Dragon Age Lead Writer Offers Fanfic Tips

Dragon Age Lead Writer Offers Fanfic Tips

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Dragon Age Lead Writer David Gaider has a few helpful tips for fanfiction writers who want to improve their work.

David Gaider knows a thing or two about writing fiction. He's the lead writer on BioWare's Dragon Age games and has design credits on Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate 2, all narrative-driven powerhouses in their own right. He's penned a few novels and a Dark Horse Comics series based on the Dragon Age property. He's also a pretty fierce self-critic, which is why his decision to judge BioWare's Dragon Age fanfiction contest was made "with some trepidation."

"I don't write fanfiction, or much short fiction at all. My last attempt was a short story I wrote for Fenris before I even knew the character well, done in a single afternoon on a tight deadline. I cringe when I look at it now, because I know I can do better," Gaider wrote on his blog. "So I empathize with fans who engaged in a similar exercise, and hardly felt worthy to sit as judge for their worthy entries- especially knowing how much more trepidation they would feel, suddenly having an audience who was not a fellow fan but someone with proprietary interest in their sandbox."

But as he read through the entries, he began to notice certain patterns, "things that were irritating, or could have been easily avoided," and some positive points as well, which inspired him to offer up five points of useful advice to aspiring authors. None of it is overly complicated, and there's nothing in it about sentence structure or punctuation; instead, he talks about the need for flow over language, saying, "Slaughter your word-babies mercilessly, for that pain will put you in the habit of not over-populating your prose to begin with."

It's short, to the point and good stuff all around, and if you're a wordsmith of any sort it's definitely worth checking out. "It's always risky to put something of yours out into unsafe waters where it can be subjected to scrutiny," Gaider said. "A lot of feedback any author gets will be pointless or cruel, but some will be worthy - and, taken to heart, will help you improve."

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Gaider's blog post was an interesting read[1], but I wish the Mr. Andy Chalk Person had shown more of the post in this article. More clicks = less good! :p

[1] Especially for an up-and-coming amateur quasi-writer like myself

Well Gaider and his team knows first hand on how to write fanfiction.

I just wish he actually taught the writing team how to write dialouge so we didnt get stuff like this and this

D0WNT0WN:
Well Gaider and his team knows first hand on how to write fanfiction.

I just wish he actually taught the writing team how to write dialouge so we didnt get stuff like this and this

Those two things weren't the actual dialogue. That's just the top-level bioware summary of the dialogue. I don't remember the one with Anders but I'm pretty sure when you chose "I want to be a dragon." your character asked Flemeth if he could teach you how to do that.

Perfectionists produce great works, but are usually hard on themselves, and as a result, very critical of other.

Every 'obvious' mistake will annoy the hell out of you

I'm not at all surprised he struggled with short stories, it's a completely different animal than novels. It's not better, or worse, but it sure is different. You need all the good story elements in it but you only have a few pages to in. It's a way more forgiving medium when you have 600 pages to establish things like good characterization, rather than 3 pages. Short stories can be as deep as a novel, but it's not the same kind of deep.

Most of the stuff he says is just common sense, but I have to disagree with him when he says writing is not a pleasant endeavor. I write for the personal enjoyment, seeing it as a chore throws off any incentive to continue.

D0WNT0WN:
Well Gaider and his team knows first hand on how to write fanfiction.

Gaider said "I don't write fanfiction, or much short fiction at all."
So what do you mean by this?

I just wish he actually taught the writing team how to write dialouge so we didnt get stuff like this and this

Since you don't say "I want to be a Dragon" or "I am Hungry" I'm not sure what your point is here either.

A shitty writer teaches people how to write shitty fiction. Makes sense.

He forgot to include a section about how if you want to use a character you've already killed off, just put em back in anyway and call it a "mystery".
It's pretty amazing he left that out, considering the amount of times he did it in Dragon Age 2.

antipunt:
Perfectionists produce great works, but are usually hard on themselves, and as a result, very critical of other.

Every 'obvious' mistake will annoy the hell out of you

Or they produce nothing at all because they don't meet their own standards or the perfectionism prevented them from learning it.

Knight Templar:

D0WNT0WN:
Well Gaider and his team knows first hand on how to write fanfiction.

Gaider said "I don't write fanfiction, or much short fiction at all."
So what do you mean by this?

I just wish he actually taught the writing team how to write dialouge so we didnt get stuff like this and this

Since you don't say "I want to be a Dragon" or "I am Hungry" I'm not sure what your point is here either.

I am implying that Dragon Age 2 is a bad fanfiction.

Kashrlyyk:

antipunt:
Perfectionists produce great works, but are usually hard on themselves, and as a result, very critical of other.

Every 'obvious' mistake will annoy the hell out of you

Or they produce nothing at all because they don't meet their own standards or the perfectionism prevented them from learning it.

I resemble that remark. (Yes, I mean it.)

Advice from the man who penned Dragon Age 2's plot?

I admit. I got a hearty chuckle out of that one.

Maybe the fan-fic writers should have ignored the cannon and brought more people back to life with no explanation instead? Would have been authentic then.

Canadish:
Maybe the fan-fic writers should have ignored the cannon and brought more people back to life with no explanation instead? Would have been authentic then.

My advice: don't ignore the cannon. Especially if it's loaded and pointed at you and there's a grammar Nazi behind it.

D0WNT0WN:

Knight Templar:

D0WNT0WN:
Well Gaider and his team knows first hand on how to write fanfiction.

Gaider said "I don't write fanfiction, or much short fiction at all."
So what do you mean by this?

I just wish he actually taught the writing team how to write dialouge so we didnt get stuff like this and this

Since you don't say "I want to be a Dragon" or "I am Hungry" I'm not sure what your point is here either.

I am implying that Dragon Age 2 is a bad fanfiction.

So the first part was just a baseless cheap shot, I take it the second was as well?

D0WNT0WN:
Well Gaider and his team knows first hand on how to write fanfiction.

I just wish he actually taught the writing team how to write dialouge so we didnt get stuff like this and this

If you haven't yet, you might want to check out Shadow Isaac's Let's Play of Dragon Age 2 (it's still ongoing, and not all in one place, yet). It pretty much points out how weak all the writing for the game's dialogue, is.

OT: Strong words coming from Gaider, seeing as he is the one who fills his novels with a bunch of useless purple prose and doesn't understand how normal people talk.

Knight Templar:

D0WNT0WN:

Knight Templar:

Gaider said "I don't write fanfiction, or much short fiction at all."
So what do you mean by this?

Since you don't say "I want to be a Dragon" or "I am Hungry" I'm not sure what your point is here either.

I am implying that Dragon Age 2 is a bad fanfiction.

So the first part was just a baseless cheap shot, I take it the second was as well?

I was going to say something about the game being horrible and thus it not being baseless, but before I clicked send I thought a bit more and realized the story was decent (not good) compared to the horrific abortion that was the gameplay.

So yeah, baseless cheap shot works!

FelixG:

Knight Templar:

D0WNT0WN:

I am implying that Dragon Age 2 is a bad fanfiction.

So the first part was just a baseless cheap shot, I take it the second was as well?

I was going to say something about the game being horrible and thus it not being baseless, but before I clicked send I thought a bit more and realized the story was decent (not good) compared to the horrific abortion that was the gameplay.

So yeah, baseless cheap shot works!

I don't know why but that made me laugh.

Me too.

 

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