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File 133410173660.png - (2.24MB , 840x1120 , Octavia.png )
96408 No. 96408
#Discussion #Advice
In the simplest terms, this is an advice thread. I am offering my services to answer any and all questions related to writing, and I will do them to the best of my ability.

Examples include but are not limited to:
-wording choice (No, I will not edit your entire story)
-grammar help (No, I will not proofread your entire story)
-world building
-plot shaping
-character development

and basically, anything that you can think of. My only stipulation is that these questions be specific, or at least compartmentalized. Some simple questions have complex answers, and I accept that. My aim for this thread is for it to be a place where anyone even you can ask questions about writing, from "What is a sentence" to "Given that character X has motivations Y, what would be a way to get him to go looking for character Z in setting A?"


This is not to say that I'm infallible; quite the contrary, if you disagree with my advice, I invite you to question (or for other, more experienced authors to correct me; this can be a learning experience for everyone).

Now, to get a few things out of the way:

*This is not a review thread. I can offer specific help on style, dialogue, and/or grammar; however, I'd ask as a courtesy to me to not give any excerpts over 1000 words.
*This is not merely a carbon copy of the StoryForge thread, OC Creation thread, or Tips for New Writers thread. This thread is more than just a place to ask, "how's my idea?" Of course, I'll answer those questions, but this thread has a much wider scope than any thread on /fic/ at this point.

In addition to this thread, I'm offering my gmail address ([email protected]) for private feedback if, for whatever reason, you prefer that. Just note that I prefer Google Chat over gmail, but I will use the latter if you prefer.

But, barring large requests of my time in writing your story for you, this is an "anything goes" type deal. Just remember that Ponychan has certain guidelines for what you can and can't talk about; I'll try to keep an open mind, but yes, there are several reasons that I included an "offline" mode of this thread.

So, ask away.
Unspoiler all text  • Expand all images  • Reveal spoilers
>> No. 96410
How would you write someone saying, "Couldn't you just ask them," with their mouth full? I can never get that.
>> No. 96411
>>96410
I do voices for my characters while writing. So, if there's something obstructing the character's speech, I try to emulate that.

Barring an accent, I'd go with, "Couldn' choo jus ashk 'em?"
>> No. 96413
Thanks a bunch!
>> No. 96420
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96420
How would one go about writing a character who stumbles and tends to fade away at the end of a sentence without absuing the ellipsis? Writing Fluttershy tends to make me end every other sentence with an ellipsis, for example.

Also, if you have twins as characters and want them to be constantly interrupting and finishing each other's setences, how would you format it?
>> No. 96423
>>96420
Speech tags and em dashes, for both questions:

Fluttershy spoke, even though she was shaking. "Well, I---"

"NEVER YOU MIND! IRON WILL WILL GET YOU THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER!"

Ellipses still work, though. Perhaps an experimental idea would be to shrink the font size.

Another thing to look at is what you're trying to demonstrate via dialogue. Don't forget indirect dialogue. Writing, "She mumbled something incomprehensible" has an affect of quiet, weak speech, too.


For something like Para and Dox, use an em-dash mid sentence:

Twin A smiled. "You do not know what---"

"We are capable of." Twin B matched his brother's grin.
>> No. 96425
>>96420

Oh. Um... oh dear. I don't mean to be rude, but maybe if you're using too many ellipses, you're not really hearing her voice. She doesn't-- She's not exactly a bad speaker, so she'll only stop if somepony interrupts her, or maybe looks at her like she's hurting his feelings. Dashes are fine either way.

Unless you really believe she trails off like she's on drugs or-- oops. I'm sorry; that wasn't very nice of me. I'm sure you're a very conscientious writer, and however you choose to portray m-- I- I mean her is fine.

Sorry.
>> No. 96427
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96427
>>96425
Also, I don't know how to write Fluttershy, so this is probably better specific advice.
>> No. 96428
>>96423
I tend to save shrinking font sizes for special occasions. It looks nice, but tends to be gimmicky if used too much, and dropping each letter by a font size can be tedious if done too often.
In terms of the Em-Dash, I've always viewed that as being more of something to show a sudden interruption.

"You don't seem to understa—"

"No, you don't understand!"

I suppose using a wider variety of indirect dialogue, as you suggested, would be the best solution.

Would it not be better to punctuate twin dialogue like this?

Twin A smiled. "You do not know what—"

"—we are capable of." Twin B matched his brother's grin.

>>96425
Ahh, that helps. Thanks.
>> No. 96433
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96433
Wording and grammar, eh? I've been stewing on a question that I think is on-topic.

In an upcoming chapter of my multi-part, I want to include a story-within-a-story because I hate myself. Let's hypothetically say it's Twilight telling Fluttershy a story about AJ and RD, and would last about 1,000-1,500 words long.

My rationale for story-within-a-story is this: For this story, I feel that Twilight's interpretation of the events—combined with a bit of unreliable narrator—are important, so I don't want to do a straight-up flashback told by the narrator. I don't want to randomly switch the narration style from 3rd-person limited to 1st-person Twilight, since I assume that would be extremely jarring no matter how I try it. So, if I'm not mistaken, that leaves story-within-a-story as the best option.

The problem is that this becomes a quagmire of nested single quotes and unmatched double quotes, given that Twilight will be rambling for hundreds of words straight.

"'Forget you, I can eat all these apples!' Applejack exclaimed.
"'Whoa, Applejack,' cautioned Rainbow Dash, 'you're gonna get a wicked-bad tummyache.'
"Frankly," said Twilight, "I thought Rainbow was right, but I was still excited to see Applejack try her best."
"I see," said Fluttershy.

I'm worried that a few solid pages of that formatting will be unreadable.

In searching Google for some alternatives, one idea that I found is block quotes. It could look something like this (pretending that greentext is block quoted, because I can't do indents in this post)

>"Forget you, I can eat all these apples!" Applejack exclaimed.
>"Whoa, Applejack," cautioned Rainbow Dash, "you're gonna get a wicked-bad tummyache."
"Frankly," said Twilight, "I thought Rainbow was right, but I was still excited to see Applejack try her best."
"I see," said Fluttershy.

This would probably be much more readable, and I could do block quotes in GDocs. However, I can't do block quotes on FimFiction.

So, what do? How would you suggested formatting story-within-a-story? Or, can you think of any alternatives to story-within-a-story that would still allow Twilight to give her friends a skewed version of the events?
>> No. 96435
>>96428
Using ellipses for the twins might also work, if you're using them on both ends of the dialogue. However, I don't like how "...Capital" letters look, though, for starting a sentence; similarly, "...lower-case" seems wrong as well. Similarly, that's why I shy away from "---Start of sentence." If you're combining them, the ellipsis/em dash at the end of the first one is good enough.
>> No. 96441
>>96433
If she's retelling the story without doing voices for her friends, indirect quotes work better. Meaning,

"She said she had enough apples in her"

versus

"'Oh, Celestia, I reckon I can't fit any more inside me!"


You... seem to have the "don't put quotation marks at the end of a very long paragraph of narration with the speaker already denoted" rule down, but I'll reiterate: for longer narrations, unless a character is constantly being interrupted and/or moving about/doing something while speaking, you can get away with long, quoted paragraphs:


"Oh my gosh!" exclaimed Pinkie. "You've got to hear about this one time! We were there, in Ponyville, with everyone around us! And I wondered what I should do! But the answer was obvious when I thought about it: a party!

"But parties are hard to throw! You need supplies, and ponies, and a venue. But we had ponies, and we had a venue! All we needed was the right stuff!

"Luckily, I came prepared for such an event! So in no time at all, I had the whole square covered in streamers, balloons, cakes, and confetti! It was the greatest, most stupendousest party ever!"

"That's some story, Pinkie," Twilight said flatly, not looking up from her book. The spontaneous party had been that afternoon, and she had been there to see the events unfold.


Note the lack of quotes after "party" and "stuff" in the first two paragraphs, but the third paragraph (which... let's assume it needs its own paragraph) is the end of Pinkie's speaking part, so it gets quotes at the end. Also, all of the sup-paragraphs get quotes at the start, to show that "dialogue is continuing."



Another option might be to have Twilight start speaking, then signify a perspective change of third person into her narrative. For example,

"Twi, what in tarnation did they do t' yer mane?"

"Well..." Twilight glanced upwards, trying to remember. "I think it all started this morning..."

------------------------[Pretend this is a line break]------------------------------

"Spike, get up! We're going to be late for whatever contrived holiday this plot requires!"

"Ugh, Twilight," Spike protested through a yawn. "It's not even four in the morning yet. Sheesh."

Undeterred, she used her magic, except I'm getting bored writing this example, so it broke her hair.

------------------------[Pretend this is a line break]-------------------------------

"And that's pretty much it," Twilight finished with a shrug.

"Gol-ly, that's some tale right there," Applejack nodded. "Not like the author got bored or nothin'!"
>> No. 96443
(Nick, I hope you don't mind me popping in like this.)

>>96433
If it's longer than a hundred words, do not use nested quotes. If longer than two hundred, do not use block quotes.

I made these numbers up, but I'm serious about long quotations being ugly. Ugh. It reminds me of Wuthering Heights, with its stories-in-stories-in-story.

The primary story is Twilight's retrospective narration. It should have the most normal-looking text. The secondary story is Twilight's real-time commentary with Fluttershy. It should use a different font, most likely italic style.

Rather than doing flashbacks, you do flash-forwards. It might look like this

==

Twilight began her story. "So, it all started like this..."

* * *

Rainbow Dash was doing stuff and stuff happened.

'Forget you, I can eat all these apples!' Applejack exclaimed.
"'Whoa, Applejack,' cautioned Rainbow Dash, 'you're gonna get a wicked-bad tummyache.'

"Frankly," said Twilight, "I thought Rainbow was right, but I was still excited to see Applejack try her best."
"I see," said Fluttershy.


==


Basically, you should do a Princess Bride. Now, I have a confession to make. I haven't read the book yet, so I don't know exactly how it's formatted. But it seems to be the style of story you want to tell. Crib from the best.
>> No. 96448
>>96443
No, not at all. You're slightly better at this than me, at any rate.
>> No. 96450
>>96443
Though a question has been raised as to the necessity of using both italics and line-breaks. They're both narrative separation methods, so one will suffice. Two is confusion.
>> No. 96452
And, here's how Princess Bride does it.

==
This is me. All abridging remarks and other comments will be in red so you’ll know. When I said at the start that I’d never read this book, that’s true. My father read it to me, and I just quick skimmed along, crossing out whole sections when I did the abridging, leaving everything just as it was in the original Morgenstern.

This chapter is totally intact. My intrusion here is because of the way Morgenstern uses parentheses. The copy editor at Harcourt kept filling the margins of the galley proofs with questions: ‘How can it be before Europe but after Paris?’ And ‘How is it possible this happens before glamour when glamour is an ancient concept? See “glamer” in the Oxford English Dictionary.’ And eventually: 'I am going crazy. What am I to make of these parentheses? When does this book take place? I don’t understand anything. Hellllppppp!!!’ Denise, the copy editor, has done all my books since Boys and Girls Together and she had never been as emotional in the margins with me before.

I couldn’t help her.

==

Wow.
>> No. 96453
>>96450
Oh, you mean a blank line / soft scene break? Yeah, that might be a little much.

Clarity above all.
>> No. 96461
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96461
>>96441
>If she's retelling the story without doing voices for her friends, indirect quotes work better.
Oho. That would make things a lot simpler, wouldn't it? I'll have to try an indirect draft and see if it works out. If not...

