Tag Archive: advice

For over a week I have endured the horror that has been the Forbidden Fruit series. Having finally come to the end of that long, bleak tunnel filled with inappropriate penile metaphors, I would like to offer some advice to fanfic writers.

Red Lines of Death – Turn on your spell checker and actually use it.  All those red wavy lines are there for a reason – you suck at spelling. There is no shame in this; if there were not so many crappy spellers then spell-checkers would not exist. You cannot rely on your awesome natural ability to magically produce the right words. This is a time when the emotionless machine does, in fact, know more than you.

 Pop an ALL CAPS in Your Ass – There are certain things that should be capitalized, such as proper nouns and the beginning of sentences.  Capitalizing every single damned thing your character says is a very bad thing – in most circles, using ALL CAPS conveys shouting or strong emotion. It should be used sparingly or not at all. Having your characters constantly yelling at each other is just silly and annoys your audience.

Chameleon McChangiepants – So you have this list of character names a mile long and each one is a precious gem; fine. Pick ONE and use that ONE for the character. Add it to your browser’s spell checker so that you will not misspell it. Do not change the spelling whenever you feel like it.

The Wonderful World of … That Place  – Writing something like “We was out in the woods.” or “It was a typical school.” does absolutely nothing to convey to your audience what you are trying to describe. You don’t have to go overboard and describe every brick and window frame, (You are trying to paint a picture with your words, not club a baby seal to death with them) but some rough outlines are appreciated by your intended audience.

To The Library! – In these modern times, it is possible to find almost anything on the Internet, if you look hard enough.  You have no excuse to half-ass things – Do the damned research. Watching a special on the History Channel will not cut it. You will have a better story in the end.

This is Some Good Shit – Drug or alcohol use does not automatically equal “evil” – most drug addicts care more about getting their next fix then about doing “evil”. “Doing drugs” can also cover any number of substances, from prescription medications to street drugs to common household items like paint thinner, and not all of these substances will make a person behave in the same way. Again, do the research. If a character needs to behave a certain way while under the influence, find a drug that has those symptoms or make one up, don’t just use the catch-all phrase “[character] did some drugs.”

“Informal” is Not Writerese for “Half-Assed” –You cannot write something that looks like it should be scrawled on a truck stop’s bathroom wall and excuse it by saying that it is “informal”. Most creative writing can be considered informal; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort to clean it up and make it presentable.

The Eternal “I” – If you are writing a first-person story, every sentence shouldn’t begin with “I”.  First-person narrative often mimics spoken language; if every sentence you speak starts with I, then you may want to do some serious self-examination.

LEGO Anatomy – If you are writing a sex scene, it is a good idea to be familiar with human anatomy beyond the vague notion that “Tab A goes into Slot B”. I’m not saying you should go out and shag the first person you see or spend hours watching porn; but as someone with access to the Internet, you can familiarize yourself with the basic equipment involved. (Reading a Danielle Steele novel does not count as research.) Try Wikipedia; they’re are plenty of pictures of genitalia on Wikipedia. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, don’t write graphic sex scenes. The same goes for any mature subject matter (rape, abuse, drug addiction, etc…); if you don’t feel comfortable reading about it when you research it, you probably shouldn’t be writing about it.

Death to Mary Sue – If you don’t know what a Mary Sue is, you should. There are a number of “litmus tests” on the Internet that can help you determine if your character is, in fact, a Mary Sue. Google “Mary Sue litmus test”, you’ll find thousands of them. A quick way to spot one; if the character does everything better than everyone, even canon characters who are experts in that particular field, you have a Mary Sue.

Euphawillies – It is called a penis. It is not a flesh sword, a man-carrot, a love wand, a gigglestick, or a man-fruit thing. Unless you are writing a comedy, such terms are better off not being used.

Beta to the Max! – Over at Fanfiction.net, they have an excellent beta reader program. Betas act as peer reviewers, reading through to check spelling and grammar, as well as offering notes about specific points and problems. Betas are a valuable resource for the fledgling writer;  a good beta will not fix all your problems for you, but they will suggest ways you can fix them yourself.


I love Netflix.

I especially love the streaming video offered by Netflix, although I still get discs as well.

Next on the Netflix agenda...

Lately I have been watching the original The Twilight Zone series, with the eventual goal of watching all one hundred-thirty eight episodes. So far I’ve seen fifty and I’m moving at a fair clip. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any of them and I’ve noticed a few things. Besides the rockin’ theme music.


Production values – typical for the time period (the series began in 1959) and if you watch enough episodes you see some very obvious recycling of props and scenery. That’s to be expected, shows do that even now. I did spot a “rocketman” wearing what appeared to be an old-fashioned (by today’s standards) leather football helmet that had been painted what I assume was silver. It is in black and white, after all. All the settings, even those that are supposed to be in the future, look very Sixties. In the second season there were about a half-dozen episodes that look very odd because they were shot using videotape instead of film in an effort to cut the budget. The lack of freedom and the quality of the picture put an end to that. Similar budget concerns regarding the number of actors involved in the series led to one of my favorite episodes, The Nervous Man in the Four Dollar Room which has exactly three roles and two are played by the same actor.

