Author Topic: Writing Tips  (Read 16821 times)

Offline Jimi James

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Writing Tips
« on: September 13, 2006, 11:49:26 AM »
Originally posted by:

Kestra
Writing Tips and Experiences
I'm interested in gathering some resources for fanfic writers. Mostly Trek fanfic writers, but I don't think I need to really worry about being too specific about that now.

Basically I was wondering if any of you have some tips or advice you'd share from your experience to help other writers. I'll take one-liners, but I'm really looking for something a bit more substantial. Perhaps a short paragraph or two on a particular aspect, such as "choosing people to work with" or "developing characters that aren't cookie-cutter" or "the benefits to writing alone". They can be about prose, script, writing in general, the things you have to consider while writing fanfic, publishing on the web, when to ask for advice or criticism, anything.

Those are just a couple random ideas. I know you guys are all busy, but just think of that poor newbie you might save from writing that horrible mistake you once made. I'd give you credit if I used something you wrote, so don't worry about that. Anyway, I'd like to develop this resource but I can't do it on my own. Let me know if you're interested, or just go ahead and post something up. Thanks!

Edited to make this a featured topic.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Bond, James Bond, January 25, 2006 11:30 PM


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January 23, 2006, 12:14 PM
Bond, James Bond
The Big Picture:
When writing a fanfic series, always make sure to plan ahead so that you have a sense of where you're going from episode to episode. You should have a loose guide of where you want to be at the beginning, middle, and end of each season in terms of events and character developement. These guidelines do not have to go into detail and should not prevent you from incorporating stand-alone episodes in between, but merely provide an idea of what you should be building towards.

War! What Is It Good For?:
Conflict is a great plot device, it brings out both the best and worst aspects of humanity and pits both the meek and the mighty against impossible odds. But there is a tendency in fan fiction (and genre TV for that matter) to define themselves by what conflict they are fighting at the moment. This is a developement that more writers need to avoid. Not that you can't have a fantastic series set amidst a massive war, but the simple fact is a lot of writers have that. Set yourself apart from the crowd. Exploration of the unknown and the search for truth, whether it be external or within, can be every bit as fascinating dramatically as warfare can be.

Building Character:
If your main characters are known in fan circles as "the gay guy" or "the badass chick" or "the dude at the helm" then you aren't developing them well enough and are diluting them down to a single characteristic. Characters should be well-defined enough that they are memorable as individuals rather then one-trick ponies who are payed lip service in every story except to perform the one task they are known for. If you find this happening it's either a sign that you should develope this character further or you should cut your losses and get rid of them in favor of someone more interesting.

Apalling Apostrophe's and Catastrophic Consonants:
If we finally do meet an alien species, I hope they picked up transmissions of 'Wheel of Fortune' and bought a vowel. Xdgn-rq is great at establishing that "ooh, that's an alien name," but most readers sort of like to pronounce the names of the characters in their heads as they read along, and it's kind of hard to do that with a name full of only consonants. By the same token, apostrophes do not weird alien names make. Beq'Whud'Hod'Jas is not cool or mysterious, it's an alien kid who got his ass kicked in school for having a weird name. Voskra or Willick or Jyst are perfectly reasonable alien names and don't come out like tongue twisters that distract you from the story.

It Takes a Willage:
Captain Kirk is not the center of the universe. Throw Chekov a bone once and a while and build a story around him. It's great that Starbuck on the new BSG is an expert pilot, sniper, tactician, interrogator, picker, grinner, lover, and sinner, but you could have just as easily had any one of the myriad other characters on the show fill her role in that episode. Spread the wealth, give the secondary characters some special abilities or traumatic events to deal with instead of building everything upon the back of a single character.

I... Am... Spartacus:
Yep, more naming advice. Humans generally aren't named Tiberius or Horatio in this day and age. Give us a Captain Bob or an Officer Walter. Define your character with your words, not by his/her cool sounding name. Harry Callahan didn't become famous by having a cool name, he became famous by constantly blowing away perps in clear violation of SFPD policy and THEN the nickname "Dirty Harry" followed naturally.

