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Some basic rules of writing (this applies to fanfic, too!)


Ethro Brealis
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Now, before you start laughing at ME, of all people, giving WRITING TIPS, this is purely mechanical issues that really bug me and I have seen quite a few of lately.

 

There, their, and they're.

 

There. This is a very common mistake. There refers to a specific location. Anakin went there on his mission. The battle droids were there to fight him.

 

Their. This is one of the three most common mistakes. Their is referring to ownership. Luke cut off their arms. When the Trade Federation control ship was destroyed, all of their droids were disabled.

 

They're. This is the third of the three most common problems. They're is a contraction of they are. They're not strong enough. I hope they're prepared.

 

To, too, and two.

 

To shows motion. It shows the direct object relating to the indirect object. "Obi-Wan threw his lightsaber to Anakin." or "They ran to their waiting ship."

 

Too is a substitute for also, or as well. "R2-D2 came along, too." or "Vader choked Ozzel, and Needa, too." Notice that too in this form is always preceded by a comma. Too also can be used to strengthen a phrase. "Master Anakin! There are too many!" or "That Rhodian had too much to drink."

 

Two is a number ONLY. "Two Jedi starfighters snuck in." or "Two of them were droidekas."

 

Commas

 

Commas show a pause. "When Dooku was about to finish off Obi-Wan, Anakin leaped in and saved him." When there is a pause in the middle of a sentence, there should almost always be a comma, unless you are joining two sentances, in which case it should be a semicolon.

 

Also, commas are used when a character calls to someone by name. "Get over here, Anakin!" or "Anakin, get over here!" Note that they are not used when referring to someone in the third person. "Obi-Wan told me to come here." or "I was told to come here by Obi-Wan."

 

When you mention more than two nouns in a series, commas are used. "They attacked with axes, blades, and slugthrowers." or "Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine raced down the elevater." The comma placed before and is optional. It is called an Oxford Comma. Typically, however, it provides for a better flow when used.

 

Apostrophes

 

This is a little confusing. Apostrophes are used in ALL contractions. It's (it is), they're (they are) shouldn't (should not), etc., will always have an apostrophe WHERE THE MISSING LETTERS GO. You don't say "would'nt" or "do'nt".

 

Apostrophes can also be used to show possession. "Anakin's lightsaber." or "Obi-Wan's starfighter." They are never used to show a plural. "Look at all the droids!" No apostrophe there. If you are using a plural possessive, the apostrophe comes at the very end of the word. "All the droids' guns." or "All the Gungans' cities."

 

Also, you wouldn't say, "The Bantha lost it's horn." It's ONLY has an apostrophe when it is in the form of the contraction it is. This is an incredibly common mistake.

 

If you see any errors in this, please tell me so I don't look TOO foolish.

Edited by Guest

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"According to this website, you should never trust the source of an online quote." --Abraham Lincoln

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Was this really necessary? Don't get me wrong, your list was very informative...but is it really necessary?

 

Yes, it is necessary. These things can take an okay storyline and make it torturous to read. I have seen several stories here that would be decent if they were intelligable.

 

Besides, they REALLY ANNOY ME and are easy to fix.

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"According to this website, you should never trust the source of an online quote." --Abraham Lincoln

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(clasps hands) There's nothing wrong with this, even if Quon's grammar isn't the strongest (I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you on your story lately. I've been run dry on critiquing by an awful load I had cast upon me, not to mention five signature requests and RPGs... so it might take a bit so far... if you want to just give a shot at rewriting on your own and I'll go through that instead...?)

 

Anyway.

 

Concerning Dialogue Useage in Fiction

 

(yes, I'm doing this... it's MY pet peeve)

 

In writing dialogue, there are a few basic aspects to consider.

 

A) The most important- what it is that's being said.

B) Whether it's being thought or said aloud, and the tone of the voice.

C) And punctuation.

 

Shall we take one commonly spoken phrase””I have a bad feeling about this””and target it. This is what's being said.

 

Now. Let us establish a tone. Perhaps nervousness will cover this perfectly well.

 

And punctuation... leaving the sentence structure behind, we now turn to the grammar.

 

I have a bad feeling about this. We're going to attribute it to a character, and to do this, we're going to put it into quote marks. "I have a bad feeling about this"

 

But, lo and behold, it abandons grammar here! The sentence is unended, and the speaker has not yet been established. Therefore "I have a bad feeling about this," said Han. Though "I have a bad feeling about this." is a simple sentence, adding on the "said Han" creates a complex sentence, said being the verb and Han being the subject. To add on another word, such as that, could make Han said that a sentence, but used against a dialogue, you want to seperate it off.

 

We could invert it. Han looked nervous. ((a full sentence)) "I have a bad feeling about this."

 

I am aware of the out of character ideals here. Give me a break.

