The Parthenon: Home for the Intellectual Discussion Welcome TKL and Art_Of_War, new Thread Hosts!!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Souderwan, Oct 1, 2005.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    This isn't on the list, but I'm curious about what you all think. My old beta hated my use of the "dot dot dot" i.e. "..."

    I usually use it in thoughts or in dialogue to show that someone is...searching for the right words. She's convinced that's breaking some rule somewhere but she couldn't tell me which one. I'm curious what you all think. (BTW, I still use my ...'s whenever I think it's appropriate).
  2. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    I overuse it although not deliberately. [face_blush]

    To me, it denotes hesitation in dialogue. We can't always show nuance in the written word.
  3. LuvEwan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2002
    star 4
    To me, it denotes hesitation in dialogue.

    I agree, diane. A lot of times there are pauses when someone is speaking, and those pauses can be quite meaningful, especially when it expresses reluctance.
  4. TKeira_Lea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 2002
    star 5
  5. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    Yay!! I'm not alone!! :D
  6. GrandAdmiralV Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2005
    star 3
    Ellipses are fine. Their common uses are to indicate information that has been left out, or, in the case of dialogue, to show where a character is pausing or unable to complete a thought.

    Darn you, Souderwan, for bringing up the grammar discussion right in the middle of dinner!
  7. Zonoma Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2005
    star 5
    LOL! But you are our Grammar Goddess, GAV!
  8. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    LOL! [face_laugh] Sorry GAV. Dinnder time for you and bedtime for me...

    So the official term is ellipses, eh? Learn something new every day. Guess I just proved I'm an Engineer, didn't I? :p
  9. Inara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 30, 2005
    star 4
    I'm pretty strict when it comes to grammar, but I like bending the rules to my will when I think it's appropriate. It's fan fiction after all, not an encyclopedia entry. So I say, use what makes your writing work as long as you don't sacrifice its legibility.

    The one rule I do have a hard time following is ending sentences with prepositions - that I do almost casually at times, and if I don't check carefully, I'll miss them.

    4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

    This rule I will follow, to the point of being anal. I won't even split an infinitive in an email or an instant message. I guess I just picked one rule as an avatar. :)
  10. TKeira_Lea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 2002
    star 5
    Inara: The one rule I do have a hard time following is ending sentences with prepositions - that I do almost casually at times, and if I don't check carefully, I'll miss them.

    I tend to be lax on this at times, especially when you have to force an awkward sentence. And what I mean by awkward is that a person would never speak in such a manner so the sentence structure seems strange even though it is technically correct. Remember people "read" in their heads - have you ever watched peoples' lips move as they scan a page? - so phrasing that isn't natural speak can throw the reader out of the moment...
  11. wendynat Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2005
    star 3
    I proudly break almost every single one of those rules on a regular basis. I have an unholy love for ellipses... they're my weakness ;). My beta ends up striking a few in expositional areas so they're not overused in my fics, and I do appreciate that. I think they have more "oomph" when they're used sparingly in expository paragraphs; however, in dialogue they're really a great way to show hesitation.

    I liked Stover's quote, and it's one I've seen before in a lot of venues (even my tennis coach preached it) - know the rules before you break them. That way it's "style" and not bad grammar (or bad serving technique)!

    Personally, I find 100% technically correct writing to sound somewhat stilted. It's just not my cup of tea. That's not to say I like horrid grammar when I read, but I do like some of the author's style to show through. I love a sentence that starts with a conjunction - sometimes it helps give a feel of speed, or of interrupted thought, or all sorts of other things. I *love* using multiple conjunctions in a string (i.e. "... and he was beautiful and brave and powerful" rather than "he was beautiful, brave, and powerful" when the situation warrants it. Tolkien was the master of this.) I [face_love] ellipses when they're not every other sentence (though sometimes in a dreamy thought sequence even every other sentence "works"). I drool over split infinitives used at just the right moment. After all, how much flatter would the famous Star Trek motto have been, had it been correct grammar? "To go boldly where no man has gone before" just doesn't have that same ring to it for me.
  12. Elana Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2005
    star 2
    My thoughts:

    1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.

