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-Quiffin's Ultimate Tip Guide-

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Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:32 am
UnicornNerd says...



Introduction

Welcome! These are just some ideas I have come up with to aid my self and some others who seek me out for advice. I decided to place all my cards on the table, laying all of my thoughts, tricks, and advice out for you. All of this information is strictly optional and may or may not work for you as an individual. Over all, I hope this helps you to go forward in your writing, and let your ideas flow forth.

-------------------------


Grammar
Spoiler! :
Some people think that grammar and capitalization are not important to a good story. I agree that the story is the most important aspect of, well, the story. What I do not agree with is using improper grammar, "text" language, or under capitalization *unless the charracter is actually texting.It takes away from the quality of the writing, ad distracts the reader, and they might become annoyed, or bored. For instance, which is easier to read?

I ran until I felt my heart would burst, covering both my friend, and I in it's sticky, red goop.

i ran until i feel my head would burst covering me and my friend in the sticky red goop

See?

In dialogue, though, there maybe be incorrect grammar, too make the words flow and feel more natural, like the character is actually speakif it. This does not, however, apply to punctuation. Correct punctuation is always important. The only time this is not true, is if you are viewing the actual written media produced by a character.

Oh, and an added little note, please refrain as much as possible from using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS in either dialect or naration in a story. If you want the same effect, try using italics to put more emphasis on your words. "Caps" are acceptable when using acronyms, like FBI, or G.A.M.E. This also does not apply with the use of onomatopoeia.




"Fancy" Words
Spoiler! :
Please, if you have an extensive vocabulary, use it! This is not to say that you should use these terms or expressions extensively, or the reader may get overwhelmed. Also, please don't use words that you don't have a full comprehension of. If you wish to use a word, look it up in the dictionary to make sure you are using it correctly.

This rule only applies at certain times, as well. If you are writing a story for babies, or young children, you don't want to confuse the reader. This also does not apply if the use of "fancy" words doesn't fit with the narrator, if it is in first person. If they are a country hick in the 1940's, they won't have a particularly broad vocabulary.




Themes
Spoiler! :
Are you having trouble coming up with a good theme fornyour story? For instance, what if you have this great character, or characters, but no back drop to the drama? Have no fear! I have a simple, and easy way to fix that. Here is my formula:

A+B=T

A= This is one thing you are interested in, or know a lot about. Maybe it's sports. Maybe it is fashion. Maybe it is running a business. It could even be druggies, or assassins. As long as you can write about it, it works. You can have more than one "A" as well. Just as long as you don't have too many, then it becomes a jumbled mess.

B= A setting. A time and place. An era or city. 17th Century Pennsylvania, or New York City during the 70's. As long as it goes some what together with "A," "B" Can be just about anything.

T= Now you have the general idea of the big umbrella above your story.

If you are confused, here is an example:

A= Horses, Independance
B= Victorian Era, in a small town.

A+B= An independent woman strives to prove that woman are men's equals, in life as in business. To prove this, she begins her own business breeding horses, and rises up, proving that women are capable of anything.


----------------

I hope you have enjoyed my guide so far, and I am interested in your thoughts about it so far. I will be adding more. If you ever need advice or help, you can always message me, or post here I will reply as soon as I am able.

Thank you.

-Quiffin
Last edited by UnicornNerd on Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:48 am
EnchantedPanda says...



Wow! That was very nice, good pieces of advice there! I'll be looking out for when you decide to add more! :D




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Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:33 am
AlfredSymon says...



Hey! Wow Unicorn! Great work sharing your tips here! They seem useful just by reading them.

Just some additional though:
-----> Grammar: Yes GRAMMAR is very important! But the capitalization thing is not that all strict. Writers tend to do 'conventions' see. Like changing capitalization. For example: BOOM! This convention is used for a long time now, and it still is in great usage. All in the author per se. Although, formal articles do need to strictly follow grammar rules. Also, you don't need to strictly follow grammar in dialogues. A lot of people commit mistakes even on normal conversations. Doing so in dialogues can make them more natural.

------> Fancy Words: Works well as based on your theme. You can never use fancy words in humor and children's stories, it would only make it confusing and, at the worst of times, boring. The wonderfully wide vocabulary works well with formal and mature pieces. Normal vocabulary with a mix of uncommon words (like using 'stunning' in place of 'beautiful'; it's an uncommon word, but is very understandable) can work well with pieces for all ages while a childish vocabulary works well with pieces for ages 10 below. It's all based on the writer.

That's all, dear! I must say, you helped a lot here! Good work!

Your Quick Critic,
Al ;)
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Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:09 pm
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Sureal says...



I disagree with your second tip.

'Fancy' words should be avoided, not sought after. More often than not, they make your writing sound amateurish.

George Orwell (author of Ninteen Eighty-Four) wrote that you should 'Never use a long word where a short one will do,' and that you should 'Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.'

Avoid looking through the theasaurus for fancier words at all costs. I consider that to be the biggest sin an amateur writer can make.

