Alright, everybody. Time for a serious blog post. I know I haven't been as active as I should be or have been. That sucks. I miss you guys. I don't miss the bad stories, though. I've been lurking most days checking in to read up and see what's going on. The stories are improving some, but the problem is we still have a lot, and I mean a fucking lot of crappy stories. Like really crappy. Cliche, poorly written, bad character development, fucking ugh, man.
So anyway, I found a very big, very concise master list of writing resources to help you out some with your writing. The List in Question.
Now lets talk relevancy here. I'm adding some extra resources to this list to get through some of the tedium of going through all of these links.
Grammarly Grammar Checker (Though, you should probably learn how to check this yourself)
Now I'll stop right there with the links, but let's cover some of the biggest, most annoying habits I've been noticing. First of all, if your story is subpar, it gets deleted for whatever reason, etc. etc. ImGonnaBeThatGuy created a separate wiki, a writer's workshop. Post the story there, since this is such a little used resource, I'd also suggest posting in the Off Topic Forum to bring attention to the fact that you would like some advice, some actual critique to the story. Just because your story gets deleted doesn't mean it's a personal attack against you or your work.
Lets talk immersion
(n) Im - MER - shun
1. The act of immersing someone or something in a liquid
2. Deep mental involvement
Think of your story as a liquid, a viscous deep red sort of liquid. Your job as a writer is to create a story, a viscous liquid, that your audience would want to go to and then you grab their head and you shove it into that viscous liquid and you hold it there. You want to create a story that not only will someone want to read, but that they will continue to read, that they will become thoroughly involved in. Ways you can do that is by creating atmosphere, actively developing plot, and creating characters that are both useful and developed to a point that the reader actually cares what happens to them.
My biggest pet peeve in regards to the subject of immersion is when someone starts out their story with a goddamn preface. "Oh hey, guys, this is my first story so it's not that good or whatever, could you read it and be nice, please?" You know what that does? Immediately fucking kills every ounce of potential involvement I could have had with your story.
When you're writing, put some effort into creating a story that someone will actively get involved in. A story that you wouldn't want to turn away from. Some examples of this are The Bleeding Ceremony, The Black Dog and the Goat, Dogscape, and Room Zero. These stories grab your attention and they keep it. In other examples we can talk about video games such as Dear Esther and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. In all of the above the reader becomes involved and becomes, in a way, an active participant in the happenings of the story.
Come on, did you even try?
You know what story really fucking annoys me?. Listen, I'm willing to forgive the cliche plotline of randomly end up at garage sale, homie gives away a fucking great TV, then weird shit happens. Totally willing to forgive that because the execution isn't all that bad, like a selective curse, it's neat. But then all the sudden, the evil coming out of the TV is a fucking homie in a black hoodie and a white mask. Really? Really, dude? Did you even put any effort into that? And the end just sort of flops. It really kills an otherwise half-decent story.
If you have an interesting concept and you're working through a good story, put some fucking effort into the end act. In the above example, you have a cursed TV, that's cool. You have the altered perceptions of the author. Awesome. Paranoia, you know. It's cool. Then all the sudden the great evil of the cursed TV is one of the most ugly, overused, cliche, bad guy choices ever? Plus, the fellow goes to the doctor and the dialogue and research and effort just sort of dies.
Don't insult me by putting 50% into your story. I get it, you're not getting paid, you're posting a story on the internet. But you're posting it for an audience. Have some respect for that audience. Do your research, first of all, if you're writing about a medical condition, say bipolar disorder don't insult me by describing a generalized version of paranoid schizophrenia.
The use and misuse of ellipsis (...)
This is another pet peeve of mine, it's both an overused and misused crutch. Basically, stop using ellipses as substitutions for spaces, periods, etc. The ellipses is not an automatic suspense builder, as a matter of fact 9/10 times it's so horribly misused that it interrupts the flow of the story entirely.
Dictionary.com defines it as such:
"The omission from a sentence or other construction of one or more words that would complete or clarify the construction..."
See what I did right there? I ended the quote using ellipses, I omitted the remaining part of the definition without compromising the meaning or clarity. The ellipsis can also be used to imply something as in the following example from Dracula: "I don't drink... wine". In which the character is implying he drinks something, it's just not wine.
It can also signify a trailing off of a word, say, if someone's head gets chomped on mid-sentence. "Dude, ellipses are never used in real wri..." his words cut off by the eldritch abomination's tentacle piercing his throat. If you have more questions check out the Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips it's really quite a good guide with some other miscellaneous useful resources.
Push the line but stay in your experience
"I started to write in about 1950; I was thirty-five at the time; there didn't seem to be any strong motivation. I simply was endeavoring to put down in a more or less journalistic style something about my experiences with addiction and addicts." - William S. Burroughs
Push the line with your ideas, create beautiful unnatural things, but if you go outside of your own experience it will become very clear that you have no fucking idea what you're talking about. You will visibly be a fraud. In my experience, research will only get you so far. Personally, I've never been to New Delhi. I'm originally from Hawaii, my family comes from Arkansas, New York, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Primarily south of the Mason-Dixon. That's what I know. I know the smells, the feelings, I know the beauty. I can describe in detail every blade of grass, the smell of goats, the heavy humidity of the summer in Stroud, Oklahoma. The wetness and wind of Kamuela, Hawaii.
I can do all the research in the world on New Delhi, India and I couldn't describe really how it feels. Not believably. Your readers will understand, they will know, no matter how believably you regurgitate information you found in books or online. Stick to your experiences. Not matter how droll your experience is, that you've never left bum-fuck Nebraska or Texas, or wherever. You can work with that, no matter how boring you think it is, it can be worked with.
If you decide to go outside of what you know, stay either vague, or really fake it well. There are few novels I know of that fake it and fake it well. If you're gonna fake it, your research had best be as good as it possibly can be. That means get off the Wikipedia entry on New Delhi, guys.
Now, go, my younglings. Go write like fucking champions.
Check out the resources I've included, trust me, you're never so good that you can't benefit from reading some of these articles. Don't forget to check out the Creepypasta Style Guide.