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Writing Tips

    A lot of people email me asking for advice on how to write fan fiction stories. That is a fairly difficult question to answer. Sometimes I don't even know how I end up writing the things I do. Some of it takes talent, but I also believe that everyone has some hidden creative talent. The only key is to tap into that talent. I'll tell you right now that I have not been writing for years. In fact, the Zelda fanfics were the first creative pieces I ever wrote. Normally, I hate writing. I hate essays on tests, and English is my least favorite class. But one day I came up with an idea, and that's all it took.
    That is the first thing you need to write a story: an idea. The only problem is where to get those ideas from. A lot of times, it can be very difficult for me to come up with an idea. In my experience, sitting down with a pencil and a pad of paper, and racking my brain for ideas has never worked. I can't think of an idea for a story when I'm trying to. They just come to me. One night I'd be laying in bed and an idea would pop into my head, and I would think, "Wow! That's a great idea for a story!" That's when I first thought of the idea to write The Biggest of Lies. You'd be surprised what you can come up with when you're not even trying to think. People usually have problems coming up with inspiration for ideas. All of my stories have been inspired in part by many sources, like movies, TV shows, and books. For example, the inspiration for The Biggest of Lies came from an episode of the "X-files". It was the episode when some guy tells Mulder that the aliens, the abduction of his sister, and everything he believed in was all an elaborate government hoax. The title of my story came from a line in that episode. With that ispiration in mind, I started to adapt it to Zelda, and my first story came out. It wasn't all easy though, it took me months to write it. So if you're having trouble thinking of an idea, the best advice I can give you is to read. You cannot be a prolific author unless you read a lot. It could be books, magazines, or other fanfics. Reading is the best source of inspiration. Reading also gives you the ability to write better. I read a lot of long novels, and that reading has rubbed off on me. I have emulated the writing styles of a whole slew of authors and turned them into something new. Read as much as you can.
    Okay, now you've got an idea. What next? Now is the hard part: writing. There are dozens of ways to accomplish this. Some people like to write up an outline of what they want in the story, and then actually do the writing. This works for a lot of people, but it doesn't work for me. I simply sit down at the computer and start typing. I find it helpful when I'm in the "zone." It's when you're totally focused and the words just come to you. The story almost writes itself. Of course, getting into the "zone" can be difficult. I can't write on a regular schedule. It just happens; all of a sudden I would get the urge to write and I'd end up writing half the story in one sitting. The zone is a kind of Zen thing, you can't get into it by trying to. It just happens. So, when I get in the zone, I start writing. but I don't use an outline, I write from scratch. I find this a lot easier. Sometimes it almost seems like the story writes itself. Just write whatever way you can, you'd be surprised what comes out.
    Now as far as the writing process goes, the main thing you need to worry about other than the story itself is grammar. One of the biggest problems people have when writing is correct spelling and grammar. I know that grammar can be very difficult, the English language is one of the most difficult languages to master. Although I offer to correct errors for writers, it would make my job a lot easier if people did some of that work themselves. Below is a listing of some of the most common English grammar errors.

Spelling and Grammar

Spelling is by far the biggest problem among writers. Reading a story full of spelling errors makes it seem like the writer is stupid, when in fact the person isn't. Here are some of the most common spelling and grammar errors. Some common errors fall under the category of both grammar and spelling at the same time.

