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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Scratch, as we can all agree, has quite a large writing community inside the forums and out. There's so many people who dream of writing as their future career and even more who just love to make stories for fun. However, there's not really much in the way of helpful writing advice, nor does anyone really offer critique; of course, this is typically as waltzing onto someone's post to tell them everywhere they were inadequate is quite rude, and because not a lot of users know what is good writing advice.
To solve this problem, I created this forum- the Writing Advice and Tips forum. A place where you can get critique on your work, find out useful advice, or even provide some of your own knowledge!

I bump this forum almost daily with a bit of writing advice or a challenge to push you in your writing. You're welcome to participate in these or make your own.

Topic specific rules:
Posting your own content:
This is a place for advice, so I'd suggest that rather than posting a very specific and tailored piece, you post a more general piece that shows off how you write a variety of things, however this is not a requirement. Don't post extremely long stories, keep things down to about 5 large paragraphs- at the same time, don't post anything too short to properly analyse either! I'd suggest, if you're giving part of a larger story or work-in-progress, give the introduction or first chapter so we can properly see how you introduce characters, settings and concepts.
Analysing someone else's work:
Firstly, give constructive criticism, regardless of someone's writing level- just saying “This is terrible.” or “This is soo goood!!!” won't help anyone improve. Secondly, really explore and delve in to the piece, don't just write one sentence on what was good and bad. Looks for trends, patterns and issues in the writing and properly explain how to fix them, giving examples preferably. Thirdly, don't quote the whole piece then give your analysis: to make it easy to read, you should address the scratcher who wrote the piece and then quote where necessary.

This topic includes all types of writing
Poetry, scriptwriting, journalism- you name it, it's welcome here!

Last edited by TheRealNetherBefore (June 1, 2018 17:17:09)


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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
If you're writing from the perspective of a character, describe things in the way they would describe them. Use this as an opportunity to convey their opinions, preferences and thought process.

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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
When making a cast of characters it's important to have a varied selection of personalities, goals, beliefs and worldviews. Characters who all think the same and never disagree don't make for entertaining reading, nor do a bunch of characters who all behave alike. If you struggle to write very different characters, start by writing characters who think and act like your friends, family members or favourite characters from other media.

*Drinks ketchup*
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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
When writing romantic relationships (particularly when their development is the focus) remember that the interest for the reader is in the trials and tribulations that the pairing face, not just seeing them be cute. Two characters locking eyes and becoming immediate inseparable soulmates will only interest people who wanted them in a relationship from the start, and then again it's only a handful of that group. Watching two characters meet, slowly begin to develop a friendship and feelings for each other and then finally watching one ask the other out after finally mustering up the courage to do so will invest a far greater number of readers

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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
One of the most important things to give your character is a motivation. Everyone has something that drives them forward, and these drives are very useful writing tools. Firstly, they give you an idea of your character's priorities- this allows you to figure out how your character might respond to hard decisions. Secondly, they're useful tools to make your audience feel as everyone can relate to the desire to complete these goals- your audience will feel each loss of progress or encountered hurdle.

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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
A lot of people get caught up in giving their characters “good” traits or “bad” traits, and insisting that the main problem with some characters is that they have no “bad” traits- this is not completely correct. The thing with traits is that, ignoring how some are valued in our culture, they're all neutral. The thing that makes a trait “good” or “bad” is the situation and outcome. For example, selflessness is a good trait when your helping a person in need but it isn't very good when someone's manipulating you to care so they can use you, or when you're valuing others over your own safety/life- in those cases, maybe selfishness isn't so bad after all…
The main issue with character's traits is when the author doesn't challenge them, only using them to make a character look good. It's fine to make your character cheerful, kind and friendly as long as you show the problems that those traits get them in.

