Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

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Oddball
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Wed May 20, 2015 8:39 am

Razoredge wrote:Books with descriptions of symptoms of disabilities are a good way for a search or not?
It's a start, but it shouldn't be your only source.

There's a pretty huge difference between reading "Symptoms of X may include random sharp pains" and finding a blog or something where the writer says "The worst part about X is right out of nowhere, sometimes in the middle of the night, It just suddenly feels like my guts are on fire and I want to cry."

A list of symptoms just lacks that personal touch.

On another topic...


I've seen a few stories where characters start out as total scum. You've probably seen the type. They use others. They go out of their way to hurt or insult people. They're just generally not the kind of person you'd ever want to hang around with if they were real.

I get why people do this. They start off with an asshole main character so that eventually they can show how their character grows and how they're really a good guy (or girl) deep down. They just needed some help.

They problem with it is that if you give me an unlikable character, I really have no reason to continue reading your story. You've got to have a really interesting set up or be a really good write to keep people's attention when the main character is somebody they actively dislike. (Also keep in mind that Hisao and most of the girls would bail on your character if they're just going to be unpleasant to be around all the time or jerks to everybody.)

I'm not saying that you CAN'T have a character that comes across as a jerk, but you need to give the reader (and whoever their romantic interest co-star for the story is) at least some reason to think that they might not be all bad.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Wed May 20, 2015 9:26 am

It's best not to have a character who is a complete waste of human life and kindness as your main character. Mostly because it's unrealistic and will throw people out of the story. Give them SOME good points. They could be good at math, at listening to people's problems, tutoring people, anything. Just make it 1. Work with the character backstory.

2. Don't make it their sole character trait.

3. If they are kind of jerks, then don't always have them do this stuff immediately, or just out of the kindness of their hearts. Have them bargain with someone in return for something, or have it be something they decide to do after seeing the person who needs help failing miserably and they just find it pathetic and decide to show them how it's done.

4. Actually have them change at some point. I've read a few fan fics where a character supposedly over came their faults, but stilled acted the exact same as they did at the beginning of the story.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Blank Mage » Wed May 20, 2015 9:51 pm

Oddball wrote:'ve seen a few stories where characters start out as total scum. You've probably seen the type. They use others. They go out of their way to hurt or insult people. They're just generally not the kind of person you'd ever want to hang around with if they were real.
I gotta say, this is the thing I worry most about when writing prequel!Shizune. She's just not a good person! The best advice I can contribute on the topic is to, at the very least, show their rationalization. No one ever thinks themselves the villain, at least if they have some shred of self esteem.

For example, if Shizune ignores Hanako's obvious anxiety and distress, blatantly and unapologetically staring at her, it's because Shizune reasons that the faster she sates her curiosity, the happier all parties will be in the long run. She projects this erroneous logic onto Hanako, not realizing just how awful she's being. I mean, surely that's just being practical! Stop overreacting, they're not even that bad!

A simple difference in moral values can start a world of conflict.

Basically, if you have to write a jerk, do it. But show us why. Then later, when their actions trigger something they didn't want or expect (like a panic attack, in this case) you can have them realize how wrong they were, in a dramatic moment of What Have I Done.
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Oddball
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Fri May 29, 2015 9:16 am

At some point in a story, you're probably going to have some super minor character appear. A doctor, a bus driver, a cashier, a pro-wrestler (don't look at me, it's your story), or anything like that that doesn't even rate a name. They'll show up, they'll say their one line, and in a sentence or two, they'll be gone from your story forever.

Just having them show up is kinda bland though. Give them one characteristic, one trait, or even something visual that makes them feel like they might actually be a person. Don't write "the bus driver" write "the bus driver that calls everyone 'Boss'". Don't have a waiter. Have a waiter that keeps mispronouncing the names of things on the menu. Give your doctor a Garfield the cat tattoo on his neck and don't explain it. Let your substitute teacher have a mustache that he's shaved incorrectly so one side looks longer than the other.

It's not much. You don't need much. It just gives things a bit more spice to them.

Your on your own with the wrestler though.
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Sign Language

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat May 30, 2015 4:27 am

I've been reading quite a bit about sign language since I got here. I don't actually know many signs, and this may vary between all the various different sign languages, but one thing that stuck out to me is that one key difference is that it's hard to express complex thoughts in a way that will convey all the nuances or that the sign language doesn't seem to have nearly as many words as English.

I know this is a thing that the VN didn't delve into at all - and for the record I think it's good it didn't - and few if any fanfictions do, but I think most of us here have enough passing interest in sign language to enjoy this video or this one. (That guy posted a lot of others, I'm sure you can find them if you're interested.)