 

Thereby we establish mood and seperate the dialogue from the narrative.

 

But thoughts are dialogue too. They don't go in quotes. But you can't simply go I have a bad feeling about this, she thought. You want to seperate the dialogue from the remainder of the narrative. Therefore you go into formatting... italics. In txt any italics will be placed by putting them beside underscores. I have a bad feeling about this, she thought.

 

This seperates it from the remainder of the narrative. To achive a tone, you can go "I have a bad feeling about this," Han said nervously. Or Han yelled. Or a various other load of verbs.

 

To sum it up, always make certain that you seperate dialogue, even thoughts, by either italics or quote marks, and make sure you use the same punctuation that a compound sentence would require.

 

...wow, that was deep.

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Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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  • 1 month later...

I'm really far too good at upstaging people... heh heh. I like grammar, that's all, and people's use of quote marks DOES bug me.

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Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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Another thing to keep in mind is capitalisation and useage of punctuation.

 

the Force always needs to be capitalised, as does any reference to the Masters/Padawans/Sith/Jedi etc.

 

Also, punctuation. Within you have characters speaking, punctuation needs to go inside the quotation marks. this includes full stops, commas and question marks.

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  • 10 months later...

Coming from a big-time grammar Nazi...

 

...thanks, guys.

 

One thing I wanted to add to this already informative list is the usage of point of view and active tenses in a story, which is a not-as-common problem but still found every now and then.

 

Point of View

The active voice of a story is that with which the character is speaking. Most are written with the voice in third person, or a sort of out-of-body narrative.

 

"Anakin reached out towards Padmé, his fist constricting as if he held her throat in his hand."

 

But for a more personal, introspective voice, the first person is commonly used. For instance, if written from Padme's perspective that sentence would end up being:

 

"Anakin reached his hand towards me as if to take my hand, my throat instantly tightening."

 

Second person is used very sparsely, usually in things like letter-writing. I have used it once in one of my own fics, but it's tricky to use and only beneficial if you've mastered the use of perspective. If Padmé were to be writing to Anakin about the event after it took place, it would look something like this:

 

"You reached toward me with your hand outstretched, smoldering malice in your eyes."

 

My point in all of this is keep it constant. A lot of times the first and third persons are mixed, such as in Matthew Stover's Shatterpoint, where the story is written in the third person narrative but Mace Windu's private journals are recorded in first person. The switching, however, can be difficult to adjust to.

 

Verb Tenses

 

The preferred tense in story writing is the past (or if you're studying foreign language, often referred to as preterite) tense, "Anakin reached toward her" instead of "Anakin reaches toward her", which would be the present tense. By tradition, storytelling is the relating of events that have already transpired.

 

"Obi-Wan drew his lightsaber and walks towards Anakin menacingly."

 

Drew is in the past tense, walks is not. It makes it more difficult to read and is not consistent or continuous in the story.

-------

 

Now that I'm done being long-winded, if anybody has any questions about this or if I made any mistakes, let me know.

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...why are the pretty ones always the most hazardous to your health?

May the Forth therve you well...

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Ah, yes, and the rant right back... since I love ranting about tenses. Since I'm one of the very small group of people who will 1) write in odd POVs and 2) write in odd tenses and 3) can keep them constant through the story, enough to make some sense to the poor readers...

 

Grammar nazi. <3

 

Anyways! The rant carrying on from JJS's rant.

 

POV

 

Ah, yes, the second person perspective. This could be commonly referred to as Choose Your Own Adventure perspective. Remember those books? They told the story to "you". You do this, you do that. They are very annoying. Usually they're in present tense. It's also a bit like one of those text based video games. "You walk over to the door and open it. But Mr. Smith is hiding behind it! @#$%% Better luck next time!"

 

Second person is not actually difficult to write in, however, it can get very annoying to a reader if done wrong. Every sentence should not begin with "you". If you intend on delving into this style, start by writing some letters to get the feel of it. I have successfully used it in a few fics, I think one of which may be on Jedi.net, but it's not something commonly used.

 

I'll leave it to what Jaina said on first and third persons, leaving only one note on first person.

 

When writing in first person, you ARE that person. Don't simply tell the narrative as you might in third person. If you're going to take the time to write first, take the time to know that character well enough to make the story feel as if that character is the narrator.

 

And remember you can't kill your narrator or the story ends right there.

 

POV, part two

 

Third person omnipotent, third person limited and third person fly-on-the-wall. I don't know the term for the last one, but that describes it best. This is become one of my most recent pet peeves, not more than being inconsistant, but still a peeve. (Of course, the fact that the Jedi.net fanfic rules say not to use any POV BUT third person irritates me most, giving me prime reason to use the other ones...)

 

So, let us start at the top.

 

Third person omnipotent involves the narrator knowing everything. This is not an abnormal thing. It means that you do not take a character's perspective, and everyone's thoughts are open to be written down.