>>96443
Ooo, yes. I like that format very much. Since this would be mostly a solid block of inside-story, with Twilight adding a few occasional quips, that italics format would work perfectly. Thanks, both of you :D

>>96452
==
He had made his choice and there was no changing possible: wherever the ravine led was their destination, and that, quite simply, was that.

(At this point in the story, my wife wants it to be known that she feels violently cheated, not being allowed the scene of reconciliation[...] My reply to her—

This is me, and I'm not trying to be confusing, but the above paragraph that I'm cutting into now is verbatim Morgenstern; he was continually referring to his wife in the unabridged book, saying that she loved the next section[...] Here's the thing: I got rid of almost all the intrusions when he told us what she thought. I didn't think the device added a whole lot.
==
Oh my goodness. I really must read the book version.
>> No. 96485
Is there some sort of checklist, criteria, or possibly some good examples on how to start a story in a truly captivating manner?

(This would be for a romance)
>> No. 96487
>>96485
I hope Nick doesn't mind me 'jacking his thread, but...

When a reader goes into a romantic fic, they're expecting the opening to go something like this:
-Description of character A
-Events that show the personality of character A
-Events that will be a source of conflict later
-Introduction of character B
-Events that show the personality of character B
-Events that hint at attraction between A and B

What you want to do to make your introduction interesting is change one (or more) of those points, though I can't really give specifics without knowing the details of your story. Do something unexpected. Skip the first two steps and start your story mid events-that-will-be-a-source-of-conflict-later. Reveal the exposition through character interaction or flashbacks. When I start reading a story, I want to be engaged from line 1. If I have to wait 5000 words for something interesting to happen, I'll go read something else.
>> No. 96488
>>96487
Yeah, pretty much. Harrlequins have this down to a science.
>> No. 96489
>>96485
Define the point at which your story ends. Note that I say "point," as no good story truly "ends." I'm not saying you have to plan out the curtains in the living room; however, you should know a certain point at which "the characters have found what they're looking for and/or have learned something." Your story needs an ending, a destination. Otherwise, you're going to be hopelessly wandering for 10 chapters, and it's going to kill the story's pacing before you've even written a single word.

For a romance story, it's up to you. Is it about how they met, and the story ends with a kiss? Is it about their dating and it ends with marriage? Is it about their lives and ends at death? What do you want to demonstrate with your story? Anyone can write a fucking book*. This fandom has thousands of romance stories. What makes yours special? The answer to that last question might even be, "I want to do it better;" there's no shame in that.


Once you've defined an ending, define your beginning. Now, this isn't "where the characters start out," as relatively few people want to read about ponies giving birth. So, similar to your ending, pick a point in the overall story of these ponies' lives where the story you want to write starts to take shape. Is it a casual look? Moving to a new city? Tripping and falling face-first into an accidental kiss? The last one, except they're facing one another this time? As a rule of thumb, try to start your story as close to the ending as possible while you're still able get everything across.


Once you've got your beginning and your ending, start outlining. Make the plot connections from "A" to "B" to "C," all the way to "Z" (or if you want, "Y"). Define your characters' personalities and backstories. Likes and dislikes. Colors, cutie marks, names, friends, enemies. Anything you think you'll need for the story, plan it out. It's better to waste ten hours on a plot device you abandon than to spend twenty hours of retrofitting it in.


Once you've outlined your story, then it's time to start writing. Know your grammar. Read a style guide or two or ten. Show, don't tell.


Finally, never forget why you're writing, or who you're writing for.


*A quote from my friend's mom. I love the ironic (based on the context) wisdom in it.
>> No. 99794
Hi Nicknack! Sorry for being a stalker and resurrecting your thread (if you still maintain this one) but I've gotten solid advice from you before, so here's my question:

How might one go about justifying a characters belief in always 'doing the right thing' without him seeming like he's doing it for no other reason than to be the goody two shoes, especially when in an especially vicious setting? There is a specific reason, but it isn't revealed until much later.

Not sure what details you need, but you might recall that you read my fist chapter. It was a story called Project Redemption. The main character had just been cloned via advanced technology and proceeded to stumble into two guards who hauled him off to a settlement. It was the non-pony story in one of your review threads. Thanks in advance!
>> No. 99800
>>99794
>How might one go about justifying a characters belief in always 'doing the right thing' without him seeming like he's doing it for no other reason than to be the goody two shoes, especially when in an especially vicious setting? There is a specific reason, but it isn't revealed until much later.

The easiest way I can think of? Ideology. Like, if you're in a vicious setting, you can have him believe in the spirit of Man to a point where he says, "Things are bad, but my race still has honor." It's how I pulled off several of the "good" griffins in my story.

Or he can believe in "good," where he wants there to be more good in the world. Like, he wants to try to fix the "bad" in the world by doing whatever he can to be just, fair, and benevolent.

Or, he can be religious. Despite my views on the burden of proof of religion being incompatible with the realm of science, at the end of the day, good people who believe in religion can use their devotion to it in order to strengthen their resolve to continue to do good, creating a sort of feedback cycle of motivations become actions become goodness becomes motivation...


Harder than ideology would be delusion: you could have a narcissistic asshole who always thinks he's doing the right thing. Hell, on that matter, everyone who's sane always thinks they're doing "the right thing," so if I haven't answered your question with "ideology or delusion," I'd ask you to clarify what "doing the right thing" would mean.
>> No. 99804
Okay, I think I like this thread.

All right, I'm having trouble finishing off my latest chapter. Cliff notes: my human character got zapped to Equestria. After a vicious fight with a Manticore, he's wandering through the everfree forest. He's been poisoned by the manticore's stinger, and it's beginning to effect him. How do you write someone dying like that? I would see him getting nauseous, dizzy, losing consciousness slowly. How would you write how he sees the world? Like a fever dream. I hope I'm not being too vague.

Here's the chapter:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BlBrt7kueWi5KHs1RiDrFB8fAKa6zU0xEVRiW-SinUw/edit

For some reason, I can't think of how to SHOW him getting sicker. I can TELL it, but that's bad. Not asking you to write the rest of it, just some pointers on how you would proceed. Thanks a bunch!
>> No. 99826
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99826
Funny, I was just thinking about this thread this morning. Back with another question.

What's a good rule-of-thumb for when an OC minor character deserves to have their cutie mark described? Obviously, if they have one line in the entire fic, describing the cutie mark is extraneous detail. But I'm having a hard time determining where to draw the line and say "okay, this character really deserves to have their cutie mark described" especially when laziness dictates that nopony gets cutie marks.
>> No. 99898
>>99804
>I would see him getting nauseous, dizzy, losing consciousness slowly.

I'm not entirely sure what type of venom that manticores use, but in snakes, there are often mixed effects around the bite and in the subject that range from tissue damage to nerve damage.

So, in that regard, I'd probably write a "dying from manticore sting as the following sensations:
-sting, include the pain of the skin / organs being penetrated and the pressure / discomfort of venom being injected
-burning, as the venom does initial tissue damage to the wound site
-heightened heart rate as adrenaline kicks in, fueling escape
-slight numbness, leading to stumbling, as the human runs away
-once he's far away, numbness spreads and he drunkenly fights to keep his balance
-he realizes why he's struggling, begins to panic
-coldness, as he goes into systemic shock
-he falls over, unable to stand
-panicked last thoughts, regrets, etc.

Obviously, this is subject to change, and I haven't done a lot of research into snakebites. Also, it's a manticore in your story, so you can have different effects of the venom if you want. But focus on showing the symptoms' effects---pain, balance, etc.--- rather than saying "the venom spread" or whatever.

I'm not sure how much I need to help on this; you already seem to have a decent idea about how you want to show / write this.


>>99826
Personally, I'd say these rules:
-if he or she's a main character to the story, find a way to have them glance at their butt. Cutoff line for "main character?" If they are relevant to the plot or specifically relevant to a main character.
-If a one-time character's "special talent" is relevant to the scene he or she is in
-if it's the first time your narrator / focused character is seeing them, then honestly, ponies probably look at each others' cutie marks on meeting one another, so that'd be a great time / excuse to include the description. Cutoff line? If it's important to show the two ponies meeting.

Now, these are arbitrary, but that's kind of what you asked. Frankly, if you *want* to describe your OC's cutie mark, then do it, but don't take more than a sentence to do it.
>> No. 99945
How do I use semicolons correctly?
>> No. 99947
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99947
>>99898
>honestly, ponies probably look at each others' cutie marks on meeting one another
Nicknack, you're like... the Element of Getting-Me-To-Finally-See-The-Obvious-Answer. Brohoof.
Of course, that means I have to get off my lazy flank and throw together some more cutie marks. Oh well, it helps flesh out the OCs anyway.
>> No. 99949
>>99945
On a basic level, you use them to conjoin two complete thoughts. To extrapolate, a complete thought is a subject that verbs.

Usually, only one complete thought fits in a sentence. However, sometimes it's useful to join two very related sentences. When you do this, you have two grammatically-correct options: a conjunction or a semicolon.

In practice, you basically put a semicolon between two complete sentences and don't capitalize the second one. For example:

>The balloon exploded. The boy shrieked.

becomes

>The balloon exploded; the boy shrieked.

or you can use a conjunction:

>The balloon exploded, and the boy shrieked.

As a note on the last one: you only need the comma if there are two separate subjects in the two sentences. Otherwise, you can get away with linking the verbs:

>The boy jumped. The boy sang.

>The boy jumped and sang.
>> No. 99955
>>99947
If I could art, I'd probably have a lot more focus on my OC's cutie marks. Granted, I've got them planned out in my head, but they never really come up in the story except for one scene where a humorously-agitated female tousles the fur making up her boyfriend's cutie mark.
>> No. 99956
So I have a question for you sir. At what point are you going to produce the next chapter of your feathered race-traitor story? I miss the angst and poorly written OCs!

Oh, on that note, I was kinda wondering as well, what do you think is the best way to portray a character outside of their accepted behavior/mentality, AND, how do you think an over-used theme (say, Tyrant Celestia) can be used in this day and age and actually work?

Oh, and who's the worst reviewer on /fic/?
>> No. 99962
File 133576415862.png - (80.38KB , 254x307 , Glare.png )
99962
>>99956
>Oh, on that note, I was kinda wondering as well, what do you think is the best way to portray a character outside of their accepted behavior/mentality, AND, how do you think an over-used theme (say, Tyrant Celestia) can be used in this day and age and actually work?
In short, write it well. If you give enough in-story justification to the character and the character is deep, lively, and organic, readers will suspend disbelief of fanon---and even canon. Now, you need to make sure the character meshes on some level with the character presented in the show, but after that "foundation," you're free to build in any direction that doesn't overly violate your canon or the show's.

In terms of cliches, my tenure as a prereader offers this much advice: you can do whatever you want if others have done it first, but you've got to completely blow every other example out of the water. Obviously, the more prominent the cliche, the harder this gets, but it all boils down into the work you're willing to put into your story to make a fresh, deep take on an old premise.


>Oh, and who's the worst reviewer on /fic/?
Probably the one guy who referred to everyone's stories as varying degrees of "shit" and "diarrhea," whilst posting tons of grammar errors. Actually, he's probably not even a "reviewer" as much as a "troll," and I'm not going to name my "second from the bottom of the list," as that travels into the realm of "my opinion," and I really don't think it's worthwhile to kill fellow reviewers' confidence like that.


>So I have a question for you sir. At what point are you going to produce the next chapter of your feathered race-traitor story? I miss the angst and poorly written OCs!
Why, after I get done writing the hardcore porn one-shot (or "three-shot" in this case), of course.

