Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weird Anime Concepts, Greek Gods, and Editing

Guys, I went down a rabbit hole this week. And it's all thanks to my friend Neghya.

A few weeks ago our mutual friend Delaroux was commenting about the latest anime she was watching. Most of the anime she watches centers around a group of students that are all on a team together. Sometimes it's tennis, or swimming, or cycling, or baseball; you get the gist. Now, I have no clue how she finds these, and I feel I'm going to perpetuate the anime stereotype here, but these "sports" animes always seem to have - even if it's just misperceived by the audience - a homosexual undertone. Neghya and Delaroux just out right call them Gay Sports Anime.

Well, in the way that ONLY those two can, they began to joke around about "what if there was a Gay-Sports anime; where being gay was the sport?" They joked about this all day until it wormed its way in to Neghya's head.

She's now obsessed with making this in to an actual thing, even if it's a manga instead of anime.

Well, here's the part that I come in. She was commenting about how she was working on her "gay sports anime" but knew she would need some help fine-tuning. I joked that "while I'm not an expert on gay anime, I am renowned for being the Queen of Angst, if you need."

Neghya and I proceeded to talk about her anime concept for the next two hours!

Granted, it evolved quite a bit. The original joke was "these gay men compete against each other in stereotypical 'gay' activities; like listen to their female friend bitch about her boyfriend, making a fantastic dinner, dance both classically and club, go shopping, and straight up arouse other gay men." This then evolved - back when she was chatting with Delaroux about it - in to "what if the male lead wasn't gay, but asexual? But his parents forced him to compete anyway?"

Well, when I started chatting with Neghya about this on Friday she already had the lead character designed.
Meet her baby Chris. Isn't he adorable?
However, the anime concept somehow evolved from "gay guys doing stereotypical gay things" to "gays - men and women - seducing each other in order to literally score; person with the highest point total wins" to a straight up "elite, underground college club where people sign up as seducers - Competitors - or people willing to be seduced - Game - and the highest point scorer gets a winner's purse."

We figured out tiny bits about the college and how The Game - our working title for it - is structured. Competitors join either the fraternity or sorority that runs the competition. Those that sign up as Game are all in one dormitory: The Game Preserve.

While Neghya was a bit hesitant to do so since she feels the asexual community is almost never represented, she agreed to switch the main character Chris to demisexual. In other words, he's LIKE asexuals in the fact that he has little to no sexual interest and doesn't get aroused by anyone or anything. The difference is that demisexuals DO become aroused when they're with the one person they're in love with. This solitary human being is the only thing that gets their blood flowing.

For my Hey Arnold friends, Helga would be demisexual towards Arnold. For my readers who are Big Bang Theory fans, Sheldon's evolution is becoming less asexual and more demisexual towards Amy.

Neghya still wants to represent the asexuals though, and so she has a side character that might be able to fit the bill. We also came up with a best friend for Chris, although Delaroux and I have completely opposite ideas on who should be the bestie. The guy she thought up is aloof and blunt. He's a nice foil for Chris because he just doesn't care what anyone else thinks and doesn't bother to keep himself groomed. The guy I thought of tries way too hard. He thinks himself a lady's man, but his track record all but destroys that persona. He's eager to please and is a bit over the top, but in a goofy way. I think Neghya might be leaning more towards Delaroux's idea, but I hope my guy still makes it in as comedy relief at least.

We also did some minor work on Chris' love interest. We know what his - yes, Chris falls for a guy - basic look is and what his basic attitude will be. We know that the love interest will start off thinking of Chris as a hated rival, although Chris won't feel the same way at all. In the end, the love interest will start falling for Chris despite himself. We don't have much more than that.

Oddly, the thing we spent the most time on was designing Chris' parents; his reason for bothering to sign up as a Competitor when he's not aroused by anyone. Neghya and I have nearly everything figured out for these two. We have their personalities, their history, how they met, when they married, when they had Chris, what their jobs are, what Chris' homelife was like, and basic character design for his parents. We spent so much time on them, that Neghya jokes these two are the secret and true heroes of the story.

Now, to actually think of NAMES for them....

My week hasn't been COMPLETELY taken over by semi-smutty anime concepts, though. That was just my "slack off" weekend.

The rest of the week I have been slowly chipping away at Please, Let Me Explain.

