoo wrote: How exactly can you add some background story to your characters in the middle of a story? If not then, then when should we?

Depends on how your character was introduced, how your story is written... depends on many factors.

You can use flash-backs (a chapter or paragraph in the middle of the novel that takes place in the past (see Stephen King: It). Or you can make your character come clean, confess stuff about himself herself, etc.

Loki
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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 27th, 2010 @ 12:25 PM Reply

At 1/27/10 12:17 PM, Fyndir wrote: Ways to be a good writer.

1: Send your work to Fyndir, listen to his criticism.

2: Change everything about your style until Fyndir enjoys it.

3: ?????????

4: Profit.

And remove said copyrights... :P

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Jan. 27th, 2010 @ 03:00 PM Reply

spanks ;D


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the best AAA Indie game in the making, help the game by spreading the word! ;D

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Feb. 16th, 2010 @ 11:16 PM Reply

I'll throw in some advice of my own.

1: Keep track of your character's facts! Don't have your character's eyes be blue in the first chapter and then green in the fifth (unless there's some reason why his eyes changed color). And also, don't introduce facts a second time as if they're new. Along those lines, if you mention an interesting trait, don't forget about it. Bring it back around, so to speak. Something that has really helped me in that regard is to, in a separate document, create a character description sheet. Take notes on what you write down. For instance...

[character]
Role:
Age:
Personality traits:
Appearance:
History:
etc

It'll most likely make your life so much easier as you won't have to skim through 30,000 words of text to find one sentence that contains the fact you're wondering about. Plus, you can keep track of what you've already mentioned and what has yet to be introduced.

2: Don't get lost in dialog. This is something that I've been challenged with in the past. Don't have your characters ramble. It gets boring. Make sure that every word they say counts for something and try not to have them summarize or describe the plot when they're talking. Have their dialog progress the story, but have them say things like, "What I'm going to do now to handle this situation is [A], [B] and [C] because [reason]." The reader will find that out for him/herself.

3: Don't make your protagonist(s) all good and your villain(s) all bad. Part of having a dynamic character is giving them some internal conflict that will make them interesting and unpredictable. If you have multiple good guys or bad guys, then you don't have to give all of them these qualities as sometimes you just need some characters that the reader loves to hate or loves to love. But certainly don't make it totally black and white, so to speak. For instance, if you back up a villain's actions with some moral reasoning, then you're forcing your reader to consider the situation as opposed to just taking it in on a surface level. To see a great example of this technique executed, read anything by Dan Brown. He's brilliant at it.

4: Worry about ideas first and wording second. If you stop to question whether every sentence is perfect, you tend to begin to lose momentum in the idea department. Keep the ball rolling. Finish a chapter, read it over to make sure that the plot makes sense and then edit for flow and mechanics.

5: Think everywhere. When I'm at a loss for ideas on where I should go with a story, I often find the most solid solutions come to me when I'm half asleep on a bus, zoning out at lunch, sitting on a heating vent to warm up or emptying my dishwasher. Don't just search for answers when you're staring at your word processor. Keep the story in your thoughts as much as you can until you figure it out.

6: Talk to yourself. You may sound like a babbling nutcase while you're doing it, but I think you'll find that this will help your brain work things out a lot better and more efficiently. Move your train of thought from your brain to your lips. Ramble on like, "Well, what I already have written is [summary]. If I take into consideration [plot point/character trait], I can go down [this] rout or [that] rout. Which one would be better? Well, I don't know, maybe..." It'll also help keep your mind from wondering too far off topic.

7: Don't get lost in your vocabulary. Unless the piece is a visual exorcise, the storyline is usually more important than whether your vocab is impressive. Definitely don't avoid a word because you think your reader won't know what it is, but don't just use big words for the sake of using big words. Chose the vocab that best fits both the mood and the meaning of your sentence. Sometimes the best choice is one you learned in fourth grade, particularly if your story is a first-person perspective of a character that wouldn't have such an advanced vocabulary. After a certain point, it just becomes too thick.

