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Writing

Tenshi Hinanawi edited this page Apr 19, 2012 · 1 revision

Table of Contents

Writing, dissected

Essentially, writing is an extension of the art of storytelling. As all good /b/tards know, writing is also a huge part of *chan culture. Everything from incest to the unbelievably hilarious to copypasta, all of it is a product of the writing process. This process is at times incredibly simple or incredibly daunting. However, this process will vary depending on what you write. In explanation, writing copypasta is very much different than writing a book, and will invariably require a little less thought than a full blown novel.

Grammar

Grammar is a problem for most people. Bad grammar can make you look like an idiot and your story look like something a retarded monkey scrawled on the wall with a turd. You may think that it is not that important, but it is. A simple google on "how to use commas" can help you more than you probably think.(Or Reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which is a book on punctuation in the English Language.) It probably wont help you with everything, but at least you'll SEEM like you have a couple of brain cells rattling around in your empty skull. Buying a copy of The Elements of Style will probably help you more than anything. Just go to the bookstore and ask about it. It's fairly well known. If you're totally ignorant on the subject, you will probably find that it isn't quite as hard as you might think to write a coherent sentence.

What makes a story good

The difference between an excellent story and a horrible story, is the same difference between JB and CP. Just like CP can be JB, an excellent story can be horribly written or a horrible story can be excellently written. One may fall within the category of the other, but in between is a world of difference.

In general, there are very few real rules in writing. The only real thing that can doom a story is blandness. People want to be interested, not read a page of two near identical characters talking. Thinking of polar opposites will help a lot. If a character is meant to be a bitch, make her the bitchiest bitch that the world ever saw. If someone is caring, show it with detail. Love it or hate it, just so long as the reader doesn't feel indifferent to the characters, a story still has a shot.

Details are incredibly important. Remember that when you are writing, you must paint a picture for someone to see just be reading the words. Choose words and write descriptions that evoke emotions, create mental imagery and are interesting. However, don't be overly thorough. Nobody wants to read about how that leaf was brown for half a page, but giving a setting with details or a few extraneous movements that a person makes can be all the difference.

Action and drama is a close second to detail. Things are more interesting when they're moving, whether it is an epic duel, a love scene or a robbery, conveying that action and motion to the reader will keep them interested and on the edge of their seat. This is especially true around the climax, where the action reaches its peak. This will make or break a story, but try not to overdo it.

Symbology increases the depth of your book, leaving little nuggets of information for a closely watching reader to find. Whether it is a blatantly obvious lucky charm breaking as a close friend dies or some light foreshadowing, symbology leaves the intelligent reader making their own predictions. This is good, because it means they will turn the pages and read more excitedly to find out if they are right. Just a sprinkling of this will increase your writings mental worth.

Double Scening works well to keep a reader interested as well. Eventually you will have to face the fact that your reader will get bored. However, if you somehow manage to split the characters apart and have two seperate ongoing stories that are intertwined and will fuse together later on, then by all means do so! This keeps your reader turning those pages to find the next scene and increases suspension and curiosity, something none of us can resist. However, any more than two seperate stories and it becomes more difficult to pull them all together later on. This may also confuse your reader as to what is going on if you do not have their rapt attention. Use this with caution.

Advice on writing

There are a number of ways you can give your story a better chance of being liked. Using proper grammar, for example, will make your story readable. No one will sacrifice their eyes reading 200 pages of leet no matter how much you've pimped it.

Avoid clichés, because reading about the vampire with a soul taking the names of other bloodsuckers at night in a trenchcoat with a goatee is only fun if you've been living in a mayo jar under tweleve feet of dirt of the past thirty years. You can never create original content, because despite what you may think, every idea, every different take of a particular subject, every twist, red herring, plot device and Mcguffin has been done before. You can never create original content, you can only get infinitely closer to it.

Make a skeleton script. Pencil down how you want to begin your story and how you want to end it. It doesn't have to be precise, just in the general direction. Once you have a begining and an end, it's only a matter of laying the tracks between the two. Read over the completed skeleton script and ask yourself "Why?" every time one of your characters does something important to the story. If at some point your characters are sacrificing live chickens to appease the dark lord after making out romantically in a café, your readers are going to go ""WTF, screw this shit" and drop your story cold. Every reaction is the result of a prior action. Make sure your characters always have motive.

