Inosculation Updated!

Inosculation Updated!

Holy crap on a cracker — three posts in one week? I know, right?

So, I’ve dusted off my old serials and started working on my Voyager fanfic Inosculation. I posted two new chapters this week and will be adding one every Friday from now on. My current original work — Book One of Cycle of the Eternals — is progressing well and I occassionally need a break from it so I either work on something completely silly that I may eventually post or I work on Inosculation.

Anyway, enjoy! Two chapters for you!

May Cthulhu bless you with his noodle-ly tentacleness from his house in R’lyeh where he lays dreaming!

— G.K.

Dear Fellow Fanfic Writers…

Dear Fellow Fanfic Writers...

First of all, I want to compliment you all on actually writing something. Some of you have actually written works that are better than the stories told in canon. I salute you and hope that you continue your endeavors. Reading your works has been entertaining and enlightening, not to mention gratifying as it reminds me that there are people out there who can speak and write English properly. Yes, you may have the odd spelling mistake, typo, or minor grammar error here and there but that’s only because proofreading your own work is nigh on impossible.

However, there are very few of you in the category above. The rest of this missive is directed at the vast majority of you hanging out on AO3, FF.net, and Tumblr who have kindled my ire to such a degree that I have spent hours watching YouTube videos on how to operate a backhoe so that I can dig a deep enough hole to find fissionable materials in hopes of either 1) escaping the planet we are currently forced to share or 2) blowing up said planet as an act of penance to any superior lifeforms out there who might have stumbled upon your crap.

Let us discuss a few things frankly, escritor a escritor, shall we?

1) Spelling matters. I don’t care what you think. Spelling matters. Word choice matters. I have put down stories because the first paragraph had five or more spelling mistakes that rendered it nearly incomprehensible. Oddly enough, those of you with the worst spelling are the first ones to wonder why you don’t get reviews and to get offended when someone tells you that it’s because you need to use spellcheck.


You don’t want to be this guy, do you?

There is no such thing as “alot.” There is such a thing as “allot” which means “to give or apportion something.” “Of” is a preposition, not a form of “have.” “Accept” means “to welcome, great, or take something in willingly” as in “I accept your apology.” “Except” means “excluding this” or “other than this” as in “You are talented in everything except the ability to use a spellchecker.” Effect is the impact an action or ingredient has upon another thing. Affect is to have an effect. Water has an effect on fire. Fire is affected by water. The difference is subtle but important. You offer apologies in order to apologize to a person; you don’t apologies to them. You lose the love of your life; you let loose the dogs of war. You wait with bated breath. If your breath is baited, then you’ve been eating worms.

A few more before I finish: “it’s” means “it is.” “Its” is possessive. “There” means a place like over there. “Their” means a possession belonging to them such as “their house.” “They’re” means “they are.” “Your” is possessive. “Yours” is also possessive. “Your’s” doesn’t bloody exist. “You’re” means “you are.” “Your welcome to this house of yours shows me that you’re sincere in your desire to make peace.”

If I can get them right, then so can you.

2) Typography and formatting matter. If your idea of formatting is a great big block of text, I’m not reading it. Break it up into paragraphs. A paragraph generally covers one central idea. Also, you may notice that your words appear on a screen and not a sheet of paper and that word-wrapping happens automatically without you needing to hit “Return” at the end of a line. That’s because you are typing on a computer, not a typewriter! That also means that you put only one space after terminating punctuation (and if you don’t know what terminating punctuation is, you are either too young to be reading this blog or you need to go and apologize to every teacher you have ever had).

In electronic publication (meaning “online posting”), there are no indents at the start of a paragraph. Instead, you add an extra linebreak between paragraphs. If you have a change in point-of-view, perspective, or locale within a chapter, you indicate the break in scene with a centered scenebreak. Some writers use “###” but I prefer “~*~*~*~” or “* * *” because the first one is also used at the end of a manuscript to indicate that it is the end.

If you don’t know how to center text, it’s Ctrl + E in just about any word processor I know of. For HTML, if there isn’t a WYSIWYG bar for formatting, it’s <p align=”center”>text to be centered</p>

3) If you write a sex scene, I will be able to tell if you’re experienced or at least consulted with someone experienced. If you aren’t experienced, for the love of Cthulhu, ask someone who is.

