So, I’ve been on tumblr for a while now (and reading fic for longer), and I have to say, I have one thing that I would like fanfic writers to edit out of their stories, if necessary.
At the risk of sounding preachy, I’m going to finally share this thought.
More and more, I feel like I read fics (especially on tumblr) that start with an Author’s note that goes a little like this:
Ah, I think this sucks but here it is!!! or Just a stupid little idea, but I wrote it anyway, haha! or I haven’t written in forever and this is terrible, but…
My suggested edit is this: Take that note out.
I understand that sometimes you write things quickly, that sometimes you don’t feel like bothering to check for typos and you don’t really want a slew of corrections from people and so giving people warning that this isn’t fully polished can be a good thing. I support that, especially if it makes you comfortable enough to post your work. But communicate that positively – say it’s “quick” or “just for fun” or “a little idea I had to get out” or “unbeta-ed” or “first fic in a while! getting back into it!”
Don’t say it “sucks.” Don’t say it’s “stupid.” Don’t say “Wrote this in 2 seconds so it is probably the woooorst!!”
You created something. It did not exist before you and you are the only reason anyone gets the experience of reading it. Be proud of that. I feel like the world already tries to put down fanfiction writers so much- we don’t need to start implying it’s okay by announcing it at the beginning of our stories.
Your writing isn’t stupid. It’s not dumb or silly and it does not suck. It is not the worst.
So don’t tell people it is.
Don’t give someone permission to dismiss your work before they even start reading.
you know when you read a piece of writing so effortless, so graceful and unpretentious that you are both a) thrilled to the point that you have to put it down and walk in a quick circle to make it last longer but also b) PHYSICALLY INCAPACITATED with snarling jealousy and rage
- Sylvia Plath: There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.
- Rudyard Kipling: I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.
- Emily Dickinson: [Your poems] are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.
- Ernest Hemingway (on The Torrents of Spring): It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.
- Dr. Seuss: Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.
- The Diary of Anne Frank: The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.
- Richard Bach (on Jonathan Livingston Seagull): will never make it as a paperback. (Over 7.25 million copies sold)
- H.G. Wells (on The War of the Worlds): An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would “take”…I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book’. And (on The Time Machine): It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.
- Edgar Allan Poe: Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works in which a single and connected story occupies the entire volume.
- Herman Melville (on Moby Dick): We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against the book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in [England]. It is very long, rather old-fashioned…
- Jack London: [Your book is] forbidding and depressing.
- William Faulkner: If the book had a plot and structure, we might suggest shortening and revisions, but it is so diffuse that I don’t think this would be of any use. My chief objection is that you don’t have any story to tell. And two years later: Good God, I can’t publish this!
- Stephen King (on Carrie): We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.
- Joseph Heller (on Catch–22): I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.
- George Orwell (on Animal Farm): It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.
- Oscar Wilde (on Lady Windermere’s Fan): My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.
- Vladimir Nabokov (on Lolita): … overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times, Beatrix Potter initially self-published it.
- Lust for Life by Irving Stone was rejected 16 times, but found a publisher and went on to sell about 25 million copies.
- John Grisham’s first novel was rejected 25 times.
- Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) received 134 rejections.
- Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) received 121 rejections.
- Gertrude Stein spent 22 years submitting before getting a single poem accepted.
- Judy Blume, beloved by children everywhere, received rejections for two straight years.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle received 26 rejections.
- Frank Herbert’s Dune was rejected 20 times.
- Carrie by Stephen King received 30 rejections.
- The Diary of Anne Frank received 16 rejections.
- Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rolling was rejected 12 times.
- Dr. Seuss received 27 rejection letters
Now this…THIS inspires me.
Okay but I feel the same way about Lolita even today
On a personal note. I’ve
met wonderful people throughout fandoms and by leaving comments. I’ve made
great friends, some even on comment sections, as we shared our enthusiasm for
the same story.
People who like the same ships often hold similar character
traits and life experiences; they’re people who would get you. The bonds in fandoms only strengthen when people meet other
people as humans – and there are fantastic humans waiting to meet you.