Write what you Know

People can believe the most amazing things, if the things are written well; but to be written well the author must be informed on his subject matter. If you don't know what you're talking about, it'll show. You'll sound false, insincere, and that's fatal to any form of writing, fiction or otherwise.

If you like science fiction and don't know shit about how spaceships work, or don't know the names of all their pieces, don't have a fucking heart attack: this information, and pretty much all nonfiction information of every sort, is available online. Use your Google-Fu.

It is also possible that you know only what entertains you--and in some cases, that is enough.

Violence

Rule one about writing violence: Don't go fucking overboard. There is no better way to sound like some snot-nosed middleschooler than by trying to put as much HaRdCoRe gutsplattering violence as possible into your story. This is not to say that violence is bad, or you should shy away from any amount that is necessary. Just don't spend 7 pages describing how Dirk McToughguy kills Generic Soldier Henchman #3235 with his akimbo Mac-10-Ar-15 Assault-machine-shot-rifle laser-model telescoping sight extended-magazine bullshit launcher. For examples which it would pay to emulate, or at least contemplate, see: All Quiet on the Western Front, Dune, Black Hawk Down. To see what NOT to do, peruse some Tom Clancy.

Example of a well written story

Ladies and gentlechans, I give you Damaged Goods. I know that the legitimacy of Damaged Goods is continuously in question, but I will still be so bold as to call Nurse-kun a writer. True or false, the story is gold both because of what's happening in it and because of the way he writes it. It's not Shakespear and I know many Anonymii prefer it that way, but it has charm.

On this note, consider the following. Many would say that you should try to reduce every sentence to the bare essentials to make your passage more efficient. Anonymous digresses, as this cause stories to be distances and unfeeling. In the case of Damaged Goods, Nurse-kun's posts could easily be trimmed of all non-essential information without infringing on the story, but this would undoubtedly make it less interesting. Plot is something we usually don't notice because it's either done well enough to suck us in, or so absent we can't maintain a suspension of disbelief. Details, however, are something we constantly notice, whether the plot is good or bad. Attention to details is always good, just so long as they relate either to the reader or to the story.

Dealing with writers block

Yes, it happens to everyone and it will eventually happen to you. One day, you'll find yourself unwilling or unable to write, either because you lack interest or because you've written yourself into a corner and can't find a way out.

There are a myriad of ways to deal with this, though the best is generally considered to be starting a new story. If all comes to all, you could even tempt the fates and write up a juicy incest story for /b/tards to fap over. Also, seek inspiration by watching a shitton of movies, anime (you fucking weeaboo) or any other form of media that may spark some creativity in your flaccid, desolate mind.

On a slightly more proactive note, ask yourself questions. Good questions lead to answers--but great questions lead to more questions. Ask yourself what your protagonist wants; ask yourself why he wants it, and what gets in his way so that he can't have it; ask yourself "What If" scenarios for new stories; ask yourself all sorts of questions, they'll lead you to unexpected places.

Getting published

Probably won't happen, but it never hurts to try, amirite? Many magazines publish short stories (ones that are under a certain word count) and accept admissions through either Email or snailmail, although snailmail is generally preferred. For the love of god, SPELLCHECK before you submit. Editors can only endure so many typo's before they chuck your shit in the bin and call it a night.

Do not be surprised or discouraged if you are rejected. It happens more often than not even to really great writers, especially if they are previously unpublished. It is very easy to become angry with these publishers, but please DO NOT send back any angry responses. You would be surprised how word can travel about that crazy asshole that went all Columbine over being rejected. If you get a personalized rejection, then be happy: It meant that the editor thought enough of your story to send back something written by he himself. (Editors go through lots of stories in their slushpiles--and they are "slush" piles only because it's indecent to call them "shit" piles.)

Easier still, is submitting online. Look around for writer communities such as Critique Circle. Keep an open mind for critique and don't go apeshit when someone tells you your story sucks. It's gonna happen and you might as well learn from it.

Essential Reading

  • Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury: It has nothing at all to do with Zen, but it's a good, brief read for people who love to write or who would like to learn to. Say what you will about Bradbury, but the man loves his craft. To write well, so must you.
  • The Elements of Style, by EB White & William Strunk: Whereas Bradbury is inspirational, Strunk is purely instructional. He outlines very clearly what to do in almost every situation that can arise in written English. The book is brief, and preaches brevity--essential if you don't want readers to say to themselves, "tl;dr".

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