How to: 3 in 1 · 5:14am
Posting a story to fimfiction is a very simple process. Having your story fail approval because you didn’t follow the rules takes some effort on your part in ignoring common sense and the brutally obvious.
To begin with, Internet Common Sense (henceforth known as ICS) dictates that when you access a site and you intend to participate in some way or another, you do a few things, like checking the rules.
The rules which are nicely compiled together in the FAQ.
I have a WHOLE HOW TO about that thing.
Now. Let’s say you click on the FAQ, notice that it has more than two items and you decide that your story does not merit the basic courtesy of checking if it will pass or not, because, you know... it takes so long to read short paragraphs.
Well, thankfully we have something else for that. Just when you create your story, there’s a whole slew of things not to post. In bullet points. Reminding you of things like, “don’t submit guides”. Or, “no new meta-stories are allowed”. Simple things that, had you checked the FAQ, you would have considered before you wrote your 5k word masterpiece which breaks about 5 of the rules.
It’s not difficult. It’s not something you should ignore. It takes you a few minutes and helps you stop seeping out the energy of those unfortunates that have to look at your story (among a hundred others) and discover that it’s the fourth in a row that doesn’t respect the rules.
We WILL fail your story if it doesn’t adhere to the rules. And you can cry about it, you can complain, PM us and re-submit. But, unless you actually changed the story to follow the guidelines, it won’t get posted.
And to be clear: it’s not OUR fault that you cannot be bothered to check what is admissible or not. But it is our responsibility to do our best to ensure the rules are enforced.
Also note the recently added and VERY IMPORTANT rule of what type of stories you shouldn't submit:
Stories with barely any punctuation. We don't judge stories on their content, but stories without a basic level of grammar will be failed.
So do yourself a favor and discover what you cannot do. Check the FAQ before you submit stories. It’s VERY straightforward. That way, when you write a story, you should have no problem getting it posted.
So, you’ve sent the story and you marked it [Tragedy][Sad]. Or [Adventure][Slice of Life]. Or [Sad][Comedy]. And you get a rejection message that reads more or less: “This is either [Category 1] or [Category 2]; it can’t be both.
And you rage at the injustice. How can Wanderer D, or Alexstraza, or Poultron, or anyone else NOT SEE that an apple and a pear are the exact same thing!?
Well, they aren’t. And I am here to tell you once and for all why. And make sure you read this through before you argue with me about it in the comments with an argument that I already covered.
What most seem to find difficult to grasp is that a story Category is not the same as the little tags that you include in a blogpost. When you see “category” think “genre”.
Definition of GENRE
1: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content
What that means in simple terms is that a category is intended to indicate the overall theme of your story. Can a Tragedy have sad moments before the end? Yes. Yes it can. But, a Tragedy is a specific type of story, and a sad story is not by definition a tragedy.
Not all sad stories are tragedies. A tragedy necessitates a ray of hope in the end for the character to, literally, fail at. There MUST be something that motivates the character and gives them hope, and at the end the TRAGEDY is that they freaking fail at it, through circumstances outside of their control, or, more classically, their own folly.
If you have a story that is sad from beginning to end, you don’t have a tragedy. You have a sob story, otherwise known as “Sad”. IF the whole theme of your story is about dealing with some tragedy that happened at the beginning of it (or before), you DON’T put the Tragedy category on it. The Tragedy was but a moment that started the story. It was a plot device. The trigger. The rest of the story? That’s sad.
Conversely, a sad story can end on a good note, while a tragedy can’t. It can be bitter-sweet. But it can’t be happy.
If you need an extreme example that eeeeveryone knows, take “My Little Dashie”..
It’s NOT really ‘Sad’ category-wise. Why? Because, start: Guy is unhappy. Then: Meets RD and adopts her. Then: They are both happy. End: She gets taken away and he gets to live alone with memories that only he can possess of his time with a magical pony. (If you hadn’t read MLD, now you have.)
Sure, the ending makes you sad if your heart is made of, I dunno, uh, molten chocolate or something. But, it’s a Tragedy because RD is taken away from him and he cannot really do anything about it and therefore their happiness has ended.