    Almost all the time. Only exception I can think of would be in dialog, to show someone is speaking a particular dialect, or perhaps is not a native speaker of the language.

    2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

    This rule is pretty artificial. I believe I read once that Winston Churchill once said "Ending a sentence with a preposition is a practice up with which I will not put." The point being, intelligent, well educated, native speakers of English end sentences with prepositions all the time. And when it comes to language, I'm a usagist, not a prescriptivist.

    3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.

    Good rule of thumb, but in fiction many times it's approriate to break it for the effect it gives.

    4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

    Another artificial rule. I think this one was proposed to make English more like Latin, where an infinitive is one word, the same as in Spanish and French, so it's impossible to split it. Someone already gave the "to boldy go" example. Sometimes a split infinitive just sounds so much better, and in fiction or poetry sound trumps correctness every time.

    5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)

    Yes, unless used for a specific purpose, like to turn the meaning of the cliche around backwards, or in dialog by a character whose personality is such that they would use cliches.

    6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

    Blantant alliteration can be annoying, but subtly used it can give a lot of poetry to your language.

    7. Be more or less specific.

    Specificity is generally a good thing, especially in description.

    8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.

    But sometimes they are neccessary. If so, use them, if not, don't.

    9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

    Good rule of thumb.

    10. No sentence fragments.

    I use fragments all the time. But when I do, I know its a fragment and use it intentionally. In fiction, you just about have to, especially in dialog and thoughts, because people just don't always speak or think in complete sentances, and if they do so in your writing it will sound very unnatural.

    11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.

    This is very much a style thing. Contractions give a more informal feel to writing, which if that's the style you want is a good thing. You wouldn't want to use them in a research paper, and they are frowned on in the Tolkien fandom because Tolkien seldom used the and overall had a more formal style. In Star Wars fanfic, they seem very natural to me. But again it depends on your character and the tone of your story.

    12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

    Again, style. In Star Wars fanfic, you probably don't want to bring in French or Latin or other Earth languages very often, unless they are standing in for an alien language the way English stands in for Basic.

    13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.

    Good rule.

    14. One should NEVER generalize.

    Good rule.

    15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.

    I see nothing wrong with comparisons. I don't see any problem, unless you just use a ton of them, and anything can be bad in excess.

    16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

    Another style point. Not for formal writing, can be just fine for informal writing. Probably most useful in fanfic if you're telling your story with letters or documents of some kind.

    17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

    Style. In fiction, one word sentences can be very useful for emphasis, just don't overdo it.

    18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

    Again, style. Analogies, similes, and metaphors are part of the poetry of the language, and can be very appropriate in fiction.

    19. The passive voice is to be ignored.

    Usually. Sometime you have to say something in passive, but writing is almost alway livelier and sounds better in active voice.

    20.
  13. Neo-Paladin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2004
    star 4
    My favorite grammar rule didn't make this list:

    Eschew obfuscation.
  14. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    My favorite grammar rule didn't make this list:

    Eschew obfuscation.


    And for those of us who haven't had an English class in a billion years, that would mean?
  15. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    Dianethx, I think that was the point :p

    I think it means "Avoid being obtuse" or "Don't obscure your meaning behind words."

    It's a good rule. There's only one problem: If you know what you mean, and your beta knows what you mean, how the heck are you supposed to predict that the reader won't know what you mean, eh?
  16. Neo-Paladin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2004
    star 4
    Yeah, it boils down to don't use obscure words or be confusing, hence the delicious irony. o_O

    And while that is true souderwan, it's true for any rule; you have to realize you're breaking a rule before you can rectify an infraction.

