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darktyranitar
2nd June 2007, 03:15 AM
The Fanfiction Forum E-zine

June 2007



Table of contents

Editor's words
– darktyranitar


The Grammar Nazi – He Said, She Said
– mr_pikachu


Shiny Like a Star!
– Houndoom_Lover


Such Language!: "Bad Words" and Fanfiction
– Master of Paradox





Editor's words


May have been a fairly slow month for fanfic – but hopefully with the coming of summer, things will starti to pick up pace. The Writer Lounge did see some activity going – the grammar thread, the Smiley Town, and the May writing contest (which received a fair amount of entry) – although the fanfic trivia game could use some activity.

On to this month's E-zine: mr_pikachu is back with another article of the Grammar Nazi, while Master of Paradox wrote an interesting article on an aspect of the fanfic and first time E-zine writer Houndoom_Lover wrote an article that focus on some various aspect on fanfic.

Anyway, do look out for the upcoming Golden Pen awards. Enjoy this issue of the E-zine - and the summer - and don't forget to drop by at fanfic.


~darktyranitar




The Grammar Nazi – He Said, She Said
mr_pikachu


(The Grammar Nazi is not affiliated in any way with Nazi Germany or Adolf Hitler.)


Anyone who’s ever written a dialogue knows the basics about quotation marks – and if they don’t, their writing was probably completely indecipherable. But not everyone knows the intricacies of using quotes.


Quotation marks are most commonly used to enclose speech, as in the aforementioned dialogue. But their usage varies depending on a variety of factors. Consider, first, the following example.


“Good morning.”


Here you see a single sentence that has been quoted. Although the speaker isn’t listed, it should be clear that this is speech. Note the double quotes (“”) around the sentence. We call the first of these the opening quote mark, and the second one the closing quote mark.


Now consider the next sentence:


‘Good morning.’


Believe it or not, this is also correct. Both examples may be used with equal legitimacy in all of the same situations.


But there’s a catch. The one thing that distinguishes the two examples is the country of usage. For instance, writers in the U.S. generally use double quotes to encapsulate speech. U.K. authors tend to use single quotes instead. For the purposes of this column, we will use the U.S. style of quotations. To get the opposite style, simply substitute single quotes for all double quotes and vice-versa.


Things get trickier when you consider a quote within a quote, or nested quotations. It can be difficult to distinguish who is saying what if you have a bunch of people talking about what others have said. Therefore, when you have a series of nested quotations, it is best to alternate between single and double quotes, as follows.


“Susie said, ‘I hate cheese.’”


As you can see, the single quote is used for Susie’s speech, since it is within the speech of the narrator (which uses double quotes). If you have more nested quotations than this, simply alternate back and forth between single and double quotations. For instance, if Susie quoted somebody else in the previous example, that text would use a double quote. But if the narrator quoted both Susie and somebody else, the second speaker would not be within Susie’s speech, so that text would be within a separate set of single quotes.


Another tricky exception occurs when you have a quotation that spans multiple paragraphs. In fact, certain stories and novels are almost entirely comprised of a single monologue, and those lend themselves to such multi-paragraph quotes. In such cases, writers should begin each quoted paragraph with an appropriate opening quotation mark (or if the paragraphs are spanned by a nested quote, they should begin with all the proper opening quote marks). However, the closing quote mark need not be given until the very end of the quotation, regardless of how many paragraphs are within the quote.


Quotation marks don’t just go around quoted text, however. They can also be used to show irony or sarcasm. For instance:


My mom said she was too “busy” to take me to the mall.


As you can see here, the word “busy” is used in a sarcastic manner by the speaker.


This is a technique that should be used scarcely, as overuse can obscure a writer’s intended meaning. Furthermore, it is contrasted with simply adding emphasis to a word. Using quotation marks for that effect is actually incorrect. Ironic quotation marks are fine, but simple emphatic quote marks will get you into trouble.


Quotation marks may also be used to refer to a specific word. Consider the following:


The word “radar” sounds weird.


