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DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

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DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Michael DeathFlame on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:15 pm

Hey everybody; if you don't know me, I'm Michael DeathFlame (obviously) and I’m an avid reader and writer. I’ve always been a rather imaginative child (I was a professional daydreamer for most of grade school) but I didn’t really start to write fiction until I was in 7th grade. Throughout my writing career I’ve written nonfiction, historical fiction, thriller, and primarily fantasy. I am now going for a major in English (with a concentration in creative writing) and I would love to share some of the things I’ve picked up over the years as a writer. Please note, however, that everything in this guide is my own, personal opinion, so if you disagree with me, that’s perfectly ok. Things that flop in one story can work perfectly in another. So if you have any criticism, leave it down in the comments section; that’s the only way you can learn as a writer anyway.

The Essentials of Writing
1.) Detail: For new and old writers alike, detail is critical. Detail is basically the “extra” of your story. Do you need detail to write a story? No, not at all. Here’s an example. “A boy fell in a hole. He cried for help. A person helped him. The end.” So, did you like my story…? I guess not. Detail is more essential for those who are just beginning to write. We should know what the main characters look like, what the surrounding is, ect. When you add detail to your story, imagine that you’re painting a picture. Your story is a blank canvas; you use detail to fill it in. However, just like everything else in life, you must use detail moderately; you can certainly overdo descriptions. For example, “The large, red stripped table in the middle of the room began to slowly but surely rock back and forth in a linear fashion. As the small, sharp, blonde-haired and brown eyed woman walked in, it fell to the ground, sending small, sharp fragments of wood spiraling quickly through the air.” What? Did we have to know that much? Some detail is good to add to your story, but overdoing it can lead to the death of your story. You should use enough detail so your reader can have an understanding of the surroundings and the characters; at the same time, there should be room for the reader to use their imagination. Use your best judgment to determine if you are using too much description; if the excess amount of detail is interfering with the flow of the story, then you should probably trim it down a bit.

2.) Spelling and Grammar. Oh my poor, poor eyes. Spelling and grammar can scare away a reader in seconds. The first thing I check in a story for is its spelling. If da stry si writen lkie dis, wld u lke to rade ti? I do my stories on Word, and then when I'm finished I look it over for spelling and grammar (Word doesn’t catch every mistake you no!) Some people take this a step further, and assign some of their close friends as “editors”. After using the Word spell check and then thoroughly looking over the chapter/story themselves, the author gives the writing over to their editors to correct. This is a good idea, because sometimes we don’t pick up our own mistakes; it’s usually easier for the other person to do so.
For the more experienced writers, remember that this is a piece of CREATIVE writing. Thus, don’t be afraid to bend the rules of grammar to make for a more exciting read. You can use sentence fragments, run on sentences, and other grammatical “mistakes” to formulate a more powerful narration. This, of course, is difficult to do; if done incorrectly, you could come across as a writer who never picked up a grammar textbook. So for those of you who are new to writing, I would try to stay away from bending the rules of the language.

3.) Plot: Let’s look at some of the more successful stories on Central in terms of views. Although they may be very different (some ranging from ruthless war tales to romantic love stories), they all have one thing in common; they have an original plot. I can’t count how many stories I’ve read on that site about how a young boy/girl figures out s/he is a wizard, does the Wizard101 storyline on the dot, beats Malistaire, and brings peace to the Spiral. If you combine an overused plot with marry sue characters (will explain later), you have yourself a boring story! The reader knows what will happen, and can assume the hero will prevail no matter what. So, to fix this, try to come up with your own plot line, make your own characters. Making a story feel creative and new is definitely difficult; just do your best to bring something interesting to your story. If you are writing a fan fiction, try to integrate a different perspective or character to the story to create a new and fun adventure.
Moving on to another discussion on plot lines. Let’s look at Harry Potter. The main plot line, or primary plot line, is, “Harry Potter is the chosen one and is the only one who can defeat Voldemort.” Sounds simple enough. But when you actually read Harry Potter, you understand that it is FAR from simple. The main plot line of your story does not have to be complex; in fact, it should be quite simple. However, the story itself should be complex. This can be achieved by adding twists and turns along the way, romance, action, suspense, cliff hangers, ect. Harry Potter as a story isn’t just about Harry and Voldemort fighting. Along the way there are different emotions added in, different adventures. You can make your main plot line interesting to draw in readers, and then along the way they are surprised by the different turns. A largely complex main plot can be confusing, and will turn off most readers. So remember, your story can contain complex emotions, different twists and turns, to make the story itself interesting. However, your basic plot line, the backbone of your story, should stay simple. A complex plot line is difficult to manage, and you’ll often find yourself getting lost in your own story.

