Webster's Dictionary defines an essay as "a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject."  I define an essay as a clear and lucid way to tell people what you're thinking....either way you look at it, essays can be interesting.   To read an essay (and see what our authors think), click on the title...

Why I Like Garak and Bashir 
Ten Ways to Improve Your Writing 
Why I Like Garak and Bashir
by kira-nerys

Why do I like Garak and Bashir?

Well this challenge made me stop and think. I had to stop and actually ask myself why I like these two together.

About a year ago when I entered fandom it was Kira and Dukat that held my fascination and the reason for that fascination was mostly Dukat. Dukat with his ridges and scales, with his almost tangible sensuality. I loved Cardassians. And thus I loved Garak too. I scrounged the 'net for fanfic and stumbled across some Garak fanfiction but it all contained Bashir. I was shocked at this. I'd never heard the term slash and I'd never even considered Garak and Bashir as anything more than friends. The thought of them as lovers shocked me. And it took a couple of more months before I got around to reading slashfic. But once I did -
thanks to BGM's wonderful stories - I was caught. Hook, line and sinker.

Why? Well Garak is the one who reeled me in, he's a Cardassian and thus holds a strong attraction for me. And to tell the complete truth I wasn't very impressed with Julian in the first seasons. I thought he was embarrassing, childlike and frankly irritating. But he grew on me over the later seasons and I started liking him and could see his attractions, and when I started reading G/B fic, I completely fell in love with Julian. I think also the episode "The Quickening" warmed me up to him. To me this is still one of the best Julian eps there is. He was forced to see his own limitations, it humbled him and he grew more mature. I like Julian a bit more mature.

But the best part of Julian and Garak is their relationship. Once I took a more active interest in it, I could really see the attraction between them. Those two have as much chemistry as Kira and Dukat ever had on screen. I love seeing the
subtle innuendo and the witty repartee between them. It is with great sadness I have watched this deteriorate over the later seasons of DS9. TPTB mutilated Julian's and Garak's friendship. It's as if TPTB are determined not to let the fans have what they really want. They ruined Dukat's character, they totally thrashed Garak's and Bashir's friendship and put Julian and Miles (yuck!) together in the slashiest dialouge in DS9's history. Why couldn't they have let Garak and Julian have that dialogue instead? Any scene with Julian and Miles during season 7 could have easily been replaced with Garak and Julian *sniff*

Oh well. These guys will live in our hearts and to us their love will never die!


Ten Ways to Improve Your Writing
by Heather Cook

In writing this, I'm not assuming to be the greatest writer, or even a really good one, but I am an English major, and there are a few things that I do know.  I know when a story is good I know when a story that has a lot of potential is brought down by easily fixed errors I know how to fix those errors, and ways to avoid seeing them in the first place.

I'm know that there are lots of grammar guides out there; this isn't meant to be a guide instead, it is meant to point out errors that I see, over and over again in fan fiction, and give advice on how to avoid and/or fix them.  Please note that I am only referring to fan fiction in this essay there are separate rules that govern things like email, letters and essays and papers that are written for academic purposes.

All links are taken from Smaragd's Slash Writing Resource page, which also has, surprisingly enough, great resources for slash topics as well. 

1. Out, damn spot, out!  If this means that you have to print out a copy of your story and use a red pen, do it.  Eighty percent of the mistakes in writing are easily fixed if you take the time to proofread your work.  Typos, missing words, common misspellings, and even simple grammar mistakes are the result of carelessness, and are easily corrected.

2. Hey, Ma what's this here book fer?  There are these wonderful things called dictionaries, and if more people would use them, the world would be a happier place.  Well, okay, maybe not, but a girl can dream, can't she?  No.  Oh.  Well back to my point use the dictionary to look up a word's meaning when you aren't sure if you are using it correctly, or if you think that there may be more than one meaning.  Dictionaries are also handy for spelling...  Another great resource for writers is the thesaurus.  Tired of saying that Julian is slender?  What about willowy, svelte or sylph-like?  Yup you guessed it all from the thesaurus. 