The Episode Where An Iso-Magnetic Anomaly Caused The Holodeck To Malfunction And It Created An Evil Duplicate Of The Transporter Which Combined The Android With The Annoying Kid And They Took Over The Ship Without Loss of Life Until The Person Who Normally Would Never Be In Command Saved The Day. You Know The One I Mean:
Why yes, I do, because that's the plot of half the episodes on Star Trek. Do something different. Not everything has to rely on anomalies, transporter and holodeck malfunctions, someone taking over the ship apparently without a fight, the ship's shrink or doctor taking command, or the annoying kid's science experiment almost destroying the universe.
January 23, 2006, 12:45 PM
Chemahkuu
One of the main problems I have with prose is the over repeatitivness of descriptive terms when describing what a character is doing while the line is being spoken.

Having to keep their location and movements in mind and describing facial/body expressions when all the characters are in the same room or situation.

Having to know how to spread out the plot of your episode and series is another thing, knowing when to explore each individual characters past and how that effects or is related to the main theme that runs through each season.

Try to isolate lesser characters so theyre by themselves or talking to one or other of the minor characters so they have some time to grow apart from the lead two or three people.

Rambling, too much information can be hard to write, if broken up still could lead to alot of back and forwards dialouge between the characters, so the method of getting story plots or information to the reader should be broken down and spread out more easily.

Pauses and silences in dialouge are useful for inserting limited description of the surrondings or whats happening around them instead of all in one go or in the dialouge itself.

It may sound odd but if you must use fights or space combat, try and actually think of some interesting new moves, think out the fight between people or ships in your head as if it was you or your ship there and it makes the whole thing easier to write about when you take into account all the movements.

That should do for a startSmile


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January 23, 2006, 03:50 PM
Kestra
Thanks guys. I've also got a thread going on at Nov-Net that has gotten a couple of good replies as well if you're interested in looking. I'm waiting to see if anyone at VST has anything, and I might try over at TrekBBS.

This was one of those random 3AM thoughts, so I haven't really decided what to do with it. I've been toying around with the idea of putting together a simple site that houses some resources, but I want it to be accessible and not something that will scare away writers instead of encouraging them. Anyway, if you come up with any ideas or any more tips please let me know. And thanks again! Smile


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Star Trek: Knight's Haven

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January 23, 2006, 04:39 PM
White Wolf
Also check here.

Kestra. Smile It's great place to get semi professional critques and advice on honing your writing skills.


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January 23, 2006, 04:42 PM
Drake Zure
get a thesaurus.
it helps to say "frigid" instead of "cold"

throw the thesaurus away.
once in a while, it helps to say "cold" instead of "frigid". throw in the big words with the little ones. variety, being the spice of life and all, is a valuable asset.

have a conversation with your characters.
ask them what's up. if you know how they would respond, you're doing well.


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January 23, 2006, 11:43 PM
Ghiaman74
Where to begin? Well, at the end of course. Great stories will take the reader on a journey with lots of twists and turns so they can’t see the ending until it is upon them. The story should not be written in the same way. The writer should have a clear vision of how the story ends in the early stages of writing. This gives the writer something to write towards and will make the entire piece a lot more cohesive. It will also avoid the fanfics that are posted as works in progress with grand promises of adventure that never get past the thirds post because the writer has no idea where it is going.

Ok, you’ve ended the story, but how do you start it? Characters. Your characters are your story. If they are boring, unoriginal, or just plain suck, your story will be boring, unoriginal, and just plain suck. But this can be avoided. Look at your ending, ask yourself, “Self, what kind of person would be most unlikely to achieve this great ending I’ve come up with?” Try to come up with a character that has some sort of emotional baggage or personality conflict that will make his or her achieving your ending a task in getting over internal demons. Now you have your beginning, a character or characters that are not yet up to the task that will be the ending of the story.