>see pic

In all seriousness, June.
>> No. 99966
File 133576503453.jpg - (121.01KB , 1019x739 , 1.jpg )
99966
>>99956
I believe everyone will have to agree that I am the worst of them all.
>> No. 99967
>>99962
> you can do whatever you want if others have done it first, but you've got to completely blow every other example out of the water
so you're saying originality is frowned upon, even when it doesn't trample canon? Or is it just tackling a new angle without giving it enough thought and foundation?

>Probably the one guy who referred to everyone's stories as varying degrees of "shit" and "diarrhea," whilst posting tons of grammar errors.
That's a pretty wide range there pal. Anyhows, you've been here for like, ever, and there was a thread a bit ago on the subject of quality decline in fics since /fic/ began. So on a related tangent, how would you assess the situation in terms of reviewer quality? Do you like the board more than you did back in the dinosaur days, or less?

Finally, since you don't wanna point the bad finger, how about pointing the good? Who do you recommend I seek reviews from these days?
>> No. 99969
File 133576520778.jpg - (50.25KB , 382x341 , Wat.jpg )
99969
>>99966
>> No. 99971
>>99967
>so you're saying originality is frowned upon, even when it doesn't trample canon?
No, in fact the opposite: you NEED originality when you're doing a cliche, otherwise it's just bland "already been done."

>Or is it just tackling a new angle without giving it enough thought and foundation [is frowned upon]?
Pretty much this.

>So on a related tangent, how would you assess the situation in terms of reviewer quality?
There are more reviewers, and the longer-lasting reviewers have a year of practice under their belt. All in all, average review quality has increased, if school and the IRC are sucking everyone's time away from reviewing at the moment.

>Do you like the board more than you did back in the dinosaur days, or less?
My feelings toward this site are never going to back to how they were back in last May/June. However, I know a lot more good people from this board now than I knew back then. So, my average "liking" of this place has declined, as I'm no longer bushy-eyed and naive about this fandom being any better a place than anywhere else on the Internet. However, I've gained e-friends over the past year, and I respect that.

>Finally, since you don't wanna point the bad finger, how about pointing the good? Who do you recommend I seek reviews from these days?
This is also offensive via exclusion. Like the Thanksgiving thread.
>> No. 99981
So what was your inspiration for writing your continuing story, especially in terms of the rich cultural backdrop? How long did it take you to be happy with the OC's you created? An do you do cameos of people you know in your work cuz I think Jerry might be Lightsideluc?
>> No. 99986
>>99967
> That's a pretty wide range there pal.

He's referring to !dǝrpy, a rather 'interesting' troll from about a month or two back. His four or five review threads have been locked and deleted, while the user was banned.
It's not that wide a range actually, believe it or not.
>> No. 99987
File 133576890320.jpg - (42.16KB , 659x441 , 133566518084.jpg )
99987
I did a quick scan of you thread and didn't see this, but if you've already answered a question like it, excuse my horrendous memory.
What method do you use to decide your characters name? Isit based on their profession, characteristics, personality, a combination of the above? Also, do you have a theory on how names are chosen in Equestria? I've always entertained the notion that the names parents give their children are pre-destined, in a way, either by the name determining the child's future, or the name--in a manner of speaking--choosing itself.

>>99898
Now you have me thinking ponies examine each other's Cutie Marks like dogs sniff each other's butts when they meet for the first time.

>>99966
If being humble was a crime, you'd be on death row.

>>99981
ò.ô
>> No. 99989
File 133576991712.png - (25.21KB , 332x307 , Glare.png )
99989
>>99981
>saged because this is about my story, not writing advice

>So what was your inspiration for writing your continuing story, especially in terms of the rich cultural backdrop?
In as short an answer as possible, someone---possibly Garnot, possibly a random reader---wanted me to address the "griffins are going extinct" curse, which I originally fully intended to leave alone. Then, Samurai showed me that I needed to bridge the gap between Heart of Gold, Feathers of Steel and Vermäctnis Suche Solis Bellum.

>How long did it take you to be happy with the OC's you created?
Not very. It probably took a total of a week to plan everyone out; it wasn't entirely difficult. The naming was the hard part, but even then, I just picked stuff related to their character.

My biggest regret is Max Ardor. I can't change that now, though.

>An do you do cameos of people you know in your work?
Yes. A quick rundown:
Garnot: Lieutenant Maltese Spade, a throwback to his character Bogart Maltese from the now-mildly-defunct Pony Equestria Noir
The Samurai: Jackie Chahn, son of an oriental-cultured chef, Choshi Chahn, and an insanely talented blacksmith who does a good job of making original-content armor fit a canon character.
Twilight Snarkle:
SeattleArizona_Lite: Sea Board, a Sao Casco-native journalist who travels throughout Equestria seeking journalist work and writing stories. I made him a mildly drunken lech because he more-or-less pushed me to increase the level of physical romance in this story to a far more "modern" pace.
Vimbert: Page Turner, a female book clerk that looks like his OC from his newer review threads.
Vimbert: Lead Beaker, a male alchemest in St. Ponysburg, around five centuries before the events of Summer Days and Evening Flames
Demetrius: As of yet, I'm undecided on the race of this cameo.
D.a.B.: Daniel, a nondescript male griffin in Gilda's tribe.

>cuz I think Jerry might be Lightsideluc
Hahahahaha--no. I wouldn't make a main character a cameo in the first place, and in the second place... no. Just, no. Yeesh.
>> No. 99996
>>99989
What's wrong with Max Ardor?
>> No. 100005
>>99987
>What method do you use to decide your characters name? Isit based on their profession, characteristics, personality, a combination of the above?
Pretty much. Some of my guards are straight-up puns, others are because I wanted to be fun (Red Field and Love Letter, partners on patrol). Sometimes, the name fits the personality, or the history. E.g., Starfall, a pegasus, moved from Cloudsdale to an earth-pony city. Comet Tail, his then-girlfriend, followed him.

>Also, do you have a theory on how names are chosen in Equestria?
I imagine an entirely oblivious population, where no one realizes how everyone's name seems to fit their lives, or at least, no one dwells on it. Because when you start trying to apply logic, you invariably end up with bullshit like "clairvoyance" which implies a lack of free will, or widespread child manipulation where ponies are forced to grow into their names whether they like it or not. It's not my logic, it's the show's logic, so frankly, I don't feel the need to justify it in my stories when it's already more-or-less accepted by the fanbase.


>>99996
She has absolutely no self-worth, which leads to no self-esteem, and she drinks to try and hide from that.

Or, the name? It just sounds bad to me.
>> No. 100013
File 133577747388.png - (247.35KB , 900x771 , chris_and_jill_by_shadowxsonic1.png )
100013
>>100005

>Red Field and Love Letter

....Oooooh.

I see what you did there.
>> No. 100411
File 133597155320.png - (29.82KB , 113x200 , 132052526583.png )
100411
>>99800
Thanks, that helps me quite a bit. Time for question two.

How does one go about describing a different species if the character is already familiar with said species. When I write it out, it seems kinda strange for the character to spend a lot of time explaining the obvious (from their point of view).
>> No. 100415
>hmm, I should really save my tripcode somewhere cloud-y

The best advice I can offer would be twofold: one, don't have the character obsess over it. It does sound contrived if the narrator, who is familiar with the species at hand, goes over every painstaking inch of them.

Second, you're allowed a little bit of leeway with believability, when it comes to having a small musing on the difference of species between the main character and the other character. Remember to show don't tell; you could have something like (from Rainbow Dash's point of view):

>Gilda landed next to me, folding in her wings with a confident smirk. She was a griffin—half lion, half eagle—so her beak and tallons lit a spark of fear in my gut. She was also my friend, so I was too cool to let something so stupid as her outward appearance bother me.

I mean, it's a few sentences, but you see that she's flight-capable (important for griffins: some mythology have them wingless), half-lion / eagle, and has sharp, pointy parts that are mildly intimidating, even to her friends. Now, it's not describing everything about her, such as the speckled feathers on her chest, headfeather coloration, or her eye color, but it's a functional understanding that's enough to go by.

In short: keep it short and it'll be easier to forgive the mild redundancy.
>> No. 100419
>>100411
>>100415
Don't forget, you can always have a Watson figure; someone who asks a more knowledgable character about aspects of the story that aren't immediately apparent.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheWatson

>>100005
Would it be too self-indulgent if I asked for your opinion on some of my character's names? They're something I've always had trouble with, espcially since I have a thing for making them symbolic.
>> No. 100423
>>100419
From the OP:
>barring large requests of my time in writing your story for you, this is an "anything goes" type deal
>> No. 100452
>>100423
Just checking.

Right then, I have three characters I'd like to get your opinions on.

Iron Resolve: A stoic, levelheaded unicorn. He's the current captain of the royal guard (Shining Armor acts as Equestria's diplomat in the story). His special talent is to embolden his troops, although he's not particularly popular with the other commanders due to his brusque personality. He can be stubborn, but in the face of overwhelming odds or facts he is willing to admit defeat. His loyalty to the crown is nigh-unshakeable.

Steel Valour: Iron Resolve's son, he's an young earth pony with a personality that's fire to Iron's ice. He's aloof, has a tendency to be rebellious, and only really respects his father. His pride is matched only by his passion to be the best. He's too young to serve as a member of the royal guard, so he instead acts as a squire of sorts for his father. Despite not formally being a part of the royal guard, he often trains with the other recruits on the field and--when he feels like it--is highly disciplined, although no pony can get him to stand still in the rank and file except for his father. His talent is refining his own abilities and adapting to different situations.

Star Sigil: The villain in the story, he's an earth pony with aspirations to become a god. During his more mundane years, he worked as a magical artifact "scryer". This job involved the use of magical arrays to move a piece of the user's soul into an enchanted object so that they could deduce its powers. For the most part, it's unicorn work, although due to the nature of arrays (unlike a unicorn's innate magic, arrays can be powered by outside sources such as gems or reagents, and their effects controlled by the diagrams that form them) there are pegasi and earth pony researchers as well. However, while he was very skilled at his job, he always felt like he had been cheated out of his true caling by being born an earth pony. One day, while working on a shard of Nightmare Moon's armor, he comes across one of the spirits that had been used to augment her power. With the promise of being able to gain the powers of a unicorn--and more--ringing in his ears, he reverses the array's polarity and becomes the spirit's host. He's cunning, ambitious, and isn't afraid to walk over those who get in his way. However, he lacks patience and doesn't deal with failure very well, often over-correcting when his plans go awry.
>> No. 100470
>>100452
>Iron Resolve
This sounds quite a lot like "Iron Will," as "will" and "resolve" are borderline synonyms. That's also, personally, not counting captains of the guard named Iron. His two biggest personality traits are... well, resolve, and loyalty. Combining those, might I counter-suggest Defensive Stance?

>Steel Valour
This seems to downplay or omit his hot-headed nature altogether. "Steel" is harder than "Iron," if you're going for "steadfastness," which, from your description, doesn't seem like it fits. Maybe Double Edge, as it seems like he's wilder, and I feel that that's going to cost something down the line? Maybe Reckless Drive?

>Star Sigil
This one works well, no suggestions.
>> No. 100546
>>100470
His name was Iron Will before the show took that. (╯°□°)╯︵┻━┻
I was originally considering Iron Honour (Hon-our, Val-our), but several friends told me that Resolve sounded better.
A good point one of them raised was that most characters in the show follow a 2-1 or 3-syllable naming convention, with some (like Twilight Sparkle) being a 2-2.
Defensive Stance is a little too obvious. I can't help but feel that it's like calling a carpenter "Wood Crafter", and there's also the fact that he leads a large-scale offensive in the story (although, to be fair, he pretty much does that name to a T up until the aforementioned point).