Anyway, since I don't like to follow links when I don't know where they lead, a short explanation:

These are various songs (here First of May by Jonathan Coulton and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen), where someone is performing the vocals in sign language. There are two sets of subtitles if you enable them - one for the actual english lyrics and one for the literal translation of the sign language.
For example the line "Didn't mean to make you cry" is signed as "You cry. I fail. Sorry."

And yes, some of that is probably because of the time constraints when you do sign language in time with song lyrics, but that should apply to simultaneous translation just the same (if not more).
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Re: Sign Language

Post by Leaty » Sat May 30, 2015 10:49 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:These are various songs (here First of May by Jonathan Coulton and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen), where someone is performing the vocals in sign language. There are two sets of subtitles if you enable them - one for the actual english lyrics and one for the literal translation of the sign language.
For example the line "Didn't mean to make you cry" is signed as "You cry. I fail. Sorry."
Keep in mind that that's ASL. BSL is a completely different language.

ASL also has "dialects" that fall vaguely along cultural lines (for example, in America the black deaf community has many sign variations that distinguish it from traditional ASL.)

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Gajzla » Sat May 30, 2015 11:40 am

Leaty + Mirage's posts.


This is good advice, I find i’m put off when sign language ends up being spoken speech in brackets. Communication issues are inherent to deafness as mobility issues are inherent to someone in a wheelchair. People have developed interesting and ingenuous ways to work around their limitations. Attention to these details, not only shows a respect for the subject matter (imho), but also helps to create a unique and interesting character.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by neio » Sat May 30, 2015 8:49 pm

Gajzla wrote:This is good advice, I find i’m put off when sign language ends up being spoken speech in brackets. Communication issues are inherent to deafness as mobility issues are inherent to someone in a wheelchair. People have developed interesting and ingenuous ways to work around their limitations. Attention to these details, not only shows a respect for the subject matter (imho), but also helps to create a unique and interesting character.
While it's not perfect, I don't think you can do much better than "spoken speech in brackets" for native signers. Maybe a person who is still learning sign would have an issue, and you can certainly emphasize the difficulty of communication between the hearing and deaf, but native signers and skilled interpreters can converse with sign just about as effectively as native speakers can with spoken language. In my opinion, the best way to express this fluency in writing is to treat sign the same way as you would any spoken foreign language.

At the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT, many classes are interpreted and taken simultaneously by hearing and deaf students. While the communication style is different, and actual sign includes a combination of the signs you would find in a dictionary, fingerspelling (which can be done at a ridiculous pace, but is reserved for names and unusual words), and pantomime, I object to the notion that it is actually harder to convey complex thoughts with sign. Graduate-level engineering classes can be interpreted just fine; what in your fanfiction is so complex that it cannot be communicated in sign as well as it could in English?

Edit: Also, complete deafness is relatively rare since the advent of the cochlear implant. While it does not work as well as the ear, and many people supplement it with sign, I find it very bothersome that popular conceptions of deafness are almost always limited to the extreme case of being "stone deaf."
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Gajzla » Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:57 am

neio wrote:While the communication style is different, and actual sign includes a combination of the signs you would find in a dictionary, fingerspelling (which can be done at a ridiculous pace, but is reserved for names and unusual words), and pantomime,
This is what I was trying to say, why not show a small amount of finger spelling? It wouldn’t have to be for every word but would help the reader to understand it’s not spoken dialogue, as well as show a very true representation of the language.
neio wrote:I object to the notion that it is actually harder to convey complex thoughts with sign.
I didn’t intend to imply that deaf people couldn’t communicate fluently with each other and I apologise completely if I came across that way. However a deaf person communicating with me on the street would have problems, they would have to pass notes or use a translator, this is what I meant by communication problems being inherent.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by brythain » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:24 pm