If the whole thing had been a sad-fest, Celestia taking RD away would have only be slightly sadder but certainly not a tragedy.
So, repeat after me: I should not use the [Sad] and [Tragedy] categories together. I should NOT use the [Sad] and [Tragedy] categories together. I should not use the [Sad] and [Tragedy] categories together.
Now, the second one I will tackle is relatively simple and should really not be a problem if you stop to think about what you are doing: [Comedy] and [Sad].
Like I said before, the Category is used to indicate the overall theme of the story. NOT little moments of both. So, if your story is [Sad], yes, it can have some funny moments, but that doesn’t merit the whole story also being considered a comedy. And if your [Comedy] story has a few sad moments, it is still a comedy, not a [Sad] story.
So, repeat after me: I should not use the [Sad] and [Comedy] categories together. I should NOT use the [Sad] and [Comedy] categories together. I should not use the [Sad] and [Comedy] categories together.
And last, but not least, [Adventure] and [Slice of Life]
Now, there are a LOT of arguments about this one. Even more than the thrice-damned [Sad][Tragedy] categories (which you should not use together).
Slice of Life are stories that are mundane in the sense of the status quo of the world. Say, the average episode of MLP. It is a “SLICE OF LIFE” or a “moment in time” if you will. It concentrates on something they do on an average basis. Can this be some sort of adventure? YES! Yes it can be.
There is no doubt whatsoever that our Mane 6 are constantly engaged in a short, small, mundane or relatively local adventure. It can involve magic. It can involve running from a hydra. But, it’s not a [Adventure] category type of adventure.
[Adventure] is reserved for long quests or missions or travels that break the status-quo of their lives. Meaning, it’s not something that would be solved in an average episode. We’re talking two-part episodes, my friends. Like Nightmare Moon’s arrival, which had all the elements of an adventure and takes them away from their normal lives to fight an ancient evil. Or Discord’s escape from his prison, which turns the whole damned world upside down and challenges our Mane 6 with the full force of chaos. I hope by now my point is clear.
Adventure is not something that returns you to the status-quo with a simple “Dear Princess Celestia”. It’s an epic. Or something that literally destroys the concept of a ‘slice of life’ because you cannot tell it in a moment in time. It involves a LOT of time. Or at least something that really breaks the norm.
And don’t try to be cute and say that just because in the middle of it you include a part where the CMCs learn the value of porridge you can add the [Slice of Life] category to it: for the third time, a story category is supposed to represent the overall story. Not little parts of it. And don't even say that it's "equal parts".
So next time that you submit a story and you are indecisive about whether is should be one category or the other, just remember: what you are categorizing is the WHOLE story. Not just its little elements.
Bitter much, D? Did you not take your pills today? You know, the happy ones?
Don’t start! Who knows what he’ll do? He’s clearly not stable.
You two... I guess it was inevitable that when I was talking about not following the rules or not knowing what category to choose from I would run into the two of you. What is it now?
It’s Obnoxious Writer. He thinks his “Soldier finds himself in Equestria” fic is a masterpiece of storytelling.
Do tell. Well, what’s the premise, OW?
Well, if you must know, it’s about my OC, Private Stephen Jefferson, who has been teleported to Equestria while in the middle of a Special Ops mission where they needed to find where all the secret nazi equipment that is so obviously much more advanced than modern technology was hidden.
I see some problems there already. OW, have you thought about a different Career path? Like, being professional mime?
You are just saying this because–
NO! He hates my ideas!
No, he doesn’t!
Yes, I do.
OW, it wouldn’t be so bad if you did some research about it. Treat it with some respect even. I mean, a Private in a Special Ops team?
What’s wrong with that?
Well, let’s ask some fellow bronies who happen to be in the armed forces, shall we?
Nothing! This is a little basic research. IF you don’t know about something, look it up. The only one that ends up looking like a fool is you, if you don’t.
I think D’s still touchy about all the stuff at the beginning of the blog.
Shut up, Clueless.