As you see here, the quote marks are around the word “radar,” which apparently has an odd rhythm. This is a reference to a specific word. However, referring to the concept behind the word using quote marks is wrong – only the word itself may be referenced in this manner. An example of an incorrect usage might occur like this:


A plane’s “radar” sounds weird.


Instead of referring to the word itself, this time “radar” refers to the actual technology. Therefore, it should not have the quote marks that encompass it.


Finally, quotation marks can denote titles, whether they are the names of artistic works or the nicknames of people. Visual artwork like sculptures and paintings, short literary pieces such as poems and magazine articles, auditory works like music tracks, and nicknames such as “Nat ‘King’ Cole” all should be surrounded by quotes.


Admittedly, you may not need to know all of these rules to get published. Some of them are every bit as obscure as the dozens of comma laws, and we skipped many of those. However, the main ideas are crucial to your success as a writer. No editor wants to read through multiple nested quotes that are as confusing as poor computer code. And if you can’t even adhere to your local standards for basic quotations, no one will want to waste their time interpreting your personal language.


While some leeway may be granted if you break some of the minute canons of quotes, the major ideas behind quotation marks are one of the few parts of grammar that you really shouldn’t break, even if it is for effect. There’s no good reason to do it, so why break the rules if you won’t gain something for your trouble?



http://mud.mm-a7.yimg.com/image/3737630782



Shiny like the stars!
Houndoom_Lover


Yes, so with a simple drop down menu, you can vote for anyone’s fan fiction…so why don’t you? What makes a story rate-able, you may ask? Well, I dug deep to find out, but first, what is a fan fiction, anywho?


By definition, a fan fiction is a fiction written by a fan of something. The fiction is usually written because a person enjoys what they are writing about. And generally, fanfiction usually fall in two categories, Romance or Adventure, but enough about that, what makes a good fanfiction?


Plot: The plot happens to be the most important part of the fanfiction!! Even if your characterization is dog awful, if you have a good plot, you’ll get readers. A plot should contain an opening or an intro of sorts, maybe introducing the characters or the situation of the fic. Then comes the body, the majority of the fanfiction should be how the plot unfolds, and then finally is the conclusion. Will it a good ending, or a bad ending?


Characters: In a fanfiction there are two kinds of characters. If you stick with characters that already exist, it’s nice to write their personality like it was meant to be.

Two characters are in a cafe, one spills a drink on the other. Was it deliberate? What do they say to each other? Why are they in a café? You should make sure that each personality is in check. As an example…


“Incorrect”


Joey Wheeler entered a café. He ordered coffee and sat down; suddenly Weevil Underwood spilled his rather hot drink on Joey.

Weevil said he was sorry and walked away.


Here, you cannot tell why Joey is in the stupid place, and both character’s personality are ‘wrong’.


“Correct”


Joey Wheel entered a café, because it was raining, and he wanted something warm. He ordered coffee to avoid over thinking and causing the people behind him to wait. Finally, with drink in hand, he picked a seat far away from the window and sat down. Suddenly, Weevil Underwood walked by, casually spilling a rather hot drink on Joey.


Weevil said he was sorry, but sounded as though he hardly ment it. Joey then proceeded to break the law and some other things on Weevil’s person.


Now, if you want to add your own character, let me say one thing; ROUND-ROUND-ROUND!

Why is Severus Snape more enjoyable than Harry Potter? Because he has a background we’ll never know about but hinted at, a tragic thickness that is both good and evil. Such complexity is what makes a character round.


What character would you rather read about?


A tall blond woman enters a café. Her beauty blinded everyone, and she was rich with a very good job, and an elf to boot.


OR


A tall blond woman enters the café. Her beauty could be seen, seen just like the fact that she looked rich, and maybe with a good job. But at what price? She had to whore herself every night and had eight sexual transmitted diseases.


Okay, well…you get the deal ^_^. I can’t say what it right and what is wrong, these are meagre opinions of some no-face like me…Let’s see what the stars have to say!!!



