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Dogwood's Writing Bootcamp

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DRILL SERGEANT DOGWOOD IS BACK

AND SHE IS HERE TO TEACH YOU THE BASICS AND SOME HELPFUL TRICKS ABOUT GRAMMAR, WRITING, CHARACTERS, PLOT, AND ALL THE FUN STUFF

THIS IS YOUR NOT-SO-SHORT BUT VERY VIGOROUS WRITING WORKOUT, HAVE A BLAST

(work in progress)

THE BASICS

MARY SUES

I'm not even gonna bother. They're easy to teach, hard to learn, and frankly you probably already know a lot about them already.

ANONYMOUS NARRATORS AND THE WRONG WAY TO USE "YOU"

The second-person "You" is often used in situations where the reader is in the story.

Frankly? Those stories suck.

The right way to use you is to think of it differently. You is anonymous; it doesn't specify. Use that to your advantage when you want to use you. I am in no way self-advertising right now (that story sucks anyways eheh) but I'm going to use my story Shaded as an example, since I can't find anything else with a good use of you. In the prologue, second person is used to show how the person experiencing this is anonymous, but it doesn't matter. They're just one of the many souls Shade collects. I don't need to bring to the table a new character, this one is just an example. The same goes for my story Plagued; the narrator is just another one of those suffering the effects of the plague.

Next, be careful when using second person as the main POV for the story. Don't. It's annoying and overbearing. HOWEVER, it can be done properly, like in The Snake That Rattles, a great story you should really really read. The exception to this story is that the real narrator is in first person, but the main story is in second person. This real narrator is telling our main character, the "you", what is going on. Retelling the main character's experiences. This use of second person isn't anonymous, unlike most uses of second person.

Both of the other POVs (first and third person) work well with anonymity; second person is just the only one that can and should be used only for anonymous narrators. For example, take the prologue to Singularity (a great story by Blazey, go check it out!). It's in third person, but we don't know who the cat is. And then first-person can do the same- again, sorry to use my own stories as an example, but I can't find any others. Burn Them All has an unknown narrator in the prologue who doesn't matter to the plot at all, but they're still anonymous and that part uses first person.

One thing to note: When using anonymous narrators, separate the part that is anonymous with the part that is, well, not anonymous. I will go ahead and critique my own story and say that it is kinda confusing for the reader to go from the first-person prologue in Burn Them All to the same first-person first chapter, and the reader has no idea they're separate characters. It would have been better to change the "persons" so that they differed, and would confuse the reader less. In Singularity, who the tom is is cleared up in the first chapter. The third-person doesn't change, but the prologue was told with "the cat" and "he," not telling us who "the cat" and "he" are. The rest of the story says "Sagekit" and "Sagepaw," so the anonymity is gone and thus the reader isn't confused.

Anonymous narrators are a beautiful writing effect that I can't really explain, but read a prologue with them (they're usually used in a prologue, have you noticed?) and you'll understand just how wonderful they are and you'll know what I'm talking about.

In conclusion, don't write a whole story in only second person unless you're really comfortable with it, use a "you" narrator for an anonymous effect, this anonymity can be achieved with all POVs, and stories that use "you" to represent the reader are lame as fork.

CLICHES

(REMEMBER: Cliches are NEVER limitations, they are WARNINGS that you should be gentle with something when writing!)

Warriors Cliches

-Medicine cat falling in love

-Sister jealousy

-Kittypet becoming a warrior

-one evil Clan, one good Clan

-evil leaders taking over

Non Warriors-specific Cliches

-love triangle

-unrealistic animal-human bond in a realistic setting

-popular girl stole my bff drama

-Parent A died, Parent B took a new spouse, and Child C feels like Parent B doesn't care about Parent A anymore

THE LESS BASIC STUFF

Here's where we'll discuss the small touch-ups that make a story sparkle. Stuff you might already know, stuff you might not know, who knows. Even if you know, it's always good to have a reminder, a refresher, so even if you're an "experienced writer," I suggest you read this.

AWARENESS

To properly write, be aware of the character's personality and let that flow into the character's actions and words. Let's use the movie Up as an example (side note: Up is a great movie and you should watch it. It has a great plot, storytelling, dialogue, and also color harmony- everything to make both the writer and artist in me bounce up and down.)