Exclamatory Statements

Exclamatory statements are when you are trying to say something that is forceful or full of emotion. Usually, you would use an exclamation point at the end of the sentence. But I have a few words of advice for those types of sentences. First of all, only use an exclamation point in dialogue. It looks silly when it is put in regular writing. Bob went to the store. To his surprise, there were almost five hundred people there! I don't know about you, but that exclamation point makes it look a little silly. Look at this example: I wish you would die! In that example, it was dialogue and an exclamation point was warranted. They only look good when used in dialogue. Also, if you want to make an extremely exclamatory statement, for the love of God, don't write it in all capital letters, and don't use more than one exclamation point. I WISH YOU WOULD DIE!!!!!! That sentence is just annoying. If you want to be more forceful, put the sentence in italics and use a single exclamation point. I wish you would die! Notice that that sentence looks a lot cleaner, but still gets the same message across. Sentences in all capital letters is one of my pet peeves. I usually try to put them into italics, but I'm lazy and usually avoid that. If you write a story and want the sentence in italics but can't format it right, put asterisks (*) at both ends of the sentence. *I wish you would die* The asterisks indicate that the sentence should be put in italics. Use this any other time you would want the webmaster to put a certain word or phrase in italics.


Dialogue
Dialogue is when a person speaks in a story. Everybody knows that dialogue is put in quotation marks, but there are a few rules that most people forget. Here is a summary of rules for dialogue.

If you are just saying a quote without indicating who said it, simply put the sentence and all punctucation in double-quotation marks.
I am sick and tired of school.

If you want to indicate who said something, you use a comma at the end of the sentence.
I am sick and tired of school, said John.
Notice that there was a comma at the end of the sentence, not a period. When finishing off the quote with something like "he said", you put the period after the "he said", not at the end of the quote.
This is incorrect: That really sucked. commented Bob.
This is incorrect: That really sucked. Commented Bob.
This is incorrect: That really sucked commented Bob.
This is correct: That really sucked, commented Bob.
Notice that in that sentence, "commented Bob" is part of the sentence. The dialogue and the indication of who said it are all one sentence. That is why you use a comma at the end of the dialogue and not a period.

Sometimes quotes end in an exclamation point or a question mark. In these cases, you do not need to use a comma. But remember that if whatever you put after the dialogue is part of the sentence, make sure you treat it as such (i.e. not capitalizing a word that shouldn't be capitalized).

This is incorrect: I am sick and tired of this! Shouted Bob.
This is incorrect: I am sick and tired of this!, Shouted Bob.
This is correct: I am sick and tired of this! shouted Bob.
This is correct: I am sick and tired of this! Bob shouted. Bob is capitalized because it is a proper noun.

This is incorrect: What are you talking about? Asked Bob.
This is incorrect: What are you talking about?, Asked Bob.
This is correct: What are you talking about? asked Bob.
This is correct: What are you talking about? Bob asked. Bob is capitalized because it is a proper noun.

Other common errors occur when people put the Bob said or whatever before the dialogue. It works just like the above examples, only in reverse. Remember that when you end the quote, use a period, question mark, or exclamation point because there is nothing after the quote. Here are some examples:

This is incorrect: Bob said I want some pie.
This is incorrect: Bob said: I want some pie. Never use a colon when you're saying what people said.
This is incorrect: Bob said I want some pie,
This is incorrect: Bob said I want some pie
This is correct: Bob said, I want some pie.

Another common mistake is when people start a new paragraph during dialogue. When you're doing this, DO NOT put quotation marks at the end of the paragraph, but DO put a quotation mark at the beginning of the next paragraph. DO put a quotation mark at the end of the next paragraph if it is at the end of the quotation. Here is an example:

The little arrow (<--) points out the error.

This is incorrect:
    The first Guardians realized this. They came up with the only logical solution: create a decoy to prevent people from making a new wish upon the Triforce. When they entered the Sacred Realm, they were endowed with certain powers; like the teleportation you two saw earlier. They used their powers to construct a false Triforce and a false Sacred Realm. They built the Temple of Time and the Temple of Light to house the false Triforce and to create a door to the false Sacred Realm. <---
    To prevent someone from discovering the truth, they gave the false Triforce the power to grant wishes. But these wishes were never fully granted. That is why when Ganondorf wished to rule the world it was granted, but eventually his empire and his power collapsed. Any wish made on the false Triforce is destined to fail, even if its a righteous wish.