*Drinks ketchup*
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cheese-duck
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Ey noice I like these tips, I find that they're good points that a lot of writers (me included) probably don't really think about often. Thanks

Le Mon ShopShayminmeful self-advertising for a thing that's kinda deadSide accountPokémon Fangames/Fakémon Topic
“When I go to the library, I can never reach the books on the upper shelves, no matter how far I stretch. I wish I could use String Shot! I could grab a book from up high and pull it right into my hand.” — Bugsy, Pokemon Masters

hey, i messed up suicune's head thing
TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

cheese-duck wrote:

Ey noice I like these tips, I find that they're good points that a lot of writers (me included) probably don't really think about often. Thanks
Thank you! I read a lot of writing tips and think a lot about why I do/don't like things in writing, which is where I get most of these tips from.

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TheEnderQueen
Scratcher
500+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Oh awesome! I love this- it's extremely helpful! I'm glad that there are fellow writers out there

TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

TheEnderQueen wrote:

Oh awesome! I love this- it's extremely helpful! I'm glad that there are fellow writers out there
Thank you! I'm glad I'm helping people out!

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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
A lot of people like to use a masquerade in their fantasy/supernatural stories. For those of you who don't know, a masquerade is where your fantasy beings live unknown alongside humans and have to keep themselves hidden. A lot of the time, people think that to justify these, they have to come up with some kind of detailed explanation where the creatures have infiltrated the government and pull the strings and anyone who gets to close to finding out is permanently silenced, along with any other people this species needs to kill. Typically, these leave more questions than they answer.
How did your creatures infiltrate the government,? How do they get away with pulling the strings? Which members of the government know this, or are all important figures part of this group? How does this group manage to make every powerful person one of them? How do they track people finding out about them? If they kill/imprison/hurt everyone who gets close, wouldn't someone notice? Surely killing someone would raise more questions than they need?
Sometimes, It's better to keep things simple. Which of these sounds more plausible:
Vampires live amongst us and pose well enough as normal people to not seem suspicious. Their feedings blend in with normal murders plus they don't need to eat very frequently. People who actually find out about them just get lost in all the other conspiracy theorists. Vampires live the lives of an average human, except for in the night.
or
Vampires are the true controllers of the world, and have enough links to the police force to cover up all their feedings. Anyone who believes they could be real is hunted down and disposed of by their elite hunting force. Vampires live lives of luxury in perfect old mansions.

*Drinks ketchup*
there is no ethical consumption under capitalism my dudes
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G'thorpax the Unspoken
cheese-duck
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

TheRealNetherBefore wrote:

Tip of the day
A lot of people like to use a masquerade in their fantasy/supernatural stories. For those of you who don't know, a masquerade is where your fantasy beings live unknown alongside humans and have to keep themselves hidden. A lot of the time, people think that to justify these, they have to come up with some kind of detailed explanation where the creatures have infiltrated the government and pull the strings and anyone who gets to close to finding out is permanently silenced, along with any other people this species needs to kill. Typically, these leave more questions than they answer.
How did your creatures infiltrate the government,? How do they get away with pulling the strings? Which members of the government know this, or are all important figures part of this group? How does this group manage to make every powerful person one of them? How do they track people finding out about them? If they kill/imprison/hurt everyone who gets close, wouldn't someone notice? Surely killing someone would raise more questions than they need?
Sometimes, It's better to keep things simple. Which of these sounds more plausible:
Vampires live amongst us and pose well enough as normal people to not seem suspicious. Their feedings blend in with normal murders plus they don't need to eat very frequently. People who actually find out about them just get lost in all the other conspiracy theorists. Vampires live the lives of an average human, except for in the night.
or
Vampires are the true controllers of the world, and have enough links to the police force to cover up all their feedings. Anyone who believes they could be real is hunted down and disposed of by their elite hunting force. Vampires live lives of luxury in perfect old mansions.
Huh, interesting point.
I was wondering about something specific, so if this is fine to ask:
In my book, there's magicians living hidden among non-magicians, like in Harry Potter, and I think the reason they're hidden is to eliminate any problems arising from this difference– like accusation for being ‘freaks,’ or jealousy, or overall just a feeling of tension between the two kinds of people because one has something the other doesn't. Does this create any plot holes like the ones you mentioned in the tip, and does it seem too much like Harry Potter?