I’m fairly certain that this one needs no further explanation. If it does, don’t write sex scenes.


Seriously, if you ask me to explain this one, Godzilla will facepalm and I will headdesk

4) Pick a POV style and, for the love of Galileo, stick with it. The same goes for verb tense, by the way.

If you start off telling the story in first person, stay in first person. The narrator is telling the story from their personal point of view and the reader is only privy to such things as the narrator would know, think, or notice. The narrator is not omniscient and cannot tell what another character is thinking directly. They can, at best, intuit it through facial expressions, body language, or tone of voice. Unless you are writing a psychic or telepathic character, the narrator cannot read minds.

Don’t write stories in second person. Just. Don’t.

If you are writing in third person, decide if you are doing third person limited (deep included), third omniscient, or third limited changing POV. Limited means that the point of view narrator or narrators are limited to one or a few characters. In deep third, you’ll do away with immersion-breaking dialogue indicators and generally will stick to one character as the narrator per book or per chapter. The reader will know only what that character knows but will be privy to information the character does not directly observe or to the intention behind other character’s words, actions, or expressions. In third omniscient, the author shows the motivations and internal monologues of all or most characters. In third limited changing, the narrator is always a character but the point of view character can change from scene to scene.

I myself usually write in third limited changing.

With regards to verb tense — past tense, please. Do not write stories in present or future tense. All action in narrative should be past tense. The characters might speak of something they are doing or they will do. They might have an internal monologue in present or future tense. But the actual action of the story should be in the past tense. If you’re not certain of how that works, here’s a sample:

Frank watched as Mitchell prepared the slide. They both wanted to know what had killed their neighbor.

“What do you see, Mitch?” Frank asked after Mitchell had studied the sample for several long, silent moments.

“I see trouble,” Mitchell sighed. “His blood was clean. No poison, no toxins.”

“But there wasn’t a mark on his body. No signs of asphyxiation or strangulation. Healthy men do not just keel over dead!” Frank protested.

“Well, it will take an autopsy to tell you more, Frank. There is not a damned thing on this slide that says he met any kind of foul play.”

Putting that in present tense would be very immersion-breaking. Putting it in future tense would have the reader wondering if you had lost your damned mind.

5) Don’t build in tension needlessly. This one I sometimes have trouble with myself. I’ll want my readers on edge for something but, if you build up tension, there needs to be a release. If you keep people stewing for too long, they will put your work down. If you never have a pay off, they’ll be rather upset. That doesn’t mean you need to rush things; it means you need to check the pacing. It also means you don’t throw in a bunch of tangential tragedies or misunderstandings just to keep people on tenterhooks. And yes, it is “tenterhooks” and not “tenderhooks.”

Pacing matters. If you’re writing a slow burn love story, you don’t have the characters get together in the second chapter. You also don’t have them get together in the very last chapter (at least not for the first time). If you’re writing an adventure, your heroes do not beat the Super Villain at the end of chapter one. They also don’t beat him in the penultimate or ultimate chapter. If the last damned line of your story is “the good guys won over the bad guys,” I will personally hunt you down and beat you within an inch of your life.

6) Beta readers are not all editors and editors are not beta readers. Yes, good betas will generally point out typos, misspellings, and grammar errors. However, their job is primarily to give you feedback on how well the chapter progresses the story, how plausible the actions and inner monologues are, how in-character things are, and to help you with internal consistency. Editors, on the other hand, are going to focus on grammar, spelling, word choice, and the way that paragraphs flow and transition. They may not notice internal inconsistencies or your characters doing things completely out of character for them. I can and have done both but they are different processes so I have to focus on one during one read-through and the other during the second.

7) Content labels are fine. Trigger warnings are stupid. It is fine to label your story with content warnings such as “swearing,” “non con,” “M/M,” “F/F,” “F/M,” or the like. Certain people may not want to read a story with a lot of swearing or a lot of sex or certain kinds of pairings. That’s fine. But trigger warnings are stupid and show that you are ignorant about what PTSD actually is and how it works.