One last, small part to take care of, the space between your first sentence and your last sentence. In between these sentences you can do pretty much anything with your characters as long as they are working their way towards the ending. One bit of advice during this part, hurt your characters as much as you can along the way. Kick them in the balls and push their face in the dirt. Hurt their feelings and make them unsure of themselves. Let them fail at times. All these little pains will strengthen them until they grow into the person that will achieve your ending.

So that sounds pretty simple, come up with and ending, then a character, and kick the character’s ass all the way to the ending. We all know it’s a lot easier said than done, and that one person’s writing style may not work for another person. So take my advice if it helps, leave it if it doesn’t. In the end readers are pretty forgiving as long as they care about the main character and want to see him/her succeed.

Also, in response to Kestra’s question about choosing who to write with. Personally, I refuse to write with anyone that is not “sans pants” as I myself am. As a result I have always written alone in all my half naked glory Wink


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January 26, 2006, 06:32 AM
Bond, James Bond
I'm going to go ahead and make this a featured topic, since it seems like a good idea to keep this up for future fanfic writers on the board anyway.


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--- Bartender: "Would you like your vodka martini shaken or stirred sir?"
--- Bond: "Do I look like I care?"
------ Casino Royale
January 30, 2006, 07:50 AM
Bond, James Bond
Are there any other suggestions? I hope I didn't kill the topic when I pinned it up top here. I thought that would actually help by keeping it from getting bumped down.

I'll remove it from being pinned if that would make it more noticeable.


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--- Bartender: "Would you like your vodka martini shaken or stirred sir?"
--- Bond: "Do I look like I care?"
------ Casino Royale
January 30, 2006, 07:58 AM
Drake Zure
no this helps. i like it up here. remove it not.

as far as other tips go:

ask yourself the all important question once in a while: "have I painted this poor guy into a corner yet?" if there are more than two obvious solutions to your main character's predicament which do not involve unexpected help, sudden acquisition of superpowers, or divine intervention, keep working on it.


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"Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"I think so, Brain, but how do we set up an inverse subquantum oscillation without destabilizing the local spacetime superstructure?"
January 30, 2006, 08:06 AM
Kestra
Nah, you didn't kill it, Bond. Even if people don't have anything to contribute right away this might help new writers coming in and give them a place to ask certain questions.

I'm still working out the CSS for the site that has a larger collection of tips. I've got a temp site but I wanted to wait to post a more permanent link. Hopefully I'll have it set up this week and I can post that up here as well.



Some advice:

Don't be in a rush to write something. Wait until you have a good story and the time to tell it. If you're new to fanfic, think about looking around before you jump into your own story. Establishing a relationship with other authors or simply other forum posters first always helps. This way you'll be more likely to garner comments and criticism once you do post your work.


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Star Trek: Knight's Haven

now playing: Beyond Knight's Haven - Power Play
January 30, 2006, 09:39 AM
Bond, James Bond
Okay, cool. I'll keep it here then. I just got worried that there might have been a correlation when the moment I stickied it up here people stopped replying.


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--- Bartender: "Would you like your vodka martini shaken or stirred sir?"
--- Bond: "Do I look like I care?"
------ Casino Royale
June 01, 2006, 01:25 PM
CDL1963
G'day Kestra.

Re: Cookie cutter characters.

In a TV episode, the writer has the joy of an acter who can emote and bring the story along to compliment the dialogue. When writing, we have no such luxury, we have to create the environment and the personalities through their dialogue and their description.

I have read a few stories that involve very plastic characters because the writer has pictured someone on TV making a regular move (Riker leaning into a smile, Worf sneering, Troi gasping in horror, etc) and then assuming that the reader will know that this action is automatically taking place with the words written.

Advice.
If you want to create real characters that can be built up within a writen story (not filmed), then look at the person next to you on the bus or train. How is he doing what ever he is doing?

