General Help (82)

1 Name: Vic Taylor : 2010-03-19 20:10 ID:3fqf/8eU

This is a new part of the board, created for people to ask questions about their writing, both fanfiction and original. It's a place for tips, and for posting snippets of your story(s) that you want help on. I believe posting links to your story(s) is also allowed, and concrit is much encouraged.

This thread is for general questions. :)

33 Name: RayRay : 2010-03-31 05:05 ID:VEAMlr7x

Oh don't worry, it's well seasoned

34 Name: ... : 2010-03-31 05:36 ID:yAf7g1y9

I would have to disagree! Please add some spice.

35 Name: RayRay : 2010-03-31 06:49 ID:VEAMlr7x

What kind of spice would you like.

Damn the spamming! Ellipsis you're making me spam this thread!!!!

Damn my need to argue :D

36 Name: Iaculus : 2010-03-31 06:59 ID:yeeM3eVw

Get a room, you two.

37 Name: ... : 2010-03-31 08:17 ID:yAf7g1y9


Besides, dear Iaccy, surely thou knowst that all my love is for thee?

38 Name: Iaculus : 2010-03-31 08:26 ID:yeeM3eVw

Whoa - you're letting her down just like that?

Cold. Ice cold.

39 Name: ... : 2010-03-31 08:52 ID:yAf7g1y9

You'd know all about ice cold...

40 Name: RayRay : 2010-03-31 11:21 ID:VEAMlr7x

Feeding trolls is dangerous, but alas, my love is reserved for noone who frequents this site, so the let down really isn't all that bad,

I feel more... relief ;)

Heh. You two need to get a room now.

41 Name: ... : 2010-03-31 14:54 ID:yAf7g1y9

He leaves me for weeks at a time without so much as a note, and that's ignoring the fact that I still don't know his real name. If you wish to get a room with him, Rayray, by all means, go ahead. Let your eyes be opened by experience of the cold nature of the one we call 'Iaculus'...

42 Name: RayRay : 2010-03-31 16:06 ID:VEAMlr7x

But Ellipsis, we don't really know who you are either.

I think you're both cold and unfeeling - it's a mutually bad relationship you seem to have going.

43 Name: tilldeathdouspart789 : 2010-04-01 07:10 ID:SILqvPCE

I think you guys have gotten off the subject...Unless this is what you want help with...

44 Name: ... : 2010-04-01 11:23 ID:yAf7g1y9

An excellent deduction, Sherlock. Tell us, what was the first clue that an off-topic discussion was afoot? Also, if people want to discuss something on-topic, that's fine- just post something on-topic instead of interjecting rather pointlessly when you have nothing to say.

As for Iaccy, I no-longer have a use for him. You see, I know someone rich...

45 Name: Iaculus : 2010-04-01 12:18 ID:xromj4pb

Oh gods... I knew I should have been more tight-lipped about my grandfather's personal details.

46 Name: tilldeathdouspart789 : 2010-04-01 12:27 ID:SILqvPCE

>>44 Elementary, my dear Watson! It started with you and RayRay...uuhhh 'discussing' cough arguing cough about you LOL-ing.
I sometimes wonder how we go off-topic like this...It happens to me in real life conversations... Then we all end up asking the same thing in the end-'how did we get to this...?'

47 Name: ... : 2010-04-01 12:28 ID:yAf7g1y9

Your grandfather is old news. a) Because I appropriated his wealth weeks ago, and b) because I know TWO possible replacements (I get through riches in no time). See the Lobby for more...

48 Name: RayRay : 2010-04-02 15:29 ID:usKP7goN


Tis' just the way...

49 Name: RayRay : 2010-04-02 15:29 ID:usKP7goN

I royally fucked that up...

Of course, I meant "'Tis just the way... "

Oh dear.

50 Name: swiftswallow : 2010-04-23 13:33 ID:pOlq8bLK

Can any of you guys possibly give advice on grammer? It just confuses me what run-on sentences are and how to use semi-colons correctly.

51 Name: Lupa Dracolis : 2010-04-23 15:16 ID:nlswkt6P

Sorry, I don't know any grammer. Grammar I can help you with, however. Semi-colons are used to separate the items in a list, they are NOT to be used as commas.

52 Name: swiftswallow : 2010-04-24 01:10 ID:pOlq8bLK

Thanks, so when is it appropiate to use a comma in a sentence?