If someone is “triggered” by words on a page, then they probably should be institutionalized. Most people with PTSD will never be triggered by mere words on a page. It will be sounds (such as explosions or gunfire), smells, or conditions that are physically occurring around them that trigger them to have a flashback episode. This is why concert venues, movie theaters, and other live performances will sometimes give warnings that the event taking place will involve gunfire, explosions, pyrotechnics, or sudden loud noises. Treatment for PTSD involves gradually re-exposing the person to the things that trigger them so that they will become desensitized to them and will no longer be triggered to have a flashback whenever a car backfires.

So, unless you are embedding video in your story, it doesn’t need a trigger warning. A content label will do fine for those who wish to avoid certain types of stories. Putting a trigger warning in it only diminishes and makes light of actual PTSD.

How do I know this? One, I have read up on PTSD and treatment for it. Two, I have friends who have gone through it. Three, I have dealt with a mild case of it myself in the months after I was carjacked and kidnapped at gunpoint. That’s how I know.

8) Again, for the love of Cthulhu, learn what certain idiomatic expressions actually are as opposed to what you’ve misheard them as. The phrase is “for all intents and purposes” not “for all intensive purposes.” “Irregardless” isn’t a word — you’re looking for “regardless.” “Literally” means that something could actually happen the way described. “Could care less” means that you do care to some degree.

This list is, of course, not comprehensive or all-inclusive. However, it covers the most common mistakes I’ve seen. Please try to do better in the future because I am very frightened that some of you might represent fan-writers to the general public.

Hugs and kisses!

— G.K.

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Okay, so, I may have been just the teensiest bit busy last week and kind of forgot to hit the “publish” button on the last chapter of this story. Not to worry — that just means you all get a double dose this week. So, be not sad and don’t waste any replicator rations — there’s plenty of booze and beverages to go around while you settle in to read the latest two chapters of Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation!

Yeah, I revisited the transwarp flight thing. I didn’t redo the whole episode — just some bits of it (and it’s a multi-chapter work) that are interesting. So, you don’t have to worry about a bunch of rehashed dialogue. I learned a lot from Adrift and Alayne’s Story. But, things are progressing and it’s going to be interesting so go get your read on.

I’m going to be moving my Friday Review entry to Saturday from here on out so check back tomorrow for that.

— G.K.

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Fanfic Friday -- Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Happy Friday, everyone. The latest chapter of Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation is up for your reading pleasure. Things are moving forward and we learn a bit more about T’Loran’s past and much fun is had. Okay, not so much “fun” but “setting up things” because yay for exposition.

Anyhow, I have some other work to clear out of the way so go on and get your read on!

— G.K.

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Fanfic Friday -- Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

So, fingers crossed because today is a big day. I have an interview lined up that could be interesting. And, while I’m off doing that, here’s the second chapter of my Voyager fanfic for those of you who have been asking me about it. Yes, Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation has been updated. I will be updating this story every Friday. If you’re curious, my current plan is to update The Masterminds on Monday, The Search for the Seven Scepters on Tuesday, In the Shadow of Yggdrasil on Wednesday, Risen Ash on Thursday, and Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation on Friday. A couple of people have been pinging me about getting Alayne’s Story (my insanely, epically-long World of Warcraft fanfic that I wrote over the course of five years) up on this site. A few others have been asking if I’m planning to put Adrift up here as well and a few are asking if I’ve posted it over at AO3. The answers to those questions are: yes. I am planning to add them to this site and I did post Adrift to AO3. No, I’m not going to put them up on Tumblr (the formatting is too big a PITA). There are a few problems with Alayne’s Story that need to be ironed out first but it will be up here once those are taken care of and I’ve had time to get a cover image done for it. I’ll also be adding it to Fanfiction.net and Wattpad as well as AO3.