Thanks :]

Le Mon ShopShayminmeful self-advertising for a thing that's kinda deadSide accountPokémon Fangames/Fakémon Topic
“When I go to the library, I can never reach the books on the upper shelves, no matter how far I stretch. I wish I could use String Shot! I could grab a book from up high and pull it right into my hand.” — Bugsy, Pokemon Masters

hey, i messed up suicune's head thing
TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

cheese-duck wrote:

Huh, interesting point.
I was wondering about something specific, so if this is fine to ask:
In my book, there's magicians living hidden among non-magicians, like in Harry Potter, and I think the reason they're hidden is to eliminate any problems arising from this difference– like accusation for being ‘freaks,’ or jealousy, or overall just a feeling of tension between the two kinds of people because one has something the other doesn't. Does this create any plot holes like the ones you mentioned in the tip, and does it seem too much like Harry Potter?

Thanks :]
Firstly, I don't think it's too similar to harry potter from what you've told me- magicians living amongst humans isn't a particularly original concept.
Secondly, The only main problem with your current reason for the wizards hiding is that it sounds like there has been some kind of general group consensus between all the wizards that they should hide. This is only really noticeable as their reasons for hiding are more opinion-based than based on a need for survival (e.g: vampires hiding because they don't want their prey to be frightened is opinion-based, vampires hiding because they don't want to be killed by angry humans is survival) which makes it seem less likely that a large group would all agree to and support it.
This isn't a major plot hole or anything, but if you want to make it a bit more plausible you could either have a small wizard population (so it would be more likely that everyone would agree on this), or have genuine consequences that could happen if they were discovered, and not just theoretical things.

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G'thorpax the Unspoken
cheese-duck
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

TheRealNetherBefore wrote:

cheese-duck wrote:

Huh, interesting point.
I was wondering about something specific, so if this is fine to ask:
In my book, there's magicians living hidden among non-magicians, like in Harry Potter, and I think the reason they're hidden is to eliminate any problems arising from this difference– like accusation for being ‘freaks,’ or jealousy, or overall just a feeling of tension between the two kinds of people because one has something the other doesn't. Does this create any plot holes like the ones you mentioned in the tip, and does it seem too much like Harry Potter?

Thanks :]
Firstly, I don't think it's too similar to harry potter from what you've told me- magicians living amongst humans isn't a particularly original concept.
Secondly, The only main problem with your current reason for the wizards hiding is that it sounds like there has been some kind of general group consensus between all the wizards that they should hide. This is only really noticeable as their reasons for hiding are more opinion-based than based on a need for survival (e.g: vampires hiding because they don't want their prey to be frightened is opinion-based, vampires hiding because they don't want to be killed by angry humans is survival) which makes it seem less likely that a large group would all agree to and support it.
This isn't a major plot hole or anything, but if you want to make it a bit more plausible you could either have a small wizard population (so it would be more likely that everyone would agree on this), or have genuine consequences that could happen if they were discovered, and not just theoretical things.
Ok, thanks. I feel like it was mainly an agreement made by all wizarding governments, so it's kinda illegal for any magician to expose themselves. (Anyway, it's kind of bound that there would be tension between non-magicians and magicians– there is a civilization in there called the Clockwork Mansion in which they do coexist, and magicians help the non-magicians, but there's still tension and distrust.)

Le Mon ShopShayminmeful self-advertising for a thing that's kinda deadSide accountPokémon Fangames/Fakémon Topic
“When I go to the library, I can never reach the books on the upper shelves, no matter how far I stretch. I wish I could use String Shot! I could grab a book from up high and pull it right into my hand.” — Bugsy, Pokemon Masters

hey, i messed up suicune's head thing
TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
When writing in first person, or through a specific viewpoint in general (e.g: a opinionated narrator or another character), one of the most important things to do is to describe in their tone: this adds life to the story and also helps to build the character's personality and portray it to the audience. It's also a useful tool for pulling plot twists- what the character chooses to tell us can keep things hidden without making the audience feel like you'd obscured the details for the sake of a twist.
For example, lets take the simple imagery of a small fish-tank with a few accessories and fish. An animal lover would probably focus on the fish and what they seem to be doing. An expert on fish would probably use their breed name when describing them, and comment on the quality of their tank. A character who absolutely loathes fish would go out of their way to describe how disgusting they think the fish tank and its inhabitants are. If one of the ornaments is from a tv show your character likes, they'll definitely mention that. You can even convey that a character isn't really fussed by having them acknowledge the tank and move on to something else in the room.
Using descriptive language like this helps to make your stories and characters feel more real, which is one of the most important parts of an interesting story.

