Secrets of the Old Masters
"Don't repeat," your elementary-school teachers told you. For years you practiced removing repetitive words from your essays and finding new ways to say old things. Then you started writing fanfic. A new problem appeared: how to refer to your characters without repeating their names ad nauseam. You studied your fellow ficcers, and the solution presented itself: epithets! "The brown-haired one." "The braided one." "The blue-eyed one." "The cheerful boy." "The second pilot." "Shinigami's pilot."
Immediately your fics began to read as though they were about opposing teams of multiple personalities. Every sentence became a new excursion into another part of the character's psyche, every mention became another chance to reiterate the character's physical description. Readers had to keep checklists of personal qualities to figure out who was speaking. Your oeuvre wafted forth the sweet, sweet smell of experienced fanfic writing, and you sniffed it, and called it good.
Someday, my children, you shall read actual good writing. If you are especially astute, you shall notice that J.R.R. Tolkien never referred to Frodo as "the innocent-faced hobbit," and that Jane Austen was exceptionally good at not calling her characters "the weeping one," "the plain maiden," "the pinch-faced elder woman," or "the dark, sardonic man of mystery." You may even see that these worthies referred to their characters by pronoun or name almost all the time. If you have the true spark within youif you aspire to be among the greats, known by all and reviled by schoolchildren everywhere whose summer reading lists you appear onyou will even attempt to slice the epithets from your writing and replace them with the character's name.
And then you will see that genius truly does lie in seeing the simple things a different way, because replacing epithets with names will seem truly simple. Names and pronouns will seem invisible, as much a part of the mechanics of writing as "the" or "to." Your writing will sing, my children, your writing will soar! You will be able to divert the energy you once spent in inventing epithets into such new luxuries as thinking up new plot devices and writing about characters older than 22!
And then, my geniuses, then you shall be ready for the true test of greatness:
Learning to use the spell-check.