I saw a guy on a mobile smiling as he talks. His eyes are moving all around the cabin but never actually seeing the people standing there. His world seemed to spin within the confines of his own mind. He smiled again, only this time, he blushed as his eyes focussed on the floor, almost for first time. He is still smiling.

From this short view of a guy on the train, I have been able to come up with a dozzen possibilities for what was being discussed on the phone and with whom.

Take this guy and put him in another situation such as in the 10-forward and his girlfriend in the engineering station letting him know that she is finishing her shift soon.

Now post him on and away mission.

You can see that by just adding a few seconds of personal actions and habits, a complete character can be formed. Now, look at another person and find a distinctive action. Either create a new character or give this new characteristic to the first guy.

One of the most human things about us are our habits and our personalities. Statements such as "he follows her around like a lost puppy" can add huge dimension to a character. I am sure that your friends will appreciate it when you point out that some of the nicer personality traits came from them while the nasty ones were completely made up.

Advice.
I can't remember who, but one of the more prolific SciFi writers has been quoted as saying "the first part of writing a book is writing. The second part is writing and the third part is writing." The context of the quote is that a book doesn't get written unless the writer sits down and makes a start. Thinking about it wont get the job done.

Good luck to all writers out there.

Col...
August 04, 2006, 09:09 PM
GStone
You want a tip? Don't write for other people. They shouldn't be your main audience becuase, if you can't stand your own work and aren't drawn into it, how can you expect others to? You want something that'll at least capture your own attention, pay attention to the randomness of the spit balling thoughts that spew out of the wheels in your head, as you write. Want deux ex machina? Fine, just continue the story afterwards that explains it away and changes it from deux ex machina to something that makes sense and continues the story. And I don't mean a machina that seems like a twist and turn again and again, as was suggested above, but I mean real machina. How successful you are at transforming it depends on your creativity. This is not something that should be done by a beginner. When you're more comfortable with writing and creating, then bring the machina in for richer stories.

You should at least have 3 groups of audiences that you're writing for. Yourself is one, a small number of certain people is the secondary one and everyone else is the third. Divide it however many times you like, but 3 is a good minimum. Group 1 (you) is what it must be for. Accept ideas from group 2 to give them something they want and need, but still true to your primary audience, you. Group 3+ are those that you should worry little about. These are the people that will come and go, that remain mostly quiet with praise or disapproval. A few of 3 will occassionally speak up0 about something, but ti won't hapen that often, as it might with 2 and definately not as much, as group 1.

No one ever had a good vision that was everything to everyone.
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Offline Kevin

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2006, 06:00:57 PM »
Methinks a cleanup is in order.

However, good job porting the topic. Excellent idea.

Offline ghiaman74

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2006, 07:44:14 PM »
I was recently reading a fanfic which reminded me of one of my greatest pet peeves about original crew series.  I freakin hate maiden voyage stories.  They spend helf the time reading like an A&E Biography special as the Captain meets each member of the crew and the author goes into a long personal history of each member of the command crew.  The histories are usually boring and add nothing to the short crisis the crew will meet after the exsessive introductions are done.

Now I have been guilty of opening a story/series like this as well.  But I have found some ways to aviod it.  First, the story does not need to start with the ship leaving space dock.  If you start it while its already underway you can show your characters doing their job, and display their personalities through their interaction with the other characters.  Also, there is no need to forcefeed readers each characters personal history.  If the background information is vital to the plot, by all means put it in the story.  But reveal it in an interesting way, like through a conversation with other characters.  Doing these things will allow you to get along with the actual story, and hook readers from the beginning.

fowlerbryan

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2006, 12:47:19 PM »
While this is a good topic for a thread, I concur with Kevin that this should be cleaned up...

Offline Tyburn

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2006, 06:14:23 PM »
I don't know if this is helpful, but I can't seem to write unless I know where it's going - I have to plan the story out before I get down to the writing. It helps if you know what's going to happen, as if you just write there's no telling where it's going to go, and the chances of getting sidetracked are exponentially increased.

