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 Post subject: Now A New & Improved Discussion! Grammar Glitches & Fanfic
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:54 pm 
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I figured, due to my recent attack on Harper Collins and Avon for repeated grammar mistakes, that this thread might be valid to more people than just me. It's a bit of a rant, and in no way meant to discourage anyone from writing fanfic- I'm always happy to beta/edit for a new writer and help. This stuff is just currently outraging me.

1. Grammar mistakes- my two current favorites are "free reign" which is WRONG WRONG WRONG and is correct as "free rein" and "unphased" instead of "unfazed". Unless your character is entering a room through a wall and is not corporeal, the wrong usage is going to faze somebody, probably me!
:blow: :blow: :blow: :blow: :blow:

2. 40 dollar words instead of short and to the point. I have a more than decent vocabulary, and I live to use "antediluvian" in conversation, because it's an awesome word- but I DON'T use it in fanfics!

3. Who are these people and what are they doing in my fanfic? I don't want to see Lee Adama sucking a lollipop, or Doc Cottle on a spring water and vegetables kick. Keep the characters true to themselves, or label it crackfic.

4. If you think your dialogue is realistic, try reading it out loud. Then strip out all the "ums", "uhs", and any ellipses that number more than four per story.

5. Commas, people. Use them.

6. I've made the run-on sentence a style CHOICE. It's not through lack of ability to differentiate.

That's today's episode.


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 Post subject: Re: Things In Fanfic That Piss Me Off
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:19 pm 
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But it's *fanfic* and supposed to be fun! I strive to make my fanfic readable. I strive to make it interesting. And I strive to keep within grammatical rules. But I'm not an expert. I got my A in grammar in ninth grade and then promptly tested out of college writing courses. I know my grammar isn't perfect, but it isn't horrible. I know *you* can look past grammatical errors to enjoy a story because you've personally pointed them out to me.

This type of post, however, only adds to my fear of writing and does nothing to move me to write. Instead I worry more and more about what mistakes I make that will enrage the grammar cops out there. It's paralyzing.

Harper Collins - I'm with you. They should catch it. Fanfic, let people enjoy themselves without being heavy handed and high and mighty. They should try - and get a beta to help. But why be so superior about this? I'm not trying to be mean or confrontational, but I just don't find this helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: Things In Fanfic That Piss Me Off
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:43 pm 
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Maybe we need to revive the Rules for New Fanfic Writers thread from Old Earth. It was similar information in a more positive tone.

My current favorite $40 word to use is 'erinaceous' (of or pertaining to hedgehogs); it's very challenging to find an appropriate time to use, but also very rewarding when you can. Try it yourself. I have yet to slip it into OTS, though...

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 Post subject: Re: Things In Fanfic That Piss Me Off
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:50 pm 
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mamaboolj wrote:
This type of post, however, only adds to my fear of writing and does nothing to move me to write. Instead I worry more and more about what mistakes I make that will enrage the grammar cops out there. It's paralyzing.

Fair enough- I wasn't born knowing this stuff, but it just really chaps parts of me when PROFESSIONALS (Hi, Harper Collins, that's you) allow those mistakes, because then people think that that is the correct way.

Language shift is one thing. Repeated errors in something I paid for really irk me.

And true, many fanfic writers may be put off, but I can and do encourage new writers- I can rewrite the post in a more encouraging fashion, if you find it intimidating- I assumed it came off as the vent that I wrote it as. Certainly not my intent to hurt anyone's feelings or discourage a new author.

Chris, that's a splendid idea- do you have the thread? Or perhaps rewrite it for our purposes.

I find "Old Earth" to be a charming reference. ;)

And I looked up "erinaceous". Awesome word. I also love "slumgullion" which sounds like a great insult at the renaissance festival.


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 Post subject: Re: Things In Writing and Fanfic That Tend To Annoy Me (A Rant)
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:21 pm 
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Quote:
but I can and do encourage new writers

Indeed you do, which is why I pointed out that I know you can see past the errors to enjoy the story. And also why I suggest writers with good ideas but poor writing ask you for beta assistance.

