A brief guide on the basics of written work - New readers, old readers! Question at the end (in bold): check it out!
Now, I’m sat at home with a feeling of irritation clouding my senses because as soon as a small thing bugs me, it won’t stop. This has been going on for so long and it drives me insane. I wouldn’t call it an obsession, but it’s certainly close. If you stop using the correct spellings and grammar, stop putting effort into your plot and then the appearance of it and begin to write less formally, then you lose all credibility.
It worries me that you aren’t thinking hard enough about what you’re doing and that it overlaps into other work. If you’re in the middle of your exams right now and you wrote like that on an English paper, then you’d fail. You would probably get a ‘U’, because lack of English skills affects your overall grade. The examiners have the option to fail you in any subject if you don’t use correct grammar or write in prose.
Saying all that, a lot of people here on this site are good writers, you use the correct terms and the correct grammar. This is most definitely not aimed at everyone, because I am in awe of some of you guys and your abilities, but here’s what I’m going to do. Don’t think me arrogant or hate on me, this is for the few people on here who are genuinely idiots: I’m going to provide you with a brief guide on how to write a story.
Title and Summary
These are the first things you will read – get these right and you’ll be sure to get readers. I can’t say a lot about a title, it’s pretty impossible to get a title ‘wrong’. A title can be anything at all. You could even use song lyrics if you like, just keep it short. The only time you could get a title wrong is if it is so irrelevant that it hurts or if you can’t think of one and so you put nothing or just an ellipsis.
A summary, however, is a lot easier to get wrong. There are lot of bad ideas, but also a lot of good ideas.
What is a bad summary?
• Nothing. Nada. Zilch. If you write nothing, then readers shall have no inclination to click the link and read it. Forget about the whole “they’ll open it because they’ll be curious” thing, it does not work. It’s pointless because how will the reader know what sort of story it is?
• “A Frank Iero story.” Great, we have a character, but still no plot. You will maybe get a couple of readers who will read anything with this character in, but if it’s an original story with OC’s in, then that really does not help. As a general rule, knowing the character name before we start reading is not important at all.
• “So Frank Iero goes camping, but he forgets his tent and then in the middle of the night a tiger comes and eats him and he dies.” Wow, really? That’s the ending spoilt for me, I have no need to read it. That’s too much information to put in the summary. You need to keep it simple and enigmatic.
• “I’m no good at writing summaries, read, rate and review please?” No. If you do not have the imagination to write a short description of your story, then I have no faith in the full piece.
• “you shud totes read my story cuz it has frankie in it and bitches love storys with frankie in them” My head hurts from trying to read that sentence, there is no way I could handle a whole story like that.
All of those are bad in different ways which I’ve highlighted. You should not feel the need to use any of them! “A Frank Iero story” is acceptable as long as you write the rest of the summary. Frank Iero doing what? Surfing? Getting savaged by wolves? Falling in love?
So what is a good summary? As I said, it should be simple and enigmatic. The situation in which you use the summary affects what you write in it. For example, here on FicWad it would probably be wise to put a warning in at the end as to a featured pairing and make it clear as to whether a smut!fic is slash or het so that readers can find the right story for them.
“When Frank Iero goes camping in an area renowned for its wild animals, forgetting his only means of protection is pretty stupid.”
If you really can’t get it right, there’s nothing stopping you from copy and pasting an extract from the main text.
Ratings, Warnings and Genres
Getting the right rating and genre means you’re advertising your story to the right audience. I’ve seen some people post a smut!fic as a ‘G’, which just isn’t right! Think of the children! You have to be sensible about it – a graphic scene should never be a ‘G’ or even a ‘PG-13’, but just a little kiss between two characters does not warrant a rating of ‘NC-17’
Telling us what genre your story is makes it easier for us to decide if we’re going to read it or not – please try not to forget it – and warnings make sure we know what we’re getting ourselves into.
A disclaimer can be crucial, depending on where you’re posting your stories. It encases all the information need you need and saves your ass in the highly unlikely chance that someone tries to sue you. They don’t need to be long and detailed, just enough to cover your story. Some sites – such as FicWad – have a “built-in” disclaimer, so you don’t have to write one.
Don’t know, don’t own, don’t sue, etc.
* not necessary
I have very little to say on this. I just don’t want to read a story where someone walks downstairs to make a cup of coffee, the end.
Punctuation, Capital Letters and Grammar
i don’t Like reading things that r spelt Wrong or have capital letters in da wrong place i also hate it when theres No punctuation or nothing grammar-like and its wrong
• Capital Letters – generally, they are used in a title, at the beginning of a name and the beginning of a sentence. There are exceptions, but not many. They were designed to signify the start of a sentence and to make prose easier to read, don’t miss them out.
• Spelling – I can safely assume you all have a computer that has spell check. If you don’t know how to spell a word and spell check fails you, then there is a legendary book called the Dictionary. Use it.
• Punctuation – at the end of a sentence, use a full stop. For a break in a sentence, use a comma. Apostrophes are used to show possession, to replace a letter or letters, to show the plural of an abbreviation, a letter or a number, and are also sometimes used in an expression such as two years’ misery. Double speech marks tend to be used in the first instance and single quotation marks used as a second instance, e.g. Frank said, “This is not ‘the best camping trip ever’, like you said it would be!” Using italics to represent speech looks stupid and makes a story confusing.
• You’re or your. They’re, there or their. Effect or affect. Two, too or to. A lot is right, ‘alot’ does not exist. Get them right.
I don't care if a story has the best plot ever, if it isn't paragraphed or shit as well, it makes my head hurt, and then I have quit it as well. Please put that in, because I know some people complained to me about that for one of my stories; that the paragraphs were too large. Spaces are crucial, especially when reading on screens like we all are.
With no spaces, it's like trying to read the Matrix and we all know how hard that is... Paragraphs are basic literacy skills, please make sure you use them correctly.
Notes From You, The Author
A note will help your audience relate to you, interest them in you, encourage them to chat to you. They can be about anything you want; “OMG!!!! I totes saw MCR the other day, like, they were well cool”, “I won’t be updating for a while, my exams are coming up”/“YAY! My exams are over! Updating soon, much love.”
They shouldn’t tell you bits of the story. “So, Frank does this, and then this which means he has this. I didn’t put it in the story but it’s important.” You shouldn’t need to explain your story to people, add an extra paragraph near the start just to clear it up! I have no interest in a story that needs explaining before you even read it. Don’t put them in the middle of writing either! “I bare my teeth at him, lips curling back, but it’s not a smile (A/N: KIGH reference! Couldn’t help it!)” If people care about the reference, they will have already worked it out for themselves.
Rose, You’re Too Full Of Yourself
Everybody makes mistake sometimes, so I’m not criticising the small stuff. I just don’t want some child writing some terrible story and then crying when they get no reviews or scathing remarks.
I probably do sound very arrogant writing this, I’m sorry – my stories are far from perfect and I’m sure that whilst reading this, or whilst reading something else of mine, a few of you will have picked up on spelling or grammatical mistakes for which I’m very apologetic.
Feel free to hate this; I just think that some people out there definitely need it.
Update: I'm writing up a "How to Review", which involves beta-ing, constructive criticism and silent readers.
SHAMELESS SELF_PROMOTION: I'm definitely abusing the success of this here, sorry - any chance some of you could possibly go an review some of my stuff? Especially Obsession. Please and thank you!