Not necessarily. Depending on its carbon content, steel can be more ductile than iron, and I was mostly aiming for a progression to their names (Iron > Steel, to which a friend joked about Steel's son being Galvanized).
I suppose he could be classified as Chaotic Good. He stands by his beliefs, but if someone tells him to go against them, he's not going to give them much consideration. Ergo, he's steadfast about his convictions. Changing to adapt to the situation doesn't mean chaging his core ideals, after all. The Valour ties into his personality as well; he's always looking for a chance to prove himself the hero, but he hasn't matured enough to realize when valour tips into bravado. You could say his name is more a reflection of where he's going, not where he is, in terms of character.
I quite like the sound of Double Edge, though. Not sure if I'll use it for Steel, but I have one character it could work very well with.
>> No. 110540
File 134184005141.png - (88.35KB , 337x600 , GOD DAMN THIS IS ADORABLE.png )
110540
With my most recent review thread closed and the fact that I have zero desire to read any fanfics for a while, I'm bumping this on account that I still have some desire to help on a conceptual level.

Just remember the few rules in this thread: I'm not an editor / proofreader, and this isn't a review thread.

Other than that, ask away.
>> No. 110558
Well, this seems as good a place as any to get some advice.

I've been working on a story idea recently that involves deconstructing AppleDash shipping by giving them a healthy start to a relationship that later starts to dissolve due to competitiveness (and mostly Dash's personality). The idea is to drop the reader in media res to the rough spot of the relationship, and highlight specific parts of their history through flashbacks.

Does this seem like a good idea? I really don't want to spend chapters upon chapters building up the relationship, because it removes the point of the story I'm trying to go for. However, I also worry that the flashback frame is so overly done that the story will lose impact. Is there a good way to balance this?

And on a systematic tangent: When doing direct thoughts in third-person limited, should I just weave it into the narration, or use italics?

For bonus points: What about if the thought is a line that had been spoken earlier in the story? Would using direct quotes and italics be fine?

I'm sorry if that is too many questions.
>> No. 110609
>>110558
>Does this seem like a good idea?
Any idea can be executed well, so yes.

>I really don't want to spend chapters upon chapters building up the relationship, because it removes the point of the story I'm trying to go for. However, I also worry that the flashback frame is so overly done that the story will lose impact. Is there a good way to balance this?
You could handle it via perspectives, starting with Dash saying, "I don't know what Applejack's problem is, we started out good," etc., throw hints to the reader that Dash just doesn't pick up on, and then change to Applejack near the 3/4 mark of the story where the truth is revealed. Bonus points for "element of Honesty." Now, you'd be doing "flashbacks" for Dash, for the most part, but really, it's always implied that a story in past tense happened before the narration, so it's not going to feel THAT flashback-y, if you handle it like any other story.

>And on a systematic tangent: When doing direct thoughts in third-person limited, should I just weave it into the narration, or use italics?
Just like dialogue, give them an attribution tag for the most part, only having a "blank thought" here and there.

>For bonus points: What about if the thought is a line that had been spoken earlier in the story? Would using direct quotes and italics be fine?
Would the character directly quote the other character? Then direct quotes as part of thoughts, or quote a single word.
>> No. 110675
Is the punctuation for this line:

>A deep, silken chocolate resonated within the tomb-like chamber, “Greetings. First, I would be grateful for the return of what’s mine.”

correct? Specifically, is that comma after "chamber" wrong?

I did a bit of looking around, but I can't find credible sources regarding when commas before dialogue are acceptable.

To further this question, would this statement: "Commas before dialogue are fine if the word preceding the comma is a speaking verb: "said", "murmured", "shouted" etc., and wrong otherwise" be correct?

Also, are there any fatal weaknesses with italicized, direct thoughts in 3rd limited?
>> No. 110676
All right, here's the situation. I'm currently in the process of writing a comedy crossover with Team Fortress 2, a violent and heavily stylized hat simulator first-person shooter. In the story, the RED Soldier, Pyro and Medic (who use a rocket launcher, use a flamethrower, and heal respectively) make inter-universal contact with Equestria. A good chunk of the humor comes from the fact that this is something that the mercenaries have done hundreds of times, plus the fact that the world of TF2 is basically insane. Being a mad scientist is a legitimate medical condition, the "gravel boom" of the mid-1800s resulted from the European obsession with alchemy, and the undead have equal rights.

So here's the problem. In my version of Equestria, it's illegal to use a firearm of any kind, under any circumstances. (You can technically own them, but you can't fire them.) This thrusts the mercenaries into conflict with the Equestrian government halfway through the story. The problem is, the mercenaries are experienced and level-headed enough to know that it doesn't end well when you randomly pull guns on civilians, and I don't want to use the cliched standard "monster attacking Ponyville" scenario.

The solution I came up with is to have a renegade group of ponies attack Ponyville, attempting to wipe out the extra-universal marauders. Here's the kicker, though: the universes that MLP and TF2 take place on are almost parallel. The difference is, Equestria is located where the lost continent of Atlantis used to be on Earth. This means that every country that exists on Earth has a pony equivalent. including the USA, because Equestria is not the USA The problem is, I don't want to offend anyone. So where do the renegade ponies come from? Keep in mind that it's basically present day in Equestria the only reason anypony outside Equestria knows this is happening is because it leaked onto the Internet, but it's 1983 in the TF2 universe.
>> No. 110691
File 134196365644.png - (88.35KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
110691
>>110675
In that specific instance, I'd do a period. The basic sentence of that is "chocolate resonated," which isn't really a speaking verb. With dialogue, you only join it to other sentences using commas when the sentence in question is directly speaking the verb.

For example,
>He sighed. "Don't do that."
>He whispered, "Don't do that."

>>110676
Why have renegade ponies? Why not Windigoes, griffins, or something from the Everfree?
>> No. 110695
File 134196660499.png - (59.26KB , 200x200 , fluttershy_avatar_050.png )
110695
Kind sir--

You appear to be well trained in the art of the written word, so I beg, if it is not so much an intrusion on your daily endeavors, that you would humor me by responding to this post-colon-istic inquiry:

I am very skilled at writing succinct snippets of prose, but the merit of my work seems to plummet once my story exceeds the length of one-thousand words. What tricks and sorcery does the sagacious writer use to write stories that are both great in terms of quality and quantity?

I appreciate the charitable services you use to help your writing compatriots.

Cordially,

name.wittytxt
>> No. 110696
File 134196715511.gif - (1.00MB , 350x191 , THISGONBGUD.gif )
110696
>>110691
>Windigoes
...Oh boy. I just thought of something.

Windigoes feed off fighting and hatred. Therefore, using conventional weapons against them would only make them stronger.

Therefore, if Windigoes showed up in Equestria and the mercenaries tried to fight them, they'd only make it worse.

Nicknack, you're a mad genius!
>> No. 110701
File 134197128101.png - (88.35KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
110701
>>110695
>sagacious... quality
Well, that's debatable. However, the best advice I an give you for writing longer stories is to write an outline. Planning is crucial, because a story is a journey from the opening sentence to the closing scene. Without a map, it's easy to get lost and sidetracked.

Once you've got an outline, the important thing is to make sure that virtually every sentence progresses the story towards the conclusion, or provides background so that the characters or locations have depth. There's an old adage that "brevity is the source of wit." There's also some truth in that; if you can't be succinct with your words, you're just going to, uh, stumble around, like, you know, someone who doesn't sound like they know what they're talking about and stuff. Similarly, if you can't be brief with your scenes, they'll begin to feel diluted and empty.

>>110696
Genius is debatable, but I'm glad to have sparked an idea.
>> No. 110754
>>110691
Noted with my thanks. The reason is because I ran into this issue doing a review, and I didn't have authority to call righteous fury down on it aside from "it bugged me while reading". So yeah, I'll just relay that.
>> No. 110760
>>110701
Thank you very much for your time and attention. Have a fantasta-magical existence.
>> No. 110864
>>110754
If something bugs you while reading, you're always entitled to point it out, as a reviewer. Something technically might be correct when writing but if it doesn't flow in a smooth manner, you should tell the reader that some streamlining or revision is in order. (that sentence is my attempt at recreating that phenomenon)

>>110760
You're welcome, and happy writing.
>> No. 110928
>>110864

>Nicknack On a Mac

I'm pretty jealous of the number of jokes you can make with your moniker.
>> No. 110971
>>110928
It's funny, because I actually have my tripcode stored on Dropbox in a .txt file. That post just came while I was on a coffee break at work, thinking the best time to respond / bump this thread would be in the early morning.
>> No. 110972
>>110971
To clarify, I don't have my personal dropbox linked to my work account on this computer (which is half work laptop, half writing laptop), and I do all my break-Internet stuff on Incognito mode in case my boss wants me to look at some website, so Chrome doesn't get antsy about what I mean when I type in "po."

And seeing as how I had to look up some POSIX stuff, and research point-of-sale software, it's more than paid off so far.
>> No. 110989
File 134219830573.png - (202.24KB , 803x711 , Mare do well cool.png )
110989
>>110971

I'm totally not shamelessly bumping this thread.

Also, pony stuff at work? I envy your ability to do that so easily. Shocking as it may be, logging on and working on stories/reviews is not as simple when you're waiting tables at a cafe...
>> No. 110997
>>110989
Define "easily." I can maybe afford 5 minutes to check things once every four hours.

I check out this thread so I can marinate ideas in my head for a few hours before going home and responding.
>> No. 111014
Okay, I find myself becoming scared to death of the semicolon.

A reviewer today told me that there were a lot of places that I could replace a comma with a semicolon. I've read the rules on its use, but ALL the time I hear about "semicolon abuse," especially from EqD prereaders. If you don't mind, a few examples:

When her mind finally returned, a loud ringing filled her ears, and her head throbbed painfully.

Suggested change: When her mind finally returned, a loud ringing filled her ears; her head throbbed painfully.

The bushes that covered the forest floor rustled with life. Glowing eyes of unknown animals peered at her as she stumbled through their home.

Suggested change: The bushes that covered the forest floor rustled with life; glowing eyes of unknown animals peered at her as she stumbled through their home.

Also, one with a colon: For a moment, the only sound in the clearing was the gentle blow of the breeze. Then, a quiet voice from the darkness whispered a single word back to her. “You.”

Suggested change: For a moment, the only sound in the clearing was the gentle blow of the breeze. Then, a quiet voice from the darkness whispered a single word back to her: “You.”

What say you, oh Great and Mighty Smart Person?
>> No. 111071
File 134224311908.png - (229.90KB , 454x640 , Impossibru.png )
111071
>>111014

>Pic sort of related

Hope this doesn't offend, Nick.

Semicolons are used to separate distinct clauses that are related. Specifically, if there are two sentences that are related, joining them with a semicolon can improve the flow or provide emphasis. Take the following sentence as an example:

"Her eyes were shining like diamonds in the firelight. Every movement she made was a testament to the wicked motives that lay behind that innocent smile."

These two sentences are related to one another, but we can't separate them with a comma; if we did, it would be a comma splice. See what I just did there? Related sentences that are distinct, yet joined by a semicolon for the purpose of emphasis. Here's that same sentence with a semicolon rather than a period:

"Her eyes were shining like diamonds in the firelight; every movement she made was a testament to the wicked motives that lay behind that innocent smile."

There are things not to place after a semicolon, however. First of all, a semicolon should never be followed by a conjunction:

"Her eyes were shining like diamonds in the firelight; and every movement she made was a testament to the wicked motives that lay behind that innocent smile."

Semicolons are used when there is not a conjunction joining the clauses.
>> No. 111089
>>111071
I just wanted to butt in to say that sentence looks awful with a semi-colon.

>First of all, a semicolon should never be followed by a conjunction

with the exception of a multicomponent list.

