May. 8th, 2011

kitsjay: (Indiana Too Old for this Shit)
1. Describing clothing in excruciating detail (especially when it's fugly) and making it OOC

Your characters are going to a club. Okay, let's assume that they're the type to go to clubs and do that sort of thing. Character A comes out wearing a white tank top with the bottom cut off to show off his stomach, the sleeves ripped off, a mesh shirt over it, and leather pants.

We're supposed to think this is hot. Maybe to you, the author, the mental image is. You know what I think?

I think I wouldn't stop myself from pointing and laughing at this person. Maybe in a gay 80s club, sure, but no classy joint would allow someone wearing that mess in. People have different tastes and it's really hard to get into a fic when Character B is going on and on about how hot he looks and all I can think is, "Character B is into clowns now?"

Seriously, keep it simple if you feel you must describe it. Tight black jeans and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top is a classic and therefore more universal. Leather pants and mesh and glitter or whatever else you're imagining is just going to throw me out of the story immediately. Also, keep it OC. When your character is a small town football star, he also probably won't be wearing eyeliner to the club.

2. Think about the reactions of the characters before you write about them, please!

I actually read a fic the other day where Character A calls his friend and asks the friend to drive him to the hospital. The friend stops on the way to buy food before getting there.

Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY?

Your friend calls and asks to go to the hospital and your first thought is, "Mmm, right after I get that Taco Bell"?

Believability isn't that hard. Stop and think, "What would I do if my friend called asking to go to the hospital? How would I react?" And if this is honestly how you would react... your friends need to call someone else the next time they need help.

3. It's disdain, not "distain".

I have seen three writers do this recently. I can't believe I have to say this, but spell check before you post! If you don't have a beta, it will at least get rid of the most glaring of mistakes, and trust me, I am counting "distain" as a glaring mistake. It's scowling, it's so bad.

4. Author's notes

No, seriously, just... author's notes. These are meant to impart some kind of information about your story. They can include warnings for the story, update notices, maybe that the story is a sequel, whatever. They're not there just to make an ass out of yourself, despite that seeming to be their most commonly used function.

I was about to read a story when an author actually said something to the effect of, "All mistakes are there to annoy my English teacher".

Well, congratulations, you also just annoyed your would-be-reader. That note tells me that you're (a) immature, (b) going to have grammar mistakes and know about them but refuse to fix them, and (c) I'm not going to read your fic. So I guess thank you for saving me the time.

The same goes for "cute" things like "talking" to characters, writing in the third person, and trying to be clever in your disclaimer (hint: putting, "If they were mine, they would be X-ing" is not original anymore). I can't believe I just had to type that. Moving on.

5. Your summary? Should actually be a summary of the fic.

Whoa, I just totally blew your mind, right? I was reading [ profile] epic_rants and as [ profile] jane_elliot so awesomely put it:

Sometimes I wonder if people really understand that these summaries are supposed to make people *want* to read a fic.

To give you an example of what not to do, I present you with an actual summary from The Listener fandom:

Takes place during final ep. Hope you enjoy. Minor language. I know this summary stinks. Sorry. ENJOY! Fixed Becker's name, I know it was bugging some of you. R&R

Where to start?

1. Write out episode, please. It's a few extra letters. Also, this is an ongoing show. Final episode of the first season? Final episode that has aired? What is it?

2. "I know this summary stinks. Sorry." -- Okay, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. If you know it stinks, then why not change it? Are you that lazy? This doesn't bode well for your writing, because it says to me that you're one of those people who says, "I know my characters are really OOC, lol, sry". Fix it or be prepared for me to immediately hit the back button; I'm not going to bother to read your story if you can't be bothered to fix the things you know are wrong with it.

3. Besides the fact that I will either enjoy it or not, there really is no need to tell me to do so twice.

4. I'm torn: I want to give the author props for actually fixing a mistake pointed out to her, but messing up a major canon character's name is generally not a good sign.

And hmm, what else? Oh, right, IT DOESN'T MENTION ANYTHING ABOUT THE STORY. Seriously, NOTHING. There are seven sentences (loosely speaking) in there, and not ONE thing about the plot. I know it has Becker in it, apparently! Is he the star? Is it about his secret addiction to terrible gay 80's clubs? Is it about someone who says "Enjoy!" a lot?

I have no idea!

Authors, take note. I put books by professional authors back on the bookstore shelves because they don't have a summary on the back cover; why the hell am I going to waste time on your fic when you can't be bothered to give me one?


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