Leave a comment. 🙂
For Data Collected
For this, I’ve used AO3, currently the most popular fanfiction
I’ve taken the first ranked story in each ship, completed, rated
by kudos – since bookmarks on AO3 can be set to private so the counters don’t
reflect the real numbers – to reflect the stories that had the most positive
feedback in their category.
For the comments, I’ve (falsely and intentionally) assumed the
numbers represented are singular comments from singular, different users
(tipping the scales in favor of the commenters). For Destiel, Johnlock and
Spirk I had to pick the second story by kudos, since for the first the
deviation error (assuming the author haven’t replied and there aren’t
discussion threads included in the comments) was far too high for the ratio to
be accurate, and my initial assumption couldn’t be applied. My apologies to the
The data was collected on
May 2nd , 2016.))
Does anyone else get really caught up on the small details in their writing? Like you can be really good at writing situations and feelings and characters, but you get to a point when you’re writing something small like what they’re making for dinner and before you know it, you’re googling recipes with tomatoes because you think the scene won’t be convincing unless you know the cooking time and temp??
And then you use like, 5% of it in your ACTUAL writing?
this. my life. Oh god.
- Sticking a landing will royally fuck up your joints and possibly shatter your ankles, depending on how high you’re jumping/falling from. There’s a very good reason free-runners dive and roll.
- Hand-to-hand fights usually only last a matter of seconds, sometimes a few minutes. It’s exhausting work and unless you have a lot of training and history with hand-to-hand combat, you’re going to tire out really fast.
- Arrows are very effective and you can’t just yank them out without doing a lot of damage. Most of the time the head of the arrow will break off inside the body if you try pulling it out, and arrows are built to pierce deep. An arrow wound demands medical attention.
- Throwing your opponent across the room is really not all that smart. You’re giving them the chance to get up and run away. Unless you’re trying to put distance between you so you can shoot them or something, don’t throw them.
- Everyone has something called a “flinch response” when they fight. This is pretty much the brain’s way of telling you “get the fuck out of here or we’re gonna die.” Experienced fighters have trained to suppress this. Think about how long your character has been fighting. A character in a fist fight for the first time is going to take a few hits before their survival instinct kicks in and they start hitting back. A character in a fist fight for the eighth time that week is going to respond a little differently.
- ADRENALINE WORKS AGAINST YOU WHEN YOU FIGHT. THIS IS IMPORTANT. A lot of times people think that adrenaline will kick in and give you some badass fighting skills, but it’s actually the opposite. Adrenaline is what tires you out in a battle and it also affects the fighter’s efficacy – meaning it makes them shaky and inaccurate, and overall they lose about 60% of their fighting skill because their brain is focusing on not dying. Adrenaline keeps you alive, it doesn’t give you the skill to pull off a perfect roundhouse kick to the opponent’s face.
- Swords WILL bend or break if you hit something hard enough. They also dull easily and take a lot of maintenance. In reality, someone who fights with a sword would have to have to repair or replace it constantly.
- Fights get messy. There’s blood and sweat everywhere, and that will make it hard to hold your weapon or get a good grip on someone.
- A serious battle also smells horrible. There’s lots of sweat, but also the smell of urine and feces. After someone dies, their bowels and bladder empty. There might also be some questionable things on the ground which can be very psychologically traumatizing. Remember to think about all of the character’s senses when they’re in a fight. Everything WILL affect them in some way.
- If your sword is sharpened down to a fine edge, the rest of the blade can’t go through the cut you make. You’ll just end up putting a tiny, shallow scratch in the surface of whatever you strike, and you could probably break your sword.
- ARCHERS ARE STRONG TOO. Have you ever drawn a bow? It takes a lot of strength, especially when you’re shooting a bow with a higher draw weight. Draw weight basically means “the amount of force you have to use to pull this sucker back enough to fire it.” To give you an idea of how that works, here’s a helpful link to tell you about finding bow sizes and draw weights for your characters. (CLICK ME)
- If an archer has to use a bow they’re not used to, it will probably throw them off a little until they’ve done a few practice shots with it and figured out its draw weight and stability.