I totally agree that people really need to try. Often if something is poorly written and difficult to follow, I will not read it. It's just too much work, and, just like writing it, reading fanfic should be fun. If it's not fun, or I'm not enjoying it, I'm not going to do it. But there are times when I feel that things are small and honest mistakes. Take "free rein". "Reign over a kingdom" could easily be seen as "free" or "not free" as well. QE2 certainly doesn't have free reign over her dominion although she may have free rein. [my sorry attempt at humor] Not everyone will know the origin of the phrase comes from "rein a horse."

So yes, I agree. Helpful and positive posts of writing tips and good betas are much appreciated.

Now onto my own helpful post:
Characterization is a difficult thing for me. While the examples above about Lee and Cottle are clear, others are more subtle. Characterization is deeply personal and reflects what you bring to the story. That is my own opinion. I *love* Chris's stories about Boomer, but to me Boomer seems far more confident and thrill seeking in his stories than the Boomer we saw in the series or that is described in the pages Pierre recently posted. Does this mean Chris's characterization is off, or is my understanding of Boomer from the first two seasons wrong? (Chris's story of Boomer diverges from canon in S2, which is why I'm choosing that time). Likewise, I know that some people didn't appreciate my entry for the last Kindreds ficathon (the sappy song lyric one) because they felt Athena was out of character. Yet, I (and I might add my beta) thought she was very much in character as portrayed in the Demetrius arc. The answer I've gotten from people who didn't like it is that the writers had Athena wrong in that arc. The question then becomes, is my portrayal in or out of character? The answer is that my portrayal is in character in the minds of some and out of character in the minds of others. Both are right; it just depends how the reader (and the writer) wants to understand Athena and what time period and aspect of her personality are most in keeping with the reader (and the writer).

To end, I guess my pet peeve is writers who don't pay attention to the characters but re-create them in their own image. My equal pet peeve is readers and betas and commenters who think they have the sole knowledge of what the correct portrayal of a character is. We all had vehement disagreements on whether the BSG writers got characterization right or wrong, it's inevitable that we will disagree on characterization in fanfic.

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 Post subject: Re: Things In Writing and Fanfic That Tend To Annoy Me (A Rant)
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:32 pm 
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Now lookee here. I had a rant, and now we have a DISCUSSION. Awesome. :dance:

I agree with you- characterization is frequently also in the eye of the beholder. How many times have you read a fanfic and thought, "this author GETS Helo/Sharon/Redshirt X/Adama/Sarah Connor/etc."? I know I have done it a lot, and that's a comment I make a point of making TO the author as well. But there are also times when you fling back in your chair and scream "oh my god, who ARE these people?" (Which admittedly is an effect that Michael Angeli's Sharon/female characters and Pod Helo have on me.)

I love Chris' Sharon- I think of her as the Boomer she might have been (and probably should have) and it's great that he's exploring that. I have a fic in my head that will probably make people scream like banshees if I ever get around to writing it.

I agre with the small, honest mistake asessment- BUT when the media, and the publishers, and so many people are making that mistake, it becomes like fingernails on a chalkboard to those who DO know the correct way.


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 Post subject: Re: Things In Writing and Fanfic That Tend To Annoy Me (A Rant)
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:48 pm 
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Quote:
I agree with you- characterization is frequently also in the eye of the beholder. How many times have you read a fanfic and thought, "this author GETS Helo/Sharon/Redshirt X/Adama/Sarah Connor/etc."? I know I have done it a lot, and that's a comment I make a point of making TO the author as well. But there are also times when you fling back in your chair and scream "oh my god, who ARE these people?" (Which admittedly is an effect that Michael Angeli's Sharon/female characters and Pod Helo have on me.)


But there are also lots of in-betweens, where the characterization touches on certain aspects of the character, or portions of their portrayal and not others. That's where I think things get tough for writers and readers.

Everyone should take my comments below as "advice from one inexperienced, untrained, not too gifted fanfic writer who gave it the college try but has largely decided to abandon writing"
My point here is to encourage people to write - even if they are doing the in-betweens and disputed aspects of characterization. My point is also to warn these writers that you might get no comments or lackluster ones because people who don't like your characterization won't like your story. Speaking for myself, the lack of commenting or lackluster comments can smart and be paralyzing, but they are also a part of the territory when you aren't writing what everyone wants to see.

