Creative Writing Guide
Ive been meaning to write this for over a year, and Ive finally been motivated to do so because Im fed up of correcting basic grammatical errors in peoples work. So, lets start with some basic definitions! Creative Writing Terms Fanfic/Fanfiction
: A Fanfic is where you take characters that someone else has created and write a story using them, possibly adding your own characters as well. An example of this would be a story about the characters from Harry Potter after the events of book seven. Alternatively, a fan fiction could be written using only original characters, but set somewhere from someone elses work. Sticking with Harry Potter, an example of this would be Hogwarts fifty years after the end of the seventh book, with a new student doing stuff. Fic
: A Fic is a story written using characters and plot of your own creation, and stands for Fiction. Note that it does not usually refer to Fan Fiction, which uses the term Fanfic. Almost all published works are original, but an example of a Fic on this forum would be Trial by Fire. Crossover
: Admittedly not written very often on this forum, this involves taking characters from two different sources and having them interact. If you write a story involving Harry Potter fighting against Goku, thats a crossover Fanfic. Cameo
: This is where a character from another source (or even a person you know) appears in your story, either in their original form or changed slightly. The most common form of cameo is name insertion, where a character in the story shares a name with one of your friends/enemies/pets. Its considered bad form to cameo real people without their consent. An example of a cameo is Jade Hitomi Carson, who has appeared in around thirteen different stories on this forum. Profanities
: Swear words. Nobody really minds if you use them, but do remember that reading a row of asterisks is annoying, so dont swear too much. Short Story
: Also called a one-shot, a short story has no chapters and is posted all at once. Generally these are three to ten pages long, although they can easily be longer or shorter if you want. Novel
: This is your basic story, with enough chapters to make it interesting and to bring the narrative from introduction to conclusion. Most creative writing on the forum is in the form of novels. Epic
: This is a novel which is ridiculously long, with a complex plot, and is practically impossible to write. Dont try. The Lord of the Rings is an example of an Epic. Genre
: The style of the story. Try to stick to one or two genres. Nobody wants to read an action horror romance fantasy historical comedy sci-fi story. There are more genres than that, of course, but you get the idea. Working title
: This is what you call your story until you come up with a proper title for it. I like This is a Title myself. Parody
: Like a Fanfic, but making fun of another source. Writing a story about Hairy Porter taking on the Demented would be a parody of Harry Potter and the Dementors. Deus ex machina
: Latin for God out of a Machine. It basically means something incredibly unlikely being introduced just in time to solve a problem. For example, an angel suddenly appearing to rescue a character who was dying. Redshirt
: This is a phrase originating from Star Trek, and meaning a character whose sole purpose in the story is to be killed. It was created because the grunts on Star Trek who were killed when beamed down to a planet wore red shirts. Stupidity
: This includes writing a story about the forum moderators being killed in a variety of nasty ways, or copying out a book word for word. Original Fiction
When writing original fiction, follow these simple guidelines:
1. Open a word processing package, and write the story in that. I cannot stress this enough, you need to be able to save and spell-check your work. The forum does not have a spellchecker, so you need to do this before you post the thing.
2. Try to make each chapter at least one page on MS Word, Times New Roman font, size 12. If youre writing a short story, one page probably wont be enough, and most authors will write over two pages per chapter. Longer chapters are a good thing if youre an experienced writer, but for beginners, its often better to start with short chapters.
3. If youve never written before, put that plan for an epic fantasy away! The best way to start writing is with short stories, or a short novel. That way you can practice without making a complete mess of a long story.
4. Naming your story can be difficult, so until you come up with a good title, just call your story something which catches the eye and has something to do with the story. Invasion or Wrath of the Gods could be examples of either working titles or actual titles.
5. Keeping a plot gong is the second hardest part of writing a story. Planning can help, but not everyone can be bothered with that. The thing is, if you take the time to come up with a proper plot and work out where its going, then youll have a much easier time writing the story. However, if you dont write a plan then you gain the ability to use ideas as and when you get them. The problem with not planning is that you run the risk of your story having more plot holes than most of mine!
6. Names. Aaargh! Naming characters is the part of writing that most authors have trouble with. Outside of main characters, the easiest way to name people is to use one of the random name generators on the internet. For main characters, go with a name that sounds good to you, look on a website and search for name meanings, or try translating words into foreign languages. Incidentally, this is also a good way to name spells.
7. Actually coming up with a plot is generally easy enough. If youre stuck, look at your favourite books, films or TV shows for inspiration. Dont just copy their plots though! Fan Fiction
This is much the same as original fiction, but with a few differences.
1. Dont just follow the story of your favourite TV show or book. Nobody wants to read about the Doctor meeting Rose and fighting the Autons, because its already been done. A better idea would be the two of them going to the planet Alberon III and tricking the Zargons into handing over the Time Matrix. Yeah, I just made those names up off the top of my head.
2. If youre using characters created by other people, try to keep them in character. Harry Potter is not going to join forces with Voldemort and take on the evil Dumbledore. Thats what is known as being a prat.
3. The above point does not apply if writing a parody. Parody characters are generally the complete opposite of their original counterparts, so Voldemort could very well be a cry-baby, and so on.
4. I cant think of anything else. Common Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, even the pros. However, there are some things that are just silly. Heres a list of things to avoid.
1. Two different people speaking in the same paragraph. This is a perfect example of how to look like an amateur, and happens so often that its unbelievable. Its alright if its an honest mistake, but just not bothering to put the new paragraph is definitely out.
2. Stating the facts. This is basically where you miss out description. For example, this is Stating the Facts: John pulled out his gun. It was black. He pointed it at the womans head. She froze in shock. Doesnt read very smoothly does it? Try to vary the lengths of your sentences, and to add description.
3. No punctuation/capitalisation. This breaks the flow of your story, and makes it annoying to read. Proofreading before posting will help you prevent this, though your word processor will probably get most of it.
4. Run-ons. This is where you write a sentence which has so many commas and conjunctions in it that it becomes unreadable. Again, proofreading will catch this and allow you to insert a necessary full stop.
If you think I've missed anything important, tell me via MSN or in the Discussion Thread.
« Last edited by Sotek on Jun 14th 2008 »
Seeing as I now have three short stories posted, I figure I may as well put all of them in my bio, so go there for links to "The Lab", "Daemon" and "Afterlife". Additionally, you should read my fic, The Crystals of Narlkant