“Well,” said the voice Fenris least expected to hear on this
job, from the place he least expected to find her. “Fancy meeting you here.” (Quis
Custodiet Ipsos Custodes, which is technically still a WIP until I figure out what to do with its final chapter)
When the moment arrives, the signs are evident and all
preparations are in place. (Sapling)
Dust flew, as feet bare and booted pounded across Skyhold’s
training circle. (Hawkquistion Part 4: Warriors Such
The years have not been kind, but we have been kind to each
other. (Oak and Linden)
It has plagued him as long as he can remember, the question
that can never be answered. (Nosce Te Ipsum)
“Still a day or so till we hit the Imperial highway at
Montfort, my lady,” the Warden recruit said all too cheerfully as Lisbet Hawke
scraped yet more of the mud of the Nahashin Marshes from her boot. (Hawkquisition
Part 1: To Remain at Your Side)
And apparently those 19 are all the Dragon Age stories I
have yet written! Actually I’m kind of surprised it came that close to 20…I am
easily distracted from things I intend to write. 😦 So for slot 20, I could
give you the first line of one of my much older LOTRO stories…or I could give
you the first line of the current WIP. Let’s go with the WIP, a story titled “Stray”,
since that is a Dragon Age story. And I’m just gonna include the whole first
paragraph since you can’t yet click a link to read the whole rest of this one!
20. Imagine: You are eight years old. Smaller than the other
boys your age, perhaps, but stronger and quicker too; you’ve been training with
a bow since your first birthday, claims Uncle Varric, and Aunt Isabela promises
a knife for your tenth birthday, no matter how Da scowls and Mum argues with
her when she says so. You’ve scuffled with children bigger than yourself and
come out unscathed (at least until Mum found out), so you’re sure you can
handle the knife. Aunt Merrill’s been teaching you to find your way in the
wilderness, too, and you could make the trip to Sundermount all on your own if
Da would allow it.
So now I’m supposed to see if there are any patterns? Hm…well,
only 7 of the 20 open with dialogue. Exactly half of them are in present tense
and half in past tense, which is interesting because I never really wrote
stories in present tense before starting on Dragon Age fic, I don’t think. I
guess I have taken to that technique more than I realized. (It also doesn’t
quite count for #20 because the story does not continue in present tense after
the first few paragraphs which are sort of setting the scene…) One of the
stories opens in first person (Oak and Linden) and one in second person (the
WIP, but that also doesn’t quite count because it goes back to third person
after that first few paragraphs…you’ll see soon, I hope!), but overwhelmingly
third person is my preferred voice. I don’t usually like reading stories in
first or second person either, so I do use them sparingly, only when the story
really seems to demand it. In both those cases, actually, I had started writing
the first draft in third person as usual and it just wasn’t working out. I
switched to first person for Oak and Linden, and I added that second person
intro for Stray, and it clicked. That was how those particular stories needed
to be told.
Many of us have one FenHawke scene we’d like to change. Maybe just a few details. Maybe the whole thing. Or, maybe, there’s a scene missing that would totally happen in your version of the pairing. Show how it was meant to happen in your FenHawke.
☆ Fast forward:
What does the very end of your FenHawke look like? Do they grow old or die before their time? Who goes first? (Rated: A for angst)
Fenris and Hawke have faced so many foes together. Take your favorite battle your FenHawke has had (canon or headcanon) and write out the epic battle scene for us.
Alright, if you write AUs or feel the urge to really have some fun and try something new, it’s time to write a parody. Rewrite some FenHawke scenes as goofy reimaginings. Tie in other games, or tie in movies, or make your own funny rewrites. Don’t forget to link it to us, or use the overall Fic Starter Friday tag so we can read it.
Lately I have been trying to catch up on reading, and the thing that has bugged me most consistently is wound care and how characters treat their charges’ exposed injuries.