[i]The destinations include Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and Moscow, Russia.
>> No. 111206
>>111071
Cool, thanks.

Now, what about semicolons in dialogue? Is there a rule about that? Can I use them?
>> No. 111217
>>111206
colons and semicolons are stiff and 'undialogue-like', and I've always taken to completely avoiding them in dialogue.

I tend to avoid them in general due to the fact that they support stiff writing (or in the case of semicolons, showing off)
>> No. 111246
>>111014
I've got a response to this incoming, but probably in a few hours or so. For now, >>111071 is pretty decent advice to start with.

>>111206
SLP, in >>111217, is mostly correct; however, bear in mind that some people naturally speak in a manner where you can actually hear the semicolon. There's also something to be said for the grammatical correctness of someone's dialogue counting for characterization: if they have a lot of sentence fragments or run-on sentences, that sounds like a different way of speaking (and implies a different type of person) than someone who mostly speaks in clean grammar. Similar rules apply for slang and swearing.
>> No. 111392
>someone needs to post my Damp Octavia picture; this thread feels sad without it.

>>111014
1.
>When her mind finally returned, a loud ringing filled her ears, and her head throbbed painfully.
Suggested change:
>When her mind finally returned, a loud ringing filled her ears; her head throbbed painfully.

That suggested change doesn't work because then the semicolon divides the thought about the effects of getting flash-banged or whatever. Those two symptoms of "being near an explosion" are related, so don't break them up. Instead, it's grammatically correct to not have a comma before "and." E.g.:
>When her mind finally returned, a loud ringing filled her ears and her head throbbed painfully.


2.
>The bushes that covered the forest floor rustled with life. Glowing eyes of unknown animals peered at her as she stumbled through their home.
Suggested change:
>The bushes that covered the forest floor rustled with life; glowing eyes of unknown animals peered at her as she stumbled through their home.

These two thoughts express the same thing, so a period is redundant and a semicolon gives it a biblical-level chiastic structure. Combine the two thoughts into one:
>Glowing eyes of otherwise-hidden animals peered at her from the bushes as she stumbled through their territory.
(changed home to territory for more animalistic-sounding nouns)

3.
>For a moment, the only sound in the clearing was the gentle blow of the breeze. Then, a quiet voice from the darkness whispered a single word back to her. “You.”
Suggested change:
>For a moment, the only sound in the clearing was the gentle blow of the breeze. Then, a quiet voice from the darkness whispered a single word back to her: “You.”

I agree with this, but try omitting "back to her." The dialogue of the voice implies who it's speaking to, after all, and that it's a response.
>For a moment, the only sound in the clearing was the gentle blow of the breeze. Then, a quiet voice from the darkness whispered a single word: “You.”
>> No. 111405
File 134231831417.png - (712.77KB , 811x800 , 114014 - artist hezaa fluttershy judas_priest painkiller parody.png )
111405
>>111392
I literally submitted this to EqD about an hour ago. Last minute save FTW, my friend. :P Thanks for the advice!
>> No. 111410
File 134231993236.png - (256.59KB , 900x900 , 1830__artist-johnjoseco_octavia_wet-mane.png )
111410
>>111392
>> No. 111411
>>111410
Not >>110701 / >>110691 / >>110540, but close enough.
>> No. 111413
>>111411
And by that, I mean, "thank you."
>> No. 111414
File 134232105968.png - (398.42KB , 2106x3750 , 37321__safe_octavia_wet_artist-nianara.png )
111414
>>111413
No problem.
>> No. 111516
File 134237533221.png - (36.10KB , 156x160 , Lyra131721118547.png )
111516
I've been told by a few reviewers that my writing is too dry. How to I fix this?
>> No. 111527
File 134237912539.png - (88.35KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
111527
>>111516
Vary up your sentence structure, make sure nothing's repetitive, and expand your vocabulary. Use as few words as possible to describe enough of the actions necessary to tell a story.

Also, work on narrative voice: invent a character for your narrator and tell the story through their words.
>> No. 111529
>>111414
>image dimensions
That's just... too much cute for my 1440x900 monitor. It's a shame I would never let myself get a poster of that, though.
>> No. 111533
Hey NickNack,

I'll try to make my question "concrete." Basically, I'm just wondering if you have any advice on brainstorming/story planning. I've always struggled with having a story idea, yet having no idea how to execute. I'm not sure if this is a creativity problem that I'll never be able to solve, or if I just need to engage in a different mode of thinking.

For example, I want to write a fic about Rainbow Dash and Applejack having a home run derby (a fic only I would read, since no one else likes baseball apparently) but I have no idea how to have it end, or how to make it entertaining.

In a related vein, I am currently in the progress of planning a novel, but I'm struggling with coming up with the proper scenes to advance the story. Heck, this is a problem for most stories that I write. So, again, I suppose that goes back to brainstorming. Is there a way to be more creative? Or am I doomed to have a rigid, narrow thinking mind forever?
>> No. 111536
>>111527
Okay, thanks. I'll try harder.
>> No. 111572
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>>111533
My stock advice for planning a story is "plan the ending, figure out how much info you need to make it work, then plan the opening, then work in various scenes until you get to the end."

But, since you're having problems planning the ending, perhaps a more general question / goal should be, "What is this story about?" You said, "baseball," which is a good start. How about genre? Mood? What is the lesson you want to show two ponies learning? Do you want to have a story? You could just write the scene.

A fun point I remembered about "mood" is that the characters' emotions can paint an entire perspective of events. For example, Dash is upset about something over summer? It's a muggy, oppressive heat. She's ecstatic? It's a sunny day, a great day for flying!

Or, you can go the tearjerker route of "Dash is remembering the home run derby," but surprise, she's holding a baseball over Applejack's grave and crying.

For scene planning, always remember where the story's going (the end), the major milestones, and then make sure each scene is going toward a milestone or the end.


As for general brainstorming tips, get in the habit of role-playing your characters. In any story, there's an infinite amount of details and nuances that build characters. If you plan out interactions with your characters, even if they're stupid and inane and have no business going into your story proper, that's still getting you familiar with their personalities and how they'd act given a situation. For example, I have probably spent days (over the past year) imagining scenes between various pairings of ~ten characters in one of my story; it's a good passtime when you're on a bus or something. Some of it's downright stupid and out-of-character, but I can catch myself on that (usually) and move on.

And that's what brainstorming is, really: think of every word you can (no filter), and then apply it to your story. The important part about brainstorming isn't what you're thinking, it's that you're thinking. If I were to say, "make a joke about sand in Applejack's vagina," you might laugh, realize how that's out of place in your story, but then that's a slightly more rigid definition of your story's content and theme, and you might get an idea about adding in a comment about the grainy sand of the pitcher's mound or the two of them sitting on the inner field or something.
>> No. 111582
File 134240363321.png - (533.22KB , 600x800 )
111582
There was a request to have the OP's image fixed; currently it redirects to a WebFaction error screen.

The only thing I can think of that might fix this is using the Rebuild Board function, which... might fix it.

I could embed the image into the OP if it doesn't, but it would come at the cost of either displacing text or not be viewable on the front page (depending on where it's placed in the post).
>> No. 111583
>>111582
If "rebuilding" it doesn't work, is there a way to completely delete the image stump? Like, to reclassify this post as a "no file" post, not one with the "Image deleted" thing?
>> No. 111584
File 134240467321.png - (325.99KB , 588x768 )
111584
>>111583

Hm. Rebuild didn't fix it. Dash Server might still be down, don't think I've seen any images linking to her anytime recently.

And no, I don't think I can do that. Even if I delete the image, it'll still have the image deleted stump. !!Celestia might be able to manage it, but I'd have to ask him and he's not available at the moment.
>> No. 111597
File 134241078813.png - (179.97KB , 640x360 , I Like Bucking.png )
111597
>>111584
Well, dang. I guess I'll have to do without. Either way, it's not the worst news I've heard recently, so thanks for looking into it.
>> No. 111617
how about ellipses? currently, I don't use spaces if they're acting as "punctuation":

"like trailing off..."

"...or ghosting something in."

but I do use spaces when they act as a "beat":

"yeah . . . but sometimes I think it can look awkward to have both in the same sentence."

is there a generally accepted way this is done?
>> No. 111619
Who do you go to for reviews (on this board)?
>> No. 111621
Well hopefully this is the right place to ask this. Recently I tried submitting one of my stories to EqD and it got rejected. The thing that's really putting a wall up for me in improving it is that they called the writing flat and rereading it I can't disagree with what the pre-reader said. A while back I was told it might be better to switch perspectives from 3rd person to 1st person. Do you think doing the switch would actually work to improve the writing?
Here's the story : http://www.fimfiction.net/story/29008/A-Heavy-Crown
>> No. 111670
>>111619
there are several such threads, and you will find them listed under the stickied "posting rules" section at the top of the page.
>> No. 111671
>>111670
I'm quite sure he meant who he trust the most to give him a sincere and most effective opinion in the board. As in, if he needed some definite advice, who he gonna call?
The answer would be the Ghost Busters
>> No. 111682
File 134247482350.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
111682
>>111617
I'd keep them together when you're doing it for a beat, but put a space after it. For example,
"Uh... I don't think that goes there," she muttered.

That's because unicode has the elipsis as a standard character (U-2026), which is really my first standard for "is this punctuation mark valid" (followed shortly by, "does it look like ass?").

Otherwise, you're using the un-spaced ones correct. Also be aware that em-dashes can provide a more direct interruption.


>>111621
Fimfiction.net is down at the moment, but that might actually be a benefit because I think you're trying to fix a broken pipe with a sledgehammer. It could work, in theory, but methinks there's perhaps a better way to go about this.

After all, dry writing is dry writing no matter what perspective it's from.

So, in that regard, I don't think that switching from third-to-first is going to change anything about the ease-of-reading / dryness of the writing. Perspective's more about forcing exposure to the readers in order to control empathy. My general advice for dry writing is to make sure to "spruce up" the writing with necessary details that give life to your story: vocal tones, body language, scenery, smells, sounds, background characters, etc. Build a world while you're telling a story, and it will be a rich and fulfilling experience.


>>111619
>>111670
>>111671
I'm in the midst of shopping around, but Garnot, Samurai, and Seattle were the first three (from what I recall).
>> No. 111692
>>111682
Samurai hasn't been around for a while, and Seattle hasn't opened a new review thread since your tag team autosaged. That means Garnot?
>> No. 111693
File 134247912150.jpg - (34.52KB , 600x425 , spoiler.jpg )
111693
>>111682
So essentially only Garnot, right?
>> No. 111695
File 134247929911.jpg - (2.66KB , 126x126 , spoiler.jpg )
111695
>>111692
I understand that he, Sam, answers emails, but don't quote me on that.
>> No. 111702
File 134248093490.png - (244.26KB , 780x449 , GAH.png )
111702
>>111692
I said the original three, and don't want to go into details over who was added and removed from the "list" as time progressed for whatever reason.

I'm in semi-regular contact with all of my reviewers, outside of /fic/. Do you think I'd risk letting a ban for whatever stupid rule I didn't break come between me and writing?

>>111693
quelle horreur
>> No. 111717
File 134248446897.gif - (134.73KB , 671x363 , 3f8.gif )
111717
>>111702
I believe the term you are looking for is "Que Horror!"
>> No. 111719
>>111717
Sproiken de Französisch?
>> No. 111725
>>111719
Você fala português?

क्या आप हिंदी बोलती हैं?

Вы говорите по-русски?

