My fanfiction and other random ramblings

Srebrna, Skald Arkadii (and thoughts on writing)

How to be a nice author

with 7 comments

I’m not going to tell anyone how to be a good author, because I’m not such myself and obviously should not advise anyone else until I am.
However what I am aiming to be for my audience (however limited it is) is being a nice author. Nice author is someone you want to go back to and read more even if they aren’t overwhelmingly inspired, because their texts aren’t painful to read.
Some pointers in this direction:
* Keep your AN, N/A etc. (whatever you put at the start of the story) mercifully short. Nobody wants to read a WHOLE SCREEN of you explaining why and how and the weather and… Just keep it short.
* Make sure your author’s note is in a different font (italic is enough) or in some way separated from the actual text. This will allow people to skip it when they come back for a re-read.
* Do not make “POV” markings. Just… don’t. Try to write your narration in such a way that the reader notices the switch from the text. You don’t see “POV” markings in books (unless it’s GRR Martin and he keeps the POV the same for the whole chapter!)
* Do not put surprise Author Notes inside the text. If you MUST communicate some intricate solution you used, put it at the beginning of the chapter or try to explain it in the text itself. A AN in the middle of actual story is CHEAP.
* Do try to get a Beta. Or at least a spell-checker. Install a dictionary in your browser, it will help you to correct texts inside the blog or other form.
* Do not use a lot of fancy formatting but do, please, include line-breaks.
* Read up on the correct way to mark dialogues in your language. Remember that there are different rules for different languages, so check if you are writing in non-native one if your markings are ok.
* Do not blackmail readers for Reviews with a threat of “no more chapters”. If you write well, they will come. If you don’t, nobody cares about your next chapter anyway.
* If you write a songfic, do not feel the requirement to include the whole song in the text.
* Keep consistent formatting across your whole story (in websites like forums this is sometimes very important).
* Do not ever add space before punctuation marks that should be flush with the letter before. Do not add spaces inside brackets.
* No more than three “?” and “!” combined per expression. More means you’re keyboard crazy.
* Make sure you check your text for words that only sound the same. Someone fainted lying “without conscience” breaks the mood like nothing else.
* Do not change tenses from past simple to present and back. Use correct “one tense back” if needed. Present simple makes text look more dynamic, but if you start it like this, KEEP IT LIKE THIS.

That’s just random set of pointers which I’ve collected during last week of reading FF on several sites. It’s most certainly not exhaustive and will be growing.


Written by Srebrna

2014/04/27 at 23:23

7 Responses

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  1. It all sounds very basic. Seems like many authors don’t get to practice before they start posting on the Web. Maybe teaching the basics of style should become part of school curriculum.

    Jacek Wesolowski

    2014/04/27 at 23:44

    • I’m not sure school has the ability to provide the environment for such practice – who would be the teacher correcting these?
      What I am afraid of is that people do not READ, so they don’t have the required patterns in their brains. They don’t know what the actually well put-together text looks like. It’s not even about the style – everyone has their own – but about making the text readable for the general public. The contents, the style and language everyone has to find for themselves


      2014/04/28 at 00:53

      • Well, even if you do read a lot, this doesn’t mean you’ll write well in technical terms. You might know that you enjoyed reading this book, but it’s not obvious what you should do with your own text to make it easier to read and better.
        The only way, IMHO, is to practice and get the Beta. I’d put it on top of other things. You usually can’t check or judge your own text, as you already know it and won’t find some issues. So write, get your texts read and accept the feedback, is the best way to go.

        And I’ll definitely put this in the curriculum for our homeschooling.


        2014/04/28 at 08:58

      • @kender
        Yep, practice, a Beta and BEING HUMBLE. If someone gives you feedback (especially concrit), take it and don’t waste it – someone gave you advice! For FREE!

        As to checking your own texts, I usually let the text sit there for a few days and re-read it. This way I get rid of repetitions (which are usually the effect of cutting and reorganising during writing) and plot holes (at least the obvious ones). Also, I often write late at night, so the texts require a review during the day. Brain works in different way then.

        I don’t have a beta, so my stories are usually left to stew for some time before I publish them. I can’t get my husband to pre-read *everything* I write.

        Huh, maybe next post will be about reviewing of one’s own texts in case of no beta available :)


        2014/04/28 at 12:11

    • @Jacek In other news, you’ve won the prize for first comment ever on this blog – pick your favourite type of cookies :)


      2014/04/28 at 12:12

      • Judging from prior experience, any cookies by Srebrna are my favourite. :-)
        Back to the point, though, my mother had taught me the basics of style when I was, like, ten years old, and to such extent that all my literature teachers up until the end of highschool kept saying I had talent. My mother didn’t have education in humanities nor any background as a teacher. She would simply read my essays and complain about all the poorly written parts. I think any actual literature teacher would do at least as good a job, although they would probably be unable to put as much time into it, given the teacher to student ratio in schools.

        Jacek Wesolowski

        2014/04/28 at 17:23

      • Good for you :) I don’t think anyone was ever checking my writing, apart from school assignments. I tried to get my parents to read a piece or two, but they were so poorly written at the time that *I* gave up on them.
        Oh, and my literature teacher in secondary school hated my writing style. Hm. I’m not sure what she would have done after reading some of my current stuff ;)


        2014/04/28 at 20:04

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