SPOILERS (but come on guys this movie came out eight years ago)

When the people break Carl and Ellie's mailbox, Carl says "Get away from our mailbox!" (I've pulled up the whole movie's script btw). But Ellie's dead, so why is Carl saying our? Just a single sentence lets you, as a reader, know how Carl is taking her death; he hasn't seen it as "Ellie's gone," but "Ellie's still with me, just dead." This enforces how much he loved and still loves Ellie.

As for Carl's actions, take a look at how he reacted with the construction workers. The man who broke the mailbox tried to help and fix it, but Carl rejected his help and said "I don't want you to touch it!" and even hit the man. Many viewers can connect with Carl through that; how many times have you screwed up that someone just wants you to stop trying to help, or vice versa? It also shows a lot about Carl- he's irritable enough to hurt a stranger, he cherishes Ellie so much that he hits a man over his and Ellie's mailbox, and he had reached a "You've done enough, don't do any more" stage.

Look at how much we got out of two sentences Carl said and a few seconds of action. Look at how much volume this speaks about Carl. Use this as an example for yourself. If you don't know much about your character, take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Label one side "Internal" and the other "External" and list all the traits of your character. It might be hard if you're not much of a "character writer." Make up stuff if you need to until you have a well-rounded, believable character.

What would count as "not knowing much about your character"? Do you know what the character likes to eat for breakfast? Do you know what color their hair is? How do they get along with their siblings? It doesn't matter whether this stuff affects the plot or not; get down as many details as you can for your character so you have a reference to look at later on. Your planned story is rarely ever your final story, so if anything at all you know about your character can be used in the ever-changing plot, use it.

THE BALANCE OF FOCUS

Alternate title: Portraying IRL Minorities

Example: I've noticed a few things about LGBT on this wiki. It's been written in a way that kinda shoves it down the reader's throat. It screams as loud as it can to be noticed, as if the author's intention was "NOTICE THIS LGBT STORY!!! NOTICE IT NOTICE IT!" Which, yeah, is fine. I'm all for LGBT- and heck, let me just put it out there that I'm the B in LGBT, so this is in no way even a smidge homophobic.

But there's a balance. Yes, I get it if you're trying to speak up for the minority. Yes, I get that you might only want to write gays. But don't be hyperfocused on the subject. Don't be hyperfocused on anything in a story. I'll delve deeper into that later, but let's stick to the LGBT example for now. Now, as I don't have a specific way to fix this, I suggest you read over your story. Does it sound like you're bombing the reader with your topic, force-feeding them a certain aspect of your story? It might also help to get a second pair of eyes to read your story and see what they think of it; do they feel off-putted as a reader by the amount of focus a subject is getting?

Now, moving past that example and onto writing in general. Hyperfocus will tear down your story, no matter where it applies. Hyperfocusedness is usually the downfall of a character with a tragic backstory. It's what makes them so infamous. The writer is so focused on that tragic backstory that everything the character does is connected to it- and that's bad, bad, bad. It's unrealistic; there is no one in real life who only focuses on one thing in life, even if it was tragic, no matter how much they might seem to to you.

ACTUALLY GOOD LOVE TRIANGLES

I actually picked this up from browsing through the lovely land of the internet, but it's really worth sharing.

Love triangles, in real life, aren't as they appear in stories. It's not A is in love with B, then C comes in and A needs to make a choice. Sure, that's possible, but it's been beaten to death and isn't the only form of a love triangle. Now here's a copy-and-paste of the original tumblr blog: "Let’s be honest: how many of you dated someone in high school but still had a crush on someone else? Or dated one guy and watched him drift out of the picture, only to have him drift back in once you moved on to someone else? Creating situations that are realistic and less obvious is the key to a love triangle that doesn’t feel cliché."

Well that's the end to this ridiculously short part xP

This guide was...
 
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The poll was created at 05:24 on April 17, 2017, and so far 8 people voted.
If you think it's bad, I'd really appreciate some feedback to see what's wrong and needs to be fixed! ^^

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