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JD's Random first time writer tips....

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Uh... I spent 25 minutes tossing out tips from the top of my head for a specific question from a first time writer on another site. Much of it is probably useless, but, eh, here is a slightly edited version. Tried to take out or explain stuff. I probably should have posted this in my journally stuff thread where I could have painted it as an incompetent person's rant. It may even be moved there yet as such by one of the mods :D

Let's see... advice for a first time writer...

1) If you aren't used to writing long stuff, set yourself either a short story or short chapter length and aim for that.

2) World of Warcraft being a very popular fandom ought to ensure you get more readers and so more feedback which can help you improve/build you confidence/allow an interesting collection of flames to build, depending on what you write. Generally writing in a popular fandom as a new writer will get you more readers on the basis of the fandom alone when nobody knows who ya are. If that's what you're wanting.

2b) WoW being a fandom you enjoy will hopefully give you more motivation to finish it, and less chance of being bogged down explaining concepts that your readers will be familiar with (a benefit of a lot of fanfiction, that.) It's a good rule of thumb anyway to either write what you know, or what you've researched. And I say that as someone who did a couple requests after five minutes of googling.

3) Cliché is right for that plot [self-insert type walks through portal into WoW world]. Bamf fics they call 'em in some places as a homage to the sound effect of Marvel's Nightcrawler popping up in places. Wasn't so long ago the Lord of the Rings movies gave us a million "Tenth Walker" fics, usually involving a young American girl who got ol' Greanleaf's sap rising. As it were. Thing is, the vast majority of storylines are cliche. Very few actual plots in fiction, really. Look't to see how many ideas turn up again and again and again.

It's what you do with the idea that makes the story great, mediocre or indeed "lame". As a new writer starting out, take your best shot to do something cool with it. If it doesn't pan out, try again next time.

4) " a fanfic as it centres around a character of my own design" - google "Mary sue" and "fanfiction" and maybe "for fuck's sake, not another one" (kidding on the last bit!). Read the guides. Look at the do and don't lists. Learn from them. It'll save you trouble in the long run. If it's kind of a self insert as the plot might suggest, that can be okay, again, it's all in how you use them. A wider audience isn't necessarily going to appreciate your in-jokes.

5) Spelling, grammar, correct formatting of paragraphs.... These are all pretty useful for both first and many time writers. Folks who get away with it know the rules before they break 'em for the benefit of their story. There are free checkers on line, including built into many email providers.

If you don't have a beta reader (which stands to reason) I recommend waiting a day or a couple days after finishing anything and re-reading it then, can usually spot mistakes more easiliy. I would do this more often but most of my readers are masuturbating too furiously to notice the mistakes that slip past the grammar/spell checks. And that's how I like 'em (but when folks do point out my mistakes in those areas I am always appreciative. Also, didn't spellcheck this post.)

6) Read your character's speech out loud to yourself. If it sounds clunky, weird or just fucking awful consider re-writing it. Unless that's a character point. I bet the guy writing Chewie's dialogue in the Star Wars movies had a ball.

7) Don't write scriptfics. Or if you do, re-write them into non scriptfics afterwards. Scriptfics bear no comparisons to actual scripts, and they are clunky as fuck. Just occasionally there's one that can be read easily, otherwise it's hard to get into 'em. Note to any scriptficcers reading: Love ya! :P

AFF note - It's opinion only! You can of course, write what you want here or anywhere.

8 ) [the other site] is a great place for art, art criticism and a pool of the aforementioned masturbators. By all means post stories here, talk about writing here (they make provision for it, so it's rude not too!) But it's less great for forging a career in writing. You might want to consider joining a writing centric community to get more readers and feedback, or even a fandom specific one for WoW fics. If you can get what you mean sticking here than I'm happy for you, but my stories go up on 3-4 sites (more in certain specialised topics) and the writer specific feedback is generally post valuable.

9) Titles/Summaries - Oooh, yes. Hard. Hard, hard, hard. Well, sometimes. Thing is, asides from the fandom and later, maybe, your username, these are the things selling your story. I've pretty much never bothered reading something like "Summaries suck! Just read!" or "untitled fiction!" or whatever. It doesn't bode well for the quality of the story within, y'know? There's lots of complicated advice on titles and summaries, better'n I can put it, so go google 'it. Best I can say is, again, you're promoting your story with them. If you can't think of anything else for a title, put "A stranger in Gilneas" or something equally bland but at least descriptive. It's always better than nothing. Me, I kinda like puns... Summary is easier, just limit yourself to a brief description of what happens, in your case "A teenager from England walks through a portal into Gilneas, gets trapped there and gets afflicted with the worgen curse" Will do for a start. Unless you want more mystery in which case shorten it to "The adventures of an English Teenager in Gilneas" or something. As with the title, anything beats nothing every time.

I reccommend you keep at least one backup on your computer as [other user] raistlinmajere says, and frankly backing it up elsewhere is also advisable. I have a couple stories lost forever due to insufficient backups after the site they were hosted on went offline (and wasnt on the wayback machine! bah).

25 minutes writing, here, and why? Because I have to write a 1000 word story using "adduced" for a weekly story prompt on another site [edit - love ya AFF :D]. So I am procrastinating...

Eh, hope some of it at least is helpful to you!

Edited by JayDee
change of forum software broke quote boxes

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