Okay fellow Wikinarians, I said I’d do a Workshop and here I am, doing a Workshop. It’s basically going to be a few general tips that I’m making up as I go along. Since I’m not much for intros or a lot of needless words, I’ll go straight into this.
Rule #1- No Brands
If you do this, you’re actually kind of excused; I’ve seen a lot of it pop up in published works. Then again, they weren’t what you like to call “good” published works. I won’t name any for politeness. Frankly, a lot of my points are made via my opinion, but this really does sound a bit tacky and a little….advertisement-y. I’m really not interested in knowing where your character shops (or where their mother shops for them, depending on the character.) However, minimal use, and especially the sparing use of fake brands, can be a decent use of describing a person or setting if used correctly, and even then, mostly in dialogue, where brands are more likely to be spoken aloud.
Note, this is a bit more of a recommendation; if it’s used, it’s a bit annoying, not fic ruining.
Uriah wore Levi’s jeans, an Abercrombie T-Shirt, and a pair of Converses.
Izzy put in her favorite CD, Alanis Morisette’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, and started humming along.
“Oh, if you’re looking for Uriah,” Ruth said, “He should be in the Aeristocrat outlet.”
Izzy turned back to her passengers and asked, “What CD do ya’ want me to play? Alleged Ex-Obsession Maniac?”
Rule #2- Vary Your Literary Terms
I haven’t seen any abuse of literary terms (foreshadowing, similes, metaphors, etc.) on this site, but I’ve read a particularly scarring Glee fic that seemed to describe every. Last. Little. Thing using a simile. It was painful, with examples such as “To Mercedes, receiving Puck’s stare was like having to give a solo to Rachel; the mere thought scared her like a bomb threat.” It got worse. I mean come on, similes are good, but over usage can cause nausea in prolonged doses. Just kidding there, but it’s very repetitive. That might be good for poetry, but prose fiction, not so much.
I also read an Ace Combat crossover once, and the author foreshadowed so much, the characters just simply going through the plot turned into a bunch of teenagers going to a creepy summer camp and going off alone into the woods and misty showers; obviously idiotic, but they still did it nonetheless. The example that stands out the most to me was “The daring pilot, from the corner of his eye, saw a raven land on his plane for a second, just before he accelerated down the runway.” Did I mention this was a nameless character here, and that before this, he didn’t appear? Stuff like this can take your story a long way, but overuse them, and you can either dumb down your story, or just have your story sound awkward (I can almost see it now, Audrey: The Fanfiction.
Mercedes withered at Puck’s stare; it scared her like a bomb threat.
Rule #3- No Purple Prose
This happens a lot with authors who have grasped prose form, descriptive terms, and proper grammar. They will over describe places, people, or things, and give things that usually aren’t described or given an expression for plenty of description, or replaced using an expression, whether they’re important or not. To sum it up from this line from The Eye of Argon, considered to be the worst fantasy novella ever written; The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid. Translated, that means, “The mercenary fell off his saddle and bled on the ground.” It is completely unnecessary, and extreme examples, such the line above, can be painful. Avoid it to prevent many, many headdesks.
The most common form of purple prose is describing what everybody wears. Every. Single. Chapter. The fact these stories tend to have a lot of characters does not help. Frankly, I don’t really care if a character wears a purple blouse, khakis, and sneakers, and then changes into a shimmering blue silk tunic, dress pants, and heels the next day. I really don’t.
Another common example is calling an eye an orb. I see this everywhere, and it really annoys me. It’s used like this, “Duncan gazed into Courtney’s ebony orbs.” It’s made worse by the fact I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be ebon orbs, but I’m not quite sure, so don’t listen to me.
Rule #4- No Beige Prose
Beige prose is the opposite of purple prose; under-descriptive and too laconic. The beige prose form of the above line would be, “The mercenary fell. He bled.” It’s very drab to read, and bores the reader, as opposed to confusing the reader to what it means like extreme purple prose, or just is too ridiculous sounding like mild purple prose.
Rule #5- No Sues/Stus
This is important, as a Sue/Stu can ruin an otherwise excellent fic. Long description short, a Mary Sue or Gary Stu, depending on gender, is a perfect character. Sues always are beautiful to the point of extremes, smart, have anything in the story containing a Y-chromosome fall for them, and have the plot revolve around them. Stus always embody the typical definition of masculinity, being strong, tough, and always with a girl on hand (They usually save them too.) There also are a few sub types for Sues, but Stus are rare and usually follow one mold.
Black Hole Sue- The stereotypical Sue. She fits all the above attributes, but nothing else.
Parody Sue- The title’s self-explanatory, and they can be hilarious. They drive all the attributes to extremes, and everybody tends to be disgusted with her.
Jerk Sue- They’re pretty of course, and spunky. Too spunky in fact. They insult characters who don’t just adore them, and get away with too much to ever be remotely plausible in real life. This Sue is gaining in popularity, even in canon, because since this is the 21st century, there must be minimal girly girls to appeal to the real-life tomboys who don’t seem to exist at my school.
God Mode Sue- These Sues are more prevalent in Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories and fanfics. They fit all the attributes, and to top it off, wield powerful, almost divine powers or freakishly large amounts of skill, and use it against their dehumanized enemies. To this author, they’re the most annoying Sues ever.
There are other kinds of Sues on the Mary Sue article on tvtropes.org. I would post a link, but I got a virus and my Dad thinks it came from there. I doubt it, but I’m not allowed on there anymore regardless.
So to conclude this section; if you’re planning a comp fic where this strong guy is going to win and end up in a relationship, DROP THAT PLOTLINE THIS INSTANT! Ditto for the pretty nice blonde girl who everybody loves.
So to conclude, these are my tips for writing good fics. I understand that with the exception of beige prose, not much of this is on the site. I put it on here as a preventative measure; a vaccine of sorts. I hope you all learned, and here are the other workshops.
Now obviously I'll get to work on my stories!