I believe last week I stated how complicated the edit has become. I have three different versions of the same scene, and I'm trying to find a way to weave all three together. I'm about half-way done so far. Once I'm done with the weaving, I get to go back through with fresh eyes and see if I can't edit it down a bit.

I'm glad I caved and posted that short chapter last week, because this one is getting SOOOO long! I've added about two pages worth so far! The entire story is now at a grand total of about 21 pages, and according to Ronoxym, we're only about half-way through his intended story. Who knows how much longer the story will be once I get my mitts on it!

The last bit of work I did this week was finally beta read another story for ChibiSunnie. I just barely squeaked it in, but I managed to keep up with my New Years Resolution to get beta notes back to the author within a fortnight. She still needs to polish it up, and probably will send it back for another once-over, but I'll be sure to let you guys know when she posts it.

Which reminds me, I totally forgot to post the LAST story I beta-ed for her when she published it at the beginning of the month.

So, for any who might be interested, here is Chibi's Hey Arnold fanfic about Mr. Simmons:

Is She Really A Keeper?

While I'm not sure I'll be able to get it done before the end of the month - therefore making up for my slacking in January - I did start up my second book this week. Hubby and I watched the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans the other day, and it had me really want to do two things: play God of War and read Percy Jackson's Greek Gods. I ended up just reading the book, although I do still want to play that game. Our poor Playstation 2 gets no love with the Wii U and Xbox 360 on either side of it...

I'm not that far in to the huge 450pg book, but it is really amusing. Definitely what I've come to expect from Rick Riordan. Now to see if I can get it done in time to catch up with my "one book a month" resolution. Worse comes to worse, I have a head start on the book for March.

How about you, fine folks? I know Phfylburt is excitedly working on his latest project of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story, but what have the rest of you been up to?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent Helping Me As A Writer

It kept me only one more day, but I finally finished reading a novel last Thursday. Now to break out another one. That way I can try to get a second completed in order to make up for slacking off last month. Although I haven't started a second book yet, I'm hoping I can crack down on reading during Lent.

Yup, for those who might not know, today is Ash Wednesday; the first day of the Lent season. Forty days and nights of sacrifice - usually by way of giving up a vice - leading in to Easter. This also means us "hard core" Roman Catholics also give up meat on Fridays. I always suck at that, mostly because I tend to lose track of what day of the week it is.

In fact, if it weren't for someone posting about it on Facebook, I would have completely forgotten that yesterday was Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Doughnut Day/Pancake Tuesday/Faschnacht Day/etc. In other words: Last Day To Get Your Vices In Before Lent. Which is why people tend to gorge - Fat Tuesday - or eat sweets; one of the top things given up for Lent - Doughnut/Faschnact Day - or get "freaky" - Mardi Gras.

Anyway, last year I realized that I was getting really addicted to Facebook, and I cut my time on it down to about an hour or so every day. Boy did my notifications build up! I do tend to spend a lot of time on Facebook again, but it's not nearly as bad an addiction as it was last year.

Instead, I recently noticed that - thanks to Netflix - my husband and I tend to curl up on the couch - especially in winter - and just watch TV for the majority of the day. While I enjoy staying snug and warm on the couch during the winter months - especially since it's been below zero here for over a week - and I love just cuddling next to Hubby for hours on end, this is NOT a healthy or productive life style.

We're both getting pretty husky, the apartment is a disaster, and our couch legitimately broke. It's one of those reclining loveseats, and the cross-bar that holds up the seat just busted. So, we can no longer recline since the metal bar that locks the foot of the couch in place is also currently holding up the seat. You know you've become a true couch potato when even your couch gives out on you.

So, while it will be hard since it's sort of forcing Hubby to have the same resolve, I'll be cutting back on TV for Lent. Yes, I know you're supposed to give something up completely for Lent, but - much like Facebook - it's just something I can't cut out of my life completely, even for 40 days.

Hubby and I have REALLY been looking forward to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returning in two weeks, and I'd hate to miss it. I'd also hate to force Hubby to either miss it too, or force him to not be able to talk about it until I get a chance to catch up. I've also NEVER missed an airing of a new episode of Castle. Beyond that, while I know this is going to sound pathetic, with my social life more or less D.O.A., the only thing I really have to look forward to is new episodes of my favorite prime time shows.