日本語を話しますか。

Ba al dakizu euskaraz?
>> No. 111734
>>111733
That might've crossed some lines. Answer "no" to all questions.
>> No. 111835
Oh yay, my picture is back.
>> No. 111853
Do you have any advice on how to write a romantic subplot (keyword: SUBplot)? If so, do you care to share it? :)
>> No. 111919
File 134256298005.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
111919
>>111853
First and foremost, make sure that it weaves into the narration easily and contributes to the conflict resolution at hand. For example, if you want to ship two background characters (and show how their relationship is blooming / falling apart), you can "check in" on them from time to time, just don't have your narrator / focus character go out of their way to do it. Otherwise, you'll break a little of the author / reader relationship, and the mental backlash will be one of "who cares about the unnamed couple in the background? Get back to the main story!" As with any recurring plot device, make sure that it mirrors or foils the action at hand.

Now, for a romantic subplot with a main character, you're in the same boat: make sure augments the narrative more than simply doubling your chapter size. A good example would be The Avengers, which had a romance between... The Interrogator and Hot Archer Guy their superpowers are crap, I don't remember their names. The subplot drove Interrogator's actions, especially when dealing with... Demonic Star Trek Android... but you'd be pretty hard-pressed to say that The Avengers was about their romance. However, it would be a different movie if Interrogator and HAG didn't have their romantic motivations, so there's clearly something more there than "Joss Whedon wanted to ship two characters."

So, basically, make sure that the romance fits the story and helps drive it. You want a femur, not a tumor.
>> No. 111952
Any advice on writing a tense foot chase? I've been trying to keep it fast, i.e. writing in short sentences, keeping overt description to a minimum. I thought I heard somewhere that when doing action, telling is preferred, just so the reader doesn't get bored and keeps up. Is this true?
>> No. 111953
>>111952
Sounds about right; that's more or less what I do:

>Stephen came in with a low jab. I dodged. After he missed, he flared his wing in my face and held it there. I blindly fought to get out of his melee range, but even as I did, I felt one of his hands grab my neck while his other fist started hammering my side.
>> No. 112002
File 134258972124.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
112002
>>111952
Another hint that was given to me by an anonymous Samurai type: Make sure you vary sentence length while keeping them as short and succinct as possible. Don't be like "subject verbed. other subject verbed." Part of the "sweet spot" is to find the right blend of short-and-medium-length sentences.
>> No. 112563
File 134291667747.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
112563
Bermp from page 3
>> No. 112571
>>112002
Two things:

What does this mean? I know, write as little as possible, but what are smal and middle sentences?

He killed him.

He stabbed him in the neck.

He made an arc with his arms, carefully slicing the arms off.

Which one is right? Is it a ratio thing?

Second thing: planning long stories sounds like hell. I have made outlines before and I normally just stop because the outline gets too big for it to be practical. What do?
>> No. 112576
>>112571
I'd say the first two are short-length and the second is medium-length. Again, you want to blend things: all short sentences, it sounds stilted. All medium sentences, it's not as fast as it might be. Long sentences can work, but it's really a situation-by-situation basis.

So, none of those are really "right," as they all say different things and can be right or wrong based on context.


As for "outlines getting too long to be practical..." like, are you saying you don't like the length of your story? Try and see what you can cut out without changing the message / plot.

Or, does the outline just seem like it's taking too long to write? In that case... suck it up, I guess. It's better to take two hours writing a map than starting out blind.
>> No. 112703
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112703
Hey NickNack, I’ve been browsing your market’s bric-a-brac for a spell and it seems you’re a competent fellow with finely-crafted wares and opinions. I’m in need of advice, and this looks like just the place to post my question.

I’m someone who requires structure. In order to do something that doesn’t give immediate positive feedback or the near-certain prospect of positive feedback at a determined future date, I need to form a habit. In order for me to form a habit, I need a routine. As it stands, I’ve formed far more bad habits than good ones. For the past three to four years, my custom has been some variation of the following:

1.)Daydream, think up snippets of scenes, traits of characters, the beginnings of themes.

2.)Write a note or two down, can be either detailed or succinct.

3.)Wait a while for inspiration, occupy self with unrelated activities.

4.)Have a douche Muse strike with inspiration sometime late at night.

5.)Consume excessive sugar and/or caffeine.

6.)Write like a madman.

7.)Take a few days to recover.

8.)Do a little self-editing.

9.)Have someone look at it and give their thoughts, critiques, point out typos, &c. (This is usually an acquaintance or friend.)

10.)Edit some more.

11.)Publish it.

12.)Sagely contemplate one’s naval for a few months while the story is largely ignored.

13.)If it’s a multi-part story, lose all interest in continuing it.


This has proved to be unworkable. I didn’t intend for this pattern to arise, but that’s what happens with lack of planning.

I need a new system, I need a new routine, and I need new habits. The best possible thing you could do for me would be a complete guide to story-rearing, from forming little doodles in the brain to pressing the button to submit to Equestria Daily*.

I could use any advice you have, as this is a serious problem for me, and I don’t want to continue making the same mistakes. I don’t want my stories to be dead in the womb.

Thanks for your time.

*I’ve only submitted one story to EqD. It was terrible and rightly rejected.
>> No. 112730
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112730
>>112703
>I didn’t intend for this pattern to arise, but that’s what happens with lack of planning.
You're so close to your solution, yet so far.

You say your entire "planning" phase of writing consists of "Daydream, think up snippets of scenes, traits of characters, the beginnings of themes" and "Write a note or two down, can be either detailed or succinct."

I'm telling you that "a note or two" isn't sufficient. Your problem (at least to me) seems to stem from a lack of outlining. Anyone above 70 IQ can brainstorm and daydream—it's literally sitting and thinking. But outlining, planning your entire story from front to finish? It's a integral part of writing that apparently droves of people forget to do. Including me. I'm a student of writing just like everyone else on this board.

Myself, I'm starting on a new idea for an outlining plan. I have no idea if it works, but it seems to me that it's a lot of thinking on the macro level (and planning!) so... who cares if you make the blueprints to a house in an asinine way if the thing stands, right? Now, I'm going to use an example story of mine, Summer Days and Evening Flames. If you're the majority of people who hasn't read it, it's the story of what happens to Gilda in the few months after her appearance in the show—she moves to a city, becomes a guard, makes a few friends, gets in a few fights with criminals and guards alike, yadda yadda yadda. So, with that ample summary of my story, I'll demonstrate to you the process that I'm going to retroactively apply to my story to better facilitate, you know, the ending not sucking.

Anyway, first off, boil down your idea into a single thought or concept. Summer Days is about integration—not the 1960s deal, but a new person coming and joining a new culture.

Now, integration's a broad category, but that's a good thing—it gets me to think about how I can write about integration: integration into society (Gilda gets a job as a guard), into family (she starts dating someone), and into people's lives (Newtonian physics apply; for every action done to her, she must have an equal and opposite reaction). It lets me play with foils: why does she need integration (she was kicked out of her old home)? What happens when integration doesn't happen smoothly (another family moved into the city ten years ago and didn't have a very easy time)?

From there, I see that integration has very many facets. So I get to play with those facets; for example, family is part of integration (how I've defined it), so I get to establish families and show how they're different. Be it the old family that's a marriage in crisis, the new lovers who are having trouble with barriers, the brother and sister who lie to each other under guise of love or the siblings that lie to each other because they have to, there's a lot of dichotomy that I want to show (this is me, as the author—not all story need be about dichotomy).

From there, I get to start about characters and scenes. Obviously, if it's involving Gilda integrating into society through work and romance, I need two characters: a "boss" and a "romantic interest." I cheated and made them the same character. Now, from a personality standpoint, he (gender is arbitrary at this point, but I don't think griffins are well-equipped to be lesbians) has to be responsible enough to handle authority, grounded enough to act as an anchor for Gilda's brand of crazy, and fallible enough where he's realistic. So, I twisted him into a mildly-incompetent Captain of the Guard (whose mistake is inexperience from age, not malevolence) who doesn't have a lot of relationship experience. Why not? I could give him a child, but I didn't want to bring that dynamic into the relationship, so I gave him a younger sister, killed off their parents, and bada-bing, bada-boom, he's spent the last twelve years of his life raising his younger sister.

Now, I said "characters and scenes," because really, those two parts of your story are conjoined. Characters progress the story through scenes that have characters interacting in a way that progress the story. So, I mentioned romance. How do they act on a date? How do they act in public? How does one get physical with a griffin (warning: mind your lips)? Given that they're both inexperienced and guarded, that chooses the pace of the romance: slow and guarded, not fast and furious (with apologies to the reviewer of mine who wants me to turn my story into porn). Same with work: how do they act in an authoritative / submissive relationship? I cheated by making the male lead both lover and boss, but that means I need to work at showing why it's not a good idea to date one's superiors (and I do).

That's a sampling of the process for creating one character; it took me about twenty minutes to type up. I've got a lot more characters to plan out, though: Hell, I didn't even touch on Gilda yet. There's the sister of the love interest, then there's other guards, that family I told you about with integration, the pair of foiling siblings—all this, and I have two scenes in the story involving the main six as actors.

But, anyway, once I get the characters and SOME of the scenes planned out like that, now, I have to frame this story. The most important part of a story is its ending. I know the ending of Summer Days and Evening Flames, but won't be spoiling it here.

After an ending, though, I need a point at which to begin the story. My first time around, I decided to introduce three of the main characters, and have two of them argue over what should be done about one crash-landed griffin in their city, three years before the story begins. I still think that'll work, but I'm not sure about the transition between prologue and chapter one—like, as I'm typing this, I don't know what I'm going to start chapter one as. I haven't really brainstormed or thought about it yet, which is where your "brainstorming and taking a few notes" comes into play: they're better used as tools to fix localized problems, and outlines are good at planning the entire system.

But, with beginning and ending in mind, I begin to wrap the scenes, characters, and themes from my story into a scene-by-scene, action-by-action, dialogue-by-dialogue outline. Outlining is good because it lets you think things out and write briefly. "S stabs G, G breaks S" is... a little bare for a real story, but I can build into and away from it without getting hung up on the nuances of the English language and whether or not I've used the word "penetrated" wrong.

When you've created enough scenes, actions, and dialogue to connect the beginning of the story to the end of the story, then you can start writing.

The physical act of writing is about ensuring comfort. Find a position that you're comfortable sitting in for hours (OSHAA has some guidelines). Find a place that's not too loud or distracting. Get some good instrumental music. Get some tea or coffee, get your outline, get in character (role-playing while writing characters is crucial), and write.
>> No. 112742
Okay, so... this is an exceedingly specific question. The fact that it took me such a long post describe makes me feel like a silly-head, but there it is.

When I am writing dialogue, on which side of the name does the "said" go? It's a problem of mine that I've been making a conscious effort to fix. This time, it's not a matter of capitalization. At least I don't think it is.

This make perfect sense to me:
>"Why, hello!" said Twilight Sparkle, "how can I help you?"
Lowercase "said" after an exclamation mark, and lowercase "how" after a comma. Bam.

As does this:
>"Why hello!" Twilight Sparkle said, "How can I help you?"
Uppercase "Twilight" because it is a character's name, and lowercase "how" after a comma. Double-bam.

As far as I can tell, the following should be perfectly acceptable as well:
>"Why hello!" Twilight Sparkle said. "How can I help you?"
The said goes after the name, and it ends with a period instead of a comma. No big deal,right?

But when I pare it back further, I start to feel crippling self-doubt:
>"Why hello!" Twilight Sparkle said.
Is this sentence just plain wrong? Have I left the reader waiting on the edge of his seat, desperate to find out exactly what Twilight Sparkle will "said"? If so, they'll be waiting an awful long time because it's meant to be past tense: she just [/i]finished[/i] saying it. That's all there is. No more talky. You can move on to the next sentence now.