A classic of dramatic self-exploration brought to you because of budget cuts.

Story – Ah, the stories. Classics now and rightfully so in my opinion. Wonderfully written and amazingly creative even by today’s standards. The very first season has many of the episodes that would go on to become classics. The second season, so far, is good but not quite as good as the first.

Many of the story elements used by other series originated with Twilight Zone. Rod Sterling used the vehicle of science fiction and fantasy as a way to sneak social commentary past the censors of the day. Aside from the few minor anachronisms, mostly regarding the prices of various items, the progress of technology, and the omnipresent smoking, the episodes stay pretty relevant. My very favorite episode is, of course, Time Enough at Last.

The look on his face ... it breaks my heart every time.

I am an old-school reader.

Give me a book and I’m happy. I could, and have, read for days on end.

I also wear glasses, big thick glasses that I would be nearly blind without.

Stylish, ain't they?

If I somehow survived a nuclear holocaust, I would probably do exactly what Burgess Meredith does; secure enough reading material to last me until the day I die. I would line the walls of my bunker with paperbacks.If I ran out of food I would eat the books I didn’t want to read anymore.

Low in nutrition but high in fiber.

All in all, if you have Netflix and can watch the streaming video, I recommend the original The Twilight Zone. It’s a wonderful series, masterfully written and timeless.

Watch it.


The H Word

I love hipsters.

It is my dearest wish in life to sit in a coffee shop in my flannel footie pajamas, drinking fair trade soy lattes that I borrowed money from friends to buy and use a Mac laptop to post poorly worded comments about how mainstream various things are.




Oh, I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t keep a straight face.

Hoo, boy.

For those of you who have no idea what a hipster is; welcome to the Internet!

I hope you aren't having trouble reading this on your Commodore 64, Captain Time Travel.

Hipsters are everywhere on the Internet and are almost universally despised. It would seem that the only person who can tolerate a hipster is another hipster. Hipster culture seems to be nothing more than an incredibly elaborate metaphorical penis measuring contest over who is the least concerned with popular culture.

Like this, but ...different.

This is achieved by a near-obsessive following of popular culture just so you can keep track of what you don’t like this week.

For some reason that escapes me, an entire subculture has grown up around buying expensive yet ugly clothes, poor personal grooming habits, and embracing things “ironically” while trying your damnedest to look as if you care less than anyone else. I’m puzzled that this has happened, when hipsters seem to to inspire an intense hatred in anyone who isn’t another hipster. But even non-hipsters are starting to dress in part like hipsters do.

Hell, even I have a pair of hipster-ish “geeky” glasses.

They make me look smart AND keep me from running into things!


Why are tight sweaters, hoodies, epic mustaches and beards, and Converse sneakers suddenly so popular?

These people look as if their mothers dressed them.

Your parents are now fashionable. Feel free to begin screaming at any time.

These people, these so-called hipsters, claim to loathe the mainstream.

They are the mainstream.

Hipsters are everywhere. In magazines, on the Internet, even on TV.

Okay... That's kinda creepy.

It’s trendy, a fad; it’s popular for people to dress like hobos, drink PBR and complain about how no one understands how indie they are.

We understand, Twinkie. We just don’t care.

I had boots like that but now they're so mainstream.

If these “hipsters” truly believed in what they claim to, they wouldn’t care what they looked like or who saw them on their fixie listening to whatever gods-awful band no one has heard of this week.

My advice – Grow up, stop acting like pretentious asshats, and maybe develop an opinion of your own.

Things I wish people wouldn’t say

In my continuing effort to “help” people while do as little actual work as possible, today I’m going to list a few things I wish people wouldn’t say to me and give the reasons why I wish people would stop saying these things to me. Onward to adventure!

1.) “Does this look infected to you?”


I am not a doctor.

Your friends, unless they are actually doctors, are not doctors.

 I work in an office;  If you would like me to tell you if something looks collated, I could do that for you because I’m all about that shit.

While I care as deeply as I can about your physical well-being, do not shove your pus-dripping body parts in my face –  I can’t help you with that and will probably scream like a small child and faint.

2.) “Does this taste/smell bad to you?”


Did it taste or smell bad to you?

 Did the thick, fetid reek make tears come to your eyes and vomit into your throat? 

Then it probably does to me as well. Don’t feel that you need to share that special experience with me.

3.) “Can I ask you something?”





4.)  “I have so many problems!”


Do me a favor – before you corner someone and start listing the many many things that are so very wrong with you, stop at take a good look at the person in front of you.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

That’s a live human being (at least, I sincerely hope it is) and it may come as a surprise to you to find out that live human beings have problems. Every single one of them.  Dead human beings have a different set of problems, but we won’t go into that today.

5.) “You working hard or hardly working? Ha ha ha!” (Laughter is mandatory)


Please stop this. It’s not funny and any laughter you get is polite pity-laughter, the same thing you would receive if you bashed yourself on the thumb with a hammer. 

 Every time I hear these words strung together in this way I die a little on the inside.