53 Name: sharingansupergirl : 2010-04-24 05:44 ID:vFCijQZy

*cringes and waits for it*

@52, I'm presuming you've been taught this, you just need a few tips. When you're talking, you have a flow to your voice and each word is seperated by a space or a breath. You do this instinctively, and I bet you can't talk a lot without the breathing or the pauses. Try and see what happens.
When writing, read the sentence to yourself as though you are speaking it and, where a breath or a pause seems appropriate, insert a comma. That's a basic way to check.

Also, do you know all that jazz about subordinate clauses?
This website has a few examples.

I hope it helps. =S

54 Name: Majin : 2010-04-24 06:57 ID:xNWBTKVc


The general rule of using a comma when you pause [as mentioned by >>53 ] is usually correct and it's good enough for most purposes. I'd advise not worrying about getting it perfect. There are too many rules to remember for commas and I've even seen a class full of English as a foreign language teachers making mistakes with it. There's even some rule about situations when you put the comma before or after 'which'.

55 Name: sharingansupergirl : 2010-04-24 08:52 ID:vFCijQZy

Hey, this is a general help thread, so how do I get those funky blue things? eg. >>52, >>53

Seriously though, how do I do that? =P

56 Name: sharingansupergirl : 2010-04-24 08:53 ID:vFCijQZy

Oh. I just did it. Awesome!!

57 Name: ... : 2010-04-24 10:05 ID:yAf7g1y9

You also use commas to add information into a sentence, like so:

"The young man, while eating a mushroom, turned purple."

If you remove the middle clause, the sentence left over makes sense ("The young man turned purple."). Brackets can sometimes be used for this, but remember that they come with their slightly sarcastic, afterthought-like edge.

Run-on sentences are those in which 'and' or 'but' is used repeatedly. If you get out of breath when trying to read your sentence aloud, it's a run-on...

58 Name: ... : 2010-04-24 10:12 ID:yAf7g1y9

.... For example:

"I went to the shop and bought some bread and some cheese but the cheese was stale so I used it to break a car window and then I drove off in the car."

In other words, too many conjunctions will make your writing look like that of a toddler.

Semicolons ARE used for separating items in a list, but only when said items are at least a few words long. When each item is only a word or two, use commas. Semicolons are generally used in place of 'because' and 'therefore', and are...

59 Name: ... : 2010-04-24 10:24 ID:yAf7g1y9

... interchangeable with dashes.

I am going to be somewhat controversial now, and state that if basic grammar does not come naturally and instinctively, I believe that one will not be able to force it.

60 Name: swiftswallow : 2010-04-25 07:18 ID:SG4w+htV

Thanks everyone for the great advice.I'll try to keep it in mind and I get what your saying ... .Again thanks.

61 Name: Lupa Dracolis : 2010-04-26 10:58 ID:6g4Nn/JU

>>58 I was never actually told what a semicolon was for, I just picked it up from reading so gosh darn much. My current English teacher (please note I am in year 11) isn't sure what they're for.

62 Name: ... : 2010-04-26 15:23 ID:yAf7g1y9

Kill him/her. Now.

63 Name: Lupa Dracolis : 2010-04-26 23:48 ID:6g4Nn/JU

Quite happily, she's awful.

64 Name: RayRay : 2010-05-01 14:12 ID:rfj2KJ5e

I may not be able to explain what a semi-colon is for, but at least I know how to use it.

It was never explained to me that I know of, I just picked up on how to use them from English essays, where my teacher would add them in, and then eventually discovered how to use them correctly a while ago. They're one of those finicky little things, and I can let a misused semi-colon pass by me a little easier than I can with other things, for example full stops (periods for you US people) and commas.

65 Name: Lea : 2010-05-02 11:54 ID:dSXUrokz

I was taught that the semi-colon can be a replacement for "and". In most cases this is true. At other times it simply replaces the common comma, particularly when summing up items which already include a comma. Like: "The big, blue car; the dark, tall figure."
And I've noticed some authors use it to replace the normal colon too... thought I doubt that is correct usually...

66 Name: ... : 2010-05-02 12:59 ID:yAf7g1y9

"In most cases this is true."

No it is not. It is incorrect. Whoever taught you that did not know what they were talking about.

Also, will people please stop calling them 'semi-colons'? They are semicolons.

67 Name: Lea : 2010-05-04 02:25 ID:dSXUrokz

Whoever taught me that was a teacher at school. Though it's a Dutch teacher, so that could be why. I suppose Dutch and English have different styles when it comes to punctuation.
shrugs I've never had anyone go "NO IT IS WRONG AND DISTURBING" when I use them as such though. More so that it's easier on the eye to add them whenever a normal colon or a comma doesn't fit, while the sentence clearly isn't yet completed.