 

You often see this sort of perspective in a story that's "narrated". It isn't as personal to a character, and there's no specific perspective. It tells everyone in that area's observations and thoughts. It works well in stories such as Narnia. In stories that are more character driven, it does not work, and you should stick to third person limited. Bringing us to...

 

Third person limited. This involves being from the perspective of one character while still being in third person, keeping to things they would observe and think about. It makes the story more personal without leaving the most familiar third person tense. This is the sort of tense you would see in an RPG, as it sticks solely to a single character's observations.

 

If necessary to be telling other character's thoughts, you would do a scene, or even a POV change. Generally, this is the perspective used in most newer published novels. If the author goes into other perspectives, it will be the next chapter. Dragons in our Midst is the most prominent series I can think of for this perspective (as it was the author who introduced me to the idea, heh). But it's also the perspective probably used in most Star Wars books.

 

It's the most personal third person perspective.

 

Bringing me to the impersonal... third person fly-on-the-wall.

 

This is probably also known as third person external or some other sort of term, as it is the perspective that does not tell things personally. It's the viewer's perspective, seeing the story as if you were watching a movie. There are no thoughts. The narrator is an onlooker who does not know the character's thoughts and what they see things as. It's not speculative. It follows the characters around but never gets inside of them, it only sees what they're willing to show.

 

I don't know of any known books that show this.

 

And since I really have to get off, I'll edit this with example paragraphs a bit later. >.> But there's my additions to the POV rant.

 

Leginimately, as fanfic writers, you don't have to keep the extended POV in mind. I just felt like talking about it. Sine JJS got me thinking.

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Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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  • 2 years later...
  • 2 weeks later...
I am a first person writer. I think telling the story from the character's narrative makes it more real. It's also a lot easier to slide their thoughts in there.

First person is a great perspective. I have a lot of fun with it, one of my favorite old fanfics was written in first person and it does make the story very personal.

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Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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  • 1 year later...
Third person omnipotent, third person limited and third person fly-on-the-wall.

 

So this is super belated, but isn't it third person omniscient, not omnipotent? Unless you're breaking the fourth wall and writing from the author's perspective, because the narrator isn't all-powerful, just all-knowing.

 

Third person fly-on-the-wall can also be called third person observer.

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...why are the pretty ones always the most hazardous to your health?

May the Forth therve you well...

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Hey, I was sorta right! The writer is indeed all powerful as to what they put their characters through and the third person omniscient voice lacks the character intimacy of a story told in first or third limited, thereby making it the narrator's story (the narrator being free to chose whoever's head he or she likes) rather than any character (who is limited in their abilities by the choice of the narrator). So there's a bit of writing metaphysics for you to ponder: is the narrator indeed all-powerful or not?

 

But I'm the first to admit it was a typo. (A quick glance at that post reveals at least two more in a 5 second overview.) You're right, it should've been omniscient. That's what I meant for it to be, anyway. Somehow I just ramped up the writer's power on the fly. (AND ALL SHALL LOVE US AND DESPAAAIR)

 

As for third person fly-on-the-wall, that's what I first heard it referred to in a writing book. But yes, it could be third person observer.

 

Now if I can just prove that writers are omnipresent too... we'll have all those omni words down!

 

However, this necro does bring to mind a question: should we remove this sticky? Has it served its purpose? I feel like it's well... a younger example of our writing and we could make a far more valuable and pursuable resource if we put our heads to it. One with less chatter, for one thing. And maybe more pulled-together articles rather than hastily slapped down posts...

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Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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I would love to work with you too! We can cover grammar nuances, commonly misspelt words, and things like character building, voice, style, story archtypes... it'll be fun! And then when we're done we'll be all like "why are we posting this on the internet" and then we'll go and make MILLIONS because it will be the most perfect writing guide EVAH.

 

Yes.

 

Plus with two of us we'll hopefully catch each other's mistakes as well as cover with less bias... since I'm sure we both have our personal stylistic loves.

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Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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Now if I can just prove that writers are omnipresent too... we'll have all those omni words down!

 

...omnivores?

 

ALL RIGHT! Between the three of us, there's NO WAY that we'll make anything CLOSE to a mistake! ...hopefully...

53bzzl2.png

...why are the pretty ones always the most hazardous to your health?

May the Forth therve you well...

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Now if I can just prove that writers are omnipresent too... we'll have all those omni words down!

 

...omnivores?

 

ALL RIGHT! Between the three of us, there's NO WAY that we'll make anything CLOSE to a mistake! ...hopefully...

Hey, there's also omnisexuals but we might not want to prove fanficcers are THAT... uh... interesting. Especially paired with omnivores.

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Just when I thought it was over, I watched Tiana kick Almira in the head, effectively putting her out of her misery. I did not expect that.
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