Proofed (Retired)

What is the purpose of books? What does writing and the act of putting words to paper mean when weighted against the greater thread of the human condition? Proofed is a show which attempts to examine that core idea. We look at books, writing techniques, literary genres, and attempt to divine thier impact on modern culture. We do book reviews, analysis and interview authors and writers from every corner of the global. In short- if you're a book lover, lexicographer or member of the literati- welcome to heaven. 

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Produced by: Alexander Cole

Proofed 01 - Big Talker

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I’ve always viewed the art of Fanfiction as the red-headed stepchild or black sheep of the literary community, at once spit upon, maligned and disregarded as little more than the concerted actions of an infinite number of chimpanzees typing away in the hopes of producing something approaching coherent speech, all the while ignoring the fact that underneath the veneer of public perception lies a community of writers, editors, and content creators, who have gone on to make their marks on the world and hone their literary craft in what is most definitely a different way.

My initial experience with fan fiction started after reading the middle book in the Silverwing trilogy by Kenneth Oppel, and itching to recapture the magic of those first hours where the author blew the doors off my mental mansion and I ended up being bitten with the writing bug. I spent many months reading stories that were found in that section on, and as I started digging deeper into the cavernous pit of literature that focuses on anthropomorphic animals, I transitioned to Star Fox- where I met Kit, and Redwall, and the Guardians of Gahoole series, each of which had their quirks and idiosyncrasies. I spent time reading the works displayed there, and quickly learned how to weed out the chaff, and select the best stories, because it was from exhaustive study of those stories that I learned some of the tricks I use in prosial crafting today.

Kit Karamack was one of the first to look at one of my earliest stories- The Edge of a Razor- and run it, and a subsequent piece through the gauntlet- and the criticism I received from him was exactly what I needed, as it forced me to take a long hard look at what I’d been producing, and attempt to make my pencil bend to my heel.  One of the main issues that a lot of young or inexperienced writers face is that they do end up ‘showing and not telling’ and that can best be explained thusly.

Consider the phrase.

“The peacock was extremely angry at his parents. They’d banished him. ”

I’ve just told you that  an animal- yes, an anthropomorphized one, from Kung Fu panda 2 I’ll have you know- is angry. Simply stating that a thing has happened, literally dragging an individual around by the perceptual nose is not enough. You may relate an occurrence- but you’ve not made it stick in a person’s craw. Now, consider the following modification:

-Alexander Cole-07-25-2015



“Shen...what did you do?”

The peacock's mind reeled slightly, and he answered with a leaden tongue: “The warriors of black and white...I...I took care of it. Of them.”

What followed was a long explanation, during which Shen's words tripped over themselves on their way out his mouth. The tiredness caught up with him, the thirst, the cold. He fought to keep himself in position, to not shift his weapon. And when he had finished, his parents looked horror struck.

The passage of time between that moment, that final word, to the eventual tongue lashings by both of them, condemnations, references to how this would incite war with panda kingdoms far to the north, and an eventual decision to banish him, always served to elude him. Nevertheless, he always ended up back outside the palace, howling at his parents in fury. It was now raining, and the cold was seeping into him, water splashing into his eyes, clouding his vision, masking his infuriated tears.”


“You killed them in cold blood Shen. That was not my way. Never my way.”

“Cold blooded? Try living all your life knowing you've been cursed, and doing everything you can to avoid it. And knowing that your parents would never ever love you.”

“We did love you Shen.  If we did not, we would have had you killed on the spot.”

Shen laughed harshly, straining against the guards who held him back from those hated hated  birds.

“You've banished me to the Yin mountain ranges. I think you've made your agenda quite clear. Banish me, fabricate a story regarding my death, and about Kigali Village. Then you avoid a war, and get rid of me in one fell swoop.”

Shen's father's eyes widened, and the younger peacock grinned savagely. “I'm right aren't I, father?”

The female spoke, staring at her son with eyes a light shade of sea foam green.

“Perhaps the Yin mountain ranges will cool the fires within your heart. But you can never return here.”

“I'll be dead.”

His father fixed him with a cold and unforgiving gaze. “Then so be it. The weapons are yours to keep, they are of no use to us. You will be stripped of your title, your rank, and all privileges afforded you as a member of our bloodline. Goodbye.”

Oh, he'd truly howled then. He snarled obscenities at them, cursed their names, their descendents, swore to come back and claim this country that they'd stolen from him and either rule it as they had or burn it to ashes in the attempt.

There’s a picture I’ve seen on Facebook that shows how to draw an owl. The image on the left shows two circles, and then the completed animal on the right, with the words, ‘now draw the fucking owl’ beneath it.  Although what I’ve done might be as clear as mud to some, the example given does have merit. Describing an emotion, or a location or an individual or a fight must go hand in hand with the essence of what makes a story move forward- and you take that simple concept and expand on it and polish it until you’ve made the words fit the image in your mind’s eye. Your prose must have power and depth, you need to get into the heads of your characters, put yourself in as many positions as needed in order to draw the person and yourself into the page. Make them feel the blistering cold, the icy crunch of snow beneath feet and the howling whistle of winter wind. Read as many books as you can- read the difficult ones, the classics, the ones that your friends turn their noses up at- Agatha Christy, George Orwell, Tolkien, hell, even Ayn Rand, because it’s from what we read and take in that our own narrative styles blossom. Don’t limit yourself to what feels safe. Be bold.

And remember, mediocrity is easy- but then that’s why it’s called mediocre.


-The main Fanfiction site.

-Kit Kamarack/Kenneth Herbert Weaver’s Fanfiction page

-Wiki Entry on Star Fox game series

-Wiki entry on Fan-Fiction

-Link to Kit’s book page.

-Link to the video I used. I laughed quite hard when I saw it.



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