Mega Horny on the topic of Dark Sage : What a –not allowed to be posted


Um…moving on…Then I asked Mega Horny what he thought about Gavin Luper. His remarks are short but sweet!



Great writer


Finally, I asked him what he had to provide to writers…



…Reading a lot helps…trying reading failures and figure out why the sucked and avoid going that.


Good stuff! ^_^ Then I asked Blademaster what he thought about Dark Sage, and to this he refused to awnser, fearing I’d lose an interview I asked (and then begged) him on his feels of Gavin Luper


Gavin a good writer, but I don’t read his works any more…he’s too smart for me!!

Then I asked him what he would say to new writers, and his reply was;



Don’t do what I did


Isn’t he super cute!? Go read some of his fanfictions right now!!!

Finally, I interviewed none other than D_T! Yes, yes, calm down. I asked D_T what he thought about Dark Sage, and he told me;



I can’t say I read….skimmed…it looks good


Then, I had the honour to ask another question!!! I asked what he thought about Gavin Luper. D-T replied;



Lisa the Legend is a really good fic that everyone should read! Read or Die!!!


OOooo! Me oh my! It was my lucky day, because D_T allowed me one more question….What would he like young writers to know?



If you don’t try it(writing), then you’ll never know if you are good or not. So get your brain running and start writing!

Well, that’s it for now! Thanks for reading, and I hope that helped, though I’m sure it didn’t. So, get out and practise! Try posting in our fanfiction board, or join a site, like Fanfiction.net…though I heard rumour that Mr.Pikachu doesn’t like that site, so better post it here, just to be on the safe side…and go be a star!!!

~Doctor W.A.R 05/30/07




Such Language!: "Bad Words" and Fanfiction
Master of Paradox



(A disclaimer: the very nature of this essay requires that harsh language be used.)



Let us face it - unless you are of an exceedingly polite or religious temperment, at some point in your life, you've let off a string of foul language. Vulgarity is the least damaging of the human "relief valves", a way to let out stress without causing someone pain, at least on a physical level. As a result, most people have cursed at least once in their lives, and that is probably lowballing the total. Even if it's just under their breath.



Your characters in fanfiction are probably going to have rather rough lives, since otherwise the story wouldn't go anywhere, and thus it's likely that they'll feel the need to let off stress in a way that doesn't injure anyone. Even if they are the type to pound on something in order to let the pressure off, odds are still good they won't be silent in the process. Should they be lucky enough to avoid such misfortunes, it may still be the case that they use foul language for other reasons - whether as a result of their upbringing, in surprise, or whatever justification.



And thus we raise the question: how and why should one use vulgar language in fanfiction? The answer is severalfold, and involves the character's personality, the cultural background, and the tone you are trying to set.



First of all, consider your tone. Generally, the lighter a story is, the less likely characters are to curse. Using silly euphemisms (see further in this article) is indeed one form of humor. If a story is aiming for a more serious tone, meanwhile, the characters are more likely to swear.



Be careful not to be gratutious, however! If you are using vulgarity simply for its shock value, your story will come across as immature. It is considered bad form to suddenly add harsh language in order to "darken" a story; readers are going to scratch their heads when someone starts yelling "Hey, bitch!" out of nowhere.



The question of whether or not a character curses is most easily settled with canon characters. There you have actual proof as to whether or not a character uses foul language - simply watch the show again (or play the game, or read the book, or whatever source you're drawing on) and see whether or not they do.



Of course, this doesn't work for certain programs; most anime marketed towards children comes to mind, as even if the characters did swear it was likely cut out of the American version. 4Kids is notorious for doing this. (Most people know this, but in the original Japanese version Rebecca Hawkins, a young girl with a teddy bear, cursed like a sailor... because that's they view Americans in Japan.) In this case, do as you would if you were coming up with the character yourself, and be warned that the fans will jump you if they think you screwed up.



In the case of original characters, the question becomes more difficult to answer. Here, it all comes down to how the character acts in general. Allow me to give you a couple of examples from my own stories, as it's easier than just dealing with generics.



