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    Originally posted by Southern Red View Post
    This is an interesting discussion because fanfic is sometimes hard to judge. If you like the plot and think the characters are good, you will like it. But is grammar, spelling and punctuation important? Or if a story is technically correct but dull and boring or way off base, is it still good? Which do you guys value most? I'll tell you what I think after you reply, and I'm betting the SGA-R writers already know what I will say.
    Personally, all these things are important for me. I'm incredibly picky when it comes to fanfiction. As a non-native speaker whose grasp of English is not quite as good as I would like, it's very important for me that the story have proper grammar, punctuation and spelling - I can't afford reading stories with too many mistakes because there's a possibility of me absorbing these mistakes, thus making my English even less perfect that it is now. However, there's a couple of writers whose spelling leaves a lot to be desired (even I can see that), and yet they are absolutely bloody brilliant writers. They would really just benefit from a beta's services (and for some reason they do not have betas). So... if the writer is truly brilliant, I may make an exception, but mostly when I see a story full of mistakes, I backbutton immediately.

    A story that is technically correct, but dull at the same time? I see no reason bothering with it. I will not be so arrogant as to presume it is not good. It may not be good for me, but it may be perfect for someone else.

    Now, there's a category of stories that I have conflicting feelings about. These stories are not only technically correct, but also interesting and supremely well-written. Problem is, I disagree with the author's view of the characters. I'm not even speaking of canon errors. The characterization in such stories may very well be based on canon, it's just that authors drew different conclusions from the same canon events/behaviors than I did. It's incredibly frustrating when everything about the story's characterizations screams WRONG to me, but I can't dismiss it as non-canon because the author obviously based it on the same bits and pieces of canon; he/she just interpreted them differently. I've backbuttoned out of many excellently written, gripping stories because I could not agree with the author's interpretations. However, I can still admit that these stories are good.

    The things that I value most about fan stories? Spelling, grammar and punctuation kind of go without saying. I prefer to see characterization that is based on character interpretation similar to my own (but not necessarily identical - I can overlook some differences of opinion if I and the author agree about the big things). I value when characters grow and change throughout the story, and it is done in a natural, believable way. There's nothing that I love more than good dialogue that is both clever/witty and true to the characters. Some authors just... they get the characters' voices. It's not even just dialogue, it's every little thing about the characters. The way they smile, the way they tilt their head, the way they interject with a smart-ass remark - all these things described in fanfic make Character Voice for me, and it's possibly the most important thing. Some stories are very well-written, but the Voices are just not right. So yeah, I'm very picky about that.

    Another thing that I value is when the author portrays all the characters involved in their story as complex people. It's easy to pick one or two defnining traits and use them all the time when writing about a character. But there's danger of making the character two-dimensional. I love it when authors take into account all the multiple complexities that are part of the character, and make him/her come alive in their story.


    These two sites with writing tips are very interesting! I love most of the advice given there. I can't quite agree with some bits of advice given by Elmore Leonard, though. As a reader, I know that if the story never uses any dialogue tags other than "said", it often comes across as dry for me. Same with adverbs; I just don't believe they are the epitome of evil. The trick is not to overuse them, I think. "He shouted loudly" or "he snarled angrily" may be a bit too excessive. But overall, I think adverbs and various dialogue tags have their place, and they can strengthen the story if used appropriately. But that's just my opinion as a reader.

    Epithets, on the other hand,I am not a fan of. Also, I find abrupt shifts in POV distracting and confusing.

    There you go. These are my very subjective preferences.
    Sorry for all the rambling. I just find it a very interesting topic.
    Last edited by Raelis; 07 January 2013, 06:41 AM.

    Comment


      Originally posted by Raelis View Post
      Personally, all these things are important for me. I'm incredibly picky when it comes to fanfiction. As a non-native speaker whose grasp of English is not quite as good as I would like, it's very important for me that the story have proper grammar, punctuation and spelling - I can't afford reading stories with too many mistakes because there's a possibility of me absorbing these mistakes, thus making my English even less perfect that it is now. However, there's a couple of writers whose spelling leaves a lot to be desired (even I can see that), and yet they are absolutely bloody brilliant writers. They would really just benefit from a beta's services (and for some reason they do not have betas). So... if the writer is truly brilliant, I may make an exception, but mostly when I see a story full of mistakes, I backbutton immediately.
      You and me both. Those kinds of fics are just painful to me. But what I really don't understand is the fics where in the intro the author thanks several betas, and then when you read the first paragraph, you find several errors. Get new betas. And yes, even brilliant writers need betas.