One other thing that I've learned from experience that I'd like to pass along to writers is to try to have some confidence in yourself and pride in what you've accomplished no matter how many comments you get. This is also a very hard thing for me, because I am not confident in my fiction writing or other creative endeavors. Comments give you confidence to try again, no doubt about it. Lack of comments can be paralyzing. In truth, though, lack of comments doesn't mean it was bad; it only means that it didn't have a high readership (or high commenting readership). Might it be bad? Sure. But you shouldn't assume this to be the case.

I've come to learn that fanfic writing is partially a popularity contest - with the contestants being judged on who they are, the subject matter and characters involved, what fandom it is in, where they posted it, etc. The quality of the story is only one factor in the popularity contest equation.* My advice is this: If you are moved to write, write. Get it beta'd, and post it. If you get comments, be glad and grateful, making sure to take the criticisms seriously (if delivered constructively) but not too personally either. If you don't get comments (or many), think about all the reasons this might be beyond just "was it any good." If the muse moves you to write again, then by all means do write again, learning from your earlier attempts but keeping at it.

Advice to writers (and betas): learn to separate comments that are opinion or biased by one's own background from comments that truly help the universal quality of the story. After you get your comments back (or read through a story once) and have your initial reaction, take the time to think about the story, the characters, the plot, the structure, etc., as well as your own biases and reactions to it. Then once you have given it some thought, focus on the comments that really work to improve the quality of the story. Accept (couch) the "opinion" type comments as just that. Writers, feel free to disagree with your beta and go with your own muse if need be. Your beta may not like it, but that's their prerogative. Betas, accept that stories can be good even if not up your ally. Try to keep that in mind when betaing.

And I just have to point out that Cottle having to drink spring water (from the spring) and survive on veggies (that he helped gather) 150,000 years ago would be priceless fun fic - and potentially very much in character ;)

*I'm sure there are hundreds of great BSG fanfic stories out there I haven't read because they are posted in places I don't visit, written about characters or in genres I'm not terribly interested in, and/or, when I'm really busy and prioritizing, authored by people I don't know.

**The things I will do to avoid working on yet another version of the same freaking survey for another freaking state.

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 Post subject: Re: Now A New & Improved Discussion! Grammar Glitches & Fanfic
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:17 pm 
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Here comes Mr. Literal. Oh my.
* Uh, what's wrong with my nice Collins dictionary?

* it's antediluvian, I think. (from "ante" : before, not "anti" : against/opposite)

* you can be phased, you know. Well, in physics, anyway. If you had some gimmick device that could change your "phase" (for example to "hide" in an alternate or artificially created reality), you would be "out of phase", i.e. phased. QED.

Quote:
"this author GETS Helo/Sharon/Redshirt X/Adama/Sarah Connor/etc."?
whoah! what an orgy! why wasn't Kendra invited?



, BAD , FRENCHIE , :french: :french: :french:



PS: Chris, if Sharon ever has to face the Cylon "virus" : it could look like encapsulated viruses (viri?) : a spiked ball. That's erinaceous. Sharon has surely seen hedgehogs in zoos, in her childhood, on Troy. Oh... frak... :sad: :sad:

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 Post subject: Re: Now A New & Improved Discussion! Grammar Glitches & Fanfic
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:01 pm 
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I suppose you could describe basestars as erinaceous, in a way. Too bad Mobile Depot Ships aren't.

I think I'm generally anti-flood myself, living in the Bayou City and all.

Here's my 1st hint for writers: if you give two different characters similar names then some readers will get them confused!

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 Post subject: Re: Now A New & Improved Discussion! Grammar Glitches & Fanfic
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:21 am 
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Does anyone have the list of previous recommendations for fanfic writers from Old Earth that we could use as a basis instead of trying to remember them all.

Here's another recommendation:
Show, don't tell. What I mean by that is: Don't describe how a character feels. Instead, describe the character behaving in a way that someone who feels that way behaves. Example: If you describe Boomer staring at a picture of her old crewmates she pulled off the wall of her Caprica City apt. and drinking herself into a stupor while listening to that 'mix tape' Tyrol made for her of Their Songs... the reader will respond more strongly to her emotions than if you just wrote the words "Boomer was lonely."

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