8: Don't use the wrong words. This goes along with number seven. It may seem basic, but I've seen it done more than you'd expect. It's most often the case when people open up a thesaurus and choose the word they think sounds the best. But although it may be grammatically correct, it may not be the word you're looking for. If you're tentative about a word's meaning, find a dictionary that will give you sentence examples. Yourdictionary.com is good for that.

9: Give your character a name that fits. Don't have your villain's name be Sally Goodfellow, unless you're being satirical. It disturbs the mood of your story.

10: Watch your subplots. If you throw something in that's either superfluous, irrelevant, distracting or just plain confusing, it won't flatter your story even if it's an interesting tidbit of information. Make sure all of your subplots relate somehow to the overall plot or your story will become hard to follow.

11: Make sure your reader has all the information needed to understand the story. Remember that your reader doesn't know what's going on inside your head. Your comprehension of your own writing is apt to be much more thorough than that of someone else's because you have all the info from the start. Nothing needs to be explained to you because you're the one that came up with it. However, it's crucial that you take on an objective perspective to confirm that all of your info is expressed either directly or through inferences that are clear.

That's it for right now. But note that I, as well, don't expect you to take every single piece of my advice to heart because certain things work for some people and not for others. This is just what I've gathered from my experience as a reader and a writing.


[quote]

whoa art what

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Feb. 17th, 2010 @ 12:14 PM Reply

I'm not sure if this has been posted yet, but I think it should be said: Organize your work. If you have several stories going on in different word / notepad / whatever you use documents then you're probably going to end up with quite a few, and not all of them will necessarily be complete enough or good enough to show everybody, so a folder for them in your documents or desktop could help prevent your desktop from getting cluttered.

On that same note, a succinct title also helps when going back to read your work. If you just name the documents for your writing shit like "awefiluwh" or some other gibberish because you're saving before bed or whatever you could forget it, or worst case scenario get it lost in a bunch of other "aluiwehfaiwe"s. Basically just titling it something you'll remember helps (obviously doesn't have to be the actual title). So if it's a detective story just write in "detective story", you can choose the real name later, but for now I'd say you should just be working on remembering it and choosing to follow it up later and not give up on it.


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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Feb. 17th, 2010 @ 12:27 PM Reply

At 2/16/10 11:16 PM, InsertFunnyUserName wrote: 7: Don't get lost in your vocabulary.

8: Don't use the wrong words.

Excellent advice and definitely things I often need to keep in mind. As a scientist and student I often get caught up in technical language and in the sound of the words instead of making sure the meaning is clear. KISS is a good rule of thumb in times when one might be wondering if their word use is overly complicated. Also, from The Little Book, rule 13: Omit needless words.

9: Give your character a name that fits. Don't have your villain's name be Sally Goodfellow, unless you're being satirical. It disturbs the mood of your story.

Also probably a bad idea naming your villain Dick McMeanfucker, especially if you'd like there to be some ambiguity about who the villain actually is. Though names can be an excellent way to create some subtle misdirection in that vein. ;-)


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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Feb. 17th, 2010 @ 06:52 PM Reply

Here's another tip.

Erotic fiction is not pornography. That means that even though the story is going to be focused around sexuality, it still needs to have every single quality that makes a good fiction good. You need character development, good pacing, solid and intriguing visuals and most importantly, a good, unique and unpredictable plot. I see way too many amateur erotica writers making the mistake of writing something that's been written a thousand times with generic characters and no setting.

Your story should not be entirely about sex. Unlike porn, you need characters that are dynamic, unique, intriguing and not cliche. If they aren't, then a relatively well read reader will become disinterested pretty quickly. It's because if I can't get into the mindset of a character or I can't understand him/her, then it all just becomes nothing more than an uninteresting sequence of words on a page.

If you're curious about writing in this genre, then my advice to you is to go read some erotica. In fact, read a lot of it. You'll most likely pick up on all of this for yourself, as that's how I figured it out.


[quote]

whoa art what

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Response to Writing Tips and Guidance. Feb. 17th, 2010 @ 10:19 PM Reply

http://fli.newgrounds.com/news/post/3690 87

My blog has an article from Elmore Lenard, and it's very good advice.
On Writing by Stephen King is better, but it is a memoir so not really a book on writing.

But it's a useful book nonetheless, and engaging.