My days have become so monotonous, and draggy, and gloomy. I really need some sort of highlight to my days; something to look forward to. Sure, there are days where I know I'll be hanging out with friends, or Hubby and I decided to go to the movies, or I'll have something new to read when I get home, or there's a new video game I'll get to try out. More often than not, however, these non-TV highlights are few and far between.

Hubby and I don't have the money to get new games or watch movies more than once a month; if that. Aside from Quarthix hanging out nearly daily, my friends are typically too busy - or far away - to get together and just hang. Believe me, I've tried to set things up. Which is why I probably cling so tightly to Facebook - a means to keep in touch with these friends - and why I go to the vampire LARP even though my heart isn't really in it any longer.

As for the new reading material, well, once upon a time I was addicted to the X-Future boards. I'd spend nearly every waking moment lurking on the forum and waiting to read the soap-opera-like tales that wove throughout the game. If nothing else, I waited to see what Phfylburt would write next. Same with Ronoxym. While he was still on the boards, or while he was still actively working on Please, Let Me Explain, or when he was posting on his freshly started blog, I would race home from work; giddy and antsy all day, and geared up to see what he wrote next.

Well, neither Phyfl nor Ron have really posted any writing for me to read lately, so there goes that daily highlight....

I go to work and drudge through a tedious and irritating work day, only to come home to two highlights: cuddle my husband, and watch our TV shows.

Alright, this post has become kind of depressing, let's bring this back to topic, shall we?
The whole point of bringing all of this up...

Alright, so I can't cut TV out completely, but I AM going to whittle it down a ton. It will be a bit rough on my husband because that means I'm forcing him to give up HIS favorite pastime as well: watching TV with his wife.

That doesn't mean we can't still snuggle up and play video games together. Break out Wii U Smash Bros. or Hyrule Warriors again.

It just means that I'll now have the free time to do things like exercise, and clean. Most importantly, it means I have the free time to read and write. Instead of coming home at 1pm and snuggling with Hubby on the couch half-watching TBS for three hours, I can grab a novel and do the same. Or snuggle in to my bed to keep cozy while I read.

In fact, I've already kinda-sorta been doing this for the past week. Yes, I'm still on the couch binge-watching with Hubby. However, most of the time it's shows that I've already seen or I'm not really invested in. True, I still have that struggle that I can't turn away from a story being told, and so it's a bit of an overwhelming distraction to have a TV on while I'm trying to do other things. Yet other things were still done.

It's been a major labor of love - that's probably taken about three times longer than it should have due to the TV distraction - but I spent the past week chiseling away at "Please, Let Me Explain" some more.

Although my annual taxes are SUPER simple to do, I was dragging my feet to do them because it was such a tedious process. However, when it comes to writing, I have NO problem doing something so repetitive.

Let me explain. See, when Ron first started up PLME a year ago, he set it up as a Google Doc that I could read and comment on, but I couldn't edit it. Soon his doc was flooded with annotations about "this word should be change to that" or "use a comma here instead" or "I have a rewrite for this paragraph; here it is" and so forth. Nearly every paragraph had a comment attached to it, and it was overwhelming even for me.

So I decided to help myself out by starting up another version where I just did all the edits I had commented on. This was my master copy, and then I tasked myself to see the difference between the two versions and find a way to combine them. After putting the story away for a little bit I tended to think that the way Ron originally wrote the section was better, or that a combination of our two versions worked best, or that it needed yet another complete rewrite since neither version quite worked.

Eventually I started up a THIRD version of the story. It was mostly Ron's version after he edited a little and added the suggestions he agreed with. However, I still threw in some of my rewrites that he had yet to decide one way or another on. I then set it up so that we could both edit the file.

This third version is now the master copy that I've been using to post online. The version that I've been meticulously editing and polishing for over a month. However, I still have two other versions to compare it to. For the most part there isn't much to change, perhaps one version has a sentence or two different than this master version. I also take care to read the comments I have on Ron's version to see if there's any that I need to re-state in the third version. Things that we haven't decided on one way or another.

The Labor of Love part came up about the start of this week.

I was confident that I had the one scene as good as it was going to be. I debated between having it be a tiny transitional chapter of it's own right, or if I wanted it to be the start of the main section I originally intended to post. I decided to just go with it and post it as a tiny chapter since the main one has become a beast to edit.