4.) Flow: Flow is very easy to look out for, but it is still essential. Flow is basically how well your story, well, flows. Imagine your story as a river; the water isn’t always flowing at the same speed. At one point, the river may be a rushing rapids (your climax), or it may be flowing along nice and slowly (calm point of the story). Your river can change speed throughout the story, but be sure it makes sense. Don’t let the flow of your story drag along slowly for too long; throw in a few twist and turns to keep your reader interested and occupied.
One thing that many people mess up with Flow is flash-backs. Flash backs are ok, but be sure you don’t confuse the reader. You should have some set way of indicating that your character is experiencing a flashback; I have always preferred to use italics. Italics stand out well against normal text, and you don’t have to waste a sentence stating that your character is about to experience a flash back. The use of italics over simply stating that your character experiencing a flashback also make it seem more realistic, makes the flashback seem more sudden and unexpected. If you don’t use italics or use a sentence to set up the flashback, you can leave the reader confused. If you’re going to jump around from the past to the present, be sure you do so in a manner that the reader can understand you and follow you.

5.) Emotions. Emotions, in my opinion, are the hardest out of these things to conquer. A story that lacks emotion lacks humanity, lacks the spirit that is required to make a great tale. Without emotion, the reader cannot become attached to your character or your story. For those of you who are into Star Wars, you probably despise the prequel series. There are a multitude of reasons why the prequel series is so inferior to the original Star Wars trilogy; however, one of the most glaring errors in the prequel trilogy is the lack of emotion seen in the movies. The characters simply fail to express believable emotions; because of this, the audience never became emotionally attached to the characters. Thus, the movies came across as rather boring. The same goes true for your stories. If your characters come across as one dimensional, static, and inhuman, how can your reader ever grow attached to them or feel for them? Make your characters seem human; breathe life into your characters. And really, the only way to make your characters seem more human is to make their emotions believable. Allow your characters to experience different emotions, ranging from rage to bliss. After all, a person with hopes, dreams, and feelings is certainly much more interesting than an unfeeling, one dimensional character. Your characters should seem genuine, not artificial.
Another topic concerning emotions....how to show your character's thoughts and feelings through sentences. This can arguably be placed in sentence structure, but I thought this can also be tied into emotion, and it generally does concern emotion. Anyways, when writing your story (ESPECIALLY when writing through 1st person point of view), you can use the way you write your sentences to convey the emotions of your character. For example, let’s say your character is being chased through a dark tunnel. Obviously, if their life is in danger, they’re not going to take in every single detail of the cave they’re running through; quite frankly, they’ll probably be panicking. So, through your sentences, you can try to implement the thought of the person. For example… “Panting, running, throbbing, aching, screaming. Senses overwhelming me. Arrows flying past me. Ducking, hurtling, swerving. I sprinted down the tunnel, my pursuers chasing me from behind. I never looked back; I kept running, clenching the metal heart, only seeing the rocks in front of me. I felt instinct take over, felt the animal inside me break free.” This concept is more advanced than some of the others, so if you struggle with this, that’s fine. I’m no master of this to be honest…if you want to find a perfect example of this, I’d recommend reading Elie Wiesel’s “Night.” Not only is his tale about the Holocaust riveting and unforgettable, but his rhetoric and use of sentence structure is masterful and beautiful.


6.) Characters: I didn't add this in until IronMask pointed this out, and she is right. I'm going to talk a bit more about characters later on, but I just wanted to point this out now. Your characters shouldn't be perfect... it just doesn't make it seem realistic. All characters should slip up at some point, even if it's a small one. A perfect character makes the story boring. Because the reader knows that no matter what, the character will win. It makes your story predictable. It is also a bonus to have some of the actions throughout the story change your characters. Granted, some characters, based on their personality, won’t change no matter what. However, let’s say you have an innocent girl in the beginning of the story. She goes through this horrible tragedy, and is forced to become the head of the family. By the end of the story, would she still be the innocent girl we first met? No; most likely, the story would change her and shape her. This applies to emotions as well, but I thought that it also made sense to put under characters.
One last note on characters; make your reader remember them. Make your readers love/ hate the character! Most good books have that one character that everyone remembers. Make them memorable through their actions and personality.