This is incorrect:
    The first Guardians realized this. They came up with the only logical solution: create a decoy to prevent people from making a new wish upon the Triforce. When they entered the Sacred Realm, they were endowed with certain powers; like the teleportation you two saw earlier. They used their powers to construct a false Triforce and a false Sacred Realm. They built the Temple of Time and the Temple of Light to house the false Triforce and to create a door to the false Sacred Realm. <---
  ---> To prevent someone from discovering the truth, they gave the false Triforce the power to grant wishes. But these wishes were never fully granted. That is why when Ganondorf wished to rule the world it was granted, but eventually his empire and his power collapsed. Any wish made on the false Triforce is destined to fail, even if its a righteous wish.

This is correct:
    The first Guardians realized this. They came up with the only logical solution: create a decoy to prevent people from making a new wish upon the Triforce. When they entered the Sacred Realm, they were endowed with certain powers; like the teleportation you two saw earlier. They used their powers to construct a false Triforce and a false Sacred Realm. They built the Temple of Time and the Temple of Light to house the false Triforce and to create a door to the false Sacred Realm. <---
    To prevent someone from discovering the truth, they gave the false Triforce the power to grant wishes. But these wishes were never fully granted. That is why when Ganondorf wished to rule the world it was granted, but eventually his empire and his power collapsed. Any wish made on the false Triforce is destined to fail, even if its a righteous wish.

The last common error in dialogue also invloves paragraphs. When someone is speaking then stops, and another person speaks, you must begin a new paragraph. If two or more different people are speaking, the dialogues cannot be in the same paragraph. But remember, if the paragraph ends in a quote it also ends in a quotation mark

This is incorrect:
   Bob said, I think this is realy cool. Kasuto knows what he's talking about. Joe replied, I agree, Kasuto is so cool.

This is incorrect:
   Bob said, I think this is realy cool. Kasuto knows what he's talking about. I agree, Kasuto is so cool.

This is incorrect:
   Bob said, I think this is realy cool. Kasuto knows what he's talking about.
    Joe replied, I agree, Kasuto is so cool.

This is correct:
   Bob said, I think this is realy cool. Kasuto knows what he's talking about.
    Joe replied, I agree, Kasuto is so cool.


Plurals and Possessives, -s, -s, -s
This is probably one of the most common errors I see when Im correcting stories. Putting an apostrophe in the wrong place can completely change the meaning of a word.
Plurals are usually formed by adding -s or -es; you never form a plural word by adding -'s. I have three dogs.
Possessives are formed by adding -'s. A possessive indicate that something belongs to something else. This is the dog's bowl. If you are pluralizing a noun that already ends in -s but it is not plural, then you still use -'s. This is Mr. Jones's house.
Plural Possessives are a little trickier. If a plural noun ends in -s to make it possessive, you add only an apostrophe. Those are the girls' bathrooms. It is important to know, however, that if a plural word does not end in -s you then use -'s to pluralize it. Those are the children's toys, not Those are the childrens' toys.

Commonly Misspelled Words
This is a list of words that people commonly misspell. The spellings listed below are the correct ones. English spelling is wacky and is very difficult. Why do you think there are English spelling bees, but none for other languages?
 
absence definitely jewelry receive
absorption  description judgment recommend
accessible desirable judicial repetition
accommodate dilemma   rescind
accumulate disappear labeling rhythmical
achieve disbursement legitimate ridiculous
advantageous discrepancy leisure  
affiliated dissatisfied license salable
aggressive dissipate litigation secretary
alignment     seize
aluminum eligible maintenance separate
ambience embarrassing mathematics sincerely
analyze endorsement mediocre succeed
apparent exaggerate minimum suddenness
appropriate exceed   superintendent
argument exhaust necessary supersede
asphalt existence negligence surprise
assistant extraordinary negotiable  
asterisk   newsstand tangible
auditor fallacy noticeable tariff
familiar   technique
bankruptcy flexible occurrence tenant
believable fluctuation omission truly
brilliant forty    
bulletin   parallel unanimous
  gesture pastime until
calendar grievous peaceable  
campaign   permanent vacillate
category haphazard perseverance vacuum
ceiling harassment persistent vicious
changeable holiday personnel  
clientele   persuade  
collateral illegible possesses  
committee immigrant precede  
comparative incidentally predictable  
competitor indelible preferred  
concede independent privilege  
congratulations indispensable procedure  
connoisseur insistent proceed  
convenient intermediary pronunciation  
convertible irresistible psychology  
corroborate   pursue  
criticism   questionnaire  

