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August 2, 2011
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from an amateur fanfic writer.

1.) Don't put 'my summary sucks/I can't write summaries' in your summary.  If you can't take the time to write a decent summary, what's gong to make the reader think you can take the time to write a decent fic?

2.) Don't beg for reviews, and for the love of God don't put 'I won't update again until I get X amount of reviews' at the end of your chapters.  I see this all over the place and it makes you look just as conceited as you think it does.

3.) Get a beta-reader.  I don't care who it is, your sister, brother, friend, mom, English teacher, whatever.  Get someone to go through and read your shit.  You'd be amazed what another set of eyes on your writing can pick out.  For a lot of readers (including myself) all it takes is one big error or lack of punctuation to pull me out of your story and douse my interest.  Most people aren't going to struggle through it.  They're going to click 'close tab' and move on to the next piece of fic.

4.) Don't take your readers for granted.  I always assume whoever is reading my story can read at an average level.  That is, I don't have to spoon-feed them every bit of information.  People want to read stories, not lessons.  This includes, but is not limited to:
Telling us who's POV a certain part of a story is.
Any sort of character information sheet.
The time, date, or place.  See #5.
Lists.  Please don't prattle of every little thing that your character has in his inventory.  I see this a LOT in L4D fic.  Nobody wants to know the exact make and model of your character's gun.  Most people aren't going to see the words 'Nick's Steyr SSG Elite Tactical Rifle, chambered in .308' and know what the gun looks like.  Just describe what it would look like to someone who's never seen it.  The Steyr is a big gray rifle with a scope.  That's all you need to know.
Placing author's notes right in the middle of your prose.  I can't believe this has to be said.

5.) Show, don't tell.  (I myself have to work on this, but I've heard it so much that I figured I'd share it.)

6.) Constructive criticism is not trolling.  Don't get your panties in a bunch because someone pointed out your errors.  You should be happy someone took the time to tell you it was wrong.  I know it's hard to take criticism, but it's sort of the way of life.  I've talked to countless fanfic writers who apparently 'have offers to write professionally' and 'have gone to college for writing' and 'this person or that person thinks it's awesome'.  Really?  Because if you had any pride in your work, you'd want to fix it.  You'd want it to be the best you can make it.  If you can't even do that, you have no business writing anything-- not even fanfic.

7.) The best advice I ever got in regards to writing is to 'write the way you want to read,' and it works.  If you start to get bored of writing your own story, chances are most people are going to get bored reading it.

8.) This one is strange, but stick with me.  Read your dialogue out loud to yourself.  If it sounds weird, change it.

9.) I know this one should be obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people don't use a spell-checker.  Fanfiction.net even has one built into their document editing page.  Use it.

10.) Don't use all-caps in lieu of italics.

11.) Read other people's fic, even if you don't like the pairing, or the subject material, or the genre.  Feedback is an incredible tool that can make a terrible fic into something worthwhile and amazing.
That is... if the other 90% of writers accepted concrit.

---

I wanted to rant.  Sorry.  The L4D section of ff.n is a terrible cesspool and it amazes me that it's allowed to get this bad.

I'm not a professional writer, and I never will be, so I don't presume to know more than someone who is.  This has sort of been brewing a long time.  I'm getting sick of being called a troll when I (helpfully) point out errors.  I'm getting tired of people not giving a shit about the stories they are posting.  The written word is one of the most powerful tools we have as human beings, and a lot of these people-- these authors-- couldn't care less.
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:iconfail-the-palimpsest:
Fail-the-Palimpsest Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the great advice, reminding me I haven't written in a while.
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:iconyoulootamax:
youlootamax Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
The first one really applies to everything. If you go into something and say "Well, I'm not that great, but could you consider me anyway" in an interview or a portfolio review, there's no freakin' way they're going to hire you. If you're not that great, why should they hire you when there's plenty of people out there that ARE that great? It's just very unprofessional.

And begging for ANYTHING is frustrating as all getout 8D;; I feel like it's okay to ask nicely, like say, "hey I'd really appreciate it if you could review/read my fic" but when someone does it ten or twenty times or they're doing what you described where they threaten to not update unless they get what they want, it gets petty.