I just got out of a semester of modalities, including wound care, and I would like to share a few main points with you. Assuming that your character is otherwise healthy and has no vascular deficiencies:
Dry wounds are bad. The body carries all of its signals and ions and nutrients through fluid media. Dry wounds prevent the migration of nutrition and new cells to a wound bed. Scabs, accordingly, fall into the category of very bad as they slow the healing process overall and also prevent range of motion. (Additionally when scabs are removed before they “fall off” they can take healthy new cells with them). You don’t want to let a wound dry out, but rather you want to give it a dressing that donates moisture to the bed, cover it very well, and then let the wound do its thing.
Rolling off of the above point, wounds do not need to be left to “air out”. The human body is right around 98.6F/37C and exposing it to ambient temperatures also slows healing, plus, will contribute to the wound drying out. Leave it covered. You only need to check on it or change bandages regularly if there are signs of infection or if the wound is giving off lots of exudate. Unless there is infection, the bandages likely do not need to be changed every day.
Gauze is very, very bad. Everyone I have been reading lately talks about gauze. Gauze x.x GAUZE X.X!!! Gauze is a cheap ass plant product that soaks up every bit of moisture it comes into contact with. It also has the habit of binding to soft tissues so that when it is removed it debrides everything it has bound to, good and bad tissue alike, and it can actually set back healing instead of encouraging it. Because it has been processed and will not dissolve in the body, it also creates a higher risk of infection around the wound. It has no compressive properties and cannot be used as a proper compression bandage (neither do Ace bandages, but that’s for another post).
So, please use this information accordingly. Especially if you are writing something modern.
This company specializes in medical technology and has good information on a lot of products for wound care and bandages, including anti-microbial, moisture-donating dressings, etc.
Please treat your characters well, give your story a boost, and make yourself look like a sightly more educated author by not doing these things.
Reblogging because this is still not widely known.
Adding a link to the ConvaTec website (I have no conflict of interests) because they have a lot of basic information about different dressing and bandage types.
Let’s play a prompt game! I like to call it “Prompt By
Here’s how it works:
To play, message me with ONE thing you want me
to include in a story.
It could be an object…a specific character, be
it NPC or OC… a place…just about anything.
For example, the last time I played this, when writing
LOTRO fanfic, I got suggestions such as “a haunted mirror,” “Barliman
Butterbur,” and “Dragons!”
Maybe you want to suggest something that you
would just love to see a story about—or maybe your suggestion is as silly as “a
mean-spirited slug” with the goal of making the story more interesting as I
have to work to fit it in. 🙂
For every three
words I get from three different people, I’ll write a short fic that has to
include all three of those elements.
That’s it! I look forward to seeing your suggestions…and figuring out how to make them fit together!
Update: I’m still working on my first committee prompted fic and it’s going along swimmingly (and that has nothing to do with the suspicious pool of water that was one of the prompts, hehe)! In fact it’s past 4500 words now because I think I’ve forgotten how to write short one-shots or something and this fic is definitely going to be the intro story to a long fic I’ve been wanting to write. 😀 I probably should be writing Hawkquisition part 5 (concurrent with Trespasser) first because this long fic is more like Hawkquisition part 6 but I am the muse’s servant and I’ll write what I can when I can, right?
Anyway this is just a reminder that I’m still taking prompts for this game. I have one prompt for the next fic after this one I’m writing now; need two more people to chime in to get the three prompts the game calls for! So if you have an idea of something you’d like to see in one of my Fenhawke family stories (or something totally random you want to challenge me to fit in, ha), send an ask and I’ll save it up for the next installment!
And in the meantime, have a snippet from the current WIP:
Mal couldn’t sit still at dinner. Not even Papa Metis’ tale of the
adventure Auntie Mae had sent him on that day could undistract the boy from the
memory of kittens. Da and Mum exchanged a knowing look as Mal wriggled in his
seat and finally blurted out, “Can I be excused?”
Da regarded him with an eyebrow raised. “You’ve not finished your
“Too full for dessert?” Mum grinned.
Mal wavered. “Well…”
“I believe Orana’s been experimenting with some sort of
combination pie,” Papa Metis said. “Peach and blueberry.”