So you’d like to write a war story? Well, I’m no acclaimed author, but tales of battle have fascinated us since the first two cavemen hatched a conspiracy theory against the third. In the many thousands of years mankind has roamed this Earth, warfare has been glorified, vilified, intensified and may other adjectives to describe an almost abstract concept that to this very day still attracts awe and horror. Military fiction has cropped up in every country and culture and the Friendship is Magic fandom is no different. We have everything from The Immortal Game, Fallout Equestria, the Conversion Bureau to multitudes of Halo and Warhammer crossovers on FiMFiction as proof of this.
But despite how much we love a good tale of heroism or well-deserved vengeance or even a crusade for both good and evil, most of the attention is on the ‘face’. We see determination, the valor or the utter evil but we never see the wounds wracked upon the body. The fatigue in shaking limbs. The very cost of putting humanity (Ponymanity? Ponydom?) in the refrigerator to harden into leftovers. War is a very real and very disgusting thing.
“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell."—William Tecumseh Sherman, 11 April 1880.
Yet we hardly see these scars in stories. Men and Women never making it back home. Parents and siblings with suddenly empty nests. Once stable individuals reduced to rampant alcoholism, freaking out at the sound of a moving truck’s reverse siren. These, I feel, are what makes a war more than just a fictional battle. One-man/pony armies killing off hundreds of opponents with little threat is not war. One nation flippantly abandoning all notions of politics and declaring war as if they were declaring what time of day it was is not war. While these ideas work very well for fantastic stories, if you want to write something with a grimly realistic feel to it know that odds are never stacked in your favor, the weather is never on your side and don’t expect fate to play fair.
I know most of you have probably watched this movie already, but I rather like it and I find it to be a good example of what you’d really need as a foundation for a war story as well as easily accessible: Saving Private Ryan.
Like I said, I’m no accomplished author.; I’ve even removed two of my published stories out of shame. But I’d really like to offer what advice I can as well as a plea:
Please don’t ignore even the smallest of details when writing a war story. The soldier with a missing limb? Make a note of him or her. The burning battlefield, village or castle? Spears and broken swords in the bodies of fallen knights? Comment about the smell. It may feel like you’re not doing anyone a favor or even be insulting/disgusting to put so much detail into it. But like I said…
War IS disgusting. And we’ll never stop being disgusting, I’m afraid. The least we can do is, if we choose to in fiction, bring light to light the events that are so often passed over for a “more interesting” story. Never be afraid to write the truth.
-A former soldier of the Army 348th Hospital Unit, Military.
It does seem a bit pretentious to write a story about people that go through hell and not respect that by showing that it can get very painful and, well, real.
Well, yes... I have to give some thought to that.
Have a little more then:
Fall in! Okay, no, really. Fall in. There’s more to writing about the military than lots of explosions and gunfire. There’s more to tactics than explosions and gunfire. There’s also more to the rank structure than most of you let on.
When writing about the military, it is important to remember what the military is. It is not a bunch of gruff, no-nonsense individuals who run around yelling super-patriotic things while blasting the hell out of everything in sight. There’s a plan. There’s a structure involved. It’s also painfully obvious when authors disregard that structure in favor of doing ridiculous things.
Generally speaking, you should know the rank structure of the military you’re involving in your fic, and you should know the expected duties of each individual at that specific grade. For example, a ‘private’ (E-1) is not going to be part of a Special Forces team. Ever. That simply doesn’t happen. There’s a lot of things in the military that take time, Special Forces being chief among them. They’re not going to want some boot fresh out of training. They’re going to want a guy who’s been around for a while.
This doesn’t apply to just Special Forces, either. A person’s rank will generally be able to tell you about how much he is expected to know and be able to perform. Exceptions do apply, of course, but they’re fairly rare. In general, the lower on the totem pole the individual is, the less he is expected to be able to do inasmuch as it pertains to running the show. This is not to say that he is completely incompetent; rather, that he is young, and therefore inexperienced.
Also, tactics. Tactics, tactics, tactics. Infantry tactics form the heart and soul of what I did, and therefore take a very special place in my life. It causes me physical pain to see how badly some people jack up clearing a room, or going on a patrol, or where the machine gunners get deployed.