Gajzla wrote:
neio wrote:I object to the notion that it is actually harder to convey complex thoughts with sign.
I didn’t intend to imply that deaf people couldn’t communicate fluently with each other and I apologise completely if I came across that way. However a deaf person communicating with me on the street would have problems, they would have to pass notes or use a translator, this is what I meant by communication problems being inherent.
However, it's something the author can do: interpret the sign language to convey extended or clarified meaning to the reader, who isn't actually watching the sign language as he reads the story. This is why some authors allow a fairly broad range, perhaps with some awkwardness to indicate difficulty in interpretation or translation, to characters like Shizune.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by dewelar » Fri Jun 05, 2015 6:58 pm

brythain wrote:
Gajzla wrote:
neio wrote:I object to the notion that it is actually harder to convey complex thoughts with sign.
I didn’t intend to imply that deaf people couldn’t communicate fluently with each other and I apologise completely if I came across that way. However a deaf person communicating with me on the street would have problems, they would have to pass notes or use a translator, this is what I meant by communication problems being inherent.
However, it's something the author can do: interpret the sign language to convey extended or clarified meaning to the reader, who isn't actually watching the sign language as he reads the story. This is why some authors allow a fairly broad range, perhaps with some awkwardness to indicate difficulty in interpretation or translation, to characters like Shizune.
I know that in Developments, I've had a couple of people point out that I'm improperly representing communication methods. However, I think that, when you're trying to tell a story, the telling takes precedence. While it's true that there are difficulties in such communication, unless the difficulties are pertinent to the story (e.g., one of your characters is learning sign, or Shizune is frustrated because she's having to use her notepad), it is more important to convey what is being communicated to the reader than to try to kludge your way to an accurate representation that might actually wind up detrimental to the story.

Obviously, I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't try to represent things as accurately as possible, but don't let it be so large a roadblock as to be a spanner in the works of your story.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Oddball » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:49 am

I've seen a lot of stories that have groups of characters like, Taro, Naomi, Miki, Suzu, Molly, etc etc all hanging out together. There's nothing technically wrong with this, but it does strike me as odd that all these friends are all in the same class. There's never any other character from another class that hangs out with the group. (Granted, we don't know that many other characters, but still, it sticks out to me as oddly convenient.)

If you are going to make a story like that, you might want to include a new character. Don't treat them like a new character either, treat them like somebody the pother cast members have known for a while.

Now if you don't feel like making a 100% new character for your story with Miki, Molly, and Taro (for example) you could always use some of the other undeveloped characters. Take a look in the shimmie and you can find a few characters that only seem to show up in one or two images. Check the backgrounds. Why not include a member of the track team, the blind sculptor from the art class, or that girl with the parasol from Shizune's route? There's also that guy who ran the booth where Hisao one the cat for Shizune. He might not have a visual, but at least he's got a name and personality.

... or you could also bring in Saki or Rika. At least they aren't in the same class.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Leaty » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:26 pm

Oddball wrote:If you are going to make a story like that, you might want to include a new character. Don't treat them like a new character either, treat them like somebody the other cast members have known for a while.
And if you're reticent to create a character from whole cloth because of the self-indulgent connotations they've come to have in the context of fanfiction (ORIJINEL KARAKTER, DONUT STEEL), there are plenty of "deuterocanon" characters created by the KS Devs in outside materials. Many of the Devs have written fanfic at some point and there's also the Suriko Christmas thing that even has art for many of these characters.

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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by Numb » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:33 pm

If you're having trouble writing a character when you first start out, try writing a full history for them. Example: I'm currently working on a new project and struggled to get a solid grasp on what kind of character I want the romantic focus to be, so I've made a new document with details from their exact birth date and the hospital they were born in, it's relative distance from the childhood home, and the occupation of the parents. Even small details like what influenced their hair style, what they were like as a baby, toddler and child before teenage years. Not only will it give you a much stronger character, it will make all characters related to their development stronger as a result, which will end up making even your side characters very unique.

What this will do in regards to your plot is give more attention to finer details, allowing you to better fill out your transitional "filler-but-not-filler" scenes with interesting facts about the character. An example of one of these useless, yet still interesting facts is having a character possess a strong love for something very strange due to a childhood toy or memory. Let's say the character had a plush toy of an acorn with eyes, kind of Banjo-Kazooie style, that they carried everywhere when they were young. If this character finds an acorn during the events of your route, short story, or whatever form of writing you choose, then you can have this strange affection come to light by having the character gather acorns in their pockets. Whether you explain why they collect them while this happens or make the acorns a recurring motif is up to you, each have their own merits, as well as their own problems. Obviously this should only be done with important characters, you shouldn't write a full biography of a character's past unless they appear very frequently and help further the plot.

Also make sure to do your research on the disabilities your cast of characters each have. If you're writing Suzu, research narcolepsy look at possible dangers of the condition. If you're writing Miki, Emi, or another character with missing limbs, research the effects of amputation, such as phantom limb pains, or the causes and effects of limb deformation while in the womb for characters like Rin. If the condition has triggers, like epilepsy or cataplexy, do some research on what can potentially cause attacks and have your character follow certain precautions to reduce the risk of seizures.