Ordinarily such a combination would have won his full attention,
but at the moment the word peach only put him in mind of a tiny bundle
of orange fur down in Darktown. Mara had liked that kitten so much. Papa would
like it too, Mal was sure; it was as orange as Metis’ favorite fruit and nearly
as red as both Metis’ and Mara’s hair. Surely such a kitten was meant to
be part of their family.
“Don’t want pie,” Mal muttered, too stricken by the unfairness of
abandoning the kitten to the undercity to be distracted by mere sugar.
Mum’s eyes narrowed. “Are you feeling all right, Malcolm?”
“Fine,” he huffed, but Mum’s eyes narrowed even further as Da and
Papa turned to look at him too. “Just wanna go out and play,” Mal wheedled,
widening his eyes as winsomely as he knew how.
Da hid a smiile behind his hand and Mum sighed. “Two more bites of
your turnips, then you can go.”
Mal brightened. “Aw. Just one bite?”
“Three more bites of your turnips,” Mum
amended, fixing him with a stern glare befitting their family name. Mal groaned
and gave up, forcing down the requisite three bites. Then, when Da nodded in
approval, he slipped from his seat and scurried out the door.
I read a lot of writing in my line of work and while that’s amazing, I see the same flaws again and again. Below is a list of 7 common writing mistakes in fiction and how you can fix them. This list is by no means complete. In fact there’s a great list over at The Editor’s Blog that covers even more mistakes.
1. Bad dialogue
Sometimes writers can forget that they’re writing a conversation and thus not write a conversation. The dialogue can be boring, stilted and unnatural, and I’d rather listen to the territorial call of an Australian Raven than read one more word of it.
There are many things that contribute to bad dialogue, but here are the three that really get on my nerves:
Not using contractions–I’ve seen work that is modern and still doesn’t use contractions. Consider this: “You are going to be late.” Unless the speaker is trying to sound like an irritated mother and is leaving an emphatic silence between each word to sound threatening, use contractions. It sounds really drawn out and like the speaker is pointing their nose in the air. We generally don’t speak like this in real life, so neither should your characters.
Using complete sentences–Not only is it natural for your characters to chop their sentences, this can also contribute to their voice. Does your character say “I don’t know.” or “Dunno.” Would he/she say “I missed the train and had to find a lift home.” or “Missed the train. Had to find a ride.” In casual speech, we often only use the words necessary to convey our message, even if it doesn’t form a complete sentence. You shouldn’t apply this to every line of dialogue, but consider it if your dialogue sounds stale.
Using characters as a conduit for research and plot information–Sometimes writers like to show off their research (looking at you Jurassic Park), backstory, world building and plot by having their characters talk way too much. If your character says “Once this valley was home to an ancient race of elves, who looked after the land and treated it with respect. One day, the secret magic spring dried up and then the goblins came. Without their magic spring, the elves couldn’t fight back, and they were killed by the goblins. The goblins didn’t respect the land and now it’s uninhabitable.” he should probably shut up. It sounds less like a person talking than it does an audio tour. The information he’s shared could be given in a much more interesting way.
How you can fix it:
Listen to and watch the way real people talk to each other. Do they speak in full sentences with full words? Do they speak with grammatical correctness? Do they speak differently in different situations? How do hand gestures, body language and facial expressions help them communicate?
Read your dialogue out loud as if you’re practising lines for a movie. Does it sound natural? Does it flow?
Test every piece of information your characters give out. Does it all need to be said? Would your character say all of it at once? Do they need to say it all in so many words?
2. Passages of uninterrupted speech or thought
Sometimes you might want to avoid telling the reader about something and have a character tell another character instead. Sometimes you might want to avoid telling the reader how a character feels about something by having them think about it excessively instead. If this goes on for longer than a couple of paragraphs (or less), you risk allowing your reader to drift out of the scene.