    Personally, I write like I swallowed a thesaurus. I love big words and use them frequently in conversation and writing. There is a richness of meaning in each word, and I dislike using a near synonym when I have exactly the word I want. Why say 'poleax' when I mean 'glaive'?

    Besides, my readers have access to www.m-w.com anyway. :p

    edit: to make the irony compleat, m-w doesn't have the proper definition of glaive.
  17. TKeira_Lea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 2002
    star 5
    Considering everyone is always blabbering on about writing for yourself and not others, then it shouldn't matter. Should it? [face_peace]
  18. Zonoma Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2005
    star 5
    I have soooooo run across this problem with my latest fiction. I have many non NJO readers with a post TJK fiction and I broke MY number one rule:

    Know thy reader.

    I have confused the heck out of them and now have one post to fix it before they start to drift on to something they enjoy more because they understand it better. *head meet desk* Stupid of me!
  19. wendynat Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2005
    star 3
    As Souderwan said, There's only one problem: If you know what you mean, and your beta knows what you mean, how the heck are you supposed to predict that the reader won't know what you mean, eh?
    That's very true. Other than being careful not to bring in obscure Star Wars-centric terms when there might be people not so deep in the fandom reading your story, there really is no way to judge who on the internet might run across your story and be confused by what you'd consider a common word. I've had it happen before - I'll usually try to keep to more obvious words, or at least use them in a way that the context of the sentence could make a more obscure word's meaning clear, but other than that I'm not going to bend over backwards. My mom always told me to look it up if I didn't know what a word meant ;). Then again, I also try to limit my "two-dollar" words while writing. I have noticed some writers just hitting the thesaurus button in Word and not really understanding the nuance of the word they've picked to replace another, simpler word.

    I think the rules are completely irrelevant to dialogue. Most people don't speak with painfully correct grammar in casual conversation, and as someone else mentioned, grammar abuse in speech can be a great method of characterization. But, even disregarding dialogue, I still break a good number of the rules in my expository paragraphs ;).

  20. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    LOL you people are funny about the large words. I actually hate Word because its thesaurus stinks big time. I have an older word program, ClarisWorks, whose thesaurus is superb but it also crashes a lot. Darn programs. I do use quite a few different words for things but I try never to use obscure, complex words that might confuse the average reader. Also, www.thesaurus.com is my friend!

    Know thy reader.
    As for SW readers versus non, I send some of my stories to non-SW friends (they like my stories even if they don't really know the players well). When I do that, I might send them a very brief synopsis on who the characters are - or not. The story should really stand on its own anyway.
  21. wendynat Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2005
    star 3
    Dianethx - One of my betas is a non-Star Wars person. She saw the OT years ago, but hasn't seen the Prequels yet. She helps catch a lot of the things that would be too obscure without a little explanation. It really does help!

    And on a side note, I was inspired by this discussion to write a little tongue-in-cheek ficlet that I posted on the Saga board. Anakin and Obi-Wan argue about grammar rules ;).
  22. Anakins_Force Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 4
    I like rules in general--I'm a rule follower so I feel comfortable with them. I don't use rules on IM or when posting to the board for the most part, but I use many of them with fics.

    I agree with those of you who have said that you should know the rules before you break them.

    If a story is well written, it doesn't matter how many rules are broken--the writing will speak to the reader. And (I'm breaking some rules now, lol) if the story is boring or trite, all the rule following in the world won't save it.

    I have a book I really like called Getting the Words Right: 39 ways to improve your writing, by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. I scan it while editing and it helps clean up my writing. The book explains why certain things work and why others don't and it gives examples on how to fix problem areas.
  23. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    Edit: That's not really needed. And I love the ellipsis...
  24. TKeira_Lea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 2002
    star 5
    Well that's a slick generalization of J/J fans. [face_plain]

    I'd suggest you write the best you can, even 15 yo fans can learn by reading things done right.
  25. rhonderoo Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2002
    star 9
Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.