In "Shadow Realm: Fifteen", we have the titular character, the Witty Phantom Fifteen. Fifteen is in what amounts to the local working class, but his line of work is white-collar - he's a bureacrat who happens to be low on the hierarchy. In addition, he aspires to a certain amount of urbanity, but admits to himself that he isn't about to achieve it. For the most part, Fifteen does not swear throughout the story, at least not anything seriously offensive, but he does not completely abstain - in fact, his unofficial catchphrase in the story is "Ah, damn", said when something goes seriously wrong.



On the other hand, in "Yu-Gi-Oh: Tilting the Balance", we have Laura Vesnic. Laura is from a rather low-class background (although not much of her past is known to the reader for the most part), and has a rather... physical bearing. She also has a short temper and little patience with anything, friend or enemy. Laura has what may be the foulest mouth of the group, at least in comparison to the company she keeps. (By contrast, the story's main character, Gerald Laxina, uses as much vulgarity as he does exclamation points - in other words, almost none.)



While these are very bare-bones generalizations, characters from a blue-collar background tend to use more in the way of foul language than those of a less physical background. Hang around a group of construction workers for about an hour and you'll likely come away knowing words you'd never find in Webster's Dictionary. In addition, although this is likely obvious given the most common usage of swearing, the more irritable the character the more likely they are to curse, even when not angry.



Which brings us to the next point, "casual" obscenities versus "harsh" ones. To put it simply, some words just aren't as foul as they once were. In the 1800s, you were not supposed to say the word "Pants" in polite company - if you require proof, read Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, wherein a character describing his morning routine is told, "Ladies present" when he is about to mention putting on his pants; he substitutes "Shoes".



Generally, the words "hell" and "damn" have lost any power to offend (although the latter word has a variation that still has power; we will discuss it shortly). Even characters who would not typically curse may find themselves muttering, "What the hell?" Certain other words, such as "crap", are on the edge of vulgarity; while most people would not be offended by them, they still retain enough of their original obscenity that "genteel" characters would not use them. Words stronger than that, of course, are unambiguous.


Two other items deserve separate discussion: the word "bitch" and profanity.


Context is the issue when it comes to the word "bitch". Remember that its original meaning is simply "female dog" - one common joke is to have someone use the word in that context only to accidentally offend a listener. Used in the phrase "son of a bitch", it can mean many different things, depending on how it is used: insult ("you son of a bitch!"), surprise ("Son of a bitch, what was that?!?"), dismay ("Isn't this a son of a bitch?"), and so on. (Legendary film producer Samuel Goldwyn was infamous for this.) Used to refer to a woman, it is a mild slur, and will be discussed with such.


The original meaning of "profanity", a word which I have deliberately avoided using up to this point, is the use of a sacred word or image in a base context. This brings me to the one way in which the word "damn" can still have the power to offend - if prefaced with the word "God". Used this way, it joins the more serious words as far as vulgarity goes. Even a character who regularly says, "Damn it" is unlikely to use the seven-letter version.


The actual word "God" is a bit of a sticking point with some characters as well; while most characters, even religious ones, won't react too strongly to others using it "in vain", some might. In most cases, someone muttering "Oh, God..." is not going to draw ire from his counterparts; certain other uses, such as "God help us", verge on being prayers. Of course, if working with a fantasy universe, substitute whichever deity is appropriate (see: the Central Shadow Realm, where there are multiple deities and thus people tend to curse, "Oh, gods..." if not being specific). On a side note, depending on the culture, even atheistic characters are likely to say this - it's part of the upbringing.



As for one other eleven-letter two-word phrase, this is where the cultural background comes in. While I shy away from printing it here, it is most likely to come up in a country like the United States or another country with a strong Christian background, and is generally among the harsher words a character can use in those countries. Most anime characters come from Japan (pardon the obviousness), and thus are not likely to use the words (or the stronger version of "damn") in any sense. In fact, they may not know the words at all, as most Japanese people are unfamiliar with Christianity - Westerners are often amused to see such things as the cross or the Garden of Eden explained in anime or video games for the benefit of the original Japanese audience.