(A note: I'm not saying you can never use big words - not at all. You just have to learn when to utilise them appropriately. A simple rule of thumb: use them only when a shorter, simpler can't convey the same meaning. As per Orwell's advice - if you can replace it with a simpler word without losing any meaning, do so.)

You theme equation is interesting - and helpful. It's not disimiliar to something one of my tutors suggested at University. I recommend people paying attention to your advice here if they're struggling with creating a theme.

Keep up the theorising. =) I enjoy reading others opinions on the craft of writing.
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Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:51 pm
UnicornNerd says...



Replies to reviews:

@dreaming: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. That means a lot to me.


@alfred: Oh, darn it! Thank you for reminding me of the onomatopoeia rule! I can't believe  I forgot. Whoops! By the way, I stated that "text" language was acceptable when a character is texting, but omitted that improper grammar was acceptable in speech. Once again, whoops.

You notes on "fancy" words will be considered, and I'll add that exception. Thank you for reviewing!


@ Sureal: I agree that over use of "fancy" words is a bad thing. However, I disagree that using your vocabulary often is "amateurish." William Shakespeare is one of the most recognized and celebrated authors, even in our current day. I'm sure you've read some of his works. He frequently is using his broad collection of "big words." 

I will head your advice, though, and clarify some points, remedy some possible discrepancies, and take out the thesaurus section all together. Thanks for your input!

@all: (please note I wrote the entire "fancy" words section around 11 o'clock.)




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Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:41 pm
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Rosey Unicorn says...



One thing to remember about Shakespeare is he was writing before English was a standard language. If I'm remembering correctly, he invented "upstairs" and "downstairs" as terms, and nearly doubled the English vocabulary. This period was known as "Early Modern English" (it was near the beginning of its period when he began writing), and people were coming from "Middle English."

Languages have changed a lot since then, and back in the day, those "fancy" words would have been normal lexicon. One must always remember his plays were not considered fine literature of the time; playwrights were rather low class for their day (actors were considered among the lowest classes in Europe), with their only purpose in life to provide entertainment (sometimes to Court, but they were by no means exclusive to Court. It was more a commissioned basis). By this logic, most of his plays were just a bit above the lowest common denominator in terms of who could understand them. They had to be, or else nobody would go to see his plays and he'd make no money.

Now, we have more words to chose from and the lexicon is much simpler. A better world renowned author would be Agatha Christie. She holds the world record for best selling author of all time and the third most sold author (The Bible and Shakespeare being the top two, in order). Her writing was from the 1900s, a better representation of language, and her writing is significantly less fancy. Her sentences might be a bit arcane by our standards, but that is because language has grown simpler still since then.

The bottom line is really what you are trying to do. If you are trying to be as literary as possible, by all means, transcribe a thesaurus. If you are trying to sell books to as many people as possible, make the language accessible.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo

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Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:12 am
UnicornNerd says...



That is a very good point. But what about Edgar A. Poe? He came far after William Shakespeare, and is arguably nearly as well known. His many works, especially the Tell Tale Heart, uses an extensive collection of "fancy" words.

And what about Jane Austen? Pride and Prejudice? She also uses quite an incredible vocabulary. That's one of the things that I, personally, think very interesting.




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Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:48 am
Rosey Unicorn says...



Yep. But, those writers were also writing for entertainment value (most writers were writing for magazines). The English language mostly got simpler within the past 100 years, so even late 1800s is a bit outdated.

That's not to say your writing syntax can't be complex and you use exact words all over the place. You'll always have a market for whatever style you write. As I said before, though, it's more "literature" that uses the longer words and complex syntax. Modern lit does exist, and you can write for that market.

And that's not to say mass market doesn't use fancier words either. It's just much more sparing.

Also, I think I have realized what Sureal meant by a large vocabulary being amateur: a lot of new writers use fancier words to disguise poor storytelling or just to, well, to imply that they are ever so smart for using longer words. If you use the long/fancy words for a very good reason, then that complaint tends to go away. But it can still give off that impression.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo

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Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:57 am
UnicornNerd says...



Hmm, true. It is annoying when poor plot lines are garnished with high vocabulary, as if it were camouflage. I agree that is amateurish, and not very good cover up, either. In any event, I have redone "Fancy" Words, and I intend on keeping as it now stands, unless there are major discrepancies.


@Everyone: I will be adding Characters very soon!




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Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:56 pm
Sureal says...



It seems a bit unfair to compare 16th Century drama to 21st Century prose - they're two very different things. =P

What I was trying to say can essentially be summed up as: It's not the size of the words that counts, it's how you use them.

Lots of amateur writers go through their work and use a theasarus to 'upgrade' their words into bigger/fancier ones. The meaning of the sentence hasn't changed (or worse! has been muddied), the writer is just doing it because they're under the false impression that good writing involves lots of complex words.

It's shallow and meaningless.

At any rate, I look forward to seeing what you have to say about characters. =)


EDIT: Also, I hope you don't feel like I'm trying to pick a fight or anything. I just find it interesting to discuss the craft of writing with people. ^_^
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Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:36 pm
Sureal says...



Pokes. I hope I haven't put you off. =/
I wrote the above just for you.