Try to reinvent the wheel sometimes, too. Pretty much every route out there seems to have a trip to the city in it, don't feel obligated to do the same. Why not have your characters spend some time hiking in the forest, or exploring the town down the hill? You can do whatever you want with your story, and if you have no reason to visit the city, then you don't need to do it. You can even change the events of the source material if it leaves you with a better way to start the story. You might have Hisao visit the Nurse before going to class on his very first day at Yamaku, then only have him get out of the office as lunch starts. He can meet your cast before he even meets any of the canonical route girls, he may never meet a particular girl at all. There are absolutely no limits as to what you can do, so think big and think differently.

While you're at it, do some research on the finer details of rural Japanese architecture, wildlife, and culture. Yamaku is in a countryside setting, and the nearby town is likely full of old people due to Japan's ageing population. There will also be far fewer modern establishments like Starbucks, so find out more about older practices like onsen, izakaya, Japanese theatre, and traditional cooking styles, like making mochi in a barrel with a hammer. Knowing the local wildlife will add a lot to your setting, so include details about cicadas chirping, what kind of trees are around (describe them by their appearance, not name, unless your character is a tree enthusiast) and the different bird sounds that can be heard at different times of the day. You may be writing for a predominantly Western audience on these forums, but don't be afraid to avoid Western culture unless it's essential to your plot. Public displays of affection are a good example of this. Generally, these displays are frowned upon in Japan, but you're likely writing a romance story. Screw what the rules of society say, have your characters kiss in public if it makes sense for them to do so, it makes for a more interesting story.

The last tip I'll give in regards to general writing quality is to make dialogue more interesting. Stop caring about grammar so much, it only serves to make speech sound overly formal, even in formal situations. Don't be afraid to use words that don't exist (but sound like they could) or invent slang either, as long as you explain the definition of the new word very clearly. The main thing you should try to do though is gather a few friends and assign characters to read aloud (or do it alone, it's fun being crazy sometimes) to ensure that conversations actually flow properly. Hell, improvise the lines sometimes, adding your own personal flair to it will only make your dialogue sound more natural, and natural is good. Try to avoid having any two characters sound the same. Groups of friends only work because there are enough personality traits to keep things interesting, otherwise you could sit in your room and have conversations with yourself all day and never notice the difference. Groups tend to have a strong leader, as well as a weakling who follows everyone else without question. Try to put this across in their dialogue, clearly define what traits somebody has, whether they be a sexual deviant, a quiet introvert, or a straight-up dick, it'll make your characters lines more memorable and keep them fun to write.

To round it all off, don't be afraid to rewrite things. Multiple times. I've rewritten the first chapter of this new project at least six times already, and I've sent myself back to the drawing board to make some changes and give myself a better set of tools. You should never put something out unless you are absolutely sure you want to release it, because if you don't want to release it, then it isn't your best work. You should constantly be trying to write something better than your last chapter, though that isn't always possible due to the existence of slower plot development phases. Not only will this help you grow as a writer at an accelerated rate, but it'll keep your readers interested and have them discuss possible upcoming events and plot twists. You'll also feel a much bigger sense of accomplishment on completion, especially if you read your first and last chapters back-to-back, because you can very clearly see how much you've grown over the time you spent writing.

Whew, didn't think I'd write this much when I started typing this post, but there it is. Obviously this is all just how I do things, different processes work for different people, so if these tips don't work for you then don't be discouraged. Simply pick your head up and try a different approach, and remember that there's no magic formula for writing a better story. Oh, and if you've never written anything over 5,000 words then start small, don't start a route and expect it to go smoothly. Things will fall apart. On that note, I'll stop rambling and let you get on with your day.
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Re: Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)

Post by LorSquirrel » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:55 pm

Oddball wrote:[snip]If you are going to make a story like that, you might want to include a new character. Don't treat them like a new character either, treat them like somebody the pother cast members have known for a while. [snip]

Now if you don't feel like making a 100% new character for your story with Miki, Molly, and Taro (for example) you could always use some of the other undeveloped characters. Take a look in the shimmie and you can find a few characters that only seem to show up in one or two images. Check the backgrounds. Why not include a member of the track team, the blind sculptor from the art class, or that girl with the parasol from Shizune's route?[snip]
I swear, every time I start working on a new idea someone else has to bring it up on this thread.


Anyway. In regards to the whole thing about the clarity of sign language, I would say go with what is easiest on your readers. I'm personally more of function over form guy, so I usually decide to go with more clear sign language then the broken kind that you would actually get.

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