- People bleed. If they get punched in the face, they’ll probably get a bloody nose. If they get stabbed or cut somehow, they’ll bleed accordingly. And if they’ve been fighting for a while, they’ve got a LOT of blood rushing around to provide them with oxygen. They’re going to bleed a lot.
Hopefully this helps someone out there. If you reblog, feel free to add more tips for writers or correct anything I’ve gotten wrong here.
How to apply Writing techniques for action scenes:
– Short sentences. Choppy. One action, then another. When there’s a lull in the fight, take a moment, using longer phrases to analyze the situation–then dive back in. Snap, snap, snap.
– Same thing with words – short, simple, and strong in the thick of battle. Save the longer syllables for elsewhere.
– Characters do not dwell on things when they are in the heat of the moment. They will get punched in the face. Focus on actions, not thoughts.
– Go back and cut out as many adverbs as possible.
– No seriously, if there’s ever a time to use the strongest verbs in your vocabulary – Bellow, thrash, heave, shriek, snarl, splinter, bolt, hurtle, crumble, shatter, charge, raze – it’s now.
– Don’t forget your other senses. People might not even be sure what they saw during a fight, but they always know how they felt.
– Taste: Dry mouth, salt from sweat, copper tang from blood, etc
– Smell: OP nailed it
– Touch: Headache, sore muscles, tense muscles, exhaustion, blood pounding. Bruised knuckles/bowstring fingers. Injuries that ache and pulse, sting and flare white hot with pain.
– Pain will stay with a character. Even if it’s minor.
– Sound and sight might blur or sharpen depending on the character and their experience/exhaustion. Colors and quick movements will catch the eye. Loud sounds or noises from behind may serve as a fighter’s only alert before an attack.
– If something unexpected happens, shifting the character’s whole attention to that thing will shift the Audience’s attention, too.
– Aftermath. This is where the details resurface, the characters pick up things they cast aside during the fight, both literally and metaphorically. Fights are chaotic, fast paced, and self-centered. Characters know only their self, their goals, what’s in their way, and the quickest way around those threats. The aftermath is when people can regain their emotions, their relationships, their rationality/introspection, and anything else they couldn’t afford to think or feel while their lives were on the line.
Do everything you can to keep the fight here and now. Maximize the physical, minimize the theoretical. Keep things immediate – no theories or what ifs.
If writing a strategist, who needs to think ahead, try this: keep strategy to before-and-after fights. Lay out plans in calm periods, try to guess what enemies are thinking or what they will do. During combat, however, the character should think about his options, enemies, and terrain in immediate terms; that is, in shapes and direction.
(Large enemy rushing me; dive left, circle around / Scaffolding on fire, pool below me / two foes helping each other, separate them.)
Lastly, after writing, read it aloud. Anyplace your tongue catches up on a fast moving scene, edit. Smooth action scenes rarely come on the first try.
Writing with Color: Description Guide – Words for Skin Tone
We discussed the issue of describing People of Color by means of food in Part I of this guide, which brought rise to even more questions, mostly along the lines of “So, if food’s not an option, what can I use?” Well, I was just getting to that!
This final portion focuses on describing skin tone, with photo and passage examples provided throughout. I hope to cover everything from the use of straight-forward description to the more creatively-inclined, keeping in mind the questions we’ve received on this topic.
So let’s get to it.
S T A N D A R D D E S C R I P T I O N
B a s i c C o l o r s
Pictured above: Black, Brown, Beige, White, Pink.
“She had brown skin.”
- This is a perfectly fine description that, while not providing the most detail, works well and will never become cliché.
- Describing characters’ skin as simply brown or beige works on its own, though it’s not particularly telling just from the range in brown alone.
C o m p l e x C o l o r s
These are more rarely used words that actually “mean” their color. Some of these have multiple meanings, so you’ll want to look into those to determine what other associations a word might have.
