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WHAT IT SHOULD BE ABOUT: things like grammar, voice, genre, punctuation, theme, self-editing tricks...
WHAT IT SHOULDN'T BE ABOUT: formatting, covers, marketing...
BONUS POINTS FOR: tips with humorous examples, tips with pictures, rarely touched tips...

And to start the thread, the misinformative grammar lesson of the day:



YOUR TURN! :D
 
G

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Always make sure to make direct reference to a character's class, level, and hit points when writing fantasy. And their race, even if the races in the setting are white, black, and 'Oriental.'

Example - 'That's Gus. He's a mid-level white fighter. Don't go near him yet young one, he still has most of his hit points.'
 

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I'm confused!  ;D

I thought "your" can also denote ownership. Like "Is that your car?" Am I wrong on this? :D
 

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Phew! That's a relief. You native speakers may see that instantly but for someone with English as a foreign language - doubt kicks in.  :eek: ;D
 

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One of the things I do is imagine an actor being assigned to play one of the side characters. Then I try to make it an exciting, albeit small, role for that actor.
 

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One of the things I do is imagine an actor being assigned to play one of the side characters. Then I try to make it an exciting, albeit small, role for that actor.
Thanks, Dalya. I love this one.

Probably everyone already knows this tip, but I make sure to use at least one of the senses other than sight on each page. Smells, temp, touch, hearing that is not dialogue or bodily sensations. Mix them up of course.
 

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Dalya said:
One of the things I do is imagine an actor being assigned to play one of the side characters. Then I try to make it an exciting, albeit small, role for that actor.
That's great Dalya. I'll use that. I am a beginning writer, so I feel odd giving anyone advice on craft, but... Although a character may be unimportant or uninteresting from the perspective of the main character, I try to remember that everyone is the star of their own movie and write secondary characters accordingly. I don't think they know that they're stuck in someone else's story.
 

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Dalya said:
One of the things I do is imagine an actor being assigned to play one of the side characters. Then I try to make it an exciting, albeit small, role for that actor.
<3 Love this! Such a good way to make minor characters matter! :)
 

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My writing tip of the day is: If you're trying to solicit emotion from your story, smaller is better, and what makes the characters sad doesn't necessarily make the reader sad (although it can).

By way of example, I'm writing Kobolds today. Kobolds starts with a kobold's home city being destroyed. That's sad for her, yes, but it's not really sad for the reader, because who cares? They don't care about this city, so I don't dwell on it and don't try to make the reader feel anything for that city.

She happily kills gnomes whom she encounters in the tunnels, but when it comes to a gnome she actually meets and begins to care about a bit, it's a different story. In Act I I killed... oh, a dozen or so gnomes, fifty thousand kobolds, and
the gnome with no name
. I got all teary at the third one and really didn't care too much for the others (they do, though, serve different purposes).

So I find that in stories the saddest things usually are small things. Sometimes they can be truly tiny; several people have pointed out to me that the nuke scene in The Sands of Karathi is, while very much a "Wham!" moment, far less sad than when Liao drops the results of the ultrasound under a cabinet and is fishing around, trying to find out
if she lost the kid
.

So in a book with
evil
robots, space battles, aliens, intergalactic warfare and the fate of humanity laying in the balance... the scene that got the most response out of a lot of people was someone trying to fish a piece of paper out from underneath a filing cabinet.

If your story has a lot of high stakes action, sometimes it's good to have a down-to-earth scene with the most mundane, simplest problem you can possibly imagine, that everyone can relate to.
 

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When I started writing, I never varied how I began a sentence. It seemed like every sentence started with "he" or "she".

"He nodded, dipping his head back down to continue reading On Writing. She rolled her eyes, sick of being ignored, and stormed off. He smirked. She grumbled. He laughed. She impaled him with a battle-ax. He yada yada, the end."

So every time I saw myself slip into the pattern, I'd stop, pick up a favorite book, open it to a random page, find a few interesting sentences and just plagiarize their first 2 or 3 words words.
 

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Endi Webb said:
So every time I saw myself slip into the pattern, I'd stop, pick up a favorite book, open it to a random page, find a few interesting sentences and just plagiarize their first 2 or 3 words words.
Surely you mean "pay homage to" right? :D
 

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Shawn Inmon said:
Surely you mean "pay homage to" right? :D
;D
Yeah, it's pretty hard to claim ownership of word combinations like, "Most days seemed...", "What would...", "Sometimes, usually when...", "Unless the..."

But hey, copying is copying, and I stand by it. 8)
 

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Decades ago, I was so pleased with a manuscript I'd written. And I bought a book on '28 mistakes writers make', where they mentioned how qualifiers diminished strong nouns: 'necessary' is better and stronger than 'very necessary', 'angry' is better than 'very angry'. And how, if 'angry' doesn't cut it, there are better words to escalate the emotion, like 'furious' or 'enraged'. So I did a search and replace of 'very', figuring there would be five or ten such qualifiers in my 90K manuscript. I found 200+ 'very', a 100+ 'kind of', 300+ 'some', and so on. Now, the first thing I do after I finish a rough draft is whip out my list of qualifiers and hunt and kill every last one of them. Unless they are in dialogue, that is. Because dialogue tends to be full of qualifiers, and if you weed them out of your dialogue, your protagonist might sound like they're full of themselves.

So that's my 'writing tip' = check the qualifiers in your draft, see if they need replacement or elimination, before you start editing the rest. I must say, hunting my own qualifiers made me sensitive to the qualifiers in other people's work, and I've discarded many books because of the abundance of unnecessary qualifiers.
 

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A piece of improvising advice - but it works for writing too.

"Everything that is said, changes you."

In a conversation, you will have an emotional reaction - however small - to whatever the other person (or people) just said to you (and how they said it.)  That, in turn, will colour what you say back to them, or what you do.
 

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AmsterdamAssassin said:
...check the qualifiers in your draft, see if they need replacement or elimination, before you start editing the rest. I must say, hunting my own qualifiers made me sensitive to the qualifiers in other people's work, and I've discarded many books because of the abundance of unnecessary qualifiers.
This! I call them weeds and wiggle words, and I hunt 'em and kill 'em at the end of a manuscript. I've got a list of them...somewhere. (I check out my "thats", too.)

And I try to pay attention to white space when I write, that nice place of nothingness after a paragraph. White space is good. White space is powerful--especially following powerful ending sentences.

(Alas, the hard part is crafting those powerful sentences. :))
 

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As an extension of the "beginning a sentence thing" I generally try to avoid beginning sentences in the same way, but I also try to make sure that my paragraphs don;t begin with the same word back to back.

So if I have an "I" sentence to start a para, I try to make sure that something other than "I" begins the other two paragraphs.

Now, this is not hard and fast, and sometimes I let some through. But it reads better to have the variety at the paragraph level.

(Of course there's times when the whole point is reusing the same words for effect, and that's perfectly OK.)
 
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