The only thing anchoring your reader in the scene is your characters and what they’re doing. If the characters are talking or thinking for a long time without interacting with anyone or anything else, they might as well be floating in space, which can make the reader feel like they’re floating in space. That’s not to say that they’ve forgotten where the scene is taking place or who else is involved, just that it can feel that way if this is how the character acts.
How you can fix it:
If your characters have a lot to say, try to include the other characters as well. Have them ask questions or make comments so it feels like a scene and not a soliloquy.
If your character is around others when he/she is deep in thought, try to include the other characters in some way. If the POV character is thinking about something that the other characters can see, why not give voice to one of the other characters in between thought paragraphs?
If the character is alone when he/she is deep in thought, is there a way they can interact with their environment? Unless they’re standing in front of a wall, they should be able to see, smell, feel or hear something.
If your character is absolutely, completely lost in thought, is there a way you can bring some sort of image into it? For example, on page 216 of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Katniss is thinking about how to treat a burn she receives. Almost the entire page is a paragraph describing a memory; however, there is still action in this memory and, therefore, there is something for the reader to imagine.
3. Not knowing when to/not to use said
Some people will tell you to use descriptive speech tags and others will tell you there’s nothing wrong with said. Both are true, but when do you follow the former and when do you follow the latter? And when do you use no speech tags at all?
Using anything but said and using nothing but said both get exhausting and boring very fast.
How you can fix it:
Below is a rough guide to what kind of speech tag to use. Please bear in mind that it is only a guide and will not and should not apply to every situation.
Said is unobtrusive–a way of letting the reader know who’s talking without making a song and dance about it. Specific verbs (e.g. whispered, shouted, mumbled) give the reader information about how the words are being said. Adverbial tags can also give extra information about how something is being said, but more often than not they can be replaced with a stronger verb (e.g. she said loudly can be replaced with she shouted). Writers can also fall into the trap of telling where it’s better to show when using adverbial tags, which can make the writing bland. Sometimes telling is better, but with speech tags, it’s usually better to absorb the reader in the conversation. If you’ve used an adverbial tag, go back and have a look at it. Is there a better way you could get the message across?
What you need to pay attention to when determining what speech tags to use is the context of the speech. If the reader is already aware of the manner in which a character is talking, it won’t be necessary to remind them every time the character speaks. If there are only two characters in the conversation, it won’t be necessary to finish each quote with he said/she said. Going back to #2, you can also do away with speech tags entirely and use action to demonstrate how a character is feeling, while also grounding the reader in the scene.
The key to avoiding repetition and blandness is to find a balance between using the unobtrusive said, using something more specific, and mixing it up with a bit of action, which means you might not even need a tag at all.
4. Too much description/overwriting
Sometimes it’s better to tell and not show. Some details just aren’t important enough to warrant a lengthy description. If you want your reader to know that it’s raining, you can write something better than “It was raining”, but there’s no need to go overboard and write a poem about how the puddles on the asphalt looked like a great abyss.
Think of description like camera focus. The more you describe something, the more focus you put on it. If you put enough focus on something, you eliminate everything else. What’s this? A close-up. What does a close-up in a movie tell you? That object of the close-up is significant.
Be wary: when you write thirty words describing the way the moonlight is reflecting off the inky black lake, you might not be just setting the scene. You might also be giving the lake undue emphasis, and it’s probably going to irritate your reader when they realise there’s nothing significant about the lake at all, you were just showing off your imagery skills.
How you can fix it:
Keep it real. What would the character notice, what would they think about it and is it worth the attention? And try not to focus on sight. Your characters have more than one way to perceive their environment, and incorporating their other senses can help build a 3D setting for your reader rather than just painting them a picture. Give the reader enough to imagine the scene, and no more.
5. Not knowing when to/not to use adverbs
There’s a lot of writing advice out there that will tell you to cut all adverbs. The result is that many writers now think adverbs exist only to eat their children and wouldn’t dare to ever use one.
There is truth to the advice, but to say “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”? Really, Stephen King? And his dandelion analogy assumes there’s no editing process.
Adverbs aren’t evil, but there is such a thing as using them ineffectively. Which of the below are more descriptive?