Some characters may still feel the need to verbally release their emotions but are not inclined to swear, and this is where euphemisms come in. Generally, euphemisms are more common than actual swearing in fanfiction, as the target audience is usually rather young (like the source material). Note, however, that extremely religious characters may still take offense to such terms as "darn" or "heck"... as much as I wish that were a joke.


One concern when it comes to euphemisms is tone - overly silly euphemisms, unless done deliberately for humor value, can ruin a story's feel... unless used carefully. The classic example is Stephen King's Misery, where Anne never uses anything stronger than "Darn" and yet still comes across as terrifying; there the reason is because her choice of language clashes with just about every other action she takes.


Uncommon euphemisms may be a character quirk. One that I have adopted for my own use in daily life is simply mouthing the word without speaking, so that it sounds like, "Oh, ____ it." This can be hard to get across in writing, of course. Then there is the "Wingding" or "comic strip" variation, where random symbols cover the word: "Oh, %#$@ it." This looks immensely silly and should rarely be used outside of comedy.


A common way to remove foul language while still having characters use it, and the way that may be most common, is simply to state that the character cursed but not write the actual words: "X swore under his breath." This is probably the most acceptable way of going about "cursing" without offending the readership.


I must issue a caveat at this point: all of the above statements apply to vulgarity, but not to the subject of racial and sexual slurs. There, you have stumbled into a completely different minefield... and one that I cannot help you with, as it's a rather tricky subject. You may wish to steer clear of having anyone, hero or villain, use a slur until you have a very firm grasp of this "writing" business; a mistimed usage will turn your entire readership against you.


The least dangerous form of slurring, it is sad to admit, is the use of misogynist language. As noted earlier, one form of the word "bitch" is as an insulting term applied to women. Generally, as long as the terms are not used casually (unless the characters are the sort that would), most readers will not take undue offense.


One final note before we move on: the question of using vulgarity in the narration. First-person narration is subject to the earlier discussion, as it's a matter of character. Second-person is rare enough that I'm unsure of how it would work, although I would think some of the above advice would apply. In third-person narration, unless the viewpoint is currently in the head of someone who uses foul language, avoid cursing entirely, much like you would avoid exclamation points when not in a character's mind.


In the end, vulgarity is part of the language, just like every other word in the OED, and is there to be used, just like all the other words. The only question is that of using it with care.

mistysakura
4th June 2007, 06:01 AM
Yay new e-zine :). Hehe nice advertising of the trivia game. The Grammar Nazi article was great; it answered what I asked in the Grammar Thread :P (although by that stage other helpful people had already answered, but hey. A comprehensive look is good.) And Master Of Paradox's article was really interesting; yeah it's hard to find that balance between "I am an innocent angel. I kill people, but I sure don't sound like it." and "I'm swearing just in case you didn't realise how 'urban' I am". Not that I'd ever have problems with teh latter. By the way, I can't think of that eleven-letter two-word phrase for the life of me. But I guess I don't want to be enlightened.

And Houndoom_Lover's article... Gavin's going to get a big head :P Hmm, actually, I think that Gavin's work can be described with many wonderful adjectives, but 'too smart' isn't one of them. The title is cute :) I disagree with the plot being the most important part of fanfiction though. It's certainly important, but I've read a lot of stuff with relatively little plot, and it's been the characterisation, really getting into the minds of the characters, and the writing style that have drawn me in. the reverse has happened too, of course; good plot, good characters, bland writing style... Most of the time it's flat characters that I despair over, because it means that I can't relate to the story at all. On a random note I also disagree that this "A tall blond woman enters a café. Her beauty blinded everyone, and she was rich with a very good job, and an elf to boot" must necessarily be a boring character. I don't think that good characters have to be outlandish or unusual in some way. It's digging deep into a character, finding out what drives them, what makes them laugh and cry that matters to me.

That turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. Oh well. Good job!

Master of Paradox
4th June 2007, 07:53 AM
To answer that question, since I've been asked a couple of times: the eleven-letter, two-word phrase can be initialed as "J. C.". I just feel rather uncomfortable writing it in full.

Houndoom_Lover
4th June 2007, 06:24 PM
Hehehehe ^_^, I was just making the usual Mary-Sue referancing. I suppose I could have done a bit more and a bit better, but the finals fell in an awkward moment of life >_<. Everyones thingys are so wonderful!! ^_^ I'm honoured to be one of them, Oeee!

Mega Horny
4th June 2007, 09:01 PM
Look, Houndoom_Lover. I was never told I was going to be interviewed for the E-Zine. Not to mention I'm misquoted.

I don't really know what the TPM rules are about this kinda stuff, but let me tell you that...well...Not cool.

mistysakura
4th June 2007, 09:55 PM
A PM has been sent to both of you about this.
MoP: yeah, fair enough that you don't want to post it.

Gavin Luper
5th June 2007, 03:11 AM
Great work on your first e-zine issue, Faiz! Another edition with some great variety and very interesting articles. A good read - though I admit I was pretty mortified by the last part of Houndoom_Lover's article.

And lastly - it's "Jesus Christ", no? A religious figure - or at least, a historical one, depending on which way you look at things. Personally, I don't think there is any need to shy away from merely mentioning the name; I actually think it's damaging to censor things like that. Rather than 'maintaining the sanctity' of the words, it makes it abnormal to hear them in their proper context or in a general discussion, and instead seems to preserve them purely for use as a (dubious) curse word. The more something is censored, the more it loses its actual meaning and instead develops a power to offend.

Having said that, I really enjoyed that article - the bit about not being allowed to say "pants" in front of women was something I hadn't heard before. Funny how much things change.

Master of Paradox
5th June 2007, 09:31 AM
I wasn't attempting to be a censor, Gavin; I simply find myself reluctant to say/type the words outright (unless I get angry). It's the hangover from a Catholic childhood.

Gavin Luper
5th June 2007, 11:07 AM
No worries, man. That was me getting up on my high horse for no good reason. I totally get where you're coming from, being a Catholic and all.

Sorry if I came off like an arrogant idiot ... I do that sometimes. :s:

Hyperness is a Good Thing
12th June 2007, 04:48 AM
Was just idly browsing through the Fanfic forum and this caught my eye... I started off with the Grammar Nazi article, it caught me up in it and ended up reading the whole e-zine. Just wanted to say, I really enjoyed Master of Paradox's article, interesting and educational(gosh I sound like a prat. *winces*). Kudos to faiz for a good job editing. ^_^

mr_pikachu
12th June 2007, 07:05 PM
Someone actually got absorbed in my article? Aww... I feel special. And surprised. ^_^;;

Very interesting article, Houndoom. I admit that I agree with some things and disagree with others, but that's because you really chose a difficult and controversial set of "theses" for your article. Nice job, though; it's always a good thing when you get people talking. (On a side note, since when is my hatred of the-site-which-should-not-be-named a rumor? ;))

Excellent topic for your piece as well, MoP. That's something I struggle with sometimes myself. It's a difficult thing, because I'm currently trying to write original works for a young audience, so it's hard to balance proper language and intensity. That one really hit home for me. You make very good points about the language fitting the characters; that's definitely crucial, and I was glad you mentioned the target audience as well. From what I've seen, that tends to be ignored sometimes in discussions of such matters. Anyway, good argument! I really liked the standards and conflicts you mentioned.

And Faiz, you deserve ample credit for finishing your first E-zine so soon into your modship. Very nice job! It looks sharp. :yes:

Houndoom_Lover
12th June 2007, 07:15 PM
HEhehe! ^_______^ Thanks! Not to bad for my first time, I suppose! It'll be better next time I try, I promise! And...It makes you sound mysterious! ^-^ Gals like mystery?