Anyway, the other things I mentioned, do you think they were correct, or did I completely mess up..?

68 Name: ... : 2010-05-04 07:05 ID:yAf7g1y9

You are correct about their use in lists, but they should never be used in place of colons. They are occasionally used as commas, when a sentence would otherwise be long and unwieldy, but it's better to simply split the sentence into smaller sentences.

69 Name: Anne : 2010-05-04 09:13 ID:UdSwgG29

Well, I'm Dutch too, and I do believe using a semicolon as a replacement for 'and' is correct in Dutch. This page on the 'The Oatmeal' blog is really helpful. Even though it's meant to be funny, it's true. Here's the link:

70 Name: ... : 2010-05-04 11:46 ID:yAf7g1y9

Perhaps it is different in the Netherlands. Here, if one uses a semicolon, it has a different... feel, I suppose. So you would not write something like:

"I washed my face; I hummed to myself"

because a semicolon implies that one thing depends on another, or both occur because of the same external circumstance. Whereas:

"I washed my face; it was covered in blood"


"I washed my face; my skin tingled"

or even:

"Bob died. Alice cried; Jack laughed."

would be fine.

71 Name: Wraith Fan : 2010-06-16 11:44 ID:wpU2qbbA

1) How can you describe a place/clothes/a person's emotions without it being too long or too short or just too boring BUT in a way you can give the reader all the information you want to give? Any tips? :-D
2) How long should one chapter be? How many lines?
3) When is it time to start a sequel?/What's the maximum chapters one story can have?
4) How many different point-of-views/places/characters can one story have? When is it too much?
5) How long should one point-of-view/place/situation be? How many lines? I mean, is there a minimum?

Greetz: Wraith Fan -xXx-

72 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-06-16 12:03 ID:6b9i7JQP

>>71 2) It's up to you to decide. Do you want a long chapter, or a short? However, be consequent in one story. Do not post a chapter of twenty lines and then another of three whole pages.

3) Also there is no maximum amount of chapters. I know stories with only three chapters and stories with more than a hundred and htey are all good.
When you want to start a sequel depends entirely on when you decide it's enough.

4) It really doesn't matter. Most writers, if they work with changing POV's, they only use the POV's of the important charachters. (most of the time 4 max, though there can be more).
The amount of charachters doesn't matter, though it is easier if there are only existing charachters used in your story (otherwise it gets too confusing).
The places, again, depend entirely how the plot is made and how you want to write your story.

5) There is NO minimum. But it is better if you're consequent in the length of situations and POV's.

And I saved number 1 for last: It really depends on the author. You want to write a story, then write a story. You don't have to worry about what the readers think. Just write what you want and post it if you like. And some readers might find your story bollocks and others might find it great.
Just do what you like to do most: WRITE and don't worry about the rest.

Last advice: 1. There is no minimum or maximum in length, amount of chapters, POV's etc.

         2. You can write whatever you want, whether it be long or short, (description or otherwise). as long as you feel good about what you have written.
3. ENJOY YOURSELF. The slogan of is after all 'Unleash your imagination.'

73 Name: Marth : 2010-06-16 20:37 ID:MRe1nR8Z


Please note that all "you"s in this post should be considered general. I'm not talking about deficiencies in any specific person's writing. Also, the length advice here should obviously be ignored when writing drabbles, because if your drabble is as long as I'm advising a normal fic to be, you're dooin' it wrong.

1. Breaking up description with action helps a lot with making the description go down easy. If you absolutely can't think of a way to marry description with action, then ask yourself how important that description really is, since it's never being used. As for emotions, I think the best way to describe them is all through action, without ever explicitly stating an emotion. That's not always easy (or possible), but it's a good thing to shoot for.

2. 500 words is a good minimum. Any less than that, and you're either not getting anything substantive going, or you're not being descriptive enough. Or both.

3. You should start a sequel when you've wrapped up a plot. You can break a single story into multiple fics, but since fics can be however long you want, there's no particular reason to serialize them like that. If you do break a single plot into multiple fics, make sure each individual story still has some kind of "ending" rather than just going to a new fic every X chapters.

4. It's too many when they don't all have unique, consistent voices. Some writers, even good writers--Heinlein, for instance--only really have one voice. If you're a monovocal writer (and again, there's nothing really wrong with that), you should only have a single narrator per work, because multiple narrators get confusing if they all sound the same. If you're good at differentiating character voices, then you'll have more luck with multiple narrators.