It sounds perfectly natural to me. Isn't it okay to say that she said it? But this raises a question: If I put "said" after the name, is it strictly because there's going to be more stuff after it? Must I always follow it up with a comma and more dialogue?

I'm pretty sure this would be more appropriate:
>"Why hello!" said Twilight Sparkle.
But is absolutely essential? Is it ever okay to put the "said" after the name, even if it isn't referring to what comes after?

I mention this because a reviewer once pointed out that I tend to put my "said" on one side of the name waaay more often than on the other side (I don't even remember which side it was), and he recommended that I mix it up a little to avoid repetition.
>> No. 112785
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112785
>>112730
Thank you.
Er, I mean—
THANK YOU

You have no idea how much this is going to help. Well, you probably do, but, nonetheless, I’m grateful.
>> No. 112885
File 134309512068.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
112885
>>112742
Well, first and foremost, "said" is the wrong type of speaking verb to go with an exclamation point. "Cried," "shouted," "yelled;" all of those carry force of speech; "said" is a very flat, neutral type of speech.

Anyway, when you break up a sentence using speaking verbs, the only time you don't capitalize the word in the second "part" of the dialogue is if the speech interrupted a complete sentence.

For example, I'll use your dialogue:
>"Why hello! How can I help you?"
Is how it's written without dialogue verbs.

You can already see why
>"Why, hello!" said Twilight Sparkle, "how can I help you?"
is wrong; you need to capitalize "How."

Furthermore, since you're breaking dialogue at the end of a sentence, you need to end your entire sentence (the "said Twilight Sparkle" part).
>"Why hello!" Twilight Sparkle said, "How can I help you?"
Therefore, this is wrong... ish. Like, again, "said" is a terrible verb in this example because it's not clear what part of the dialogue she's referring to. You've got an exclamation and a question; "said" fits neither. So,
>"Why Hello!" Twilight exclaimed. "How can I help you?"
needs a period after exclaimed
>"Why Hello!" Twilight asked, "How can I help you?"
can use a comma.

>"Why hello!" Twilight Sparkle said. "How can I help you?"
Correct you are (see above examples)

>"Why hello!" Twilight Sparkle said.
>Is this sentence just plain wrong?
No, but there is the harmonic dissonance between "said" and "!"

>It sounds perfectly natural to me. Isn't it okay to say that she said it? But this raises a question: If I put "said" after the name, is it strictly because there's going to be more stuff after it? Must I always follow it up with a comma and more dialogue?
In general, put the speech verb as close to the dialogue as you can make it. For example,
>Jerry asked, looking at me with wide eyes filled with the fear of uncertainty, "Is this going to fit?"
is technically correct, but it will leave the dear readers a little confused.

>Is it ever okay to put the "said" after the name
Yes
>even if it isn't referring to what comes after?
Yes, but you need to do this with care, based on context.
>> No. 112887
>>112885
Firstly:

>You can already see why
>"Why, hello!" said Twilight Sparkle, "how can I help you?"
>is wrong; you need to capitalize "How."

Really? Even if the "How" is capitalized, I still need put a comma in front of it? Even though your explanation makes sense, it still seems creepy.

Secondly:

>"Why Hello!" Twilight exclaimed. "How can I help you?"
>"Why Hello!" Twilight asked, "How can I help you?"

These two examples both make my soul hurt, partly because they're "saidisms" and partly because they seem so... redundant. If there's a question mark there, it's already obvious that Twilight Sparkle "asked." Hmm... perhaps my dislike of adverbs is affecting my opinion of "saidisms" as well.

Regardless of these little worries of mine, you've answered my original question quite well and I thank you very much. Both the rules and guidelines have soothed my crippling self doubts significantly, and I now have more room in my soul for... well, for other crippling self doubts.
>> No. 112891
File 134309839769.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
112891
>>112785
You're welcome, by the way; sorry I glanced over your thanks.


>>112887
>"Why, hello!" said Twilight Sparkle, "how can I help you?"
>Really? Even if the "How" is capitalized, I still need put a comma in front of it? Even though your explanation makes sense, it still seems creepy.
No. If you capitalize "How," you need to end "said Twilight Sparkle" with a period. Then, the first sentence will be "Why hello!" said Twilight Sparkle. Again, the "end of sentence" is needed because you're breaking up dialogue on the end of sentences; if you interrupted at a comma, you could get away with
>"Hey," she asked, "are you okay?"

>"Why Hello!" Twilight exclaimed. "How can I help you?"
>"Why Hello!" Twilight asked, "How can I help you?"
>These two examples both make my soul hurt, partly because they're "saidisms" and partly because they seem so... redundant. If there's a question mark there, it's already obvious that Twilight Sparkle "asked." Hmm... perhaps my dislike of adverbs is affecting my opinion of "saidisms" as well.
True; "exclaimed" and "asked" are the generic ways of punctuating "!" and "?", respectively. That's why it's good form to throw in some body language and action (a little interaction with the scenery does wonders for your story. But still, you should fit your speech verb to what's being said.
>> No. 112898
>>112891
Thank you very much for the clarifications! My first response seems to have been a plain old-fashioned misunderstanding on my part.
>> No. 112901
>>112898
No worries. Good luck on writing.
>> No. 112905
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112905
>>112785
And, as I'm learning from anonymous sources, I should clarify that this will make your story character-centric, almost overly-so, if you don't make sure to plan the overarching plot.

Again, it's a work in progress.
>> No. 112982
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112982
>>112905
My most sacred rule is, simply put, “Follow no rule, law, or advice off a cliff.” What you handed me was more than simply a guideline—you gave me a systematic way to look at the development of a story. Even more importantly, you gave me inspiration.

I like to think of myself as someone who has an intuitive grasp of a system’s implementation given that I understand that system’s internal logic, in whole or in part (as systems commonly adopt a fractal pattern).

Mind, having strong characters and being character-centric need not go hand-in-hand. The solution is simple: have strong everything else. Going back to the system and fractal pattern, it’s a simple matter (albeit arduous and time-consuming) to apply the logic of characterization to plot, to setting, and to premise. It will be a long time before I have a complete understanding, but all the pieces and parts are there.
>> No. 113043
Hello Nick. So i have a big problem with SDT. I use body language but I get annoyed because there's only a couple of was to say 'shaking her head'

I just can't seem to over come it. Any suggestions?
>> No. 113054
File 134318085836.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
113054
>>113043
Tone, phrasing, expressions... actions outside the dialogue (nothing says "nervous" like kicking the dirt a little)... there's a lot more than "body language" that can show a character's inner thoughts. Don't have them announce their feelings, but even dialogue can work for announcing how a character feels, especially with inflections. Passive-aggressive anger can define a character's personality.

Remember balance in all things, though; don't go OVERBOARD on showing emotions. If you've done your job right, the audience will know what emotion each main character has in the scene.

Also remember, actions speak louder than words.
>> No. 113062
I'm working on a story that has Iron Will and one of his goat workers as the main characters. The problem is the goat speaks by bleating, and I fear it could get annoying if I have too many variations of "The goat bleated." Any advice on how to avoid using the word bleat while still getting across that he is bleating?
>> No. 113063
File 134318477732.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
113063
>>113062
Verbalize the bleat ("Baah" with no speaking tags), or have the goat look / mime what needs to be said.
>> No. 113065
>>113063

That should work nicely. Thanks for the help.
>> No. 113076
>>113065
Anytime.
>> No. 113161
Nick, how would you describe a 'no way' gesture? You know that thing where you cross your arms then wave them horizontally.(If you don't get what I'm saying then you can see my dilemma.
>> No. 113416
>>113161
"She waved her hoof in front of her, shaking her head vigorously. 'No way.'"
>> No. 113418
File 134335507202.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
113418
>>113416
And by that, I mean sometimes, a simple solution is good enough. Don't waste too much time explaining a simple gesture, unless there's a MASSIVE importance given to it by context.
>> No. 113421
>>113418
And now my tripcode, since I found it on Dropbox.
>> No. 113423
Here's one:
“You know, you don’t have to talk about it, if it makes you uncomfortable.”

I was told I should add the comma between "it" and "if", mainly because the "it if it" was hard on the eyes. I'm not sure if it's grammatically correct. At what point does grammar take a back seat to readability?
>> No. 113426
File 134335726573.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
113426
>>113423
It's correct to not use a comma before a conditional statement at the end of a statement:
>If he pukes, I'm leaving.
>I'm leaving if he pukes.

In this specific example, "it if it" isn't that difficult to read or comprehend. A little stuttery, yeah, but it's dialogue. You could cheat by splitting it with a comma:
>"You don't have to talk about it," he paused to shake his head, "if you don't want to."

But, in the end, if you have to bend the rules of grammar to increase readability and therefore the understandability of what you're writing... then you're following the spirit of the rules of grammar, if not the letter of the law. Grammar is all about making things understandable to a wide audience, after all.
>> No. 113603
Okay, so one of my favorite tactics is to not refer to a character by name until some one else does, after which I may go into that characters background. But I've kinda worked myself into a corner with it. See, the only character I can use to refer to another doesn't call him by his full name. I tried including the full name in the little detail blurb afterwards but I was told it wasn't exactly smooth. Any advice?
>> No. 113616
File 134343706646.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
113616
>>113603
Hit me up on gChat (email is [email protected]); I think this problem is the specific enough that I should see it firsthand.
>> No. 113646
is there a standard way to enter the "accent marks" of words and phrases such as a la, protege and melange? or is it a program thing? feel like I learned this in middle school...
>> No. 113654
File 134344808100.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
113654
>>113646
Either learn alt codes (alt + 129 on the numberpad is ä) or get well-acquainted with the "insert special character" feature of Word, LibreOffice, or... whatever Google Docs lets you do.

That's one thing that Macs do better than Windows-based machines; the "Option/Alt" key lets you type odd characters slightly easier than memorizing unicode for accents. (for example, option + e lets you accent any vowel: áéíóú). There might be an equivalent sort of thing for Windows XP / 7, but honestly, I used the unicode thing before my job got me a Mac that I can use for personal stuff.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not entirely knowledgeable on the technical side of writing: word processor tips/tricks, publishing formats, etc.
>> No. 113668
>>113654
Sorry to intrude:

There is the option of learning a different keyboard layout from memory and typing with a language change.

Or you could try to see if you can locate an auto-correct function amongst the features and add into it those phrases you believe might need correcting, just recall to add in the spaces or you will be getting false positives with some of those words. This way, the system will correct on its own and let you simply type.

I personally suggest the first method, as you will be forced also to memorize your normal keyboard, which will make any and all keyboard you encounter as easy to use as your normal one, and just a keyboard language change away (might require some downloading for some languages).
>> No. 113674
>>113668
excellent! good suggestions all around. thank you, chaps!
>> No. 113682
>>113646
Style guides normally recommend that non-English words be italicised in English texts. You normally get this with phrases that, while not English per se, are still known by English speakers. Of course, English being such a mongrel language, the line where something is and isn't English is pretty blurry, so it's kinda hard to tell whether you should italicise or not.

About accents, if you're on Linux, the compose key does the same as what Nick said above about the option key on Mac OS. If you're on Windows, you're probably going to have to get software to do it for you. As far as I know, the only way to insert special characters through Windows without alt-codes is by changing your keyboard layout. The big word processors like Word and Libre most likely have something for handling accents, though, which is probably your best bet. (And If you use TeX, you can apply accents with escape sequences.)