She ran quickly or She sprinted
“It’s a long way down,” he said nervously or “It’s a long way down,” he said
He was shamefully prone to anxiety or He was prone to anxiety
She sprinted not only gets to the point faster, it also creates a more powerful image for the reader. “It’s a long way down,” he said gives no indication of how the speaker is speaking or feeling; however, “It’s a long way down,” he said nervously is telling, not showing. Rather than using an adverb here, the writer could describe the speaker’s body language. He was shamefully prone to anxiety tells you how the character feels about being prone to anxiety and there is no stronger word to replace “shamefully prone”.
How you can fix it:
How would the meaning of the sentence change if the adverb was removed?
Can the adverb and verb be replaced by a single verb?
Does the action really need clarification?
Does the adverb add something to the sentence that can’t be described in another way?
6. No conflict in the beginning
The first few chapters of a lot of stories I’ve read involve the main character plodding along in their daily life. This is a good thing as the reader needs to get a feel for your character before the big plot things happen, but that doesn’t mean the first few chapters should be without conflict. I don’t want to read about a character waking up, looking at themselves in the mirror, getting dressed, getting coffee, going to work, getting home, going on a date etc. for three chapters. It’s boring and I don’t care about any of it.
The confusion might be caused by common story structure theories that say the main conflict enters the story at the first plot point, or 25% into the story. But this doesn’t mean there should be zero conflict at the beginning! At the beginning of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Harry was told ‘no funny business’ or he’d be grounded. Not long after that, there was some vanishing glass and an escaped boa constrictor. After this happened there was a mysterious letter addressed to Harry, and he spent an entire chapter trying to get hold of it as the weirdness escalated. There’s conflict and a goal right off the bat, and the story hasn’t even really started yet. In The Hunger Games Katniss faces the Reaping. In The Hobbit Bilbo finds himself hosting a dinner party for dwarfs and being asked to go and fight a dragon.
How you can fix it:
Take a look at all the books you’ve read. Most of them (if not all) start with some sort of problem or goal. Study up on this to help you realise what makes a good beginning.
Don’t fill your first few chapters with characterisation and nothing else. Build your character in the context of a problem or goal.
Keep in mind that you find your characters more interesting than your reader does. What you like about your character might not be enough to keep the reader’s interest.
What’s going on in your character’s life? How is this going to influence what happens when the conflict or story goal takes the stage?
What would happen if you cut your beginning out of the story? Would the plot still make sense? Maybe it’s better to start the story at a later point.
7. Lack of story structure
When you write a first draft, whether you’ve planned it or not, there are going to be structural flaws. Maybe halfway through you thought of a way to solidify a character’s motivation. Maybe at the climax you thought of a way to strengthen your conflict. Maybe somewhere in the middle you had no idea where you were going with this and slugged your way through some boring scenes. It’s all good; this is how stories come together.
What should happen next is that you revise your draft with story structure in mind. There’ll be a lot of “I should add a scene here about this” and “what was I thinking when I wrote that?” and after a few goes, you’ll have a story.
Writers don’t always do this though (which, by the way, makes my job take longer and cost more). They’ll go through and fix all of the obvious problems, but what remains is a manuscript that still lacks a solid structure. It’s messy to read, it’s confusing, it’s clearly not thought out, and it feels like the writer is giving me the finger. I’ll regret paying for the book, stop reading it and leave a negative review on Goodreads. Is that worth not giving your book a good edit?
How you can fix it:
Read a lot. Make sure you have a decent grasp on different story structures. Make sure you understand the way stories progress, the way they’re paced and what keeps the reader engaged.
Re-outline. Or if you pantsed your way through the first draft, make an outline. Write a checklist for what each scene should accomplish and what each chapter should accomplish. Make a timeline of how the events progress and how the tension increases. Don’t base this on what you’ve written, base it on what you’ve figured out about your plot.
Edit ruthlessly. If a scene doesn’t measure up to your new plan, cut it. If it’s in the wrong place, move it.