Pictured above: Umber, Sepia, Ochre, Russet, Terra-cotta, Gold, Tawny, Taupe, Khaki, Fawn.
Complex colors work well alone, though often pair well with a basic color in regards to narrowing down shade/tone.
For example: Golden brown, russet brown, tawny beige…
- As some of these are on the “rare” side, sliding in a definition of the word within the sentence itself may help readers who are unfamiliar with the term visualize the color without seeking a dictionary.
“He was tall and slim, his skin a russet, reddish-brown.”
- Comparisons to familiar colors or visuals are also helpful:
“His skin was an ochre color, much like the mellow-brown light that bathed the forest.”
M o d i f i e r s
Modifiers, often adjectives, make partial changes to a word.The following words are descriptors in reference to skin tone.
D a r k – D e e p – R i c h – C o o l
W a r m – M e d i u m – T a n
F a i r – L i g h t – P a l e
Rich Black, Dark brown, Warm beige, Pale pink…
If you’re looking to get more specific than “brown,” modifiers narrow down shade further.
- Keep in mind that these modifiers are not exactly colors.
- As an already brown-skinned person, I get tan from a lot of sun and resultingly become a darker, deeper brown. I turn a pale, more yellow-brown in the winter.
- While best used in combination with a color, I suppose words like “tan” “fair” and “light” do work alone; I’d just note that tan is less likely to be taken for “naturally tan” and much more likely a tanned white person.
- Calling someone “dark” as description on its own is offensive to some and also ambiguous. (See: Describing Skin as Dark)
U n d e r t o n e s
Undertones are the colors beneath the skin, seeing as skin isn’t just one even color but has more subdued tones within the dominating palette.
- Mentioning the undertones within a character’s skin is an even more precise way to denote skin tone.
- As shown, there’s a difference between say, brown skin with warm orange-red undertones (Kelly Rowland) and brown skin with cool, jewel undertones (Rutina Wesley).
“A dazzling smile revealed the bronze glow at her cheeks.”
“He always looked as if he’d ran a mile, a constant tinge of pink under his tawny skin.”
Standard Description Passage
“Farah’s skin, always fawn, had burned and freckled under the summer’s sun. Even at the cusp of autumn, an uneven tan clung to her skin like burrs. So unlike the smooth, red-brown ochre of her mother, which the sun had richened to a blessing.”
-From my story “Where Summer Ends” featured in Strange Little Girls
- Here the state of skin also gives insight on character.
- Note my use of “fawn” in regards to multiple meaning and association. While fawn is a color, it’s also a small, timid deer, which describes this very traumatized character of mine perfectly.
Though I use standard descriptions of skin tone more in my writing, at the same time I’m no stranger to creative descriptions, and do enjoy the occasional artsy detail of a character.
C R E A T I V E D E S C R I P T I O N
Whether compared to night-cast rivers or day’s first light…I actually enjoy seeing Characters of Colors dressed in artful detail.
I’ve read loads of descriptions in my day of white characters and their “smooth rose-tinged ivory skin”, while the PoC, if there, are reduced to something from a candy bowl or a Starbucks drink, so to actually read of PoC described in lavish detail can be somewhat of a treat.
Still, be mindful when you get creative with your character descriptions. Too many frills can become purple-prose–like, so do what feels right for your writing when and where.
Not every character or scene warrants a creative description, either. Especially if they’re not even a secondary character.
Using a combination of color descriptions from standard to creative is probably a better method than straight-up creative. But again, do what’s good for your tale.
N A T U R AL S E T T I N G S – S K Y
Pictured above: Harvest Moon -Twilight, Fall/Autumn Leaves, Clay, Desert/Sahara, Sunlight – Sunrise – Sunset – Afterglow – Dawn- Day- Daybreak, Field – Prairie – Wheat, Mountain/Cliff, Beach/Sand/Straw/Hay.
- Now before you run off to compare your heroine’s skin to the harvest moon or a cliff side, think about the associations to your words.
- When I think cliff, I think of jagged, perilous, rough. I hear sand and picture grainy, yet smooth. Calm. mellow.
