Let’s just address the elephant in the room: not a whole lot of people like math. Particularly in the creative fields, it is often expressed that math is the bane of existence. It usually doesn’t matter whether someone is good or bad either; math is just seen as something that is the antithesis of creativity.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to subsequently find a ton of math and number errors in stories. Whether it be ages and dates not matching up or distances to locations not making sense, even the most popular stories tend to have these (franchises like Harry Potter included). While in most cases the error is fairly minor, you’d be wrong to think fans will never notice. As a story gains more popularity, these sorts of errors will stick out like a sore thumb. Sure, no one will probably call you out on it unless it causes a plot hole. BUT they will notice.
So, what should you do about it? Today I would like to share with you some of my tips for making sure you get your math and various numbers right. Some of these are going to apply for people bad at math, and some can be applicable regardless of your skill level. Either way, they are something to consider when writing any story.
It’s no real secret that I spend a lot of my time writing. I write for this blog every week, I write webcomic reviews for StArt Faire every month, I do a lot of social media managing which involves a lot of tweet writing, etc. While I wouldn’t say I’m the best writer, I have definitely seen worse; you only need to be an English major in a low level college class to see the huge difference sometimes in skill level. While I don’t often have time for fiction, I do occasionally write that as well. I’m arguably more passionate about fiction and stories, but I also do enjoy the sorts of non-fiction analysis that I do here on this blog. Either way, I have lots of experience in writing, in part because I make efforts to practice it when I can.
Thus, as someone who identifies as a writer, nothing grinds my gears more than seeing others treat writing as anything less than a skill.
As you may or may not know, as Writing Director of StArt Faire I review webcomics/indie comics every month for the magazine. I’ve got a number of them under my belt now, so you can definitely say I have experience being a critic. If you haven’t read any of those, you may have glanced at some of my reviews that are available here on the blog for other sorts of medium (games, TV, etc.).
However, despite having reviewed so many things, I realized I’ve yet to give proper tips for writing reviews. Thus, today I would very much like to rectify that. Now, being able to analyze whatever it is your reviewing is another matter entirely (and possibly a post for later). My tips for writing reviews are geared specifically for the writing portion of reviewing. That being said, hopefully you will find the following tips useful to your endeavors.
In my opinion, one of the most difficult forms of writing to ever undertake is satire. It takes a certain cunning to be able to execute satire, and even then the simplest of mistakes can quickly unravel the smartest of premises. It is definitely not something I’d recommend for a beginner, no matter how passionate they are about criticizing people’s vices. However, practice makes perfect so at some point, assuming you’re interested in the topic, you’re going to have to attempt satire.
That being said, there are identifiable beginner’s mistakes that one can avoid. Thus, today I would like to share my wisdom with you in regards to how you can start your very first satire. Hopefully, with these tips, you can avoid the most common first mistakes and create a worthwhile piece.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR UNDERTALE!
One of the stranger polarizing issues I’ve come across in the game community is silent protagonists. Some people love them and think they add to the immersion. The player is not forced into a character’s dialogue choices, and they can feel more like they are the character due to the silence. Other people hate them. They often view it as a developer being lazy, and they also believe that it makes a character very flat since they have no real personality without dialogue to convey it.
This being the case, indie devs and homebrew devs may find themselves in an odd situation. Should they risk people’s ire and make a silent protagonist, or should they risk a different people’s ire and have their character have spoken dialogue? This can be a crucial decision when handling the writing of a game. However, it is my opinion that what matters more is the protagonist is written and executed well, regardless of whether or not they’re silent. Thus, today I would like to bring to you three questions you can ask yourself before you decide to make your protagonist silent or not. These will prioritize the quality of the story versus other factors.
If you’re like me, you really like writing and coming up with stories. Adventurous knights, brave space heroes, the averagely unique schoolkid, and wild settings all tickle your imagination every waking moment. If you’re also like me though, you also have a critical weakness: the middle of the story.
The middle in a story can often be a writer’s bane no matter their skill level. You can picture point A and point B clear as day, but somehow the line between them is hazy at the best of times. Even as you flesh that line out, there’s still often that point where you know something should happen but aren’t sure what that something is. So, what does one do when they find themselves in this situation? Despair and accept there’s no hope?
No. That’s a bit dramatic. Instead, I have some tips for you today to help you work through the middle of your story when you just aren’t sure what to do. Keep in mind that there are a bunch of methods you can try, and everyone has something different that works for them. These are just the personal techniques I use, and they’ve helped me out immensely over that middle story blue’s bump. Let’s sit back, put on those thinking caps, and dive in.
On my blog I’ve had several posts relaying my personal writing tips. Magic systems, point-of-view transitions, and more have been covered. However, one topic I have not covered is dealing with writer’s block. Writer’s block is a very popular topic of discussion, as numerous writers have reported just simply hitting a wall being unable to write. Now of course, there is actually debate about whether this is a thing or not, as numerous people claim it’s a falsehood to cover-up laziness or lack of skill. I am not here to weigh in completely on that debate, though.
Instead, regardless of what you want to call it, I want to relay my personal tips for when you’re struggling on ideas of what to write. These can generally be applied whether you’re writing non-fiction (like updating a blog regularly) or want to write fictional stories. The dreaded writer’s block can strike at any time or moment, but with these tips, hopefully you can lessen the time you spend flailing around waiting for an epiphany.
One of the more difficult things to talk about when it comes to writing, in my opinion at least, is point-of-view. Though the concept itself is pretty easily grasped, it’s also a major one that gets brushed off as unimportant in a lot of cases. Particularly for writers who write their stories by instinct, the point-of-view is something that happens naturally depending on what they’re going for. Unfortunately, this can often result in the point-of-view being written poorly.
However, of particular note for today’s tips, we’re going to focus in on stories where the point-of-view is limited, but the limited view is switched between various characters. Now for some who aren’t avid readers, this may seem like a foreign concept to a degree. There are numerous contemporary stories that use limited view, but they only ever focus on the protagonist. However, there are indeed still others where it utilizes specific viewpoints of different characters to show different aspects of the story (Game of Thrones is one example).
Why this particular subject, though? In my opinion, it is perhaps the one that poses the most risk to poor writing, as characters are often the driving force of a story. As such, messing up how these viewpoint switches occur can quickly turn readers off. There are ways to prevent this though, which is my goal for today: tips on how you can make sure you’re able to switch characters successfully. Please keep in mind there are numerous things to watch out for, but these are the areas I believe one should be most concerned with.
Anyone who takes writing seriously knows that there are certain conventions that should be followed. From simple things like “they’re” vs. “there” vs. “their” to bigger things like handling protagonist character development, there are numerous mistakes that are talked about frequently. However, there are still even more mistakes that do not get talked about often, if only because they used to be infrequent. Yes, I did say used to be.
Due to my myriad of project types, I end up reading a lot in one day and get exposed to a lot of mistakes I’m surprised people even make. That being said, there are a few in particular that not only grind my gears, but also are a concerning trend in certain areas of the internet. As such, I would like to take a moment to address these unspoken mistakes. You too may have seen these and felt the irritation I do.
Keep in mind these mistakes are pretty variable and don’t particularly have a consistent theme like previous articles; nevertheless, they are worth discussing.