3. this spelled right?  My biggest pet peeve has to be misspelled words.  Many times a misspelling is the result of a typo; the spell checker will help to weed these out.  Sometimes, the spell checker will see a word, assume that it is spelled correctly and pass it over, even though the word will be incorrect that is a usage mistake (still technically a misspelling), and it should be corrected.  This is where careful proofreading comes in.

4. A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet.  Ever have problems with the words they're, their and there?  They're means they are.  Their refers to something belonging to them.  There usually stands in for physical location.  Need an example?  They're having hot monkey sex in their bed over there by the wall.  There are tons of these word groupings don't feel badly if you mix them up, we all do.  Click here for a list of common offenders.

5. Ah, grammar, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.  Usually, but not always, a sentence contains certain parts.  Your basic sentence has a subject and a verb (Julian is sucking.)   Most sentences are more complex than this, however, and this is where people start to have problems.   If you are having problems, there are several ways that you can fix it   visit the Guide to Grammar and Writing; find a beta reader that you trust; last, and perhaps most important, get lots of practice.

6. He said, she said.  Many writers feel that they have to use a different word for "said" each time that a person speaks.  This is not  true.  Said is one of those words that the reader tends to gloss over, just like we do with common words like the and and.  By using a different word, (yelled, spat and hissed to name a few) you are calling attention away from what the character is saying.  In some cases it is perfectly acceptable to use a descriptive word in place of said; just take care that you don't do it too often.

7. Wow!!!  This is exciting!!! Can you believe how exciting this is!?!  Overuse of exclamation marks is a Bad Thing.  Not only does it make you look like a high school cheerleader on speed, it takes the reader out of the action.  When I see an exclamation mark, it makes me think more about the sentence, and less about the way that the action is progressing.  Many inexperienced writers will use an exclamation mark to let us, the readers, know that this is important.   If something is important, there are better ways to let us know.   (Yes, when a character is speaking, it is fine to use an exclamation mark my advice on this is to use them sparingly, and see if you can make the words be exciting enough on their own merits.)

8. What was that, and who said it?  When a new person begins speaking, a new paragraph is required.  Please don't write to me and tell me that I'm full of it it's true, most especially if you are writing a story that is all dialogue, or if you aren't identifying the speakers by name.  If you don't start a new paragraph, your readers will assume that the same person is still talking.  Another very important thing to remember when writing dialogue is that there is specific punctuation usage expected.  Go here for a great example of how to write dialogue

9. He, he and he.  No, I'm not laughing, I'm pointing out that pronouns in slash are tricky.  Please, for the reader's sanity, read and re-read your fiction.  While it may seem crystal clear to you that Garak is the one being loved, to many readers, it may seem that Bashir is the one on the receiving end.  If you need to, replace a pronoun with a name, or a title.  And for GOD'S SAKE pick a name, and stick with it I once read a story that referred to Garak by no less than five different names Garak, Elim, the tailor, the Cardassian, and the former spy all of which are true, but unnecessary in a short story.  I like to set down what I'm going to call the boys before the story goes too far usually, I'll limit myself to one or two each at most, three, if Garak calls Bashir Julian in his thoughts.

10. Get thee a beta reader.  Probably the most important tool that any writer can use is the beta reader.  When we write, we tend to become myopic, and miss the faults that are in our writing.  A beta reader comes to your story with a fresh perspective.  They haven't been looking at the screen, seeing the words, obsessing on the story, so they will be able to see mistakes, or point out areas that need work, or clarification.  While the writer knows the story, the reader doesn't; beta readers can point out places where your story jumps around or where your characters seem a bit off.  At the very least, a beta reader can help you to fix spelling or tell you that your story is not-quite-ready-for-primetime. 

I hope that this has helped, rather than hindered, and that I've not offended anyone.  If you have any comments, or would like to see another topic added to this list, give me a shout.


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