- So consider your character and what you see fit to compare them to.
- Also consider whose perspective you’re describing them from. Someone describing a person they revere or admire may have a more pleasant, loftier description than someone who can’t stand said person.
“Her face was like the fire-gold glow of dawn, lifting my gaze, drawing me in.”
“She had a sandy complexion, smooth and tawny.”
- Even creative descriptions tend to draw help from your standard words.
F L O W E R S
Pictured above: Calla lilies, Western Coneflower, Hazel Fay, Hibiscus, Freesia, Rose
- It was a bit difficult to find flowers to my liking that didn’t have a 20 character name or wasn’t called something like “chocolate silk” so these are the finalists.
- You’ll definitely want to avoid purple-prose here.
- Also be aware of flowers that most might’ve never heard of. Roses are easy, as most know the look and coloring(s) of this plant. But Western coneflowers? Calla lilies? Maybe not so much.
“He entered the cottage in a huff, cheeks a blushing brown like the flowers Nana planted right under my window. Hazel Fay she called them, was it?”
A S S O R T E D P L A N T S & N A T U R E
Pictured above: Cattails, Seashell, Driftwood, Pinecone, Acorn, Amber
- These ones are kinda odd. Perhaps because I’ve never seen these in comparison to skin tone, With the exception of amber.
- At least they’re common enough that most may have an idea what you’re talking about at the mention of “pinecone.“
- I suggest reading out your sentences aloud to get a better feel of how it’ll sounds.
“Auburn hair swept past pointed ears, set around a face like an acorn both in shape and shade.”
- I pictured some tree-dwelling being or person from a fantasy world in this example, which makes the comparison more appropriate.
- I don’t suggest using a comparison just “’cuz you can” but actually being thoughtful about what you’re comparing your character to and how it applies to your character and/or setting.
W O O D
Pictured above: Mahogany, Walnut, Chestnut, Golden Oak, Ash
- Wood is definitely an iffy description for skin tone. Not only due to several of them having “foody” terminology within their names, but again, associations.
- Some people would prefer not to compare/be compared to wood at all, so get opinions, try it aloud, and make sure it’s appropriate to the character if you do use it.
“The old warlock’s skin was a deep shade of mahogany, his stare serious and firm as it held mine.”
M E T A L S
Pictured above: Platinum, Copper, Brass, Gold, Bronze
- Copper skin, brass-colored skin, golden skin…
- I’ve even heard variations of these used before by comparison to an object of the same properties/coloring, such as penny for copper.
- These also work well with modifiers.
“The dress of fine white silks popped against the deep bronze of her skin.”
G E M S T O N E S – M I N E R A LS
Pictured above: Onyx, Obsidian, Sard, Topaz, Carnelian, Smoky Quartz, Rutile, Pyrite, Citrine, Gypsum
- These are trickier to use. As with some complex colors, the writer will have to get us to understand what most of these look like.
- If you use these, or any more rare description, consider if it actually “fits” the book or scene.
- Even if you’re able to get us to picture what “rutile” looks like, why are you using this description as opposed to something else? Have that answer for yourself.
“His skin reminded her of the topaz ring her father wore at his finger, a gleaming stone of brown, mellow facades.”
P H Y S I C A L D E S C R I P T I ON
- Physical character description can be more than skin tone.
- Show us hair, eyes, noses, mouth, hands…body posture, body shape, skin texture… though not necessarily all of those nor at once.
- Describing features also helps indicate race, especially if your character has some traits common within the race they are, such as Afro hair to a Black character.
- How comprehensive you decide to get is up to you. I wouldn’t overdo it and get specific to every mole and birthmark. Noting defining characteristics is good, though, like slightly spaced front teeth, curls that stay flopping in their face, hands freckled with sunspots…
G E N E R A L T I P S
Indicate Race Early: I suggest indicators of race be made at the earliest convenience within the writing, with more hints threaded throughout here and there.
- Get Creative All On Your Own: Obviously, I couldn’t cover every proper color or comparison in which has been “approved” to use for your characters’ skin color, so it’s up to you to use discretion when seeking other ways and shades to describe skin tone.