But then, that might just be my nature, I can't stand not knowing what's going to happen.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2006, 06:11:24 AM by Tyburn »
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PG15

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2006, 01:50:26 PM »
^I'm the same way. You want your story to be consistant and have a direction, which is best done if you have a plan IMHO.

Having a plan also means dropping hints along the way, which is always fun.

Offline Rusty

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2006, 10:37:56 PM »
Whenever I hit a roadblock, whether the story is planned or not planned out, I stop what I am doing and try interviewing a character at random, or make a take on the last sequence of events from the perspective of someone completely different. This usually gets the creative juices going again.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2006, 10:40:48 PM by Rusty »
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Colin

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2006, 10:04:58 PM »
I was recently reading a fanfic which reminded me of one of my greatest pet peeves about original crew series.  I freakin hate maiden voyage stories.  They spend helf the time reading like an A&E Biography special as the Captain meets each member of the crew and the author goes into a long personal history of each member of the command crew.  The histories are usually boring and add nothing to the short crisis the crew will meet after the exsessive introductions are done.


I agree.  However, with one stipulation.  When you develop a character in your head, develop their background.  I find it helps me to write a short bio of the character in a 'character book' that I have.  This gives me all the persons history, likes, dislikes, habits (good and bad), lifestyle, sports, etc.  I then use this as a reference throughout my stories.  By having this history, I can create richer, deeper characters as I go.

If you do need to give a characters history, dont make it sound like a biography.  Use it in general conversations.  "Are you going to Sydney for Christmas again this year?"  This makes the history more readable and less intrusive.

I like what CDL1963 wrote about using people you see around you and picking out there actions, movements, etc.  I would also add that you have a wealth of knowledge in the form of all of your old class mates, work mates, drinking buddies, etc, as well as yourself.  Use these.

This also works for names.  Over the years, I have moved around quite a bit and at one point, I spend about 8 years living in a small town.  One of my stories is almost a who's who of my school friends.  Swap names and personalities around and I had a ready made bunch of characters for my book.

Gool luck with the writing.

Offline MageGrayWolf

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007, 03:01:33 AM »
I was looking around for some inspiration and I found this site set up to give writing tips.

http://www.pgtc.com/~slmiller/index.htm

j.grey

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2007, 10:20:44 AM »
Writing is almost totally subjective. While it's a good idea to take onboard constructive criticism nobody can tell you you're wrong. As a writer you can expect very little praise so take what you can get and make sure you're writing for yourself. What you write has to be close to your heart and important to you or else it won't hold your own interest. Your characters are best based on something you know to be true. Base them on yourself, your friends or something else but make them real to you and then you only have to describe them instead of creating them every time you write them. That will help them to remain consistant in exactly the way that Voyager didn't.
Have an idea where you're going and keep that in mind but let the present create itself in your imagination. Don't reject any idea, let it flow and the story will lead you to where it's going.
I've written whole chapters (and novels even) around the simplest and crudest ideas and the stories have spun around them. Let the cool ideas take root and build from there.
Be original always but remember htings are repeated because they work. Things that don't work are unlikely to work for you so know what you can and can't do before you waste a lot of your own time and demoralise yourself. Look to other ideas that are untried or don't fit. Don't be afraid to push the envelope, this is the internet, the last dwindling platform of free speech. Trek was founded on illustrating current political thinking with a sci-fi setting.
Make your stuff different somehow and use all the talents you have. I illustrate mine but write yours in rhyme or spin some other new idea to make it fresh and original.
Above all... have fun with it!

Sakatsu-Hanei

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2007, 09:09:38 AM »
I'm actually doing more of a fan RPG than a fanfic.  But a few things I've learned from that:

1.)  Get a list of genre cliches.  put it right next to your computer.  When you're tossing around ideas, check to see that the idea isn't an overused cliche. 

From the RPG world, one of the most common starting points is a character with amnesia.  It kinda takes me out of the story when I can find the characters, plot and ending on the "Grand List of [genre] cliches" 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tropes is probably the best source of cliches available.