accept, except
accept is a verb that means to take something that is offered to you. I accept your terms. Bob graciously accpeted the award.
except is a preposition that excludes something. Bob took everything with him except his wallet.

a lot, alot
a lot means to have a large amount of something. Please note that it is two seperate words. I have a lot of old magazines.
alot is not a word. People mistakenly use alot when they should use a lot.

cant, cant
cant is a word with multiple meanings, and most people never use them. In one way, it can be a synonym of chant. Almost all the time, people write cant when they mean can't.
cant is a contraction of can not or cannot (both spellings are acceptable). Use it when you want to say cannot. I can't write with my right hand.

hear, here
hear is a verb that tells of the action of hearing something. I hear a noise.
here is an adverb that modifies an adjective, verb, or another adverb. You use it to tell where something happens. I am here. Here is where we will build the house.

its, its
its is a possessive pronoun. It tells that something belongs to another object. For example: The dog wagged its tail. Its tells that the tail belonged to the dog.
its is a contaction of it is. Use its when you want to use the words it is. For example: Its two o'clock. It is two o'clock.

snuck, sneaked
snuck is commonly used as a past tense of sneak. Actually, it is incorrect and isn't a real word. Mark Twain used it in Huckleberry Finn to show that Huck was "uncivilized." It is a colloquialism that many people use in normal speech, but it shouldn't be used in writing unless it is used in dialogue. Use sneaked instead. I have made this mistake myself.
sneaked is the real past tense of sneak. Use this word when you are tempted to use snuck. Link sneaked into the castle, not Link snuck into the castle.

there, their, theyre
there is an adverb that tells the location of something. Where is the book? It is over there.
their is a plural possessive pronoun. It tells that something belongs to a group of people. That is their house.
theyre is a contraction of they are. Use they're when you want to saythey are. They're at school. They are at school.

through, thru, threw
through is a preposition. It relates to some noun or pronoun in the sentence. He went through the castle.
thru is a commonly-used abbreviation of through. You might see it a lot in signs like Drive Thru, but thru is not a real word. Never use it in formal writing.
threw is the past tense of throw. Joe threw the ball.

to, too, two
to is usually used as a preposition to relate a noun or pronoun to another part of the sentence. It is also used in infinitives as in to be. He went to the movies.
too is an adverb that modifies an adjective, verb, or another adverb. That is too much food. Too describes much.
two is a number (2). I don't think people will get that confused.

were, where
were is a past tense form of the verb to be. It tells that someone or something existed in the past, or it tells about the condition of something in the past. They were very sad when he died. There were five ducks in the pond.
where is an adverb that is used to modify a verb, adjective, or adverb, or it is used as a question word. Where is my wallet?
It is also a pronoun, used in place of a noun or another pronoun. That is where she went.

wont, wont
wont means to be used to, accustomed to, prone to, or to describe what someone usually does or has a tendency to do. It is always used with the verb to be. Wont rhymes with "want." Bob is wont to get angry at the most trivial things.
wont is a contraction of will not. This is what most people intend to use when they accidentally write wont. An apostrophe can make a big difference. Joe wont do anything his mother tells him.

your, youre
your is a possessive pronoun. It tells that something belongs to you. This is your book.
youre is a contraction of you are. Use it when you want to say you are. Youre not going outside until you do your homework. You are not going outside until you do your homework.