I don’t have enough room here to properly explain a lot of things, so I’ll try and keep it brief. Infantry tactics, most notably in the Marine Corps, are based around two things: fire and movement, and fire and maneuver. Sound the same, you say? You couldn’t be more wrong.
Fire and movement is a very basic thing. It involves suppressive fire to keep the enemies heads down while your buddy moves up. Once he’s down, he does what you were just doing. You move, and then you fire. Thus, fire and movement.
Fire and maneuver is a bit more complex. What it entails is laying down a base of fire with one element of your force, to allow other elements time to execute a maneuver on the enemy, be it flanking or a tactical withdrawal. This is done simultaneously, and generally requires a commander who is aware of more things than what color the ground is.
Tl;dr Call of Duty doesn’t work in the real world, and that private who is still digesting his Warrior’s Breakfast isn’t going to be calling the shots any time soon.
What do you think, OW? Wait, what are you doing?
Smashing my laptop!
I can’t seem to get anything right!
Calm down. The point is not that you should feel pity for yourself, but learn from this. These are all general details that can help you forge a better story. More research helps you write better situations and characters. If you write something completely unrealistic, you lose the respect of your reader. Or at least the discerning ones.
Now wait just a minute! We are NOT going to discuss the military without addressing the age old question of what to do with a drunken sailor!
Life in the Navy is radically different from life in the other branches of the armed services, and trying to apply the same methods of writing you would use for the others just isn't going to work for you. The Navy exists as an odd combination of modern technology and anachronistic traditions that, in many cases, have not been changed in centuries.
The crew of a warship often seems much less like a military unit and more like an extended (and often dysfunctional) family. Rivalries can and do form between the various departments of this extended family, but these rivalries are quickly set aside when it comes to the rivalries that form between ships.
In a sense, this tends to lead sailors to behave a lot less like the stereotypical soldier. To get an idea of what I mean, you could do worse than watch a few episodes of Star Trek from the 1960s. That might sound silly, but a lot of the culture and practices of the US Navy made their way into the original series. Moving along...
The population of a warship will consist primarily of enlisted personnel, with a very small number of officers who are tasked with the overall management of the ship's crew. A modern destroyer, for example, has around 20 officers and 320 enlisted crewmen. Unlike infantry-based military units where paygrade determines how high up on the food chain a soldier is, warship crews tend to be arranged into a more flexible system of workcenters with a workcenter supervisor that may not be the highest ranked sailor in the group. These workcenters are themselves part of a larger division, which is in turn part of an overall department that contributes to the operational readiness of the ship.
On a more macro-scale warships are arranged in groups as well, with ships typically getting smaller as you travel outward from the core. The aircraft carrier always sits at the center of the battlegroup, and it's frequently where the noncombatant support ships can be found as well. Cruisers and destroyers guard these vulnerable vessels, with destroyers often sitting further out than cruisers. Finally, fast-moving frigates at the fringes of the battle group serve as the group's scouts, and submarines...well, you never know where they are or what they're doing.
That might be a bit on the rambly side, but it's naval operations in a nutshell! Hopefully it will help you in your writing.
Huh, you learn something every day.
What, you’re telling me that you didn’t know that?
Of course not. I don’t know much about the military. I did forced service and that was it. It wasn’t the same as being a real soldier. And what I learned was just the tip of the iceberg.
Well then, how do I write a convincing story? Just scrap all I have?
First, you read. You have to have an idea about how a soldier feels. Have you read Cold In Gardez’ blog post, The Suicide Bomber for example? There is a basic rule about writing that a lot of people ignore: To write well, you need to read. And if you want to do justice to those you seem to admire, try to inform yourself.
Especially the stuff that is related to what you want to write, right?
That’s correct, Clueless. So, OW, what are you going to do now?
I- I have some research to do. But, it has nothing to do with your advice!
Of course not.
Wow, D, I thought you would have had some snarky remark or hurtful/sarcastic addendum to throw at him.
Honestly, Clueless, sometimes even I get tired of that.