2.)  Don't start at the beginning.  Not in the sense of starting toward the end of your story, but in the sense of having the crew already meet, already on some sort of mission, and having already done something together. 

3.)  Try to give everybody a motive.  Don't have Ensign Ricky sign on to an away team 'cause you want to kill him.  Have him sign on for hazard pay, or to get a promotion, or something like that. 

4.)  Be true to the characters.  If you have a Vulcan, he shouldn't fall in love or laugh at fart jokes without a good reason.  And the reason shouldn't be plot based.

5.)  With technobabble, less is more.  Think of it as padding.  If you've spent 15 minutes on explaining the new technology, that's 15 minutes of wasted space.  Some is necessary, obviouly, if it's a trek story, it's from the future, and you need to explain what the new shiny thing is.  But it shouldn't sound like for some reason people who have been around similar devices all their lives suddenly have to read the manual out loud.  Computers are normal to you, and you don't usually spend all your time explaining how exactly your new printer works.

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stormturmoil

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2007, 01:26:02 PM »


If you feel like you want to explore a character or archetype, but are sure it won't fit into the setting, do it anyway! If you had an idea for an improbable situation that couldn't possibly occur and you're afraid it'll be laughed at, write it anyway!

So, you're afraid that your major viewpoint character's possession of cybernetic implants that just happen to have triggered psychic powers is overpowered and upsets the balance of the setting?

Write it anyway!

in other words, get it out of your system!

Once it's written, it's done. It's out of your system. It's that much less likely to creep into or contaminate anything else you do, and you'll probably feel better for it too.

Writing Haxx Characters once in a while is great for stress relief. Writing improbable situations or things that wouldn't normally be considered is a great release (I imagine Benjamin Sisko Slugging Q as an example of this that actually got filmed)

After all, you don't have to show it to anybody. If you do and they laugh, or ridicule it, well, at least it got written, and it's been explored, allowing you to move on.

And of course, there's always the possibility that something you thought wouldn't fit in or work well, may just come together beyond your expectations into something That does work, but that might never have been explored otherwise.

Try it. Whats the worst that could happen?

Offline Tyr

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2008, 03:43:00 PM »
While writing is an art that takes a lot of practice, with tons of advice out there, some things are specific to Trek writing. 

One of the most important things is plot.  But many writes get stuck in Trek and scifi plots.  But the Star Trek universe is big.  Any sort of story that one could place in the real world can be placed in the Trek one without difficulty.  Look at other genres for inspiration.  There is nothing worse than getting restricted by a genre.

Offline Jimi James

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2008, 04:13:17 PM »
That's a good one, and one of the things that bothers me about where the DS9 relaunch novels are at right now.  There's a MU storyline that they've introduced almost out of no where and it's taking over the entire run of the series, getting away from the excellent exploration stories they were doing in the Gamma Quadrant and some of the other things that they were building towards.  I realize that they'll get back to the new bigger plot sooner or later, but I wish they would do it without sticking in such an obvious Trek story like the MU.  I wish they would just keep doing what they were doing and building upon what they have already set up and stick with some more 'real' stories set on the station or on Bajor.  With everything they've introduced with the new characters interacting with the old, there are some great possibilities there, but they're being wasted or ignored so they can detour off into the stupid MU plot.

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Offline Ens. Tarragon

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2008, 04:57:38 PM »
Pardon my ignorance and naivete, but, what does MU stand for?
I heard Mister Worf is trying those famous Klingon aphrodisiacs. Between that and the prune juice, he doesn't know if he's coming or going!

Offline TNC

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2008, 05:39:37 PM »
MU = Mirror Universe.  Featured in "Mirror, Mirror", etc., etc., etc.....
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Offline Ens. Tarragon

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2008, 10:19:50 AM »
Ah. Mirror Universe. In retrospect, that seems obvious. Now I feel slow and dull witted, rather than ignorant and naive. Duh.  ;D

Thanks.