Ron had written his version of the confrontation between Devon and Willow. Then I once again threw him a curveball like I did when he first sent me this story. I took it on a completely different direction, but it was all as comments on his version. As I was editing the master copy I realized that I had BOTH of our versions written back-to-back with a break in between; waiting for us to decide which version - or a combination of the two - worked best.

Well, Ron still hadn't said anything about this segment, and so I've been trying to find a way to weave the two together. I really like parts that he wrote, and I of course like the parts I wrote, and it's a pain to try to figure out which works better, or if there's a way to use both.

The action is jumbled and the dialogue pacing is off. It's tedious and tiring to go line by line to see where the three versions of the story differ. What transitions where? Can this part be put before or after this section so it still fits? Can I combine these speeches? Does this description slow the pacing here, or would it fit better there? How do I get rid of all of these adverbs!?

I honestly don't know why I excitedly go back to such a mess of a section.

Labor of Love is all I can think of. That, and yet another bit of proof that I'm supposed to be doing this. I'm supposed to write and edit. I'm supposed to tell stories. This really is my calling.

So, while I'm off trying to detangle the next portion of "Please, Let Me Explain", you can take about five minutes - according to Hemingway Editor - to read this baby-chapter. With any luck I should have the main chapter I was aiming for up in a week or two. However, I don't know if I want to post the chapters up any faster than once a month so that Ron has time to work on the story more...

Eh, whatever. Enjoy.

"Please, Let Me Explain: Part II"

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fanfiction Can Jump-start A Professional Career

I finally got my lazy butt in gear and started reading again. To be fair, I was also knocked on said butt with a nasty cold, and so it was far easier to curl up in bed reading for hours on end than it was sitting up and doing anything else. I have yet to finish the book, but I have a nice chunk taken out of it. I should be done in another few days or so, depending on how frequently I stop to read.

So, I'm well on my way to get two novels read this month to make up for my slacking last month. YAY!

The only downside is that reading means not writing, which means not much to talk about here. Although, I have been slowly whittling away at Please, Let Me Explain at about a paragraph at a time. I also started seriously thinking about possible titles for my X-Future reboot project; I can't keep calling it that. I have some researching that I want to do to maybe spark some title ideas.

Phfylburt or Ronoxym, if either of you come up with any ideas, please feel free to shoot them my way.

Since I don't have any of my own writing to really talk about this week, I decided I'm going to have another article reaction post. This time it will be about fanfiction being a viable means to professional writing.

This whole thing started when a member on Writers’ Huddle posted this article: How Fangirls Changed the Future of Publishing

I went on a nice tangent about my thoughts on the subject. Something I know people love reading while going through forum threads...

I also know I've touched upon this at least once before in my A Most Grateful Author post back in 2012, but here's my further feelings about the matter.

* * * * *

I found this article very interesting and reassuring; mainly because I am a fanfiction writer attempting to transition in to original writing. Specifically, I'm of course talking about my X-Future reboot idea. The whole concept of my project is to find a way to "transform" the world of Marvel's X-Men in to an original tale.

You guys know that for the past year I've been working hard on rewriting/restructuring canon characters so that they are originals for me to fairly use. It's a bit more involved than the "filing off the serial numbers" - FOSN - that the article references. In fact, I'm trying my best to evolve my story specifically so that I'm not simply FOSN. Although, it would be easy enough to do just that given how vaguely we use the Marvel source material anyway. That doesn't matter to me though. I am trying my best to transform X-Future in to something that might seem familiar to X-Men fans, but keep it different enough that people won't shout out "Who are you kidding? That's Wolverine!" It's a hard and long process, but one I'm purposely doing.

There's many reasons why I'm going this route. First and foremost is that the story and the main characters are all original anyway, and so it's hard for me to call it a fanfiction since none of the source's fans would recognize any of it. However, it IS still in the world built by Marvel for the X-Men franchise, and we do have a few X-Men characters ingrained in the story; too much for me to just drop them. I can't very well call it an original story with these blatant elements of "playing in someone else's sandbox". So, for my own integrity, I want all elements to be of my design so that it truly is an original story.

Secondly, I fear the backlash otherwise. People calling me out that my "original story" is just X-Men fanfiction without giving Marvel any credits. I mean, I'm nervous enough about my work without the fear of haters raining down on me. This is another reason I don't want to just file off the serial numbers. Again, I want my work to feel familiar, but not feel like a rip-off. I don't want my story to be like that Barbie knock-off you buy from a discount store somewhere.

