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.

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.

Writers and the Fan-Fic Culture

Writers and the Fan-Fic Culture

Cross-posted over at Rooster and Pig’s blog

 

It’s no secret that many of us — especially fantasy writers like me — got our start by working in someone else’s established universe. For me, my first “real” creative work was from the Legend of Zelda when I was eight or nine years old. After that, it was the worlds of Dragonlance and the Death Gate Cycle when I was thirteen years old. I did also work in my own universe, though the concept (Atlantis) wasn’t terribly original (hey, cut me some slack, I was fifteen), and the execution was…well…adolescent to say the least (again, I was fifteen).

 

In time, I graduated to world-building while playing and writing campaigns and adventures for Dungeons and Dragons. I also developed a healthy dose of respect for cartographers, artists, and dungeon designers — not to mention architects! By the time I got into college, I was generally writing my own original works, mostly plays and short stories as I had not really developed the chops for novel-writing. I did, however, continue to write fanfics. I wrote several set in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe and one set in the world of Final Fantasy VIII. The fanfic that really got me convinced I could finally do a novel was Alayne’s Story. I spent the better part of five years writing that story, posting it on the World of Warcraft European forums every Friday. Even today, I still dabble in fanfics when I need to just build up my chops or let something original percolate so that I don’t over/underwrite it too badly.

 

The Internet, through services such as Fanfiction.net, have really given a good boost to remix writers. None of us ever think to try to profit from our works. After all, the characters and the settings are not “ours” in the ownership sense of the term. However, it is distressing to sit back and see just how many authors and corporate owners feel threatened by fanfic writers or feel as if having fanfics written with their property would somehow diminish the value of that property. This is a rather blinkered view, if you ask me. Yes, certainly, there are a lot of poorly-written fanfics out there. I’ve seen plenty of them where I wondered if the writer had any concept of grammar, spelling, or readability. There are some fanfics that, while earning passing marks for grammar, spelling, and formatting, fail because the story is unoriginal, the pacing is poor, or parts of it were too gratuitous. Granted, I’m sure all of us have written at least one or two scenes or treatments just for catharsis (and if you haven’t, you’re either not a writer, lying, or under the age of six). But, for the most part, we wouldn’t show those to anyone. There are many fanfics out there that cater to a specific audience or attempt to “fix” the story that the creator told because parts of it were unsatisfying. There are some, like mine, that delve into the “what if?” realm where we change events and then ride the ripple of that change throughout the universe (these are often called “alternate universe” or “AU” fanfics). There are some that attempt to tell the story of the characters in the days after the ending. And many of these are quite good. Many are very original. Many, in my opinion, rival the “canonical” or “licensed” works in quality.

 

For those authors and owners who either tolerate or, better still, embrace their fans and their fans’ written fanfics, these things can enrich and enhance the community — not only of that particular work, but the writing community in general. For those authors who try to stamp out fanfics using their works, who focus on exercising complete control over their works, the community of writers is left much poorer for their successful efforts.

 

After all, in the end, we’re all fanfic writers of one kind or another. All of us grew up hearing nursery rhymes and fairy tales and I’ll bet every last one of us, even the non-writers out there, would sometimes imagine “what if?” “What if Snow White didn’t eat the apple?” “What if the evil stepmother was actually nice to Cinderella instead?” “What happened during ‘happily ever after?'” “Why was the Wicked Witch…well, wicked? What made her like that?” From these questions and our imagination, new stories were born. And from practice in doing that, we began to build original tales with new characters, new roles, new monsters, new conflicts.

 

“There is nothing new under the sun.” By tolerating — nay, encouraging — fledgling writers to test their wings out with established characters, events, and universes, we enrich the literary universe and ourselves. At least, that’s what I think. And I will always be eternally grateful to Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto,* SquareSoft (now Square Enix), Blizzard, and the BBC for not suing the crap out of me whenever I, unlicensed and unauthorized writer that I am, decided to dabble in their universes for a little bit when I needed a break from my own.

 

— G.K.

 

Shigeru Miyamoto, Robert Jordan, and Brandon Sanderson are my Holy Trinity of Writers. They are served by the Archangels Russel T. Davies, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman, Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Piers Anthony. Don’t you dare judge me.