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Offline Friedebarth

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2008, 12:51:48 AM »
And, some generally good creative writing practises:

- Write a closed text in 30 words (it's actually quite tough)
- Invent a couple of names and write your associations with them. Kartokh, son of TaQukh, sounds different than Klaang, son of Leymon. Also human names have an even broader variety: Gabriella van der Slaag is a completely different person to Hanno Buddenbrook (okay, that's copied :D) or Geoffrey Lancaster, or Anne Smith.
- Write in first person (that's me, I, my, mine, myself etc.) about a dead object (eg. permanent marker), as though you were this object.
- Write the exposition of a novel or short story (first sentence/first paragraph/first page/first chapter or scene)
- Write a short story in a "Sherlock Holmes" perspective. This means that you (or the narrator) is somebody who knows the story of your characters very well for some reason, and writes them down.
- Write a short paragraph about a landscape, a meeting or similar. Use different styles, perspectives, narrative differences, and try to vary the kind of literature: How would it look in a poem? A short story? A novel? A series of novels? And how can the importance of the event vary the length of its description? Is it the main plot? Or the introduction, or a cliffhanger, or the end, or the highest point of excitement?

This is all I can think of at the moment...

Greetings,

FB

Offline IO

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2009, 12:25:53 AM »
these sites help me in my own, non Trek writing endeavours

Robert J Sawyer's Sci-Fi advice
American Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

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Offline DukeOfChaos

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2009, 08:31:24 AM »
Well now we have our character development. We have our plot line, and we’ve started writing. But the problem is that our story just isn’t interesting. There’s something about it we don’t like. What could it be? Sentences! Seriously, watch out for short sentences. Never write a story like I’m writing this post. It will drive your readers nuts. On top of that it’s dull. Without proper sentence structure, your audience will lose interest. If your audience loses interest, they will leave. Without an audience the story is worthless. Use that thesaurus, remember English class and put a few semi colons in there! Use exclamation marks! Don’t lose your audience, make the story interesting by use of complex sentences; after all, who would believe a smart-ass scientist if they kept pausing mid techno-babble?

Offline The_Captain

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2009, 02:39:58 PM »
Don't lose your audience, make the story interesting by use of complex sentences; after all, who would believe a smart-ass scientist if they kept pausing mid techno-babble?
Yeah don't be like my friend, his first book was a giant technical manual impersonating as a novel. 300 pages of nothing, I was about ready to kill myself  :P

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Offline Jimi James

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2009, 08:54:03 PM »
If your story and characters are interesting, then a lack of complex sentences littered with semi colons and written as though every word was chosen with a thesaurus usually won't matter.  Doing that will just as likely turn people off as make them more interested in your work, because if people are stopping in the middle of the story to think, "man that's a great sentence," then your writing isn't doing it's job. 

Ideally, you're sentence structure should be oblivious to the reader, constructed in such a way that a person perfectly gets what you're trying to convey, but at the same time isn't aware of what you're doing.

You also run the risk of making your writing seem unnatural, as though it was crafted to be something other then what the story actually calls for.  Whatever you write should be in your own voice, particularly your characters as you develop their individual voice.  So it may be that a character speaks in short sentences, or pauses in the middle of some technobable rant.  Staying true to the characters voice is far more important then worrying about complex sentence structure and picking words out of a thesaurus.

And sometimes, you just have to say things plainly.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2009, 09:02:09 PM by Jimi James »
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Offline DukeOfChaos

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2009, 10:27:23 PM »
I don’t mean to say that your book/fan-fic needs to be littered with complexity, but you WILL lose an audience if your whole book is written in simplicity. What I mean to say is this, don’t make every sentence in your book a basic sentence, with nothing but what is required to make it a sentence, but also don’t make every sentence 5 lines long, with 6 commas and a semi-colon. You need an even spattering of the both to hold an audience captive. And yes, I agree that a character should influence the way the story is written, especially when the story is written in the main characters perspective.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2009, 09:06:09 PM »
Hi everybody. I'm new here.