Don't go memorising codepages, though. There's some 64 latin accents in Windows-1252 that you'd have to remember, and ultimately you'd be wasting your time since there's plenty of software that does it for you (and they're going to have to throw that legacy junk out for utf-8 sooner or later).
>> No. 113692
>>113682
my approach to foreign words is to italicize coinages, such as per se or inter alia, and to italicize individual words only in certain contexts. to me, it seems like italicizing a foreign word in English usage emphasizes its accent, and thus its origin or cultural flavor. so if I were going for a certain narrative tone, I might italicize protègè, but not if, say, Scootaloo were saying:

"there's gotta be someone out there willing to be my protègè!"
>> No. 113720
File 134349114630.jpg - (10.26KB , 480x324 , Visual Pun.jpg )
113720
>>113692
That italicization thing sounds about right, or at least, that's how I do it.

As for Windows, a solution might be the International Keyboard layout which is... somewhere in the Control Panel (probably under Keyboard or something)

http://french.about.com/od/writing/ss/typeaccents_2.htm


>>113682
Get the fuck out of my thread.
>> No. 113994
File 134362311136.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
113994
>> No. 114060
Could you explain show, don't tell? I've read many explanations here (and I think the omnibus too, but maybe I'm confusing it with another guide) and they all seem give a bunch of examples, tell people to put more detail, and then I am not sure what to make of that because having unnecessary details is also a bad thing, which is what happens when I follow those advice.

Can you give it a try?
>> No. 114087
File 134368384364.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
114087
>>114060
"Show don't tell," in my words, is a focus on the sensual versus the technical, the feeling versus the happening, the "how" instead of the "what."

When you're writing a story, you're explaining events that build larger events, plots, conflicts, and resolutions. Or you're building a character, tying his or her mood into personality, choices, and actions. Either way, "showing" versus "telling" is all about assuming your audience is smart enough to notice patterns (which, if they can read, the answer is yes) and infer the information for themselves.

You dislike examples, so I won't bog you down with quotes. However, consider the following: I write about a character who has a flaw of poor judgment. I could say, "Iron was bad at making decisions," but that's incredibly boring to read. On the other hand, if I write a story where he systematically makes decisions that have negative consequences or blow up in his face, I've established that as part of his character without needing to say it explicitly.

Now, if I'm having two characters talking about him behind his back, then it's okay to have them say their opinions of the bad decision-maker, just as long as that conversation is important to the story. If I go out of the way to include dialogue about a character's attributes and it does nothing to progress the story, that's just as bad as stating it in narration.

So, basically, demonstrate what you're trying to say. Talk is cheap, actions are bond.

"Show don't tell" extrapolates to many other areas of writing, too. Don't say how "there is an object in the room," say how "character X noticed a smell / crunching noise that alerted them to its presence." Don't say "X was afraid," say how the fear manifests itself in their actions, dialogue, or inner sensations.

In short, the subtler you are with your narration (as long as you're clear on what happens), the better.
>> No. 114597
I have a few questions to ask about two separate ideas. The first one is something of an AU epic and the pitch of it's below. My question for it is how does one world build a story? Should I write the places very vaguely or should be something out of Tolkien's Silmarillion?

Rarity is related to Starswirl, somehow manages to kill Celestia and becomes a Tyrant. Pinkie Pie swoops in, frames Luna for somehow orchestrating Celestia's murder and mind-controlling Rarity who she (Pinkie Pie) discreetly murders and frames as a suicide. She then places Fluttershy as her patsy and avatar while controlling and stringing along the political scene as the Princess of the Fading Sun because no one knows when Celestia's Sun will stop circling the earth and vanish. (The unicorns can move the sun but they can no longer power it.)

Rainbow Dash knows the Truth and fled Equestria after Pinkie Pie attempts to assassinate her. Twilight is lied to at every turn but Pinkie Pie can't persuade her not to go after Rainbow Dash. And so she discreetly encourages Earth ponies to hate unicorns and creates a psudo-rebellion group of Earth Ponies to target powerful unicorns. Applejack, convinced by Pinkie's words wields the rebellion at home while sending a group of trackers after Twilight.

Meanwhile, Luna, Cadence and Blueblood hide with the Changlings due to Blueblood's ability to seduce any pony he meets and Cadence's power of Love while trying to come up with a way to stop Pinkie's reign. It's been made obvious if they ever were to return, they would be used in a series of experiments to make earth ponies alicorns. And with them, they have Celestia's body, though cold and lifeless, her heart still beats.

And Spike is Twilight's Wings as she searches the world for Rainbow Dash.

The second question is for a one-shot. Would it be too much of stretch for ponies to learn that they could write using their tails?

The idea in context, is that Fluttershy in a moment of annoyance with holding a pencil with her mouth, realizes that she can use her tail instead. And she begins to ponder what would happen if she told others of her discovery.

Thanks in advance!
>> No. 114619
File 134405664537.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
114619
>>114597
To answer your second question, yes. But remember that any idea can be good with proper execution, so "yes" doesn't mean much.


To answer your first question... I'll reiterate part of a conversation I had with a colleague the other day:

me:
What places do interest you?

DC:
the places I have memories of being with people at

me:
Memories that are tied to physical objects sometimes?

DC:
Something like that, I guess...

me: Like my friend's house
there's a hole in the wall where he punched it
"just to see if he could"
So
why not focus on that?
I mean, don't beat readers over the head

DC:
I don't understand

me:
"THIS IS THE CHALICE OF EXGILZOR, WHO DRANK FROM IT EVERY DAY"
but focus on the past lives that the scenery must have contained at some point
meaning
focus on what people did to the setting at some point

DC:
but that's completely beside the point

me:
Well
you don't want to write about the drapes for the sake of the drapes
why not write about the tear in the drapes—a sign of an ancient battle?



The gist of this is, basically: plan your world out, but remember that you're going to be limited to the limits of the sensory input and deductive powers of your main characters. For example, if your story's focusing on a Russian scientist in 1983, it won't do you well to start the story with an information dump about Regan's presidency—given the time and setting, there wouldn't be a lot of reliable information available on that subject to that character.

World building is an important part of planning, for sure: no stories happen in a vacuum. However, don't get too wrapped up in telling the world to your readers—release an atlas or encyclopedia if you want to present that information.

As for "Tolkien Style" for giving new information about new cities... I mean, information is a good thing to give the readers, but one of the love-it-or-hate-it things about Tolkien is that he does such an extensive job in describing his geography. My advice is to find a balance you like and stick with it—don't drown the reader in your world, but don't kill them of thirst, either.
>> No. 114627
>>114619

How far can someone go with an Alternate Universe? I'm a little bit paranoid that the ponies will only be in name only. That the story will fall apart and I'll be mangling the characters personalities.
>> No. 114636
File 134406131345.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
114636
>>114627
You can go as far as you want or need to for the story.

As for avoiding mangling characters, though, make sure they're "Twilight Sparkle in _setting_" and not the main six "in name only," if you catch my drift.
>> No. 114702
I'm hoping I can ask this. I'm afraid it's too vague.

So my latest chapter is very dialogue heavy. But I've noticed that the narration is very dry. Pretty much he did this, she did this after dialogue. I've tried to find ways to flower it up a little, but I can't find ways to do it where it doesn't seem forced, or state the plot obviously.

And broad hints on how to spice up narration without stating what has already happened or breaking the narrative flow?
>> No. 114744
File 134411561912.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
114744
>>114702
My question is, what are your characters doing while they speak? If they're standing around just to talk, you might want to reconsider the scene.
>> No. 114760
>>114744
That's the problem I'm hitting. They're not just standing around talking to talk. Spike and Twilight are in the library, then Rainbow comes in unexpectedly. They banter for a little, then the OC comes in. I can't think of any real movements they can do without being forced or pointless. I fear that if I have them randomly move around just to give the narration some more meat, it'll be like a magic act. I can't think of anything else for them to do besides stand and talk. They don't talk for long before the OC comes in, and that's where the action really starts. Any ideas?
>> No. 114761
File 134411985862.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
114761
>>114760
Right, but what was Twilight doing before Dash came in? What's Spike doing? None of those characters are prone to standing around when there's work to be done, so why not have them continue their chores while the dialogue is occurring?
>> No. 114837
I fear I may have written myself a bit too far into my fic after basing the plot on a dubious bit of characterization.

See, much of the storyline revolves around Twilight acquiring a certain plot device from the royal archives--or rather, stealing it outright and bringing it back to Ponyville with her. The plot device in question is an ancient scroll, one of many such documents termed "unreadable" by Equestrian scholars because they are written in an unknown script. I've justified this whole scenario by explaining her motivation as being born of academic passion--that she wants to try and be the first to unlock the secrets where everyone else has failed--and now I find myself second-guessing that characterization.

Thus, I'd like an outside opinion. Is such behavior too out-of-character for Twilight? Is there something I could do to make this work better? Or is the whole thing inherently flawed? If the latter most, can you suggest another way of getting this plot device into Twilight's hooves?

Thanks in advance!
>> No. 114902
File 134417689995.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
114902
>>114837
>New tripcode because I'm a moron

It's not OOC if you give it the right constraints.

Meaning, she's a very "greater good" type of ethicist when it comes down to it—she's "broken the law," in her mind, at least twice in the show that I care to remember (Bird in the Hoof and... the Future Twilight one that didn't completely suck). However, that comes about as an end result to the fact that she makes bad decisions when under stress, and she gets "problem-solver's tunnel vision" / obsessed with finding a solution.

That being said, it takes an extenuating circumstance for her to get to that point. Are you accounting for that? If you're stressing her out to the point of bad decisions, then good; otherwise, you should probably rethink it.

However, my gut reaction to this is, "In the Future Twilight one, she learned she's got like public access to Equestria's records, so why wouldn't she just ask for the device?"
>> No. 114959
>>114902

Thank you for confirming my suspicions. I've since set about rewriting the whole sequence, and I believe it's much better off because of it.
>> No. 114962
>>114959
Like most of the time, I'm happy to help.
>> No. 115106
Got a dilemma for you. I've begun a historical epic with Star Swirl as the focus. It started as a mere background explanation for my Words Failed Her short story, but quickly became a far more massive construct as the idea developed. My main problem is, it's based on pony history and much of that is left rather vague by canon references as to what came before what. There may actually be no good answers for me, in which case I'll just have to wing it and risk being proved impossible by a later episode.

The timeline that lets my story exist is as follows (most character names have been removed for clarity):
[[SNIP]]

Damn. This turned out much bigger than I indented it to be. I'm going to snip it into a GDoc so it doesn't flood the thread:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fDNB8zbhLP5S-UumVWqt1TrRuAOkzKdH8MUO4gFVeBI/edit

It's not just the timeline of history in there (numbered items) but a full breakdown of the main contents of the story in very condensed form. I welcome feedback from anyone over the general structure of the story, not just the timeline of historical events and how well that fits with canon knowledge.

~ Nonsanity
>> No. 115157
File 134430726365.png - (94.23KB , 337x600 , Damp Octavia.png )
115157
>>115106
>answers and comments in doc
>> No. 116053
File 134492425327.jpg - (24.96KB , 306x400 , 1328035392409.jpg )
116053
Due to Nick no longer being with us (see >>116040 for further details) I ask that the Mods lock this thread.

Nick's... he's no longer capable of helping anyone anymore...

Proof is my tripcode; he gave it to me prior to his... departure.
>> No. 116076
>>116053
You make it sound as if he's dead.
>> No. 116084
File 134493999796.png - (457.56KB , 719x667 )
116084
>>116076
>>116053

What Ion said. He's left the fandom and dealing with personal issues. Putting it the way you did is a little misleading, though I doubt you intended it as such.

Anyways, thread locked for now. Nick Nack, if you ever do want to return and such, assuming this thread stills exists, it will be unlocked at your request.
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