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Your Guide To Writing Fiction


by skycrowmor

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So you're wandering around Neopia one day, just casually browsing through the Neoboards and for some reason, clicking on User Lookups. All of a sudden, you happen to chance upon one with a Neopian Times trophy on it. Look at it... it's so shiny and golden and quill-shaped. "OMG!" you shriek, staring at it with your mouth hanging open. "How do I get one of those?!?!"

Well, that's what this article is for - to give you a step-by-step guide to writing that award-winning piece of fiction that will have the Neopian Times staff falling over each other to put it into their newspaper.

First of all, take a step back from the screen. Stop salivating over that trophy. Quit trembling. Breeeaathe. That's it.

Okay, now you've rejoined the human race, read on for the guide!

Choosing Which Type Of Entry You're Best At

To start with, you might want to choose what kind of entry you're best at - stories or series. If you think you're good at making up dynamic, original plots filled with heart-stopping action with terrifying cliffhangers, than I would advise you go for a series. On the other hand, if you tend to write better in short bursts, without having to keep slogging on with the same characters and plot, than stories might be the way to go for you. Of course, you don't have to decide this right from the word go, but it saves a lot of time and sounds more impressive when you brag to your friends. "I'm writing a series/story," sounds much more writer-y than going, "I'm writing something... dunno what it is, though."

Getting That Elusive Inspiration

Ah, the bane of a writer's life - inspiration. Worst word in the English language. You know you want to write something dazzlingly original that will make everyone fall to their knees in awe, but... what? Well, there are several ways of chasing that dastardly muse. The easiest one is sitting in a quiet room and staring into space until an idea falls into your head, but this isn't usually the most reliable method. A much better suggestion is to just surf the site. Go to the Explore page, close your eyes, and click on something. Then go to the place you've clicked on, and then repeat. The page you end up on is the thing you will write about - for instance, if you end up in the Meridell Food shop, then why not write about how the shopkeeper came to open a shop in the first place?

Another method I have found highly effective is going to the TCG Card Checklist. There are loads of TCG cards just sitting there, begging for someone to write something about them. For example, if you click on the Mystery Island TCG Card Checklist, ideas will just jump out at you - for instance, number 67 is named Undiscovered Treasure. Just think of all the stories you could make out of that! Or the TCG Card about the Ring of Weightlessness, number 96 - why not write a story about a Neopet who gets given it for his birthday, and his shortcomings while wearing it?

Planning

Not everyone likes to plan. Some people like to just jump straight into their piece of fiction and begin writing immediately. For those people who like to get their ideas down on paper, then continue reading! First, write down a short summary of what happens in the story: 'A Lupe is mistaken for Jeran while on a trip to Meridell. He decides to pose as the famous knight, and gets to bask in the glory. However, things get awkward when Jeran turns up at the castle, demanding to know who the imposter is.'

Okay, now we've got our summary. Now, write a scene-by-scene outline:

'-Lupe's name- goes to Meridell. He is mistaken for Jeran.

He is taken to the castle, where King Skarl welcomes him with a hearty feast.

He is attending a ball in the castle, and basks in the admiration of the others.

Jeran turns up, demanding to know who he is.'

You get the idea. If you are writing a series, than I would divide up the outline into each separate part. Try to make sure each part ends on an exciting cliffhanger, or right in the middle of the action.

How To Keep Focused

I've lost count of how many times I've sat down with a really good idea and a plot outline, determined to start writing this fantastic idea swimming smugly around in my head down on (virtual) paper, only to get distracted ten minutes into it. Eventually the motivation fades out of my head, and the idea is lost. So if I were you, I would find a quiet place to write - your bedroom is the most obvious option, but if you share with siblings, then the cupboard starts to seem very attractive! The bathroom is another good choice, but there might be irate people banging on the door if you stay in there too long... so, basically, find a quiet place, turn off everything (unless background noise helps you to write) and then force yourself to get that idea down. If it helps, you could print off a giant picture of a Neopian Times trophy and put it right in front of you, so if you look up, it will be staring at you, reminding you that this can be yours if you stop distracting yourself.

Editing

So you've written yourself a short story/series. Yay for you! Give yourself a congratulatory slap on the back, run around announcing to bemused friends and family that you have written a story/series, and then get that backside back down on that chair and start editing - you would have to be some sort of genius to write a perfect first draft. Run through your story and check for grammar and spelling mistakes, and then get up and do something else for half an hour, and do your best to forget about your precious manuscript. At the end of the half hour, go back and read your story as if you were reading it for the first time. Change any glaringly obvious plotholes and errors, and then give it to a trusted friend to read. Get them to tell you what you can improve, and then, surprisingly, improve it.

Submitting

Do you really need me to go through this?

Yes? Oh dear.

Very well, very well, I shall, then. Go to the Neopian Times, scroll down, and find that little icon of a pile of newspapers. It should say next to it, 'Submit your stories, articles and comics using the new submission form.' Amazingly, you click on this icon, and it takes you to the submission page. Submit your masterpiece under the correct entry form, and do a little dance - you've submitted to the Neopian Times!

Hopefully, a few days later you'll get a congratulatory neomail telling you that your entry has been accepted into the Neopian Times. Well done, you've written your very own story/series!

Now try not to salivate over your trophy too much; you're messing up the polish.

 
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