I’ve had a couple-of-five of you email me via my contact form to ask if I’ll be putting any of my fanfics up on Amazon for 0.00. Short answer in universal sign language below:

I know that Amazon said they were working something out where fanfics could be distributed for free or sold if the rights-holders agreed. I don’t know what came of that (I’ve not kept up with it at all). In theory, I could *probably* give them away in Kindle format via Amazon (again, I *really* need to research the terms of that. I’m not promising a damned thing) or via this website (definitely could do that last one) so long as I credit the original source. The problem is that some places are pretty cool with derivative-work fan creators (Blizzard) and don’t mind too much if they have a tip jar or are selling other things or have a premium access area on their site so long as they don’t actually sell the fanwork itself. Other places (CBS, Paramount, Auntie Beeb) are a little less far down the “cool” spectrum and G.K. can’t afford awesomesauce lawyers. Factor in that, technically, fanfics are a form of copyright infringement and trademark dilution and if I were to profit from it those guys really have no choice but to come after me with a fifty-ton hammer of smiting and it’s just a headache I’m not sure I want to deal with.

Why do you think I’m not running ads on this site? It’s not because I couldn’t use the money. It’s because I’m fucking terrified that if I did, I’d have the BBC and Blizzard suing me for money I don’t fucking have and will never fucking get. We’ll ignore, for now, the fact that I’m also personally liable to David Tennant, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Helmsworth, Anthony Hopkins, AMC, Alexander Enderberg, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Melissa McBride, and Eric Calderone (among countless others) for unauthorized use of their names and/or personal likenesses. Never mind that I took those likenesses from photos that were released to the public domain by their press representatives or publicists. Technically, the argument could be made and G.K. Masterson and family does not have the money to make a convincing counter-argument before a judge in the US or the UK.

I’m doing my best to stay well under the radar when it comes to my fanworks. I had actually seriously considered sending some of my legit work to a few of my favorite actors as a way of saying “thanks” for the countless hours of entertainment and inspiration they’ve afforded me. However, once I realized how trivial it would be for them to link my legit works to my fanworks (and that was a dumbass move on my part there) and just how liable I was on that, I ditched that idea. The repository sites like Fanfiction.net, AO3, and Wattpad can get away with it because of how they function and because of the terms they present to users. I can also post my own works here as an archive. But selling them, even at 0.00, via Amazon or anything like that…well, it gets really, really tricky when there’s a remote chance of “profiting” from the work at all even if it’s just “someone read my fanfic and bought my legit work while on my website.”

tl;dr — It’s a hassle and, tbh, I have enough stress in my life already so I’ll pass for now, thanks.

Anyway, go on and enjoy this week’s chapter of Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation!

— G.K.

New Story: Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation!

New Story: Fanfic Friday -- Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation!

So, we all have our guilty little pleasures, right? Sometimes we get stumped on our stories and we just need to write something and, well, we’ve all had that one television show we binge-watched on Netflix that had a few minor characters on it that we wished got more screen time and development because they were interesting. That’s why sites like An Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net exist (and why I have accounts there). At any rate, without further ado — announcing a new story for all my fellow Trekkies out there: Inosculation. Set in the Star Trek Voyager universe, it introduces a few new faces and gives some other faces more air time and development because G.K. loves Star Trek, Voyager had potential but got railroaded and shafted, and… well, yeah, okay, Vorik deserved better than what was done to him and the actor that portrayed him did as well. Same with Mortimer Harren and several others who only showed up once or when there was a blue moon.

So, go on and get your read on!

— G.K.

Plagarism and the Remix Culture

Plagarism and the Remix Culture

Many, many years ago, when I was a young writer who was just beginning to grasp the importance of things like “letter shapes” and had a vague understanding that spelling might be important in other people being able to read what I’d written (especially since I lacked the skill to remember and translate my earliest works from “toddler-scribbling” into “American English,” thus depriving the world of many epic sagas involving me, my little brother, our dog, and the various and sundry monsters who inhabited our backyard), I was big on what we now call “the remix culture” and I, somewhat intuitively, knew not to claim someone else’s story as my own because I didn’t like it when my brother tried to say that a story I’d made up and told him was his idea.

 

Now, one would think that if a girl of seven can intuit that claiming someone else’s words/story for your own is wrong, then college students and adults would have a much better grasp on the concept of plagiarism (h/t Mad Genius Club). Apparently, it seems, I was a bit precocious in my ethics by figuring out that repeating (and claiming to have “made up”) something like The Last Unicorn was wrong but that making up a different story using the same characters was okay so long as I asked permission (which makes me wonder what Nintendo thought of Nine Year Old Me’s letter asking if they would mind if I wrote a play for the kids in my neighborhood based on The Legend of Zelda that would neatly tie together the first three games — The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, and A Link to the Past. Cut me some slack. I didn’t understand the difference between commercial and non-commercial use prior to puberty. I should at least get credit for having a vague understanding of copyright rules back then, shouldn’t I?)