- Skin Color May Not Be Enough: Describing skin tone isn’t always enough to indicate someone’s ethnicity. As timeless cases with readers equating brown to “dark white” or something, more indicators of race may be needed.
Describe White characters and PoC Alike: You should describe the race and/or skin tone of your White characters just as you do your Characters of Color. If you don’t, you risk implying that White is the default human being and PoC are the “Other”).
- PSA: Don’t use “Colored.” Based on some asks we’ve received using this word, I’d like to say that unless you or your character is a racist grandmama from the 1960s, do not call People of Color “colored” please.
- Not Sure Where to Start? You really can’t go wrong using basic colors for your skin descriptions. It’s actually what many people prefer and works best for most writing. Personally, I tend to describe my characters using a combo of basic colors + modifiers, with mentions of undertones at times. I do like to veer into more creative descriptions on occasion.
- Want some alternatives to “skin” or “skin color”? Try: Appearance, blend, blush, cast, coloring, complexion, flush, glow, hue, overtone, palette, pigmentation, rinse, shade, sheen, spectrum, tinge, tint, tone, undertone, value, wash.
Skin Tone Resources
- List of Color Names
- The Color Thesaurus
- Things that are Brown (blog)
- Skin Undertone & Color Matching
- Tips and Words on Describing Skin
- Photos: Undertones Described (Modifiers included)
- Online Thesaurus (try colors, such as “red” & “brown”)
- Don’t Call me Pastries: Creative Skin Tones w/ pics 3 2 1
Writing & Description Guides
- WWC Guide: Words to Describe Hair
- Writing with Color: Description & Skin Color
- Describing Characters of Color (Passage Examples)
- 7 Offensive Mistakes Well-intentioned Writers Make
I tried to be as comprehensive as possible with this guide, but if you have a question regarding describing skin color that hasn’t been answered within part I or II of this guide, or have more questions after reading this post, feel free to ask!
~ Mod Colette
THAT FIRST SITE IS EVERY WRITER’S DREAM DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I’VE TRIED WRITING SOMETHING AND THOUGHT GOD DAMN IS THERE A SPECIFIC WORD FOR WHAT I’M USING TWO SENTENCES TO DESCRIBE AND JUST GETTING A BUNCH OF SHIT GOOGLE RESULTS
Reblogging this again because I just had reason to use it. I needed a word for mild dislike, and all I could think of at the moment were the more extreme forms of dislike like “animosity” and “loathing.” That first link had a TON of good options when I typed in “mild dislike.” Ended up going with reproach.
These links are actually helpful, so yeah.
Do you need an explanation for why there are dragons when the real world doesn’t have dragons? Because it’s a story. Do you need an explanation for why those dragons can fly when logically a creature of that size shouldn’t be able to do so? Because it’s a story. Do you need an explanation for why a human wiggling their fingers and saying certain words causes lightning to shoot out of them and fry that dragon to a crisp? Because it’s a story. Do you need a reason for why that finger-wiggling human is a gay woman and not a straight man? No, you don’t, because it’s the least absurd thing in this paragraph and you accept all of the others without question.
Change the background colour of the pages to a mint green shade.
It is said that green is a calming colour, however, the main reason why I like this, is because I can write for a much longer period of time now, as a white background I used before made my eyes dry and exhausted after just a few hours of working.
It is basically much more soft and careful to the eyes. I can’t precisely explain why that is. I think it’s that by making a pinch softer contrast of the text and the background, your eyes does not get exposed to as much light.
Just make sure to not make the background too dark, or else your eyes will get exhausted do to over-fixating the lack of contrast between text and background.
And maybe you find a nice pastel/light background shade that fits you; give it a try.
Different things work out and fits for different people. And I just felt like sharing this.
Here’s the shade numbers I used to get my preferred colour:
Thanks for reading.
You just solved a very real problem for me! Thanks!
For those who might not know where to find this: It’s in the Page Layout tab.
I had no idea this was possible before today!