My final reason for trying to change as much as I can - but still not TOO much, at the same time - is because I don't know how sensitive Marvel is when it comes to fanfiction. Especially if I want to market this story someday, I don't want to put all this time and effort in to something that will end up with a cease and desist order.

On the flipside, though, there IS that gray area dealing with the fact that I am just barely using the X-Men world. Would it be so bad to create a webcomic loosely based on the world of X-Men? I mean, there are D&D-inspired works such as the webcomic Order of the Stick which does essentially that. Everyone knows that it's a story about a D&D campaign as if the characters were real. It even makes reference to the Players Handbook, Monster Manual, and leveling up. Yet no one seems to have an issue with that. No one seems to care that the established characters in D&D are missing - in fact, there's some jokes where it's blatant FOSN in order to sneak in characters. There's re-occurring characters that are lawyers for "The wizards that live on the coast" - for those who don't know, Wizards of the Coast is the company that owns D&D. So, in that regards, I just might be able to get away with my X-Men fanfic without all of this extra "convert to original work" headache. Still, I want to put in the effort, just for my own integrity and peace of mind.

There is a bit in this article that I never thought of before. Namely, the concept of copyrighting the OCs - or Original Characters - and titles of stories, even if they are still fanfics. I can see why it would enrage some, but at most it just irks me that I didn't think of it first. True fanfiction - like the ones I write for Hey Arnold - are basically "playing in someone else's sandbox with their toys." All you need to do is sit there and come up with the story. I mean, creating the story is a hard part in and of itself. It's just not the HARDEST part. So, if you're just using the pre-established environment why not copyright your OCs? They're yours. They're original. You put the time and effort in to building and cultivating them until they feel like real people. Besides, I've seen at least on DeviantArt how people tend to fall in love with fanfiction OCs. There's a Hey Arnold group dedicated to fanart not of the original show, but of the original characters introduced in a Hey Arnold fanfiction. Given that, I might go the extra mile myself and register Willow, Lia, and Trish - my three main characters from X-Future - as well as my D&D/High Fantasy character Amara. Finally, the Terms of Service of must have been changed since the start of the copyright controversy started, because as of today the ToS has absolutely nothing about members not being able to copyright their OCs, titles, and/or story concepts. If anything, the ToS stresses the copyright of the authors that post to the site.

Honestly, the whole concept of publishing fanfiction is just such a smart move. People love these stories that are already out there, and so they are more likely to look up fanfiction than invest time in a new world and set of characters that they don't know; from an author they don't know to boot. If you have a skilled enough writer in a hot enough fandom you have a major hit on your hands that would EASILY be a New Yorker's Best Seller if it were published and sold. I again point towards the Hey Arnold fic I mentioned above. This is a very small fandom in the grand scheme of things, but "Life With The Shortmans" has blown up. It feels like everyone in the fandom knows about it and the OCs introduced in it. As I mentioned above, there's at least one group on DeviantArt dedicated to fanart about the fic. Heck, LWTS has its OWN fanfiction! Which is another reason to copyright the title and OCs you create. True, SuprSingr's not at the status that E.L. "Icy" James was at before MOTU got converted in to 50 Shades, but it's the same concept on a much smaller level.

I'm just shocked it kept so long for people to pick up on this. Ali Luke constantly points out that one of the big selling points for publishers is proof that you have a platform. Pointing out that you have thousands of people following your stories on is definitely a platform. The trick is then proving that you can write something original. Or at least something "loosely based" enough that you can FOSN to make it original.

In truth, I find this whole thing really refreshing, the idea of fanfiction writers getting published. Budding film makers and musicians make it big on YouTube or Vimeo without sending anything off to an agent/publicist/studio. They don't have to hit the pavement. If they're good enough and popular enough, the funds/opportunity to turn it in to a career practically knocks on their door. Same for artists. You have DeviantArt for one. There's Instagram and Tumblr as well. Pintrest; the list goes on. People are CONSTANTLY being noticed and picked up by being able to put their work online. But what about writers? Where is the "catch-all" site for us to post, get popular, and the publishers race to us? The fact that, and perhaps it's sister site for original works, seems to be a nice springboard for authors is fantastic to me.

