July 25, 2011

Other Stuff You Shouldn't Do (As a Writer) part 2

Part 1 here. These are things not normally highlighted in Do and Don't lists, which I learned in fandom. These last two are less about craft, and more about not being a douchebag.

Other Stuff You Shouldn't Do As a Writer

Don't use real life tragedy as atmosphere for your story.

Or if you must use real life tragedies--such as the earthquake+tsunami in Japan or 9/11--as your novel's setting, it must be done very, very carefully because chances are high you're going to end up hurting a whole lot of people.

A fanfic writer once prefaced her story, in her own words, "The Haiti earthquake was still in the news and the more I saw about it, the more I wanted to use it until it seemed like the best idea ever." She proceeded to use Haiti post-earthquake as the backdrop for two privileged white characters falling in love.

Predictably, the backlash was extreme and the story was taken down.

If you're going to do this as a writer, research research research and make sure there is an infallible plot or character-related reason that is NOT simply to provide an ~exotic backdrop~ or ~create atmosphere~ for the characters.

Mind your ego.

Once, a friend of mine pointed out (politely) how she felt something was out of character in a fanfic. Writer of said fanfic and a bunch of her friends then dogpiled her for daring to voice her opinion. Said fanfic writer went on to say "I don't think someone who has only written 1 story and got 30 reviews should tell someone like me, who was written over 100 stories and gotten reviews in the high hundreds on several, and over a thousand on one, that my writing is OOC. I know it isn't exactly IN character, but it's FANFICTION. It is damn impossible to get the characters exactly in character. But I make a damn good effort and I do a hell of a lot better than you do."

Do. Not. Do this.

Having over a thousand reviews on a story (or let's say, being a NYT Bestseller) means you wrote a story that a lot of people enjoyed for any number of reasons. What it does NOT guarantee is quality and, in terms of fandom, IC (in character) characters. And it certainly doesn't give anyone the right to treat someone without the same "credentials" as beneath her just because she gave it negative feedback.

In short, be awesome. Anything else you guys want to add?

Have a great week!


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