7.) Word Usage: There are three levels for this category; there’s the novice level, the intermediate level, and the advanced level. Let’s start with the novice level of word usage, or should I say OVER usage. What am I talking about? I think this will do all the talking…
“The spy looked up. He started sweating. The guards advanced. They swung their sword at him. He ducked. He ran away.” He did this. He did that. Then they did this. They did that. This. Is. BORING!!!! Don’t start your sentence with the character’s name EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE! Change it up a bit please! For example…“The spy turned slowly, taking a glance at the approaching soldiers. Sweat seemed to bleed from his face, falling to the ground like rain. Suddenly, one guard charged forward, his sword swinging at his neck. Without thinking, the spy ducked, the blade missing his head by centimeters. As the guard stumbled forward, the spy darted off, dashing off into the nearby woods.” See? I didn’t used “he” or “the spy” to begin every sentence. In fact, you could probably make it even better by giving the spy a name, so you don’t have to refer to him as “the spy” every time.
Ok, so now you’re not starting your sentences off the same way every time. Now, it’s time to move on to level 2. This incorporates detail into the sentence, as you saw me do in the last passage. Notice the difference between the first and second examples. Where as in the first one I simply stated what happened, in the second I put in some detail to make the sentence seem less “boring”. By adding a bit of detail and some different words, you can make each sentence special and seem to stand out.
So, now your sentences are nice and special. But we can go farther; the stars are the limit, my friends! For the third level, a nice way to even further spruce up your sentence is by adding metaphors, similes, and other literary terms. For example, in the second passage, I said, “Sweat seemed to bleed from his face, falling to the ground like rain.” Instead of just saying “I began to sweat and it started dripping to the ground,” I used a simile and metaphor to make it seem more interesting. You don’t have to do this all of the time, but even using it a few times can bring life to a chapter.

8.) Style: This ties in a bit with emotions and characters, but I figured that it could stand on its own as a main “hit”. What’s style? Firstly, you have your own, personal writing style. Writers can often be identified by their “style” or their own form of writing. Personally, I favor semicolons and more complex sentences, although at points my writing style can be short, choppy, and brutal. As an author, it is your job to find your own writing style; discover it yourself. Once you do, work on it and perfect it. Another note on style: style is VERY important when speaking through a character. When your story is in first person, you should speak through the mouth of your character, not your own. You may be a very intelligent person, but if your main character is a mere slave, do you think you should be speaking with a sophisticated air? Speak as if you were the person; that’s the point of 1st person! It’s hard to completely master, but once you do your story will be amazing.


A few "Don'ts" for your story
DON'T: make your characters a Mary Su. What does this mean? Basically, the character is perfect. Nothing ever happens to him/her. Even when the odds are 10000/1, s/he can pull through it easily. This is not realistic, and makes the story less enjoyable. Giving your characters flaws make them seem more realistic, and the reader can somewhat relate to him/her.
DON'T: defy all of the laws of science. Keep your stories believable. If your character was caught in a nuclear explosion and his only source of refuge was a refrigerator, I don’t care how awesome he is. He’s dead.
AND DON'T, DON'T, DON'T: refuse criticism just because you want only comments saying you’re perfect. Criticism allows you to get better. I got to where I am now through criticism. I thought I was great until a writer named TwilightCrystalz politely told me what I needed to work on, and boom. I improved. Criticism is your key to getting better! I would also suggest seeking help from outside this site. Sure, there are some good guides here, but there are definitely better ones elsewhere. I’m not saying you should leave Central, but looking at guides on different sites isn’t a bad idea either. You could also join a group of authors, in person or online, so that you can discuss writing and pick up useful hints. Personally, I enjoy spending my company with the Old Elites, but whoever you feel comfortable with works fine.


Extra Advice
Writing block is a real pain in the ass. As a writer, you will, at one point, get stuck by it. Writing block sucks, and it seems impossible to overcome. Different writers find different methods of overcoming writer's block. For me, I either write about my writer's block (write down pages and pages about emotions and possibly throwing your computer out the window) or simply walk away from the computer for a while. Other methods include writing something else, watching a video that's similar to your story, or listening to inspiring music. Find what works best for you...whatever gets you out of writer's block. That's all that matters (and if it's legal, moral, etc. etc.)

Well, that’s it! Sorry for such a long guide Razz I hope this helped.
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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Bat on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:36 pm

You know Writing already did one. But thx for it. Both of your guides might help us in one way or another

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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Adrian on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:38 pm

It helps to see different perspectives in writing. Thanks, Michael!

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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Michael DeathFlame on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:41 pm

Oops. Probably should have checked first xD Sorry Writing

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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Bat on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:43 pm

But it is still good to have another guide bcz a person might be confused or having trouble at one section of Writing's guide, but he/she checks your guide it may help them understand better

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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Michael DeathFlame on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:46 pm

I actually can't find Writing's guide. Do you mind showing me? I'd love to take a look at it just for a different perspective.

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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Bat on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:49 pm


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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by WritingBookworm on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:50 pm

OH MY GOSH YES THANKS FOR BRINGING THIS GUIDE OVER TO CC. Very Happy This will be sure to help a lot of users here.

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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by boyhoy on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:53 pm

That was a really great guide!! I feel like I learned a lot from that and I will definitely take into account some of those writing block tips xD

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Re: DeathFlame's Guide to Creative Writing

Post by Michael DeathFlame on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:55 pm

*Face palm* I can't believe I didn't check there first xD
Anyways, thanks guys! And yeah, writing block can certainly be a pain in the ass. Usually I just wait it out, it's tough to overcome.

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