Reality Check--Issue #1
This monthly column deals with the biggest problem with fan fiction and regular fiction today-lack of detail. In each month, you will find the following sections:
This will focus on the correction for the month, and will be the beef of this column. One of the biggest problems with fanfic and fiction in general is the lack of realism and detail in the story.
Review of the Month:
Send me your fanfic (or chapter of a fanfic) to review on the basis of detail, creativity, characterizations and dialogue. I will read and review one per month and feature it here. I will be honest, but I will be blunt. Please see the details below before submitting.
Here I welcome reader input to generate more readership of a fandom. Fanfiction, by nature, requires that you have at least some background in the story before beginning to understand it. I offer the challenge to one reader a month to describe for us the basic ins and outs of their favorite fandom, provide some helpful websites, and a list of some of the better (and newbie friendly) fanfiction.
I will respond to your comments/concerns here in the column. Criticism is welcome, but flames will be deleted.
Whenever I see a script fic, I cringe. I want to curl up and scream, but instead I will vent here in the column. Script fics are the worst offenders of lack of detail. Why? It is it the nature of the beast.
History lesson: Scripts were originally used to produce plays, and later Movies, and finally TV shows. They were left vague for a reason-while the writer provided the words, the director provided the actions, the set people made the environment the scene took place in, the lighting and music people set the moods, and the costumers and property masters handled, you guessed it, costumes and props.
As a writer, you cannot just be the dialogue. You have to be the whole cast, crew and production team for this story. You have to open the doors, plush the pillows, and entice your reader to stay. Your characters must be real, your sets amazing and the moods must be turned into vivid images that the reader can see in their mind.
So, aside from staying away from script fics, how can you achieve this? How can you make your reader begging you for more while seeing the whole picture? Let's start with the basics.
First of all, think in terms of layers. A piece of writing needs to be as perfectly engineered as a skyscraper. I will tell you my method; it may work for you, it may not. Try it, and change it to suit your needs. The first thing I do, is handle one scene at a time, and I avoid juggling too many characters at once. There is a time when you need the entire original cast together, but you probably won't get much character development done. Separate them out; pair people together in their discussions. Unless they are at a dinner party, under attack, or in a meeting, chances are, your entire cast isn't going to be stuck together with Velcro.
When I write, the easiest part for me is the dialogue. I lay it down first-sometimes not thinking to even put quote marks-and just let the characters tell the story. I use rough dialogue at first. I don't think about reactions, I just write it as if I was listening to these people having their discussion.
Next, I put it aside. I let it brew for a few hours, and then take it out. I read through it, asking myself questions: Are the reactions believable? Would this character say that to the other?
Then I do the blocking. This is general movement and location within in the scene, and usually where I add the speech tags (he said, she said, etc). Where are the characters? A bedroom? A meeting hall? Who is with them? Is the room large? Is the character standing up? Sitting down? Does he/she move around when he/she talks? What mood is this person in?
Finally, I add in the details. What color is the room? What does the furniture look like? Is it cold? What are the characters wearing? What are their facial expressions?
By handling dialogue like a layer cake, you can get away from those annoying script fics and create a world you and your characters will be proud of. Next month, I will discuss colors and how to use them to set moods.
Review of the Month:
Before you send me your fic for review here are the rules. Read them carefully:
1. I will not flame you, but I will offer honest, open, criticism.
2. Email me BEFORE you send the fic with a summary of the story and what fandom it comes from. I will not discriminate, but I may need to do some research if I am not familiar with the original work. If you send me the fic without a warning note I will just delete it-my mailbox isn't all that big!
3. Spell/grammar check before you send it to me!
4. Any rating is welcome, although if it is just slash or PWP, I probably won't read it. At least let the sex have a point, people.
5. If you are writing an epic, I won't have time to read it. Select your best chapter as the one you want me to review. Follow the procedure in #2, just mention that it is a chapter of a larger work.
6. I publish at the end of every month, so it must received no later than the fifteenth (15th)
7. Don't be offended if I don't review your fic. You can resubmit (following the same procedure in #2) every month. I clean my mailbox out after I have selected the fic to review.
8. Please don't email me asking if I reviewed yours; you'll find out when the column comes up.
So, you want me to explain a bit about your favorite fandom in the hopes of opening doors for people to enter it, great! Follow these steps:
1. Email me the name of the fandom and why it is your favorite by the 15th of the month.
2. I will select one and write that person back requesting additional information.
3. If selected, you will be asked to provide:
a. A list of three good, informative websites
b. Some basic info on the fandom
c. Three decent fanfics
Empty for now, but expect some emails/comments to be posted. Send your comments, questions, and submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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