 

To continue; as I got older, I continued to write for things other than school assignments. A few of my short stories were completely original. A lot were based on things my friends and I did but with the names and the setting changed (mostly to protect the guilty because none of us wanted to get busted for going to the Bat Cave* after having been told not to). And many were remixes or “in addition to” stories that took the characters and settings of another story and used them to tell a new story. By the time I was in high school, I was a fairly prolific fanfic author when it came to The Legend of Zelda, Star Trek, Star Wars, Dragonlance, and The Wheel of Time. I was also a burgeoning fantasy writer working on my first novel (which needs to be completely rewritten before I let anyone see it), a multitude of short stories, and several RPG adventures/campaigns for AD&D (2nd Edition).

 

Back then, I generally had an “extra” notebook I carried around with me that I worked on when I was finished with whatever we were doing in class. This notebook would have notes on adventures I was writing, fanfics, some of my original stuff, my attempts at poetry and epics, and also poems I was trying to memorize. Once, I left this notebook in my English class and my teacher thumbed through it to figure out whose it was so she could return it. She came upon a poem that I had half-written in there and tracked me down to ask me to finish it. The poem was not one I had created — it was one I was trying to memorize and came from the Dragonlance short story Hunting Destiny. I made sure that she understood that because she was talking about having that poem published once I finished it.

 

It makes me sad to realize that, these days, many students would claim the work as their own for the accolades they could receive (at least until it was revealed they were lying). It also makes me sad to realize that far too many of them don’t understand the difference between remixing and plagiarism. I can sympathize with those who read something and mistakenly paraphrase it without proper attribution (I did this myself a few times and was always embarrassed and quickly corrected it once it was pointed out to me) but I have no such sympathy for people who blatantly rip-off (sometimes word for word) another author and then try to pass that work off as their own after making only a few modifications to try to file the serial numbers off, as it were. I have actually caught a few people ripping off some of my old short stories and trying to claim them as their own for school assignments (and those are always fun emails to get from teachers) which is why I took them down from my website years ago.

 

However, I don’t mind when people remix my stuff. I’ve had a few emails with short stories set in the Lanarian universe. I’m flattered by those even though I won’t read them because I don’t want to be accused of ripping them off later.

 

Remixing is fine, guys. And yes, “real” writers do occasionally remix to one degree or another. Some of us even dabble in the occasional fanfic (I’ve done so with Doctor Who). Many of us fantasy writers actually got our start as fanfic writers (though that’s not what we knew to call it) in our early days. For me, my progression went from writing fanfics set in established universes to taking elements of those universes and tinkering with them to try to build a new universe to eventually developing my own universes. And, I’ve read some damned fine fanfics that beat the living tar out of some of the “official” novels (especially when it comes to TV shows, films, or video games). But every fanfic that takes place in someone else’s universe comes with a disclaimer giving credit to the original source. Even many remixes that pass muster as “original works” and not “derivatives” come with an acknowledgement of influences.

 

We authors love to give credit to the authors and works that inspired and influenced our own writing. Just as musicians will credit other acts for inspiring them to get into music or for inspiring a particular song, we give credit to the authors who came before us and inspired and influenced us. We know that “what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) So, we give credit. And if you want to be respected as an author, you’ll need to give credit, too. That doesn’t mean citing every sentence you write. It doesn’t mean sending out a ream of letters before you publish something. It means being willing (and even proud) to say “this story was inspired by X” or “my writing is influenced by Y.” It does not mean taking what X or Y has written, changing a few words, adding a few scenes, and then slapping your name on it and calling it a “remix” when you get busted.

 

That’s enough for now. As you can tell, this is one of my hot-button issues. 🙂

 

— G.K.

 


*The Bat Cave wasn’t anything cool like from Batman. It was a long storm drain pipe that ran under a road. There were bats living in there which is why we called it “the bat cave.”