Places like is also fantastic because you can get feedback right away. You can actually read the reviews and improve almost instantly. Someone thinks a character is too robotic? You can change that by the next chapter or so - or in another draft that you'll re-upload with. People SUPER love the way you write fight scenes, but can't stand your love scenes? You know what to work on; or what to avoid if possible. It's just such a great place! Love it! Also, since most people post Works In Progress, each chapter has to be fully polished before posting. There is hardly room for error unless you pull the whole thing down after you're done writing and re-post with the polished "final draft". On top of that, these stories are all self-edited. So I think fanfiction writers - or anyone who publishes for free online - are some of the best writers we have because they carry the full weight of publishing on their shoulders. Plus, they do it for the love of it, not the profit; at least, initially.

The article even points out something that was announced I believe a year ago. Kindle Worlds is just straight on publishing fanfiction; not even bothering to file off the serial numbers.

And what's wrong with that? There's TONS of source-sanctioned fanfiction publications. Any book you read that has the D&D symbol on it for one. All those Star Wars books that Disney is now claiming as "uncanon." Just about every show out there - mostly fantasy/sci-fi/monster/whatever-you'd-call-Vampire-Diaries - has at least one companion book. The ABC show Castle has a series of companion books. Whenever the show's character Castle - a mystery novelist - promotes his book in-show, the actual book is published for fans to enjoy. Back in I believe 2009, yet another Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was published - AFTER Douglas died, mind you. It was written by his protege, the author of the Artemis Foul books - by grace (and I think request) of Douglas' widow.

If I recall correctly, the main showrunner of the modern Dr. Who not only started out as a Dr. Who fanfiction writer himself, but openly admits to reading it to see what his viewers would like to see. Nerd icon Joss Whedon did a stint as an X-Men comic writer. He wrote a story arc for the Astonishing X-Men comics. He's not on Marvel's staff, and so THOSE are essentially fanfiction. Same goes for him working on the Avengers movies for Marvel Studios. Heck, ANY movie adaptation at its core is simply fanfiction. Then think about all of those twitter - and other social media - accounts claiming to be a fictional character. I mean, I follow "Barney Stinson" from How I Met Your Mother. It's all "published fanfiction" that someone is profiting off of. So why not just pull back the curtain and let "average joe smith" make a career out of it too?

The only true difference is that the above ARE - or at least were, in Star Wars' case - sanctioned by the source material's owners. They were approved to be included in that world; even if not considered canon. However, couldn't a publisher do that too? Reach out to the source material owner and ask for permission to ethically publish? And if the fanfiction so loosely resembles the inspiring source that serial numbers were easily filed - and therefore none of the readers could really pick out the source material - then what's the harm?

Yes, in all of my "source-sanctioned" examples above, the authors were all professional writers. That does make a world of difference. However, in most cases, they were simply fanfiction writers that happened to be professionals as well. There is a surprising amount of fanfiction authors that have that professional-quality skill, or pretty darn close to it. You just have to weed them out of the masses of 10-yr-olds writing horrible My Little Pony fanfics. Good rule of thumb is if it has a lot of views it's either near-professional quality writing, or something so horrible that it's passed around like a video of a guy getting hit in the nuts.

Honestly, I'd take a well-skilled fanfiction writer over a ghost writer any day if it continues on with an already established world/set of characters. Watch any movie adaptation when the studio just grabbed any big name director and high-quality writing team, and another one where the adaptation was done by people who all LOVED the source. The director, the writers, the editor, the costume designer, the actors, etc. The team made up of fans will make the better adaptation 10-1 because of that love. They put the time, care, and attention in to the project. If Nickelodeon had picked up a random, but still well skilled, person off of YouTube and/or that LOVED Avatar: the Last Airbender, instead of handing it over to M. Night Shyamalan... well, it wouldn't have been the disastrous laughing stock that is now; just another one of the many shames on the networks' head.

So, you do indeed that balance. Publishers still need to be picky on the skill-level the author displays. Plus, as I mentioned, you have to be careful that the owner of the source material doesn't cry "infringement". Otherwise, I still think published fanfiction for profit is a fantastic new venture!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

So. Many. Adverbs!

This past Saturday I received an unexpected Facebook message from DarkAngel1326! Man, I miss talking to her. Stupid college courses keeping her busy...

My point - aside from the awesomeness of talking to her again - was that she sent me a link that seemed PERFECT for what I was trying to accomplish this week. Namely, improve on my over-elaboration when I write, as well as my surprising fondness of adverbs.
Lolly, Lolly, Lolly was always one of my favorites...