      A story that is technically correct, but dull at the same time? I see no reason bothering with it. I will not be so arrogant as to presume it is not good. It may not be good for me, but it may be perfect for someone else.
      Very true. Fandom is a big place, and there is room for all kinds of fics. Some authors pay too much attention to form and can't be as creative as they would be if they just relaxed and wrote from the heart.

      Now, there's a category of stories that I have conflicting feelings about. These stories are not only technically correct, but also interesting and supremely well-written. Problem is, I disagree with the author's view of the characters. I'm not even speaking of canon errors. The characterization in such stories may very well be based on canon, it's just that authors drew different conclusions from the same canon events/behaviors than I did. It's incredibly frustrating when everything about the story's characterizations screams WRONG to me, but I can't dismiss it as non-canon because the author obviously based it on the same bits and pieces of canon; he/she just interpreted them differently. I've backbuttoned out of many excellently written, gripping stories because I could not agree with the author's interpretations. However, I can still admit that these stories are good.
      Yes, and these are the stories I skip also. For example, I understand there are tons of really good McShep writers, but no way, no how am I going to read it. Same is true for other ships I find unbelievable.

      The things that I value most about fan stories? Spelling, grammar and punctuation kind of go without saying. I prefer to see characterization that is based on character interpretation similar to my own (but not necessarily identical - I can overlook some differences of opinion if I and the author agree about the big things). I value when characters grow and change throughout the story, and it is done in a natural, believable way. There's nothing that I love more than good dialogue that is both clever/witty and true to the characters. Some authors just... they get the characters' voices. It's not even just dialogue, it's every little thing about the characters. The way they smile, the way they tilt their head, the way they interject with a smart-ass remark - all these things described in fanfic make Character Voice for me, and it's possibly the most important thing. Some stories are very well-written, but the Voices are just not right. So yeah, I'm very picky about that.

      Another thing that I value is when the author portrays all the characters involved in their story as complex people. It's easy to pick one or two defnining traits and use them all the time when writing about a character. But there's danger of making the character two-dimensional. I love it when authors take into account all the multiple complexities that are part of the character, and make him/her come alive in their story.
      Very good summary. Sometimes it is hard to put your finger on what exactly is wrong with a fic. You know that John would never say that, or Elizabeth is too emotional, but you just can't quite figure out how to fix it. Sometimes it's how the writer viewed the show. We all have preferences for different characters. For example, a lot of people don't like Rodney and find him too mean. They don't see his soft side. But others see the lovable, awkward guy inside him. I don't think either opinion is wrong.


      These two sites with writing tips are very interesting! I love most of the advice given there. I can't quite agree with some bits of advice given by Elmore Leonard, though. As a reader, I know that if the story never uses any dialogue tags other than "said", it often comes across as dry for me. Same with adverbs; I just don't believe they are the epitome of evil. The trick is not to overuse them, I think. "He shouted loudly" or "he snarled angrily" may be a bit too excessive. But overall, I think adverbs and various dialogue tags have their place, and they can strengthen the story if used appropriately. But that's just my opinion as a reader.

      Epithets, on the other hand,I am not a fan of. Also, I find abrupt shifts in POV distracting and confusing.

      There you go. These are my very subjective preferences.
      Sorry for all the rambling. I just find it a very interesting topic.
      The argument about adverbs is loud and long. Some writing teachers think you should tell the students never to use them, knowing that they will go ahead and do it and hoping they won't do it a lot. LOL I agree with that. They can be used very sparingly when you don't show the action they explain. You could say, "John walked into Rodney's lab and slammed his fist down on the counter. 'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order?'" or you might say, "'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order,' John said angrily." To me, the first one is better because it shows you that John was angry. But some writers tend to say, "John walked into Rodney's lab and slammed his fist down on the counter. 'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order?' John said angrily." The last one is overkill. You showed he was angry. You don't need to tell us again.