As far as writng goes I think you need to have an outline of major plot points. It helps get the story going and you can refer to it as you write the main story. An outline can be 1-2 pages or longer if you want. But I find if I can break the story down to its basic elements it helps.


Offline The Storyteller

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2009, 12:04:04 PM »
^ Welcome to the boards.

I think most people here have made all the important points, but I have been writing down my own 'rules of writing' over time. It's still an ongoing process, but, as of the 28th of September 2009, my Rules of Writing look like this...

--

- The story never ends – life goes on. Always leave something unresolved, no matter how minor. This leaves the impression that the universe continues onward even after the main story has ended, and is particularly useful if you’re doing a sequel or think you may want to do one at a later date.

- If you’re writing in someone else’s fictional universe, you write within that universe. Don’t ignore or contradict established continuity – know about it and use it to your advantage.

- Plan your story. Don’t make it up as you go along, otherwise you’ll get to a point where you suddenly stop and wonder “now what?”

- Characters must be fully developed. A name and a basic description is no good for a main or major character – your character should have a full backstory, as well as a number of relatively minor points of information such as blood type, favourite colour, bust measurement (for female characters) etc, just in case these things ever come up in the story.

- An entire cast of characters who will never die and will never be beaten is both boring and unrealistic. Don’t be afraid to kill off the occasional main character or even create one knowing that he/she will die later on.

- Give you characters flaws and weaknesses. Never make them perfect in every single way. Don’t make your hero handsome and overly confident – give him fairly good, if not average looks, and make him shy, modest, cynical or low on self-esteem. In other words…

- Avoid clichés.

- Take advantage of the various clichés by occasionally using them in new ways, using variations of them, or making fun of them.

- When creating alien creatures, remember that they are alien. Be creative with their appearance/species, language, culture and thought processes, rather than making them bumpy-headed humanoids who speak perfect English. If you do have aliens speaking English (or a reasonable facsimile of), make sure there is a reason for them doing so.

- Do proper research.
For example, if you’re writing a story set in 1983 and involves a Russian Special Forces Team at some point, look up things like Russian ranks, military organisations and especially weapons. Don’t just go “oh, Russian soldiers – I’ll just give ‘em AK-47s”, because that would be A) Lazy, and B) incorrect (in 1983, the standard service rifle of the Russian military would be the AK-74, so members a spetsnaz under the authority of GRU (or ГРУ, to give its Russian initials) in 1983 would likely be armed with an AKS-74 or an AKS-74U as their main weapon). However, if the story is set in 1978, you can’t give them the 74U as it wasn’t designed/adopted until 1979.
You see? Knowing little things like that can not only add a little depth to your story, but it’ll also give a good impression to your target audience (“Hey, this guy’s good – he actually knows what he’s talking about” etc).

- Also, with firearms, add some variety – don’t just give your secret agent or whatever a Glock 17 or a Beretta M9. Give them a Heckler & Koch P2000 or a Beretta 8000 Cougar. Also, be a bit intelligent with what weapons you give to certain characters – for example, a secret agent type character is more likely to be issued with, say, a SIG P239 (which carries 8 rounds in 9mm) than a .50 calibre Desert Eagle or a seventeen-round Glock.

--

(edit) Another one, concerning character names, partly in response to one in an above post.


- When it comes to the character’s name, you need to be wary of two extremes.
The first is giving your character an unrealistically unusual name – names like Algernon Claudius Johnson or Josephine Arabella Nixon.
On the other hand, try to avoid giving your characters boringly redundant names – ‘John’ is a particularly common example. Yes, it is a common name, but it seems that every second or third protagonist in practically every fictional genre is called ‘John something’, which goes get boring after a while.
Ideally, you should be aiming for a name that stands out to some extent, but is also one you could realistically encounter when you’re out and about.


« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 01:56:10 PM by The Storyteller »
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