So, what was this awesome website DA1326 sent me? Well, she introduced me to Hemingway Editor.

Out of curiosity, I dumped last week's blog post in to Hemingway in order to see what my normal journaling is like.
  • My blog post should be readable in less than six minutes.
  • It is written at a ninth grade reading level; a bit more advanced than my usual aim of the journalism norm of 7th grade.
  • Out of the 70 sentences that had made up my blog post, 16 were hard to read and another 19 were very hard.
  • I could have used simpler phrases 16 times.
  • I had three cases of passive voice; mostly when I was talking about critiques of my writing.
  • Here's the big one. I had 21 adverbs. TWENTY. ONE.
Now to clarify a few things. This is what Hemingway means when it says "hard" or "very hard" to read sentences:
Hard-to-read sentences: "long, complex sentences and common errors; shorten or split it."
Very-Hard-to-Read: "your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic — try editing this sentence"
The funny thing is, most of my "long, complex" sentences are just ones with two or three phrases combined via commas or semi-colons. For instance, this was one of the "hard" sentences: "Normally I'd just shrug it off because this is a smaller computer; I shouldn't expect it to be able to do too much."

Even better are the "dense and complicated" sentences. For example: "Well, that's frustrating."

Seriously? That sentence was dense, complicated, or had meandering and splitting logic!? Go home, Hemingway, you're drunk.

I think I just realized why they named the website that!

Honestly, I ignore the sentence difficulty notifications on Hemingway, but it's still cool to see what boosts your readability grade-level. Same more-or-less goes with the phrases with simpler options. Things like "use" instead of "utilize".

So, the stats I really zero-in on are the adverbs and passive voice.

Let me tell you, when I focused on the adverbs and saw twenty-one, I freaked out. How could I have never noticed that I use them so frequently?! However, I have to admit that adverbs are a nice way to short-cut what I'm trying to say. It's faster to say "rarely" than it is to say "only once in a while." I guess it's just part of my writing voice. I know I should fix that, but I sincerely doubt I'm going to get rid of as many adverbs as I should. I mean, I used one in the previous sentence!

All of that aside, I do wish to improve my writing. Therefore, when I was done editing the next portion of Please, Let Me Explain I dumped it in to Hemingway as well. We had twenty-three adverbs! Just as bad as my blog post! Worse, even, because it's prose. It kept a little bit of work and finesse, but with some real effort I was able to whittle down to only six adverbs. I was "allotted" five by Hemingway, and all of those were in dialogue. I wasn't going to cut adverbs out of dialogue, it just doesn't sound natural then. The other one? Well... I just couldn't figure out how to replace it without being legitimately long-winded about it. Yet, I also couldn't figure out how to omit it completely.

I had to do a lot of rearranging and rewording in order to get the section where it needed to be. I'm waiting for Ronoxym to get back to me approving the changes. The section I edited is only about 1200 words anyway. I might hold off until I get more of the story edited for the chapter. However, if I go until the next natural story break the overall second chapter will end up being an additional 3000 words long. So, what do you guys think? Should I post what I have polished off once Ron approves? Or should I polish off what I was originally considering as "part two" when I first organized the story? I mean, 4200 words isn't THAT big of a chapter, is it?

I mean, the first chapter I have up is a little shy of 2900 words. So 4200 isn't that much worse, right?

I'm just sad that I couldn't get more accomplished before now. I've been feeling under the weather, and so I tend to just open up the file, edit a couple of sentences, and then pass out.

I'm also ashamed that I failed at one of my resolutions. I didn't read a novel last month. I guess that means I need to go through two of them this month to make up for it. I did attempt to re-read my book of Greek mythology in order to better get in to the mindset of how they are written. This way I could go back and edit The Divine Legends so they seemed old-world and true-to-life without having an overwhelming amount of passive voice and adverbs. Problem is, I forgot the book I own isn't a direct English translation of the myths. It's a simplified retelling so it's easier to comprehend. However, this also means it feels more like a friend of mine telling me the myths instead of me reading them myself. Not a good thing to study in order to get the voice I want in these tales.

I'll have to try a different tactic, and remember to get some novel reading in!

Well, this post is late enough as it is. I think I should get to work on both PLME and reading.