      Shifting POV is a huge problem of mine. Just ask my betas. LOL
      sigpic

      Visit us at SGA Rising for our version of season six.

      Comment


        Originally posted by Southern Red View Post
        Very true. Fandom is a big place, and there is room for all kinds of fics.
        Yes, and these are the stories I skip also. For example, I understand there are tons of really good McShep writers, but no way, no how am I going to read it. Same is true for other ships I find unbelievable.
        I love the diversity of this fandom. There's something for everyone. Of course, not every ship is as popular as others, and it's sad when one finds herself rooting for fandom underdogs. I've been in such a position in other fandoms - the pairings and characters that I cared about were simply not that interesting to the majority of writers. But I'm very much the mainstream girl in the Stargate fandom, and I feel blessed there's so many different, talented people writing about my preferred ships.

        Heh, sometimes I am in the mood to read stories about ships that I find unbelievable (or those that i find believable but don't like very much) - I'm a bit of an adventurous reader. But mostly I'm just curious to see how people interpret characters in other corners of the fandom, how they write them, how they explain their ship.

        Very good summary. Sometimes it is hard to put your finger on what exactly is wrong with a fic. You know that John would never say that, or Elizabeth is too emotional, but you just can't quite figure out how to fix it. Sometimes it's how the writer viewed the show. We all have preferences for different characters. For example, a lot of people don't like Rodney and find him too mean. They don't see his soft side. But others see the lovable, awkward guy inside him. I don't think either opinion is wrong.
        Thanks! I think your advice to writers to read good fic in order to improve their own writing is great because it's probably one of the best ways to figure out why the Character Voice works or doesn't work. If there is a story that one thinks has a quintessential John Sheppard (or Elizabeth Weir, or Rodney McKay, etc), one should try to understand why the character rings so perfectly true in it. Analyze the story, identify the patterns, appreciate the multiple facets of the character... Sometimes when I read a story I can hear the actors reading these lines - that's how perfect the dialogue is. There are some general things that I think most people agree on when it comes to SGA characters (John is very brave and hates to leave people behind, Rodney is arrogant and brilliant, Elizabeth is extremely intelligent and strong-willed...), but there are also the little things, the details that make a character seem alive. The way John clenches his jaw when angry, the way Elizabeth raises her brow when amused, the way Rodney heplessly gesticulates when he's worried... It takes a very observant person to notice all these things and make use of them in their story... But the results? Are almost always more than worth it. Don't want to sound too dramatic, but sometimes you just come across a story that is... like touching a live wire, and you get that elecricity charge, the "Yes, yes, this is IT!" feeling - that's how perfect the story is when the writer gets the characters. And I treasure such moments - they make being in fandom so worthwhile.

        And I definitely count SGA-R among my most pleasant fandom experiences!

        The argument about adverbs is loud and long. Some writing teachers think you should tell the students never to use them, knowing that they will go ahead and do it and hoping they won't do it a lot. LOL I agree with that. They can be used very sparingly when you don't show the action they explain. You could say, "John walked into Rodney's lab and slammed his fist down on the counter. 'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order?'" or you might say, "'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order,' John said angrily." To me, the first one is better because it shows you that John was angry. But some writers tend to say, "John walked into Rodney's lab and slammed his fist down on the counter. 'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order?' John said angrily." The last one is overkill. You showed he was angry. You don't need to tell us again.
        I agree, and yes, the first example is definitely the better one. Showing instead of telling. Yeah, one must have a very strong sense of the language to identify the situations when an adverb can be used to make the story better.

        Also I think culture differences may play a role in the way one perceives adverbs (or writing in general). In my country, I mean, in my native language adverbs are not frowned upon at all (as far as I know), so the way I perceive English writing is somewhat colored by my own preconceptions and reading habits. So I realize I'm not the best judge when it comes to this sort of thing.