5. I would say, again, 500 words is about as low as you want to go. Rapid PoV shifts make it harder for the reader to get to know your characters, and if a particular situation requires significantly fewer words than that, again, you either need to be more descriptive or should think about how important a scene really is.

74 Name: Olivia Stabler : 2010-06-29 13:03 ID:sSUPaG8n

I personally feel as if each chapter should tell a story in itself. Like a small part of the greater picture you are trying to show the reader. Also, there are many different ways to finish up a chapter depending on your own personal preference. I have been writing fanfiction and many other stories for years and have just gotten to a point where i can kind of feel when it is time to end a chapter. Sometimes I tell a story within the chapter and then wrap it up, begining a new addition to the original story with the next chapter. Other times (especially if I know it is going to be a long chapter or one with a lot of action) I will build it up to dramatic climax and do a sort of a to be continued thing, then pick it up in the next chapter. This is also a great way to draw and lock readers in and help gaurentee that they will return to read more of the story. I try to write each chapter as at least one full page, because it usually shortens once it posts and makes the chapter read faster. But different writers have different writing styles. My best advice is to try different things until you figure out what is the most comfortable for you. I am a BIG detail person when i write. I kind of see the story like a movie in my head as it plays out and I write it the best I can to try and make my readers see what I am seeing. But I have read works by writers who write many short and straight to the point chapters and they are amazing, also. And if you start to get frustrated or feel like you are having trouble making a chapter come together, save it and take a break. Think about it for a few hours or days and try to see where you are starting out and where you want that chapter to end up. Maybe jot down a few of the main points of the chapter, a beginning, middle and end. Then go in and sort of connect the dots so to speak. I dont know if any of this will help you out, but these are the things that work best for me. Good luck with your writing!

75 Name: Marth : 2010-06-29 15:12 ID:MRe1nR8Z

((As always, please assume that "you"s are universal.))

The problem I have with the "every chapter should tell a story" approach to writing is that it makes stories very episodic. Depending on the story, that can be fine, but it makes it much harder to sustain tension, because instead of a steadily-rising slope, your plot graph will look like a little mountain range. The obvious way to get around that is to not give any slack after an objective has been achieved ("Okay, we've successfully disarmed the bomb... but now the room is filling up with howler monkeys!"), but then every chapter isn't a story in the traditional sense, since stories need denouements.

And now, an unrelated piece of advice: Use fewer adverbs.

76 Name: TheNightShadow4 : 2010-10-13 10:14 ID:FOF5PJeQ

Are song fic really illegal on, because I’ve seen a bunch of them on there? Is it just on of those rules no one enforces?

77 Name: Marth : 2010-10-13 13:58 ID:jKfWUnh0

Yes, they're illegal, and yes, it's one of those rules no one enforces. The TOS lists "Copying from a previously published work (including musical lyrics) not in the public domain" under "Actions not allowed," but, as you said, no one follows that rule.

That's not to say that you shouldn't follow that rule. And songs-in-fics are usually unnecessary, so if you're thinking of writing one, stop and ask yourself if the lyrics (remembering that the people reading the fic may not know the song and therefore don't get any of the impact of the music) really add to the story.

78 Name: TheNightShadow4 : 2010-10-13 17:02 ID:FOF5PJeQ

Ok, thanks! I wasn't thinking of writing one, I was just wondering. You’re right about it not being necessary; out of the ones I’ve read 98% weren’t any good.

79 Name: TheNightShadow4 : 2010-10-22 16:48 ID:FOF5PJeQ

Back again. A few days ago, I posted a 'Fullmetal Alchemist' fic, but it's not showing up in the archives. The link works just fine, but when to try to search for it, nothing comes up. I've never had this happen before, and I swear I uploaded it right, so I'm not sure what's going on.

Some help would be greatly appreciated!

80 Name: tiger002 : 2010-10-25 05:34 ID:AzYZ8L6H

>>79 I just checked the archives adn was able to find it. I sorted under family stories to make it easier to find, so that might have fixed the bug or whatever it was.

81 Name: TheNightShadow4 : 2010-10-25 12:11 ID:FOF5PJeQ

That's funny, cause it's still not showing up for me. Guess, it's a problem on my end.

82 Name: TheNightShadow4 : 2010-10-25 12:13 ID:FOF5PJeQ

Finally, It's working!

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