Number 5 is REALLY bad in the comics world. Like... oh man, I could write a whole novel on how bad it is. Even a good number of PROFESSIONALS fall into the trap of mindlessly describing crap that's completely useless to the reader and is just wasting their time, rather than just SHOWING it. Or they'll show it, but they'll still sit there and tell you AALLL about it. My thought is, if you can't easily describe something in one sentence, or show it in one panel, then you either need to trash it or figure out a better way of presenting it.

Haha I know I'm guilty of using all caps instead of italics when I'm talking with people here on dA and in messengers, but when I'm writing an actual piece of literature, I don't cut corners like that. (I'm too lazy to do it here on dA or messengers <.< )

I'm kinda jumping around here, but the constructive criticism one is a seeeerious pet peeve of mine. I know a lot of artists who honestly think they can get into their favorite company completely on their own without taking a single ounce of advice from anyone around them. It's simply -NOT POSSIBLE-. I can't think of a single company who would want to hire someone like that. A sign of a good artist or writer is someone who can find and critique flaws even in the works they think are close to perfection. Whining and crying about getting criticized is once again, a lack of professionalism. They don't get that critique is often times difficult to take even when someone is used to hearing it. If someone says something that you don't think is valid, you don't -have- to take it <_< No one's forcing anyone to do anything.

I actually do need to go back and actually give you some crits that I have on your fic, 'cause I know it'd help 8) I'm glad you're someone who seems to WANT it too. I used to just crit everybody, but I got tired of dealing with babies and now don't offer to help unless I've been asked first or I know the artist (or in your case, the writer) isn't going to react badly. (especially since I know the way I word things tends to be on the confrontational side even when I'm not critiquing, so I have to be especially careful with the way I word things when I am)
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:iconlinaleonheart:
LinaLeonheart Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011
I have to agree with everything you said. (even though in my last story I was an idiot and put A/N in the middle of the story) When I found your story on FFN, I thought I was dreaming at first.
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:iconhornswaggler:
hornswaggler Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I love it. ^^ And I certainly have a few lot of things to work on.

I find it rather sad when people can't take criticism...I feel honored that someone takes their time to help me out - Sanides especially. I'd love to be able to write for a living if I could (lawl having dreams is nice, no?) and it helps to get all the feedback I can. One reason I'm sad L4D has such a...limited fanbase. There are very few people who write decent fics themselves, let alone who are able to help you fix yours.

The reading dialogue out loud thing? Epic. I do it myself unconsciously, especially when I'm trying to get the person's voice down. It earns some funny looks when I start spouting off bits of dialogue in the middle of a restaurant or something, but it's worth it I think. xD I've found so many weird bits after I've just read things out loud.

Lovely advice, ma'am. ^^ Passive-aggressive is always the best kind!
Reply
:iconhiyume-chan:
Hiyume-chan Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011
Thisthisthisthisthis

All of this

I have to work on a couple of these but lots of them... I cannot fathom why people do it.
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:iconmrsketchy:
mrSketchy Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011
what would you do if I started writing a L4D fanfic and it did everthing wrong, and then I was angry at you if you gave crit?
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:icondisrupted-original:
disrupted-original Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011
I would have a thousand sads.
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:iconmrsketchy:
mrSketchy Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011
ilu
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:iconandiwashere:
AndiWasHere Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Agreed. This needs to be said, thank you.

It doesn't help that ff.n is seemingly filled with children, sometimes. I don't much care for the community - though it is nice to find the occasional gem of a fanfic.

I think my biggest pet peeve is number one, hahaha.
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:iconmissingsock:
MissingSock Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
...Remind me again why we can't favorite journals?
'Cause I'd do that about 10 times for this one if I could. :thumbsup:
This has nothing to do with the fact that I'm attempting to write a short-ish L4D fic myself. Mostly.

So much agreement with these points, especially 1, 2, and 4.
Those kinds of fics call for the immediate closing of tabs and windows.

*sigh* It's such a shame Sturgeon's Law applies to FF.net so perfectly. :I
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