        Shifting POV is a huge problem of mine. Just ask my betas. LOL
        I've seen some writers that hop between their POVs, but somehow it works for them. Some successful professional writers, too. But there are some ugly examples like in a story that I recently read - I literally could not understand which character was thinking what.
        Last edited by Raelis; 07 January 2013, 09:01 AM.

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          Good morning, Sparkies! Happy Canon Monday!

          Originally posted by Falcon Horus View Post
          Mental note: Be present at next week's post-a-thon to add necessary squee and thunk.
          And we hope you'll be there!

          Originally posted by gateraid View Post
          Plus I can be a harsh critic at times. I recall an SGA-R fic comment that I cringe at now. Probably all of the writers will think "ahh, I know the one" but there is one in particular that was...bad
          Originally posted by Southern Red View Post
          And that is why you are such a valued member of the SGA-R beta team. We don't want accolades and "omgthisissogoodIalmostpeed" comments from betas. We want people who know canon, understand the characters and will tell us if they think we are off a bit on either. Then we will come back and argue if we feel strongly or will change it.
          Indeed. We need that "devil's advocate" voice telling us when we might be going astray, or to suggest a path to take that we might not have otherwise thought of. I think our stories are all the stronger for having it.

          Originally posted by Southern Red View Post
          That said, I would also add that nobody is going to tell you your writing is terrible. Read the good fics and compare them with yours for an idea on how to improve. This is an interesting discussion because fanfic is sometimes hard to judge. If you like the plot and think the characters are good, you will like it. But is grammar, spelling and punctuation important? Or if a story is technically correct but dull and boring or way off base, is it still good? Which do you guys value most? I'll tell you what I think after you reply, and I'm betting the SGA-R writers already know what I will say.
          Heh! That's the truth.

          What do I like? I think I'm in agreement with the viewpoints already expressed, that it's a little bit of both. First and foremost, a good fic has to have a good story, a compelling idea to draw me in. Consistent characterization and believability of the situations the characters are placed in is essential; unless it's stated up front that the story is a total AU, then I expect to see characters behaving in a way that is consistent with actual canon. I think that personal headcanons, both the reader's and the author's, will always leak in, it's inevitable. Most of the time, I've been lucky to find stories where the author's headcanon is compatible with mine, and once I do find them, I tend to stick with the same authors as I know they're "safe," to put it bluntly.

          Of course, even the most fascinating, detail-rich story can still crash and burn if it's loaded down with spelling and grammatical errors every other word/sentence. I can let a few errors per story slide by; as with the headcanon issue, it's inevitable that some will slip through the cracks. A good beta reader is a good author's best friend.

          Originally posted by Raelis View Post
          And I definitely count SGA-R among my most pleasant fandom experiences!
          And that's what we hope to hear from all our readers.

          Originally posted by Raelis View Post
          I've seen some writers that hop between their POVs, but somehow it works for them. Some successful professional writers, too. But there are some ugly examples like in a story that I recently read - I literally could not understand which character was thinking what.
          Indeed. Sometimes, depending on the story, shifting POVs can work as a stylistic choice. More often than not, I've found they just fall flat for the same reason you described; it's just too hard to figure out who is doing/saying/thinking what.
          (This is legal notice that any attempt to censor or delete, for the purpose of oppressing fair and open discussion, any statement made by me will be considered a violation of my right to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and will be dealt with in accordance with federal law.)
          Sparky is on screen. Therefore, it is canon. Elizabeth is still out there. And John WILL bring her home.

          Comment


            Originally posted by Annelantis View Post
            Thanks to everyone for their warm welcomes. It's lovely to be here among some like-mined people.

            At least one person has asked if I can post a link for my story. So here it is:

            http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8813461/1/Life-As-A-Shadow

            Hope it works. Feel free to have a read and let me know what you think.

            P.S. Glad everone enjoyed The Return Pt. 2 - great ep.
            I just read your fic and I loved it. Very well written with excellent characterization. I can't wait for more.
            sigpic

            Visit us at SGA Rising for our version of season six.