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PrincessPandaLover
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Is my writing good or bad?




(REST IN PEACE, TINYPIC (2004-19))






Hmmm…
TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

PrincessPandaLover wrote:

Is my writing good or bad?
Could you provide a short example story or extract of a story so I can get an idea of how you write?

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TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

Tip of the day
While describing your surroundings is a very important aspect of the immersion, sometimes you can go into too much detail for the scene. Let's imagine, for a second, that Sue is in the middle of an intense fight with Barry. Which of these sounds like it's an extract from a full fight?
Sue's pale, slender leg was thrust into the air, jewellery glinting in the sunlight; it came crashing down into Barry's left forearm, dusting his fitted suit in a coating of gravel and dust as he stumbled backwards. Reaching out with a muscular arm, Barry's thick fingers gripped into Sue's long red hair and pulled her forward, bringing his deep brown eyes to face her steely grey ones as a frown spread across his face like an infection.
“Got you” He snarled through a thick white beard, bearing his teeth.
or
Sue kicked Barry's arm, sending him stumbling backwards. Swiftly he launched towards her, grabbing her hair and pulling her towards him.
“Got you” He snarled.

Last edited by TheRealNetherBefore (March 25, 2018 16:04:17)


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PrincessPandaLover
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

TheRealNetherBefore wrote:

PrincessPandaLover wrote:

Is my writing good or bad?
Could you provide a short example story or extract of a story so I can get an idea of how you write?
Chapter 20 of the Missing Chao

Sonic, with his eyes barely open, laid on the bed bug infested white mattress, donned in green pajamas. Unfamiliar darkness was thrown around him like pillows. With little strength, he turned to the window and realized that the sun hasn't shone yet.

He stared at the alarm clock. “4:12 AM,” it read.

“Gosh, time zones,” he quietly muttered to himself, as Forest, Amy, Knuckles, Tails, and Cream still hung out in Dreamland.

For the next hour, he couldn't fall asleep, even though he closed his eyes and counted imaginary Chao flying over him like dragonflies. He restlessly rolled back and forth, trying not to bump into Tails, who shared his bed with him. Thoughts of the missing Chao, Eggman, Amy and her frequent begs for romantic dates, nightmares of his beloved world falling into the hands of Robotnik, Shadow the Hedgehog, and lots of random stuff circulated the brain. Sonic was pondering on where the missing Chao could be when Tails yawned and opened his eyes.

“Tails, you awake?” he squealed as he turned to his friend.

“Yeah,” he barked.

“Since there isn't much to do in beyond early dawn, let's just go back to sleep.”

Amy was skipping all over the meadow, collecting flowers for Sonic to keep. Sonic, who was watching behind the nearby trees, ran towards her, and asked, “Whatcha' got for me?”

“Flowers!” she yelped cheerfully. “Chrysanthemums, daisies, buttercups, dandelions, roses without thorns, lilies of the valley, tulips, marigolds, four o' clocks, zinnias, pretty much every flower in Chaosville.”

“Thank you, Ames,” he grabbed the large bouquet and smiled.

Suddenly, without a warning, dark Chao flew out of the flowers and started nibbling on Sonic and Amy's thin strands of technicolor fur.

“SERIOUSLY, FLESH-EATING CHAO?!” he shrieked as he tried to pry the menancing Chao's piranha-like fangs off.

With an air attack, he managed to blow the wicked creatures away as far as 10 feet. Scarred with bleeding red marks, he looked down and eyed a spinetingling image of Amy's skeleton, with organs and flesh chewed off and only her tattered dress still on-

“Sonic, wake up!”

