Saturday, 14 December 2013

Writing Fiction, Lesson 1


This blog post is adapted from the first in a series I wrote on fimfiction.net. Putting it here not only widens the audience, but gives me a chance to edit and collect them. Without further ado, let's get going!

So, you're sitting, staring at a blank page, ready for you to populate it with text, right? And you want to fill it with words so awesome that Shakespeare himself will rise from his grave and kneel at your feet and proclaim you the new master.

only it all comes out wrong and suddenly people are hating you for sounding like a gibbering monkey on acid.

Well never fear! Here's a short blog post which may put you on the right path to stardom, chicks, bitches, fame, money and all the crisps you can eat.

Seriously, love those things. The crisps I mean.

Anyway, join us after the break for lesson 1.

Lesson 1 is:
How to succeed without really trying

or 

how to fight an uphill battle against overwhelming odds because you're not a fucking sellout 

Pretentious title, perhaps, but stick with me - you'll thank me.

There are a number of fanfiction stories which are very, very popular, but are (to put it bluntly) pap.

Now, I'm not in my armchair of overwhelming arrogance for nothing, here. I'm not saying that just because I don't like them it means they're worthless, far from it. They're just stories which play to the lowest common denominator. In fiction, that's basically "give the readers what they want" - not a crime in itself, but you can do better.

Two major book series show more or less the extent of this: twilight, and harry potter.

The first is essentially every chaste mormon girl's dream of sexytimes with a consensual rapist. Its characters are wooden, its storyline is incredibly generic, its morals are suspect and its ability to inform the reader is quite possibly in the negative. It's also horribly popular with all the sexually repressed teenage girls and bored housewives who need a little something to spice up their alone time.

The second is, arguably, better - the characters are well-rounded, the story lines don't make me want to spit blood and it's an enjoyable and sometimes fun romp. What it isn't is either original or groundbreaking. Or particularly well thought-out, as is obvious with a lot of the tacked-on explanations in the later books to bring closure to characters which just didn't fit any real purpose.

Now you, young grasshopper, can do one of two things:

1) give the reader what they want.
you can surge forth and write a stirring adventure story about scootaloo finding her parents and learning to fly after a heartbreaking session being lost and alone in the Everfree. Go on, I dare you, even a half-competent effort will net you the featured box for a week. that's because a) foals b) canon characters c) oh mah gawd the cute d) "i can identify with poor scootaloo"

It's not bad, it will net you a ton of praise. What it won't teach you is constructive criticism.

2) you can write what you want to write

Obviously I can't tell you want to write here - canon characters, OC's, it's all good. The thing here is, you're not going to get noticed so easily unless you a) have art (and I won't lie, art from famous artists will rocket an aggressively mediocre fic sky high) b) are already famous or... c) keep at it

c, you see, implies growth as an artist, as an author. Some of the writers here are famous because they write well. Some are famous because they write a lot. Others are famous because they gave the audience what the audience wanted.

If you're after fame, forget it. Just go write about sad scootaloo dying in the cold and reap the heaps of citizen kane macro images.

If you're after being an author, then it's going to take dedication. Most people won't read your stuff. Those that do, most people won't comment. Those that comment, most will just say "good job" - at least at first. You'll find, if you keep at it, that you thirst not for thumbs or viewcounts or comments, but the little suggestions, the "wow, your X is so... Y!"

When you make people angry at you, or sad at you, or happy with you, over something in your story that your characters done, you've struck gold, because congratulations - your readers now care about your creations. They will think on them, dwell on them, expand on them - and tell you about them.

That's the lesson here - care about your work, not about recognition.

For actual advice, come back later - I'll edit in a list of really actually useful links to the guides I know of.

5 comments:

  1. hey i just wrote a new story...,but i need someone to review it,please take a visit http://mylittleponybrawnysstompstory.blogspot.com/

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  2. This is... wow... really good. I can't really make up my mind what to say, inspiring maybe? But good nonetheless.

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  3. Fun website with some good classics and interesting how tos. Keep up the great work.

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  4. These tips are weak.

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