            Comment


              Originally posted by Southern Red View Post
              The argument about adverbs is loud and long. Some writing teachers think you should tell the students never to use them, knowing that they will go ahead and do it and hoping they won't do it a lot. LOL I agree with that. They can be used very sparingly when you don't show the action they explain. You could say, "John walked into Rodney's lab and slammed his fist down on the counter. 'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order?'" or you might say, "'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order,' John said angrily." To me, the first one is better because it shows you that John was angry. But some writers tend to say, "John walked into Rodney's lab and slammed his fist down on the counter. 'Damn it, McKay, why did you ignore my order?' John said angrily." The last one is overkill. You showed he was angry. You don't need to tell us again.
              As a non-native English speaker/reader, I have to admit that I really hate adverbs when reading fanfics. LOL. In the beginning I wasn’t able to read fanfic if I would not have a dictionary with me to help me understand the adverbs. I always prefer when the writer will show/explain us the action instead of using adverbs to explain it.

              Originally posted by Raelis View Post
              And I definitely count SGA-R among my most pleasant fandom experiences!
              I definitely second that!!!
              sigpic
              sig by Erin Atlantis Rising: The Virtual series Thank you so much for "Primum Movens"

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                sigpic
                My Favorite Scifi/Fantasy T.V. Shows, Movies, Franchises, My Sports Teams & My Fav Sitcom
                poundpuppy29 AKA Erika = Astrology Nut, Scifi-Fantasy Junkie & Massachusetts Girl

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                  I love how the Balcony is such a Sparky thing. If i ever read a fic with another pairing that uses the Balcony as their meeting point, I feel irrationally annoyed. The Balcony is Sparky domain in my mind.

                  Comment


                    Woops! I may have used the balcony for another pairing's spitting contest once...
                    Heightmeyer's Lemming -- still the coolest Lemming of the forum

                    Proper Stargate Rewatch -- season 10 of SG-1

                    Comment


                      Originally posted by Falcon Horus View Post
                      Woops! I may have used the balcony for another pairing's spitting contest once...
                      The sacrilege!!! (Eh, spitting contest on the Balcony is OK, making out is not!)

                      Comment


                        Originally posted by Annelantis View Post
                        Thanks to everyone for their warm welcomes. It's lovely to be here among some like-mined people.

                        At least one person has asked if I can post a link for my story. So here it is:

                        http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8813461/1/Life-As-A-Shadow

                        Hope it works. Feel free to have a read and let me know what you think.
                        I just loved your story, loved, loved, loved!!!! And now I want more, please!!!
                        sigpic
                        sig by Erin Atlantis Rising: The Virtual series Thank you so much for "Primum Movens"

                        Comment


                          Originally posted by poundpuppy29 View Post
                          http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w254/poundpuppy29/Sparky/normal_atl_305_1831.jpg
                          Originally posted by Raelis View Post
                          I love how the Balcony is such a Sparky thing. If i ever read a fic with another pairing that uses the Balcony as their meeting point, I feel irrationally annoyed. The Balcony is Sparky domain in my mind.
                          Originally posted by Falcon Horus View Post
                          Woops! I may have used the balcony for another pairing's spitting contest once...
                          I agree, the balcony is totally Sparky domain!!!!! But i will take in a certain consideration for that spitting contest, LOL!
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                          sig by Erin Atlantis Rising: The Virtual series Thank you so much for "Primum Movens"

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                            Originally posted by Raelis View Post
                            The sacrilege!!! (Eh, spitting contest on the Balcony is OK, making out is not!)
                            The making out occured on another balcony... ...after cookies were baked.
                            Heightmeyer's Lemming -- still the coolest Lemming of the forum

                            Proper Stargate Rewatch -- season 10 of SG-1

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                              Originally posted by Falcon Horus View Post
                              The making out occured on another balcony... ...after cookies were baked.
                              Well,another balcony is fair game...mmmm, cookies. Oh, wait. Is the cookie thing... some sort of euphemism?

                              Comment


                                Originally posted by Raelis View Post
                                Well,another balcony is fair game...mmmm, cookies. Oh, wait. Is the cookie thing... some sort of euphemism?
                                No, the cookies are really cookies that were being baked in an actual oven. No, euphemisms to speak of.
                                Heightmeyer's Lemming -- still the coolest Lemming of the forum

                                Proper Stargate Rewatch -- season 10 of SG-1

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