He opened his eyes and found Amy screaming in his face like a banshee. He silently thought to himself, Why another romantic dream ending with a nightmare? It's getting too old!

Team Ring exchanged their Mysterian currency for Hong-xingnese currency at an airport. With 300 yuan (about $529.47) in Sonic's backpack, they had spent the afternoon at a local arcade. Each Mobian (with an exception of Forest, who just flew around) held 30 tokens in their palms and tried various arcade and claw machines.

Tails and Knuckles battled out at the Chao Alpha machine, with small decks of such cards they had packed a few days ago. Amy cuddled up to a pile of plushies, each size of a small bean bag (she was so good at claw machines). Sonic had his hands gripped onto the wheel, as he steered furiously in his own licensed racing game. Cream pounded Badniks popping up like moles.

As Knuckles repeatedly pushed a single red button so hard that it would break and Amy showed her moves while stepping on arrow squares, Sonic, hugging noodles of tickets, long as the Great Wall of Chun-Nan, walked up to the prize counter. With 400 tickets, he won several plushies and a crafts kit. Tails, with 150 more tickets, got his hands on a surprisingly high-quality music box.

Knuckles only earned a decent amount of tickets from the button-smashing games and could only spend his 50 tickets on sucky stickers and cheap clay. Amy spent most of her tokens on claw machines, so she gave her 20 tickets to Cream. Cream, carrying her 35 tickers mostly won from “Smash-a-Badnik”, spent them on 2 Chao plushies, serving as lovely reminders of Cheese and Chocola.

Back at present time, Team Ring had woken up from their sleep in a cheap hotel room constructed for Mobians. Knuckles, only in his brown boxers, furiously scratched his back, thanks to those bed bugs snacking on his skin. Amy spent time staring at the bathroom mirror, combing her quills from scruffy to sleek, with her precious plastic red comb. Cream, still laying on the bed that she shared with Amy, hugged both her Chao plush and Amy's claw machine plush.

After changing into their daywear and scrubbing their teeth with bubbles, Team Ring headed downstairs for a nice Chinese breakfast. As Tails sucked up yogurt and Knuckles chomped on corn like a pig, Sonic, munching on pork buns, surfed on a weak Internet connection on his phone.

“How is my favorite search engine not loading?” Sonic wondered.

“Hong-xing bans sites it doesn't like,” Tails answered.

Breakfast was complete. Sonic and friends left the table with empty plates sitting there and took the elevator to floor 9. With Forest's wisdom and Sonic's speed, they packed up completely in only 5 minutes.

“No time for entertainment and games,” Sonic hissed as his friends exited the hotel. “Finding the Chao is our number one priority. Time shouldn't be wasted.”




(REST IN PEACE, TINYPIC (2004-19))






Hmmm…
TheRealNetherBefore
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Writing Advice and Tips

PrincessPandaLover wrote:

Chapter 20 of the Missing Chao
This was a pretty hard piece to start with, seeing as it's halfway through a story, but I could pick up a few things.
Firstly, you have one of the main problems that school education causes in writers- you overuse alternatives for said. While the whole “never use said” thing does have good intentions and encourages young writers to use more descriptive words, it often causes young writers to fear ever using the word said and to instead search for as many powerful alternatives as possible. For example, in your work you've used the words “squealed” and “barked” during what is clearly a quiet and relaxed conversation… unless you actually wanted sonic to make a high pitched screech in the middle of the night to a potentially sleeping friend, if so that's your prerogative.
Secondly, you sometimes use descriptive words that don't quite fit with the tone, or sound a bit silly, which breaks the immersion. For example, while you were describing the mixture of thoughts running through sonic's brain while he was trying to sleep, you used the phrase “lots of random stuff” right near the end- this messes with the tone as the rest of the paragraph seemed serious and important while the tone of this phrase is comedic and dismissive.
Thirdly, the arcade scene wasn't conveyed very well. The description was too long to be a short memory sonic was recalling but was too short and simple to be a narrative hop to the past- either shorten it to a sentence/paragraph or flesh it out into a detailed scene.

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